Planning ahead for your baby’s first few weeks and months can feel quite daunting. But we’re here to help. We’ll make it fun and we’ll make it easy. That’s a promise!
Read on for handy advice on all those first year essentials (the *essentials* not the nice-to-haves!) and don’t forget to print off our handy checklist. For more detailed advice check out our series of buying guides – everything you need to know about everything that matters.
In this article we’ll look at:
- Car seats
- Baby clothes
- Home safety
- And the rest!
Babies can sleep for up to 16 hours a day in the early weeks so it’s important to find the right sleep solution. Check out our handy sleep timeline for advice on what you need when. Bear in mind your baby will sleep in your room for the first six months so if space is tight consider a Moses basket or crib.
Choosing a Moses basket: A popular choice in the early days, Moses baskets are secure, cosy and light enough for you to carry from room to room. Lots fit on a stand – ideal if you’ve got pets, inquisitive toddlers or draughts. And they really save your back!
Choosing a cot: Most cots will see your baby through from birth to 18 months/2 years but compact cots are also available, or you may decide to go for a cot bed that converts to a toddler bed – a longer-lasting option to age 4 or 5. For more advice read the 3 questions to ask when buying a cot. For safety, make sure any new cot conforms to BS EN 716-2:2008 – all Kiddicare cots do.
Choosing a mattress: Mattresses are available in three main types: foam, spring or natural fibre. Foam is the value choice, sprung mattresses offer great postural support with either coil or individually housed pocket springs while natural mattresses are made from coconut coir bonded with latex for enhanced support and breathability. The important thing is getting the right fit. Be sure that the gap between the mattress edge and the cot is no bigger than 1.5cm.
Choosing bedding: Lots of newborns love to be swaddled. Choose shaped swaddle wraps or use a simple muslin and lightweight blanket. Steer clear of duvets and pillows in year one. Lots of parents go for a combination of fitted sheets (three to five is ideal) and sleeping bags (we recommend three). Sleeping bags like Grobags can be worn over PJs; they fasten over the shoulder keeping little one warm and avoiding the covers being kicked off. Choose 1.0 Tog for summer, 2.5 Tog for winter.
If you’re planning to leave hospital in a car, a car seat is mandatory. See our car seat buying guide for an introduction to the basic groups and choices. Resist the temptation to borrow or buy a second-hand car seat; you just never know if it’s been in an accident, plus it may not fit your car properly or have fitting instructions.
Choosing a car seat: The key thing is making sure your car seat is suitable for your baby’s weight and height. Our article on choosing the perfect car seat has all the details. The two key groups to think about in year one are Group 0+ car seats and Group 0+/1 – both have ISOFIX options, a genius invention that reduces the risk of incorrect fitting. Our ISOFIX explained video has all the details. Remember, you can pop into any Kiddicare store for free fitting and safety checking on all car seats from all retailers.
It’s true – there’s a huge amount of choice out there but don’t feel overwhelmed. First things first, check out our pushchair buying guide.
Choosing a pushchair: Remember, newborns need to lie flat for little backs to straighten out so that rules out some of the lighter weight strollers.
If you drive you’ll probably find a travel system complete with car seat is your best bet. If you whiz around on public transport a classic pushchair is ideal. Love the great outdoors? An all terrain three wheeler could be for you. Or maybe you prefer the tradition of a classic pram.
Come in-store to Kiddicare and try out as many as you like on our buggy test tracks.
Perfect for keeping baby close and your hands free, a sling, wrap or carrier is a great way to bond with your baby while going about your day to day.
Choosing a carrier. Your basic options are front carriers where baby can face in or out, ideal for up to 15 months approx.; fabric slings with versatile options to wear little one in front, in a breastfeeding position, on your hip or on your back and back carriers with a rigid frame for outdoorsy adventures to age 3.
Our nursery buying guide has lots of handy advice on creating the perfect space to welcome your new arrival.
Choosing a wardrobe: For longevity choose a wardrobe with a removable lower rail to maximise hanging space and make sure it’ll fit adult hangers. You won’t believe how fast little one shoots up!
Choosing a dresser: By the time little one’s ready for potty training you’ll have changed thousands of nappies, so a chest of drawers with a handy changer top makes sound economic sense. And saves your back!
Choosing a monitor: Audio? Video? Motion sensor? All three? All your choices are explained in our handy guide to monitors.
Choosing a mobile: High contrast mobiles are great for stimulating baby and ones with soothing lullabies and starry projections will help them drift off to the land of nod.
Choosing outfits for your new arrival has to be one of the best bits of the nine-month adventure. Baby’s first wardrobe is a handy checklist of everything you’ll need from babygros to bootees. You’ll find a huge range of teeny-tiny clothes by Pumpkin Patch, Frugi, Lily & Sid and Nutmeg in all our Kiddicare stores. Find your nearest Kiddicare store here.
Wondering if reusables are right for you? Read the lowdown. Decided on disposables? Our award-winning just4bums nappies come in handy month-long packs, delivered direct to your door. What’s more we offer a handy take back service, so when little one outgrows a size, you can return and replace for the next size up.
If you’re thinking disposables a nappy disposal unit is money well spent. Whichever you go for, you’ll need a nice comfy changing mat at home and a fold up version for your travels. Some come as part and parcel of a changing bag.
Breastfeeding? Bottle feeding? A bit of both? Check out our buying guide for all the essentials. Weaning usually begins around 6 months but can begin from 17 weeks once baby’s digestive system is fully developed. Before then your breast milk or formula and water is all your baby needs.
Breastfeeding your baby
Our top 10 tips for successful breastfeeding is a must-read for all breastfeeding mums. When it comes to your shopping list, if you’re exclusively breastfeeding your baby you’ve got everything you need courtesy of Mother Nature. Add a specially shaped breastfeeding pillow for supportive comfort and some muslins for any mop-ups and you’re all set. If you plan to share the breastfeeding load with your partner you’ll need:
- A breast pump. Choose a simple manual breast pump that’s easy to operate with one hand or go for a super-efficient electric model.
- Breastmilk bags to store expressed milk & breast pads (for any leaks!)
Bottle feeding your baby (breast milk or formula)
If you’ve decided against breastfeeding or if your partner wants to share the midnight feeds, we recommend a nursing pillow and muslins as above, plus:
- Bottles Between 6-10 bottles is recommended. Start with the small 4oz bottles and graduate to 8oz as baby grows
- Teats Buy the same number of teats as bottles and begin with a slow flow that’s suitable for newborns
- A steriliser. Broadly your options are electric steam, microwave or cold water with sterilising tablets.
- Bottle brushes are handy for making sure teats and bottles are super-clean
If you’re exclusively bottle feeding read our 6-step guide to bottle feeding.
Once your baby reaches approximately six months of age (but not sooner than 17 weeks), you can start to introduce solid foods into their diet. It’s fun, it’s messy, it’s a journey!
What gear will you need? As well as a sense of humour and a whole lot of patience, you’ll need:
- A highchair. The 3 questions to ask when buying a highchair has advice on all the different options. Choose contemporary, wooden or folding
- Bowls ideally with suction cups so they can’t be flung across the room! They’re also great for freezing
- Baby spoons, even if you go for baby-led weaning it’s still a good idea to get baby used to to soft tipped spoons that are nice and gentle on baby’s gums
- 3-5 sippy cups with handles
- Bibs and coveralls – between 5 and 8 should see you right. Coveralls have sleeves to keep baby’s clothes clean, while bibs are the easy-on-easy-off solution
- Wipes. Loads of!
Just like us, babies love to be entertained but there’s no need to go overboard on a huge range of toys. Our toys buying guide gives you a good idea of what’s best for each stage.
Early days recommendations are:
- A rocker. Babies love the soothing motion of a bouncer or rocker, particularly with mum and dad close by. Handy for a nap too.
- A playgym. A comfy padded mat or nest with overhead toys for baby to look at, play with and bat at
- Teething toys to relieve the ouch of little teeth coming through
- Books. It’s never too early to introduce your little one to the pleasures of reading. Choose soft books to chew on, bath books to splash around with and chunky board for storytime.
It won’t be long before your tiny newborn is rolling, crawling and walking, and ready to explore your home. So it’s a good idea to baby-proof your home from eight months, or as soon as little one’s on the move.
- Safety gates. If you have stairs in your home, these are essential at both the top and bottom. The 3 questions to ask when buying safety gates has the lowdown
- Corner cushions, door stops and water thermometers will prevent injuries and give you peace of mind.
And the rest
We’ve covered pretty much everything you need for your baby’s first year. All that’s left are a few handy purchases to keep your baby happy, healthy and clean:
- Digital thermometer to check for temperatures
- First-aid kit in case of any emergency
- Baby nail scissors or clippers
- Mild, baby-friendly laundry detergent
- A baby bath
- Soft towels or hooded robes – perfect for a post-bath cuddle!
Want to spread the payments the easy way? In-store at Kiddicare there’s 0% finance available when you spend over £250. Terms and conditions apply.