This is my stuff-to-have-for-arrival-of-a-new-baby list.
- I've tried to stick to the essentials for an easy life - that is, not so little that you have to wash things every day but probably fewer things than most people have. We definitely had more clothes than this but if I was starting from scratch this is what I'd buy now.
- We live in Wellington, which is fairly mild, and despite having a mid-winter baby both our living room and his bedroom were kept in the 18-20 degree range - so if you live somewhere cooler you might want some extra woollies.
- I've linked to some pretty pricey stuff but if you wait for sales you can usually get a substantial discount, and it's often worth checking TradeMe too. I really like Mokopuna for wool stuff, Marks & Spencer for cotton and The Sleep Store for bedding and some apparel, and all three often have decent sales. Follow them on Facebook and/or sign up to the mailing list.
- Bassinet for newborn sleep – we used the bassinet attachment for our stroller. Or use a Moses basket or proper bassinet or cradle. So long as it's safe and snug - you won’t use it for too long and depending on your option it might take up a lot of room in storage.
- Cot + cot mattress
- Sheets – two sets. We used pillowcases as bottom sheets for the bassinet (perfect fit! And we already had them), and a large muslin as the top sheet. For the cot we have fitted bottom sheets and use the muslins for top sheets there too.
- Mattress protector – two is ideal - purpose-bought or a partially felted blanket would also do the trick.
- Blankets – I suggest 4-5 of varying weights and sizes. We generally used two to three layers when Young Sir was very small (hint: large blankets can be folded to make multiple layers for tiny people!). I made two merino blankets from offcuts bought from New Zealand Merino and Fabrics, because my frugal side freaked out at the price tag on ‘proper’ baby blankets. We also have an amazing quilt lovingly sewn by a family member which is what is on his bed most of the time now.
- Swaddles – at least 3 as the swaddle is the most likely piece of bedding to cop leaks. We started with a large muslin, but our Houdini baby worked out how to escape from that pretty quickly so we graduated to this zip-up swaddle when he was about a month old. It's generally advised to move to a sleeping bag from three months as it's safer when they can roll but you don't need them straight away.
The trickiest (but also most fun) part! We got everything in size 000 (0-3 months) which was fine for our 3.7kg infant - the newborn stuff he was given lasted a week or two at the most, though obviously a smaller baby might get a bit more mileage out of the teeny stuff.
- Singlets – I reckon three merino singlets is enough for starters; soft enough to go next to the skin, awesome for temperature regulation and wool doesn’t need to be washed as often as other fibres… Which is great because little babies often don’t like being naked so we only change it every 2-3 days or if there is an, ahem, urgent reason to change. Mokopuna are expensive but great and the 0-3 month size was fine from newborn yet still easily fits our 6.6kg four month old so we’ve had good use out of them.
- Either bodysuits + leggings or sleepsuits – five outfits. I prefer sleepsuits for very little babies (when you’re changing them more and they basically only sleep) and bodysuits with leggings when they’re a bit bigger. I recommend Marks & Spencer for these - much cheaper than buying here and great quality cotton.
- Socks – three pairs is enough for starters. Lamington socks are awesome (expensive but they stay on). You’ll probably get given screeds of socks and booties so definitely don’t go overboard!
- Warm layers – two cosy cardigans or jumpers (but really at the start they’ll often be bundled in a blanket when you’re out anyway - if folk offer to knit for you ask for 3 month+ sizing if you can)
- Hats – at least one wool and one cotton (though I like having a couple stashed in accessible places like the stroller but again you're likely to get given these)
- Bibs – I'd suggest 5-6. We didn't really need these at the beginning but the drool arrived overnight so doesn't hurt to be prepared (definitely don't bother trying to get them onto your floppy newborn until they are drooling on everything though!). We like these dribble bibs from Marks & Spencer.
- [Optional] Nightwear – we used gowns for night time because they made nappy changes less disruptive. We have four of these Marks & Spencer bundlers – three would be fine but they come in packs of two!
- Nappies – newborns go through 8-12 per day so a decent stash of disposables and/or 20-24 cloth nappies (we found the cloth nappies we had were too big for the first month so used disposables till then – and I think it’s smart to have some disposables as backups anyway). Some babies grow out of the newborn size of disposable size very quickly though, and for most people you can get more at the supermarket down the road pretty easily so don't go too crazy.
- Wipes – if you're using cloth 24 seems like a good number. If you're using disposable one or two full size packs plus some mini ones for out and about should do for starters.
- Barrier cream - we (infrequently!) use Sudocrem, available from the supermarket. Use a liner or sub in disposables if you're using this with cloth nappies as if it gets into the nappy it can hamper absorbency.
- Nappy disposal - a bin and depending on the nappies you're using either a wet bag liner for cloth or bin liners for disposables.
- Change mat – we have a plastic mat (bought from Storage Box, by the metre off a roll) and we put a cloth or muslin on top of it for the comfort of Young Sir and wash it as needed – we just change him on the floor but this solution is completely portable so can be put anywhere (a towel underneath will cushion it if on a dresser or hard floor). You can get specific change mats to go atop existing furniture or a dedicated table but we didn't have the space for that.
- Nappy bag – really all you need is something big enough to carry what you need. We mostly use a wet bag with a side pocket, and carry: one cloth nappy, one spare cover, two disposables, a mini packet of wipes, a muslin (can be used as a change mat or burp cloth), an emergency outfit, and a cardigan. Use whatever is easiest for you to carry.
- Burp cloths – we got smaller versions of the same cute muslins we used to swaddle (from Marks & Spencer), or old-style cloth nappies work well – I reckon at least 10 are required (useful for lots of things)
- Other feeding kit - if breastfeeding you don't need anything (except the mum stuff below); if bottle feeding (or you want to express some of the time) you will need bottles and teats and there is a plethora of optional equipment you might want to add once you work out your system.
- Bath - you don't need anything specific but a plastic tub might be handy. We used a plastic box we normally use as a washing basket for the first few weeks, and now he just has showers and baths with one of us. Baby towels also optional - regular ones work fine (though the hooded ones are cute).
- Baby nail clippers - some people bite their baby's nails but I couldn't get that to work. You can get clippers from the supermarket. If you work out how to get your baby to sit still while you're clipping let me know!
- Stroller / pram – work out what you’ll mostly use it for and buy accordingly. Mountain Buggy ones are awesome for long walks and runs (we have the fancy-pants running version) but annoying to take on the bus and difficult to fit into the boot of smaller cars (we can get ours into our VW Golf but it’s a squeeze). Secondhand is an excellent option here because they're hardy so usually have plenty of life left in them but can be very costly new.
- Front pack / carrier / sling – we have an ErgoBaby carrier, this isn’t an essential item but I love carrying when walking; it’s so snuggly and lovely, makes it easy to use public transport and also better for your core than pushing a stroller according to my physio – and I wouldn’t ever recommend navigating airports without one if you can help it. The Ergo needs a special insert for newborns – some carriers don’t but check the weight guide so you know and make sure you have the right bits if you want to use it straight away.
- Car seat - you can hire (or buy) a capsule, or buy a convertible seat and use it from the start. Capsules snap out of the car and lots of folk like that feature but we skipped it and I never found it a nuisance (we don't do that much driving, though).
I was as concerned about this as the stuff for Young Sir – and it’s much easier to ask people about the baby gear without it getting weird. Mostly for if you're breastfeeding.
- Nursing bras – ideally you want three but depending on your pregnancy weight gain and bra size it may be safer to hold off until after your milk comes in to stock up – trust me when I say you can make one work for a few weeks if it makes sense to wait. ;-)
- Breast pads – I prefer the washable ones (they feel nicer against skin) but they’re not as absorbent so especially at the beginning good to have both. Different people work differently too, so maybe stick with a box or two of disposables and perhaps up to 8 reusables until you know what you need.
- Nursing nightwear – you might not need something specifically for this, but you’ll want something that will hold breast pads in place overnight and that has easy feeding access. If it’s the middle of winter it’s also nice to not freeze when you get up to feed! I really like Hot Milk’s singlets and nighties – comfortable and supportive.
- Nursing tops – again, you don’t have to buy these but think ahead so you don’t have to undress to feed. A singlet that hooks onto your bra under your regular top means you can lift your top without baring your tummy – easy to make your own from an old singlet if you're that way inclined. Or go with proper nursing tops – I really like the Gap Henley ones (though shipping is costly).
- Lanolin – highly recommended! Available from the supermarket.
- Maternity pads – needs vary wildly – I thought the cheap hospital ones were better than the branded ones, though bulky. Start with a couple of packets on hand and definitely accept them from the hospital if offered.