Baby products checklist: The new baby essentials you actually need

Take the stress out of shopping
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  • Expecting a baby is incredibly exciting, but there are lots of things to organise too. For someone so tiny, they’ll make huge waves in your life.

    From pushchairs and Moses baskets to baby monitors and clothing, if you’re bewildered by all the baby paraphernalia out there, relax… you don’t need it all. There are, however, some key items you’ll want to stock up on and consider buying.

    In the weeks running up to a due date, expectant parents are usually dashing around trying to get everything ordered and sorted for their new arrival. To help you along with the process, we’ve rounded up some of the essential baby products you’ll need to be armed with. We are not talking about all the fancy extras, just the key items you’ll need for day-to-day life with a baby.

    So there’s no need to spend hours researching online, we’ve rounded up the things you will need to save you time and to take the stress out of shopping.

    Essential baby products


    baby in pram

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    A pram, buggy or pushchair is likely to be one of your most pricey buys and there are lots of factors to consider before buying. A three-in-one is a popular choice, as it includes a carrycot and convertible two-in-one pram-pushchair that will see your baby right through to toddler years.

    Mastering the art of opening and closing your pushchair (or attaching the carrycot or car seat to the chassis) is a vital skill – so go in person to a store and try out a number of models to find out which suits you best. And don’t forget the rain cover – we’re in the UK, after all.

    Car seat

    baby in car seat

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    Some travel systems also include an infant car seat, but you’ll definitely need one straight away if you’re planning to bring your baby home from hospital in a car or taxi. Whichever you choose, it must be suitable for your child’s weight (rather than age), be rear-facing (which offers better protection in a collision) and must meet safety standards ECE R44.03.

    If you’d like to find out more about car seat safety rules and regulations, read our car seat safety guide.


    Baby in crib sleeping

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    A cot should last at least two years, and may even have the option to convert to a toddler bed. Make sure the mattress fits well, and settle your baby with its feet at the foot of the cot, so she or he can’t wriggle under the blankets.

    Cots come in many shapes, sizes and designs. Make sure you measure the space where you plan of keeping your cot correctly before making your purchase. Some mums prefer having a cot in their bedrooms or opt for a side cot which attaches or can sit directly next to the bed for easy feeding during the night.

    Baby mattress and bedding

    Baby boy and teddy bears in crib at night

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    There are some rules to follow when it comes to buying a mattress for your little one. It needs to be the right size and fit into your chosen cot or crib well with no more than a 4cm gap between the mattress and crib. It needs to be at least 10cm thick too and needs to be firm so it doesn’t sag or mould to your baby’s shape.

    All mattresses should conform to the BSS (British Safety Standards) and be marked somewhere with this number: BS 1877-10:1997. In terms of bedding, cotton sheets are best to start with and blankets are good for keeping your little one warm.

    Baby monitor

    baby with monitor

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    It’s reassuring to know that wherever you are in the house, you’ll catch the first squeak once sleep time is over. Monitors are a great way to make sure you can keep an eye on your baby without having to stay in the same rooms as them. Monitors can range from battery operated ones that just relay sound to video monitors and cameras that live stream from the room. Costs vary but it’s important to get one most appropriate to you and your needs.

    Moses basket

    baby in Moses basket

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    A Moses basket is not always essential, especially if you do not have the space but some parents prefer them to a cot for the first few months as you can easily transport them around the house or place them close to your bed. Moses baskets should be placed on a flat surface on the floor or you can buy a stand to go with it if you wish to place it at eye level by the bed.

    Carrier or sling

    baby in sling

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    Whether a wrap-around or clip-style, a sling is one of the most reliable ways to keep your baby happy, while leaving your hands free. A carrier or a sling will make sure your baby is warm and cosy pressed against your chest. It’s also a great way for your partner to wear too, so they can bond with your little one.

    There are a few different types of carriers or slings you can choose from. Carriers are more sturdy and have what we’d describe as a front ‘back pack’ style with harness that supports the baby and your back. A sling, a strong piece of material with fastenings or tie, is more flexible and can be wrapped however feels comfortable for you.

    Breast pump

    breast pump

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    If you’re breastfeeding, supportive nursing bras and good quality breast pads are essential.

    A breast pump may be a little pricey, but its well worth the money if you want to give your breast a rest or store milk ready for days out or night time feeds. It’s an essential item if you are planning to have your partner help with feeds – especially during the night as you can pump in advance so bottles are ready for feeding.

    Feeding bottles and steriliser

    Baby drinking from bottle

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    For bottle-feeding, you’ll need bottles and teats, infant formula milk and a steriliser (steam, cold water or microwave) and a bottle brush to make sure your baby’s bottles are clean and safe to use.

    It’s very important to keep all the bottles you use sterilised so your baby doesn’t get an upset stomach or any unwanted bacteria in their system. There are lots of different designs to choose from but all tend to do the job efficiently.

    Changing bag

    nappy bag

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    So you thought your gym bag was complicated? Just wait until you start packing a bag with everything you’ll need to go out with your baby! The best bags are designed to make it easy to access all the essentials, and will usually incorporate a changing mat.

    You’ll never love a bag so much! Make sure you get a good sized changing bag – you may think small is better, but sometimes getting a bag a little bigger than you think will help you fit in all the essentials – plus you can put your stuff in it too like car keys, your purse etc.

    Newborn nappies

    baby in nappy

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    Don’t buy too many nappies in newborn sizes unless you know you’re expecting a very small baby – it’s incredible how quickly they grow and you don’t want to be left with bulky stock you can’t use.

    Invest in a changing station or create an area that’s the right height for changing your baby and won’t put strain on your back – and make sure you have everything to hand. Nappy sacks are useful for disposables, too.

    Newborn clothes

    newborn clothes

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    One of the loveliest things to shop for is baby clothes. You’ll probably be given lots of cute sets, but make sure you invest in a collection of basic popper-fastening bodysuits and babygrows – it’s amazing how often your baby will need a fresh change.

    Vest tops are a great buy too – especially in the colder months when your little one will need plenty of layers. A padded coat, knitted hat and mits will come in handy during the winter too. You really don’t need to overdo it with clothes – you can always pop out and buy more or order online.

    Nursing pillow

    mother nursing baby

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    It’s important for you and your baby to feel comfortable when you’re feeding and a nursing pillow can do just that. There are so many varieties to suit you, from full body support pillows to V shape support pillows – all are safe and easy to use, so its up to you which style and how much you’d like to spend.

    Most nursing pillows have a 100% cotton cover and are machine washable which is great if your little one is a messy feeder or they have any accidents whilst lying on it.

    Baby bath

    baby bath

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    You can wash your baby in the bath in shallow water but it’ll be a while until your little one can sit up on their own. A baby bath is a great option for making sure you have plenty of control over your baby whilst washing.

    A baby bath is also a good option if you don’t have a bath in your house or flat as it is often free standing. They’re also easy to transport, so ideal for weekends away.

    Changing mat or changing table

    dad changing nappy

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    Changing tables do look very efficient but they’re not necessary if you don’t have the space. A changing mat is much cheaper and you can place it on the floor or a flat, raised surface to protect your back. Buy a changing mat with raised sides so your baby won’t wiggle away.

    If you’d prefer a changing table, however, look for a sturdy table that fits a sided changing mat securely and has plenty of space for the essentials; nappies, wipes, baby cream etc. Make sure its at a good height too so you don’t have to bend down too far or strain your back.

    Muslin cloths

    New born baby boy swaddled in cot

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    No one understands the joy of muslin cloths as much as mums. Having a baby is a messy time and having a pile of them around the house is a great way to quickly mop up stains, spills and more. The cheap cloths are available in bulk and you can hand or machine wash them easily.

    Optional extras

    Baby bouncer

    baby in bouncer

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    Baby bouncers – also known as bouncy chairs – are soft, comfortable seats which have a harness to strap your little one into. They are ideal if you want to set your baby down next to you while you are eating or sitting on the sofa – especially if you need two hands to do something.  The bouncing nature can also help to calm a baby down when they are being fussy.

    It’s important to note that most babies will outgrow their bouncer by about 9 months. If a baby is active then it’s unsafe to put a baby in a baby bouncer, as they could potentially roll over with the bouncer attached. This product is best for newborns and really small babies who have limited movement.

    Travel cot

    baby in travel cot

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    Ideal for a night away or a holiday, travel cots are designed to be easily transported. They’re also great for keeping a relative’s house, so a baby will always have a bed when they go to stay there.

    The lighter models are better for travelling but these tend to take longer to put together, whereas the slightly heavier products are easier to assemble. It’s worth thinking about what you would be using it for and researching the height and weight which would work best for your family.

    Baby thermometer

    mum checking baby's temperature

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    Above all other things, parents just wants their babies to be healthy and happy and a thermometer is a great way to give peace of mind. The NHS has warned against the use old mercury thermometers, as they can break and release small splinters of glass and highly poisonous mercury, but it says that a cheap, digital thermometer from a supermarket, pharmacy or online is absolutely fine. These digital thermometers give body temperature readings in just a few seconds.

    In addition to these body thermometers, there are also bedroom and bathroom ones which make sure that a baby’s surroundings are just right for them.

    Baby gym

    baby on baby gym

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    Baby gyms – also known as play mats, activity mats and play gyms – offer a space for your baby to relax and entertain themselves. Although most are safe to use from birth, babies from three to six months tend to get the most of these baby gyms. Most products feature a comfortable mat for a baby to lie on and a variety of multi-sensory toys attached to a part which hangs above.

    Baby essentials recommended by real mums

    We all want to buy the right things for our new baby but make sure you avoid the things you really don’t need. So we asked 6 new mums to tell us about 5 products they’ve loved and 5 they wish they hadn’t shelled out for during the first 3 months with their new baby.

    We’ve also done a round up of baby products that are definitely not worth buying – as voted by you!

    Jolene, 34, mum to Huxley, 12 weeks

    Baby products you love

    1. Second-hand BabyBjorn bouncer – Hux can look around, watch me cook and it frees me up to do things. Also I got it on eBay for half the price of a new one. Hardly any wear and tear.

    2. Sock-ons. These go over baby’s socks and keep them on. Cheap as chips, never lose another sock and you only need one pair!

    3. Neal’s Yard organic baby oil. It’s the only thing that doesn’t dry his skin out.

    4. Angelcare nappy bin. This bin is always on offer on Amazon and you can get it for as little as £5. Each nappy is locked away inside the sealed nappy sack. No more smells.

    5. SkipHop change bag. Loads of pockets, easy to get the change mat out with one hand, clips to the pram, very light.

    Baby products that didn’t work for you

    1. KariMe baby sling. If you have a squirmy, active baby with a large head then don’t bother with this sling! My baby was very uncomfortable and we only managed a few minutes. Also my smaller body shape means it easily comes loose.

    2. Johnsons baby bath. I found this gave him very dry skin.

    3. Lamaze play mat. I wish I’d got a padded material one as while it’s bright it’s very hard and Huxley doesn’t really relax on it.

    4. Babygros that do up at the back/have loads of poppers. Who can flip a baby in the night? Why spend hours trying to popper up a baby when you can buy babygrows with a zip?! I love the ones in Gap.

    5. Merino swaddle wrap. It cost almost £40 and a simple blanket does just as good a job.

    Steph, 26, mum to Sophie, 13 weeks

    Baby products you love

    1. Tesco baby vests (available in-store). Cheap, easy to get baby in and out of, and not a big deal if they get ruined. Also long-sleeved versions are great to put under T-shirts so you can get the wear out of them even in cooler weather.

    2. Cot top changer. We didn’t have a chest of drawers we could put a changing mat on and this has been worth every penny in saving our backs!

    3. Swaddle-Me blanket. Only a tenner and a life saver in the early days when she smacked herself in the face every 10 seconds. Also very easy to use.

    4. Tommee Tippee steriliser. They do a hot and cold steriliser in their basics range which is loads cheaper than their Closer to Nature one, but fits the same bottles.

    5. Supermarket own-brand nappies. Do the job just as well as Pampers and much cheaper. I’ve tried Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons and they’re all fine.

    Baby products that didn’t work for you

    1. Baby baths with no support. I found mine pointless as you have to hold them the whole time. A moulded baby bath with support or a chair for the main bath is a much better bet.

    2. Babygros with no feet. Why no feet?!

    3. Tommee Tippee breast pump. My milk went up the air tube, leaked everywhere and turned mouldy. The Medela breast pump was miles better – very quick, easy to assemble and wash.

    4. Sun umbrellas. They’re meant to clip onto the side of the pram, except they don’t; they fall off all the time!

    5. Breastfeeding tops with hidden openings. It’s much easier and cheaper to buy normal baggy tops that just lift up.

    Alex, 33, mum to Thomas, 20 weeks

    Baby products you love

    1. Baby Bjorn carrier. Great for country walks and around the house when baby is being needy, good for dads too.

    2. Sleeping bags. Cambridge Baby does a Merino one for babies smaller than 8lbs that don’t like being swaddled.

    3. Mamas & Papas astro bouncer. It’s all singing, all dancing and keeps baby entertained.

    4. Ebay for clothing bundles. Most of the stuff is new or worn once. You’ll save a fortune if you don’t mind second-hand.

    5. Baby emery boards. Scratch mittens always come off and nail clippers can be scary. The emery boards stop Thomas scratching himself quite so much.

    Baby products that didn’t work for you

    1. Cribs that swing. Thomas got his arms and legs stuck in the bars and with bumpers, he rolled to one side and got stuck with his face in the bumper.

    2. Mamascarf. Designed for breastfeeding discretion, but you end up drawing more attention to yourself!

    3. Books that tell you what you should be doing. It’s not good for your self-confidence when baby doesn’t conform.

    4. Breastfeeding pillow. It really didn’t work for me as it was too bulky.

    5. Cheap cotton wool. During the first couple of weeks you use cotton wool instead of baby wipes. Go for a good quality cotton wool ball because you get fluff everywhere – especially on boys’ bits.

    Adelina, 29, mum to Isabella, 15 weeks

    Baby products you love

    1. WhatsApp. This is an iPhone and Android app that allows you create group text chats for free. Our NCT group talks all the time and when things get tough I feel like I’m not alone.

    2. FisherPrice play mat with keyboard at the end. Izzy has hours of fun on it and loves staring/talking to herself in the mirror. Plus it can change as she grows so it’ll keep her interested.

    3. Floppeze breastfeeding pillow. It goes everywhere with me as it makes feeding so much more comfortable and I can use it to sit Izzy up when she’s older.

    4. Cloth bath chair. You put it in the bath and sit baby in it. Having two hands to wash Izzy is so much easier.

    5. ELC rainmaker: When Izzy screams during nappy changes this is a great distraction.

    Baby products that didn’t work for you

    1. Babygros that don’t do up at the front for obvious reasons!

    2. Bright Starts car mirror. I just couldn’t get it to sit at the right angle so that I could see Izzy while driving. The ToysRUs one does the job.

    3. Buggies that only face one way. You’ll be amazed how often you switch baby from parent to forward-facing. It’s great to have the options.

    4. Booties. Izzy grew out of them so quickly that they weren’t really worth having.

    5. Moses basket: Izzy hated it at first as the base was just too soft for her. We had to use cardboard to build a stronger base and then she loved it.

    Hayley, 28, mum to Joshua, 18 weeks

    Baby products you love

    1. NCT/antenatal classes. Initially they seemed expensive but it was more than worth it just to make such a great circle of friends all going through the same things as you.

    2. Dr Brown bottles. These are designed to help babies with wind and colic. It really helped Joshua and also my sanity!

    3. Isofix car seat base. It’s so quick and easy and puts my mind at rest when I hear the click.

    4. Changing station. After having a Caesarean it was a lot easier to be able to stand and change Joshua, rather than crouching over and bending down.

    5. Formula pots. You can pre-measure the right amount of powder before feed time which takes the pressure off remembering how much you’ve counted out in the small hours.

    Baby products that didn’t work for you

    1. Huggies nappies. They always leaked for me, no matter how tight I did them.

    2. Dentinox colic drops and gripe water. They didn’t help Joshua at all, although some of my mum friends swear by them.

    3. Shoes for babies. These are a real waste of time and money.

    4. Buggy parasol. If you’re taking your baby for a walk it constantly needs adjusting to keep the sun off.

    5. Any clothes with back fastening. I had a couple of gorgeous outfits but they were so impractical Joshua never wore them.

    Kathryn, 30, mum to Isaac, 18 weeks

    Baby products you love

    1. Isofix car seat base. Like Hayley I had to mention this too because the click-in-and-out system is just so easy.

    2. Lansinoh nipple cream. Soothes sore and cracked nipples – essential when you start breastfeeding.

    3. Angelcare movement monitor. This goes in the baby’s cot and was extra peace of mind when Isaac went into his own room.

    4. Cold water steriliser unit. No need to rely on a microwave or mains electricity. Great for holidays.

    5. Reusable nappies. Not as scary as you might imagine. Isaac gets on really well with them and I’m saving money.

    Baby products that didn’t work for you

    1. Baby bath. It takes up a lot of space when you’re trying to store it and a baby seat in a normal bath works just as well.

    2. Baby scissors. I’ve found that gently chewing Isaac’s nails is safer than brandishing sharp objects near him.

    3. Electric bottle steriliser. Once they’re open, bottles are on borrowed time as germs start to get in.

    4. Changing bag without a zip. Pockets and zips are essential for keeping everything safe and locked away when you’re out and about.

    5. Swaddle pod. While it’s easy to use, it doesn’t hug your baby really tight. Also they’re quite expensive for what they are.