baby

LEIGH CAMPBELL: A comprehensive list of everything you need to get before you have a baby.

Let me preface this article by declaring that I am but a humble mother of one.

I only have a six-month-old baby boy, Alexander, so I’m about as far from a parenting expert you can get.

However, I’m often asked about what baby stuff I find most useful, what has been a waste of money, and what I’d recommend to friends. I’m a big researcher and an even bigger advocate for safe sleep so I look into all purchases thoroughly.

So without further ado, here’s the list (and some tips) I wish I could go back and give my pre-baby self when I was in prep-mode.

Sleep

Safe sleep was the absolute number one priority for me.

I first had my son in a bassinet in our bedroom next to me. We used the SNOO (full disclosure, I was lucky enough to get to trial it for free) and although I have nothing to compare it to I do believe it set him up to be a great sleeper and I would spend my own money on it for sure.

This Glorious Mess Little Kids: The baby stuff you’ll actually use. Post continues after audio.

It plays white noise and rocks the baby to sleep when needed. I adjusted the setting in the accompanying app on my iPhone to a level I was comfortable with so that it didn’t rock with too much force.

From about 4.5 months we used it purely as a bassinet (no rocking) to prepare to transition to a cot. We did this at 5.5 months – at the same time we moved him into his own room.

The cot was a free IKEA hand me down (as was the matching change table). My motto was spend $$$ on the best/safest for the important things and save on other areas with freebies or bargains from Facebook Marketplace.

I invested in the Growbright Airnest mattress which is fully breathable, great for lowering the anxiety if you’ve got a tummy sleeper like Alexander. It’s not cheap but I felt a good mattress was very important.

We also use the Three Sheep white noise machine (on the ocean setting), and a Groegg room thermometer to know what temperature it is (it changes colour so you know at a glance).

Feeding

We knew pretty early on, thanks to a latching issue, that our baby would be bottle-fed.

I headed to Chemist Warehouse (which often has 30, 40 or 50 per cent off the whole baby section) and stocked up on Medela bottles as the teet was most similar to what he’d been given in hospital.

Watch: Imagine if we tried to explain the real complexity of the world to our babies. Post continues after video. 

ADVERTISEMENT

He was a newborn and having 60mls per feed so I bought the small bottles. He quickly graduated to 120 and then 180ml though, so if I had my time again I wouldn’t waste the money and landfill on the smaller bottles, I’d just buy the big ones from the get-go.

We use the Boon grass drying rack to dry bottles on the kitchen bench.

I hired a breast pump from a pharmacy (you can also do this from your hospital) as I didn’t want to buy one.

It was an older model but did the trick. I invested in a Medela double pump bra so I could pump hands free which was a game-changer.

Some of my friends also cut small holes into sports bras, which is a genius trick.

When we first started solids, we fed Alexander in his bouncer (a second hand Baby Bjorn one for $50 from Gumtree) because he couldn’t yet sit up.

Now he’s sitting, we invested in the Stokke high chair. It’s super pricey but it adjusts with their ages so you get years out of it and they also have a great resale value. Friends have been lucky enough to find second-hand ones on eBay and in Facebook groups.

I also invested in a Tommee Tippee baby food making machine, which is absolutely not necessary but I find it really useful.

It steams and then blends to the desired texture depending on their age, all in one step.

Also, make sure you freeze food in containers you can microwave so you’re not having to transfer to a different bowl.

After using fabric bibs for a few weeks we switched to washable silicone bibs instead. Saves so much soaking and washing.

Alexander is teething right now, so loves munching on the frozen watermelon or pineapple I pop inside this mesh food feeder thingy. The juice gets quite messy so I normally give it to him nude in the bath.

baby essentials list
"Alexander is teething right now so loves munching on frozen watermelon or pineapple I pop inside this mesh food feeder thingy." Image: Supplied
ADVERTISEMENT

Travel

I’m including just being out and about in the travel section because in the early days a simple trip to the shops is a reprieve from the living room.

We use the Bugaboo Fox as our main pram.

It’s pretty big but we’ve found it so useful as I do a lot of walking wherever possible and it’s great on bumpy or uneven ground.

We started with the newborn bassinet but he tired of that at about 3-4 months, so we then switched to the seat.

ADVERTISEMENT

We also have the Babyzen Yo-Yo stroller for proper travel as it is approved for carry-on as long as its wheels are covered in the carry bag. This was gifted to us from a group of friends at our baby shower, which is a good way to tick off big-ticket or expensive items.

After lots and lots of research, we bought the Phil and Teds travel cot.

The weight was the main appeal - it’s only 2.8kgs and packs down very small so we actually put it inside one of our suitcases when we go away - it’s so nice to have one less thing to carry.

The Choice website doesn’t rate it very highly because it requires assembly to put up and take down, but it’s super easy and quick.

We started out with the Pognae carrier called the Step One Wrap Baby Carrier.

I liked that the brand was endorsed by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. We also got the No.5 Carrier which is for when they are bigger.

Alexander enjoys it for walks when he wants to see the world, but if I need him to sleep in the carrier he still prefers the Step One. I think because it feels like a warm hug.

I tried about seven baby bags, some actual baby bags, some just big bags. I finally settled on the Vestirsi Simone bag.

It’s a stylish black leather tote (AKA great for when I go back to work) but is roomy enough for everything I need.

It doesn't have compartments (which is what I like about it) and I don't use a bag insert because I find them annoying.

Instead, I use a regular Plane Pal packing cube to carry all of the change stuff - a pack of wipes, three nappies, a thin change mat and a spare set of clothes. I chuck that in along with my keys, wallet, phone etc. It works really well.

As Alexander is bottle-fed I grabbed a bottle bag from Kmart. In it I put his bottles full of sterilized water and a separate container with single serves of formula. He’s always had room temperature formula so I don't need to worry about warming them. Now he is eating, too, it also fits a few pouches and a spoon.

We got the Maxi Cosi 0-6 months capsule car seat before he was born.

I then did a little more research about newborns sleeping in capsules and after reading they shouldn't be in there for too long, we used it more as a traditional car seat and didn't take the capsule out.

ADVERTISEMENT

I’d already wasted money on the attachment thing which clipped the capsule to the Bugaboo, so if I had my time again I would have just got a regular car seat, not a capsule.

Now he’s six months old we just bought the Britax Safe N Sound car seat (I watched it online until it went on sale). We will keep it rear-facing up to 18 months as that’s deemed safest.

Clothes

In the early days you’ll want to jump out the window when you realise (at 2am after changing your 11th pooey nappy) that you've done press studs up wrong.

For that reason I only buy onesies for sleep with zips, mostly from Bonds.

Sounds like a small thing but every spare second adds up to more sleep.

Don't waste money on fancy outfits when they are newborns because they are almost always swaddled.

Even now I only buy clothes from Kmart, Target, Cotton On and Best & Less (although 70 per cent of his wardrobe are hand-me-downs). They grow out of stuff so damn fast. All his fancy clothes from Seed and Country Road etc are gifts.

Oh, and t-shirts on babies are so annoying as they always ride up. Instead, I go for bodysuit onesies that do up under the crotch.

Bath time

Bathing the baby is one of my favourite things to do, it’s so precious. When he was brand new we used a plastic bath from Big W. We used it on the kitchen bench and used a ducky bath thermometer to make sure the water was always 38 degrees.

We bought a bunch of cloth nappy packs, not to use as intended but to use as spew rags and also in the bath to cover his chest (he was born in winter and it stopped him getting cold).

We use face washers to wash his little bottle and specific baby towels for when he’s out (warmed up for a few minutes in the drier first to stop any tears. It works).

Now he’s bigger (but still not sitting) we use an AngelCare bath seat in the regular bath.

baby essentials list
"We use an AngelCare bath seat in the regular bath." Image: Supplied
ADVERTISEMENT

He’s just discovered splashing so I think a raincoat for me might be the next purchase.

I also use the AngelCare seat on the bed with a muslin over it to prop him up and chat to him while I fold and put away washing.

Sickness

Babies often have the sniffles. Alexander also has hayfever so we use saline nasal spray a lot.

When he has super runny snot, an electric snot sucker works fine but when he has a cold and it’s thicker, goopy snot, the only thing that gets the job done is the Nose Frida (yes, you manually suck the snot out. I know, it’s revolting, but also oddly satisfying).

IMPORTANT! Make sure the foam filter is in place each time or it’s baby snot straight into your mouth.

We've also had some stubborn goopy eyes thanks to a blocked tear duct, so use Little Eyes wipes for that.

We also use a steam humidifier when he has a cold. The TAVV Vapour Pro was recommended by his GP. We will use it with plain water or if he’s really congested, with some Euky Bear eucalyptus oil.

Play

We got rid of our coffee table in the living room so we had ample space for play. I have a few playmats he chills on most of the time.

My two favourite brands we rotate are Nudie Rudie and Jnr.Life - both brands are waterproof for nappy free tummy time and for wiping up and spews.

He loves the Fisher Price Kick and Play Piano Gym and we also used Qantas points to buy a Skip Hop Activity Centre which buys me a good 20 minutes every time.

xandy
"We've got ample space for play." Image supplied.
ADVERTISEMENT

For trips to the park we use the Fisher Price On The Go Baby Dome.

It was a gift and I wasn't sure we’d use it, but it actually came in really handy. The fabric is SPF 20+ which is great for small babies, as guidelines say no sunscreen before six months of age.

Wow, I’ve written a thesis. Babies do need a lot but, to be honest, not all of it is essential.

Most of this stuff was given to us at our shower, handed down from friends, found on Facebook Marketplace or I watched like a hawk online for good sales. I’ve handed on so much stuff we've finished with to new mum friends, too.

Good luck to all the new parents out there! Oh, and before I finish, my absolute number one item I couldn't live without (I like to save the best to last!) is a nappy bin as part of the change station. Trust me on this one.

Gorgeous mums with bubs and mums to be. Take our quick feedback survey now.

MMSurvey
00:00 / ???