What do I Need for Baby?

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Getting your home baby-ready gradually can be a good way to prepare yourself, your partner and any other children for your new baby’s arrival. With so many different types of baby-related products available, it can feel overwhelming in terms of choice and cost. Talking to other parents about what they’ve found useful is a good idea and will keep you on track with only buying the things you need.

Keeping your baby warm, clean, fed, loved and safe are the most important things, and although there are a great deal of equipment and baby products available to assist you in caring for your baby, it is often the simple things that matter the most.

Baby Clothes

Babies grow very quickly and in the early days all your baby will need is clothing that will keep them clean dry, and warm. All-in-ones are great clothing for newborns as they provide comfort and warmth due to their design which means little feet, arms, and legs are covered.

Cardigans made from wool or cotton provide extra warmth if needed. Several light layers of clothing are best to keep your newborn warm, layering clothing also means you can take layers off when required, ensuring your baby doesn’t become too warm. When babies feel unwell, with a cold or fever, they may be warmer than usual. It is important that you put fewer layers on an unwell baby so they have the opportunity to lower their body temperature – don’t feel tempted to wrap an unwell baby up more than usual
It’s wise to have a sufficient supply of vests to put under their clothing as they often need changing due to nappy leaks.
A shawl or blanket to wrap your baby in. Swaddling (wrapping your baby tightly in a blanket or shawl) your baby is not recommended.
Hats made of wool or cotton, mittens and socks or booties for leaving the house when the weather is cold. Remember, your baby will not need to wear a hat in your home.
A sun hat for when the weather is hot, or the sun is bright to protect baby’s head and provide a little shade for their eyes.

A Cot or Crib

It is safest for your baby to sleep in the same room as you for at least the first six months of their life. Sleeping in a cot next to your bed will help lower the risk of cot death, also called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS,) and will allow you to feed your baby during the night with ease. It is very important that your chosen cot or crib is safe for your baby. If you’re buying a new cot, look for one that meets British safety standard BS EN 716. The BS number should be noted in the instructions or marked on the cot itself.

Baby Bedding

If you are borrowing a crib or cot from somebody or you are planning on using one that’s been used by your other children, it is recommended that you buy a new mattress. If you are unable to do this, it is important to check that the mattress is still firm and not soft, is flat without any rips or tears, and fits in the cot/crib without any gaps around the outside.

For hygiene reasons the mattress should be clean, dry, and protected by a waterproof cover. This also helps with possible nappy leakages, as the cover can be easily removed and washed.

You’ll need:

  • A firm mattress that fits the cot without leaving gaps around the inside edges, preventing your baby from becoming trapped.
  • A few sheets to cover the mattress, these will need to be changed often and kept clean and dry.
  • A couple of lightweight blankets for warmth. Blankets with a close-knit design ensure baby’s fingers and toes won’t become stuck.
  • Do not use pillows and duvets for babies under a year old. There is a risk of suffocation, and overheating as duvets can make your baby too hot.
  • Blankets should be tucked firmly below your baby’s shoulder level, not any higher. A baby sleeping bag of the appropriate thickness is another safe alternative for your baby.
  • Cot bumpers are not recommended as there is a risk of babies becoming tangled in the fastenings or overheating.

Sleep Time for Baby

Mattress

A firm mattress that fits the cot without leaving gaps around the inside edges prevents your baby from becoming trapped.

Sheets

A few sheets to cover the mattress. These will need to be changed often and kept clean and dry.

Light blanket

A couple of light-weight blankets for warmth. Blankets with a close-knit design ensure baby’s fingers and toes won’t become stuck.

No pillows or duvet

Do not use pillows and duvets for babies under a year old. There is a risk of suffocation and overheating as duvets can make your baby too hot.

Below baby’s shoulder

Blankets should be tucked firmly below your baby’s shoulder level, not any higher. Alternatively, a baby sleeping bag of the appropriate thickness is a safe option for your baby.

No bumpers

Cot bumpers are not recommended as there is a risk of babies becoming tangled in the fastenings or over-heating.

A Pushchair or a Pram

Pushchairs, sometimes known as strollers and buggies, are one of the easiest ways to get about with your baby.
It may seem a little overwhelming when looking for a pushchair appropriate for your baby, as there are so many different types and makes available. It is important to remember that a pushchair is only suitable for young babies if the seat is fully reclining so your baby is able to lie flat comfortably and safely.

Prams provide space for your baby to sit and lie comfortably and often come with the option of being able to turn into more of a pushchair style when your baby becomes old enough to sit up by themselves.

Things to consider when looking for a pram for your baby:

  • If you have a car, does the pram fold down enough to fit into your car boot?
  • Does your pram have the option to adapt as your baby grows?
  • Are the handles the right height for you/your partner to push comfortably? Can they be altered?

Perhaps ask other families what worked for them and anything they wished they had considered before deciding on a specific type or design of pram. Buying or accepting a second-hand pram or pushchair is a money-saving option that is also worth considering.

You can find pre-loved prams/pushchairs in many places, including:

  • websites and social media platforms
  • parents’ groups
  • local community advertisements
  • second-hand shops.

Be sure to check that the pram/pushchair is safe for your baby. Is the frame sturdy enough? Is there a suitable harness to prevent your baby from falling out?

Baby Carriers/Slings

Baby carriers, sometimes known as slings, are a great way to transport your baby whilst out and about. As well as being very practical and space-saving, they also have huge benefits for both adult and baby. Newborn babies often find being held in a carrier very calming and soothing. Movement in a carrier often mimics the movement of being carried in the womb, making baby feel safe and warm. Being close to the heart and hearing a heartbeat allows baby to relax and regulate their nervous system.

There are a few safety considerations to remember whilst using a baby carrier or sling:

  • Ensure the back part of the carrier that supports your baby’s head is high enough
  • Frequently check that all the buckles and straps are secure and in good working condition
  • Only when your baby is around four months old and they are able to hold their heads up can they be carried in carriers that go on your back
  • The baby’s head must not be covered whilst being carried. Ensure that loose material is clear of baby’s head

See the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) website for more advice on using baby carriers and slings safely.

There is also further information on the Lullaby Trust website about baby sling safety.

Baby-Wearing Safety

The UK Sling Consortium recommends that you use the word ‘TICKS’ to check that you are following the guidance for safely carrying your baby around:

  • T – Tight – Slings and carriers should be kept tight enough to hug your baby close to your body
  • I – In view – you should be able to see your baby’s face at all times
  • C – Close – the sling should keep your baby close enough to kiss their head
  • K – Keep – keep your baby’s chin off their chest
  • S – Support – support your baby’s back so it is comfortably upright

Car Seats for Baby

If you have a car, it is recommended that you source a car seat suitable for a newborn before the arrival of your baby. This will give you the opportunity to ensure that you are familiar with the fitting and safe usage before you wish to transport your baby in it. If you have your baby at a hospital or birth unit, you will need a car seat to drive your newborn home safely.

Tips for Buying a Baby Car Seat

  • When buying a car seat, it’s best to try a few in your car before making a decision. Try to find a retailer who is willing to help you with this. Ask whether staff have been trained in fitting car seats.
  • Check whether your car has Isofix connectors built into it. These are designed to make fitting baby and child car seats simpler. Most modern family cars have them. They may be hidden in the cracks between the padding of your car seats.
  • If your baby is likely to travel in another car regularly – for example, with other family members – check the car seat fits their car, too.
  • Some car seat manufacturers have online guides showing which cars their seats will fit in.
  • Always choose a baby or child car seat that’s right for your child’s current height and weight. 
  • Do not buy a secondhand car seat. It could have been damaged in an accident, and may not have all its parts, including the instructions. It may also not be the safest and most user-friendly model, plus it may not fit your car properly.
  • Only accept a car seat from friends or family if you know its history, it’s not too old and it comes with instructions.
  • Think about how you will be using the car seat. If you’ll be lifting your baby in and out of the car a lot, for example, you may be better off getting a lightweight seat with a base that stays in the car.
  • All car seats in this country should be EU approved. Look for the “E” mark label on the seat.

What Size Car Seat?

Car seats are divided into 3 main groups, depending on your baby or child’s age and weight:

  • group 0+– rear-facing car seats suitable for babies aged up to about 15 months or who weigh up to 13kg (29 pounds); some can be clipped onto a pushchair frame and are known as travel systems
  • group 1– rear or forward-facing seats suitable for children who weigh 9-18kg (20-40 pounds) or who are aged from about 9 months to 4 years
  • group 2/3– rear or forward-facing high-backed booster seats suitable for children who weigh 15-36kg (33 pounds to -5 stone 9 pounds) or are aged from about 4 to 11 years

You can also buy combination seats that cross over these groups, such as group 0+/1 seats, which are suitable from birth until your child weighs about 18kg (40 pounds) or is aged about 4.

Use a rear-facing car seat for as long as your child fits into it, as these offer better protection in the event of a car accident.

Baby or Child Car Seat Fitting

  • It is dangerous and illegal to carry a baby in a rear-facing baby seat in a front passenger seat that has an active airbag. Forward-facing seats in the same position, while not illegal, are not ideal. It’s always safer for children to travel in the back of the car.
  • Make sure the seat is fitted properly in the car, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Look out for safety days where experts demonstrate how to fit baby and child car seats safely. These often take place in supermarket or shopping mall car parks.

Using a Baby or Child Car Seat

  • Make sure you always put your baby into their car seat from the pavement side of the car.
  • Make sure your baby is securely strapped in according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When you buy your car seat, ask staff in the shop to demonstrate how to strap your baby into it.

More Help and Advice on Car Seats

Other Equipment for Baby

Baby Bath

A baby bath is useful and a comfortable way to bath your baby, or if you are top-and-tail washing your baby it is an ideal container to mix hot and cold water to make it the right temperature for washing your baby. The recommended temperature is 98.6°F (between 37°C and 38°C). Always swirl the water around to check there are no hot spots. You can use a bath thermometer to check the temperature is correct.

Nappies

Reusable or disposable, your baby will need potentially 10 to 12 nappy changes every 24 hours in the first month.. This is an average of around 300 nappies!

The ‘Which?’ consumer information website has more information and advice to help you decide which type of nappy is best for your baby, budget and lifestyle.

Bottles, Teats, and Bottle-Sterilising Items

If you are choosing to bottle feed, you will need bottles and teats but also the means of sterilising your baby’s feeding equipment.

Breast Pump

A breast pump for expressing milk: Handy if you have chosen to breastfeed and you plan to express your milk for your baby.

Expressing your breast milk with a pump – Start for Life – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

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