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What Do I Really Need For My Baby?

There are so many lovely things to buy for babies these days. Adverts are very tempting and can make you feel that you ‘must have’ their product.

Famous celebrities may advertise baby products but that does not mean they are needed or safe.

Many people are getting ready for their baby on a budget and it can be hard to know what you ‘need’ to have rather than what it would be ‘nice’ to have.

It can be quite reassuring to see that new babies don’t need as much as you might think. You will be able to care for your baby well and safely if you have these things;

  • Somewhere safe to sleep with safe bedding
  • A safety seat to travel in vehicle
  • Something to be taken out and about in - a pram / a sling
  • Some (not piles – even though they are cute) clothes, toiletries and some nappies
  • Equipment to give them their milk hygienically.

Remember - different family’s budgets to buy the essentials will vary a lot.

There may well be other things that you want to have – it is exciting choosing things for your baby.

  • Safe sleep is very important. Babies should only sleep in something that has been especially designed for a baby to sleep in. This is because it reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Cot Death).

    Their cot or crib should be kept clear of anything other than bed linen. This keeps your baby as safe as possible as they sleep.

    • You should not let your baby sleep on a chair or sofa.
    • You should not use pillows, baby nests or cot bumpers.
    • Bed linen should not include pillows, duvets, bumpers or quilts.

    You will need about three sets of bottom sheets for your cot or crib (one clean, one dirty, one being used) and either a set of cellular / honeycomb blankets, baby sleeping bags or swaddle blankets.  

    Prams, cribs, Moses baskets and cots are safe for your baby if;

    • They have a firm, flat, well fitting waterproof mattress. Read more about how to check your mattress is safe *here*.

    If you are buying a second hand crib, cot or pram;

    • Buy a new mattress that has the CE standard label
    • Buy from smoke free homes only
    • Check the condition carefully – don’t buy if you can see any damage
    • If the cot you are buying is old, or a family heirloom, make sure it would pass todays safety standards.
  • It is the law that all babies and children use a car seat until they are 12 (or 135cms whichever comes first). Even if you do not own a car it is likely that at some point your baby will need to travel in a vehicle.

    It is generally advised that the return journey after having your baby is not on public transport and you will need your baby car seat to go home from hospital.

    It is recommended that car seats are bought new because you cannot be certain that a second hand car seat has never been in an accident. You can learn more about choosing a safe car seat for your baby *here*.

    Car seats should just be used for travel – they are not suitable for babies to sit in for long periods. They can make it harder for your baby to keep their oxygen at a safe level. They are not good for developing spines.

    Car seat manufacturers recommend the 2 Hour Rule. This means young babies should spend no longer than 2 hours in a car seat in a 24 hour period. If you are travelling a distance you should stop for breaks and get the baby out of the seat. 

  • Slings
    It is good for babies and their parents to get out of the house from their earliest days. They need something safe and comfortable to do so. You might choose to use a sling – holding your baby close helps with bonding. There are many types of sling and it is up to you what you think will work best.

    It is important that slings are used safely. Follow the Sling Safety Checklist when choosing and using a carrier.

    Prams and Pushchairs
    There’s a huge range of prams and pushchairs out there. The cost varies a lot. The most expensive are not necessarily better. 

    • It should have the CE mark to show it reaches advised standards.
    • It should lie flat for your new born.
    • It should face you so that you can see your baby easily and your baby can see you.
    • The mattress should fit well, be firm, waterproof and flat.

    Second hand prams are readily available and can be very good value for money.

    Check that;

    •  They come from a smoke free home
    •  That a well fitting replacement mattress is still available to buy
    •  They have a CE mark
    •  They have no visible damage and are in good working order.
  • Baby clothes are hard to resist. There is loads of choice. It is easy to get carried away and buy more than you need.

    • Remember your baby will grow quickly. If you buy too much they may not get the chance to wear it.
    • Get different layers of clothing for your baby so that you can keep their body temperature stable. Remember to take layers like hats off when you are inside so your baby does not overheat.
    • Do you have easy your access to a washing machine? If you do not have your own you may need more spares.
    • Choose baby clothes that are easy to get on and off for the early days. Bibs and muslin cloths to wipe up spits and spills can reduce the need for changing clothes.

    Friends and family often buy baby clothes as gifts - it is worth asking them to buy some bigger sizes or ask for vouchers.

    Hand-me-downs and second hand baby clothes are a good option – they rarely get worn out. Buy from smoke free homes and wash before use.

  • Whether you are breast or bottle feeding it is important to have a way of sterilising equipment. Anything apart from a breast that is going to come in contact with your baby’s mouth or the milk they drink, should be sterilised.

    Sterilised means after being washed in warm soapy water. The following items all need to be sterilised;

    • Breast pump parts and storage containers
    • Spoons and cups
    • Dummies
    • All bottle feeding equipment.

    You don’t have to spend a lot of money – you can use a plastic container with a lid and sterilising solution. Just make sure all equipment is completely covered by the sterilising fluid. There are steam and microwave sterilisers available too. Whatever you choose be sure to follow all instructions carefully.

    In recent times formula milk preparation machines have become available e.g. ‘Perfect Prep’. They are not recommended by health experts because there is doubt that the milk is prepared at a safe temperature to kill bacteria.

    You can read more about these concerns at First Steps Nutrition.

Who can Help?

If you feel worried and want more advice you can speak to your midwife.

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.

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