Hello expecting parent. It can be a little daunting when you start to think about all of the things you need to buy for your new arrival – where do you even begin? Don’t worry. We’re here to try to make things easier for you. We got together and created this special guide with you in mind. These products are tried and tested and have the Parent Hive seal of approval.
Note: Just like with everything pregnancy and baby-related, the choices you make are all so personal. So do your own research and don’t get too bogged down with outside advice (including from your friends at Parent Hive) – if you want to buy that bath with a robot that cleans the baby for you*, you do it.
*Sadly, we don’t think this exists yet.
A BABY BATH
If you’re on a super tight budget, you can skip this one. A laundry basket, sink or any smallish container will do. However, the baby bath is handy – especially when the task of bathing your new precious tot can be a daunting one. They are so tiny and wobbly – add water to that mixture and you’ve got a slippery little fish baby and a nervous parent: Not the best combo.
The first baby bath we want to recommend is the Naked baby bath by Boon (£60) (pictured above). It’s amazing. It discreetly folds down and packs away, has two position capability, and a plug – so it’s super easy to get rid of the water after bath time. We used this from day one up until around week 14, and can’t recommend it enough. You can place it over your bathroom sink, which means it’s really good for your back and helps you get used to bathing your bubba in the most convenient way possible.
The second is the substantially cheaper Angelcare bath support (£28) (pictured above). We found that Angelcare’s tub is better for older babies, who are a little more sturdy (around 3.5 months onwards). Plus, this is a great support for when your baby is sitting up – he or she will love sitting in this and splashing around in the water.
Do you need to buy two baby baths? Definitely not. Would we do it again? 100%. Both are great for different reasons: The Boon is perfect for the newborn stage until around 10-14 weeks (for our tots anyway), and the Angelcare will last right through until the stage where your baby no longer needs support.
- Optional: Baby bath
HOODED TOWELS, TOWELS AND MUSLIN WASHCLOTHS
We absolutely adore a Danish brand called Cam Cam Copenhagen and love their hooded towel (£28). It’s super soft, 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton and quite big – so it will therefore probably last quite a long time. We suggest that you will definitely need at least 2 hooded towels so that when one is in the wash, you can use the other. Why the hood? Well, it’s not 100% essential, but it does mean that baby’s head is nice and warm as soon as he or she is lifted out of the bath – and it looks super cute. There are also a lot of adorable personalized hooded towels out there such as the sweet giraffe towel from Mamas and Papas and My1stYears’ collection.
You may also want to buy a couple of towels to place on a flat surface to lay the baby on whilst you oil and change them. Plus you’ll need some muslin washcloths (at least 2), these are great for washing the baby and also for covering the baby’s tummy with whilst you wash their arms, hair, legs etc – it keeps them warm. We used a glass jar (filled with clean water) to rinse our tot’s hair, but there are a lot of specially-designed products for this task also if you want to buy something – Nuby’s tear-free rinse pail looks particularly good.
- At least 2 hooded towels
- At least 2 muslin washcloths
- Optional: A couple of towels to place on a flat surface to lay the baby on
- Optional: A vessel to use to wash the baby’s hair clean
BABY BATH PRODUCTS: BODY & HAIR WASH, BABY OIL AND MORE
We are big fans of Weleda products. They smell so good, are free of synthetic preservatives, fragrances and colourants and 100% certified natural. We use the Calendula baby oil on our baby’s skin after a bath and also use the shampoo and body wash, face moisturiser, body moisturiser, cream bath, tummy oil (great for baby massage) and the nappy change cream. If you want to “try before you buy” the big products, you can purchase the awesome miniatures ‘baby care gift set’ (£12.95) – which is also great for packing in your hospital bag to prep for D-day!
So. What are the essentials? Definitely a shampoo and body wash (we love that Weleda’s is a combined product) and baby oil. The baby oil can be massaged on straight from the bath and helps keep baby’s skin super soft. You can use it on dry spots, for a nappy change cream alternative, to smooth down hair and Mum’s can use it on their own tummies to help the post-birth healing process. Also, you will need a comb and a brush.
- Body wash
- Baby oil
- Comb and/or brush
- Optional: The plethora of other baby beauty products out there!
NAPPY CHANGE KIT: CHANGING CUSHION, NAPPIES, WIPES AND NAPPY CREAM
It’s not essential if you are on a tight budget as a towel or blanket will do the job just fine, but a changing cushion makes the nappy changing process nice and comfortable for the baby. We use the ‘dots misty green’ number from Cam Cam Copenhagen (£42) and adore it. It’s chic and big and comfortable, OCS-certified, has a 100% organic cotton cover and is filled with cold-pressed foam made with 40% organically grown material. We also use the super-handy Ubbi diaper caddy. It’s great as it stores everything we need in one place, plus it has a nappy changing mat and it’s PVC, BPA and Phthalate free.
You also need to get nappies. These are 100% essential. What you choose is totally up to you and there’s much debate on the subject. We dabbled with the idea of going down the eco-friendly washable route, but in the end, opted for Pampers Sensitive nappies. We can’t fault them and especially love the line that runs down the middle and changes blue to show you when the babies nappy is wet and needs changing – genius. In terms of what size to buy and how many, we suggest buying at least 30 of the smallest newborn size (size 1 in Pampers) and then 30 of the next size up (size 2 in Pampers). You don’t want to buy too many newborn sizes and then be stuck with them if you have a big baby. Once your baby arrives you will be able to have a better idea of (a) how many nappies you go through in a day and (b) if he or she has loads of space in the newborn size or if it looks like they will grow out of them super fast.
There are also many amazing non-toxic and eco-friendly nappies on the market including Naty, Seventh Generation and the Honest Company. Sadly they are more expensive than gold in the UAE.
Wipes are also an essential part of the nappy change kit. We use Water Wipes, which are chemical-free, and created from 99.9% water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract – a natural skin conditioner. They are more expensive than normal wipes, but we think it’s worth it because we don’t want to use chemicals on our baby’s most sensitive areas (or any areas for that matter). They are also so great for using for face wipes and a little freshen up after a feed or a play.
A nappy change cream is also essential. And although you don’t need to use one every single time you change a nappy, it’s necessary for when the baby looks a little sore or red and we advise slathering one on before bedtime (since this is the longest stretch a baby will wear the same nappy for). We love the amazing Weleda nappy change cream, it’s chemical-free, and 100% natural.
You also need to consider nappy changes away from home. We suggest you at least buy a good portable nappy changing pad or mat that will fit in your baby bag or under your pram, it’s a lifesaver for the car, friend’s house, and grubby toilets. Something like a vanity bag to keep all of your nappy change essentials is also super handy as you can just grab it and go.
- Optional: Baby changing cushion
- Optional: Diaper caddy
- Nappies – at least 30 of the smallest newborn size (size 1 in Pampers) and then 30 of the next size up (size 2 in Pampers)
- Wipes – at least 6 packs to start you off
- A nappy change cream – buy 2 (and mix up the brands if you want to see which you prefer)
- Optional: A baby bag
- A portable roll-up or folder-away changing mat
- Something to store nappy change essentials in for on the move changes
Baby’s nails are like little daggers. They grow so fast, and you are going to need to trim them because otherwise, they scratch up their faces (and you). You can’t cut babies nails until they are around 2 weeks old as they are too soft from being in the water-filled womb for 9 months (so you need mittens, more on that later). After the 2-week mark, we suggest trimming your babies talons whilst they are sleeping. Make sure you do it in a well-lit room with someone to hold the baby whilst you tackle their tiny digits. We tried nail clippers and nail scissors and preferred the former. There are many available on the market including some snazzy ones with an inbuilt LED light.
This isn’t the chicest of subjects but babies also get bogies. And since they can’t blow their noses themselves, this can become a little tricky. Enter the bogey sucking device. Ah, parenting – so chic! But really, this weird little contraption by NoseFrida (£6.95) is a complete essential and it’s going to be a lifesaver when the poor mite gets his or her first cold.
We also suggest investing in a thermometer. Especially if you feel you might be an anxious parent to start. That way, you won’t have to second guess if your baby has a fever, this smart little device will do it all for you.
It will probably be a wee while before you have to deal with the joys of teething, but you never know – some babies start super early. With this in mind, we recommend arming yourself with some homoeopathic teething crystals – Chamomilla 3X. Weleda makes a great product and these are also said to help with Colic: Which definitely does plague some babies and parents in the first weeks of life. Weleda also does a great 100% natural Rhinodoron spray for blocked, stuffy noses that can be used from 3 months onwards.
Lastly, we want to draw your attention to an amazing little gadget called The Owlet (pictured above). This device slips comfortably onto your baby’s foot, grows with your child (newborn to 18 months), and monitors your little one’s oxygen levels and heart rate. It pairs with an app on your smartphone, and there’s a base station that charges it up and also acts as a neat little night light. We adore this genius little contraption. It offers the kind of peace of mind that we would (and have), gladly pay $299.99 for.
- Baby nail clippers and/or nail scissors
- A nasal aspirator a.k.a. A boogie sucking device
- A thermometer
- Optional: Chamomilla 3X for teething and colic
- Optional: Rhinodoron spray
- Optional: The Owlet
THE STARTER CLOTHING ESSENTIALS
You probably won’t listen because having your first baby is far too exciting – but you really don’t need that many clothes at first. Babies grow really fast (especially in the first few weeks), so keep this in mind when you are shopping. The newborn size probably won’t fit your baby for very long (and some babies even skip it) and to be completely honest: Clothes that aren’t onesies are too fiddly and time-consuming, not to mention probably pretty uncomfortable for a newborn.
With this in mind, we suggest getting a wardrobe together that’s 70-80% onesies, and the rest you can buy cute little outfits if you like. We would say get around 4-6 newborn size onesies (definitely no more than 8) and wait and see how big your baby is. You can then get, say, eight 0-3 month size onesies and if you want to be super prepared, eight 3-6 month onesies. We love the plain white organic cotton onesies from John Lewis (£10 for a pack of 5) they are booted and cleverly fitted with fold-over mittens. We also adore the gorgeous printed ones from Sapling, plus Aden and Anais do some lovely ones, as do Milk Barn. Also: Look out for zipped and magnetic onesies, these are a gamechanger.
Tip: Before you dress your baby, pop together the buttons in the onesie’s legs and crotch and slip them onto your baby like trousers. This makes the changing process so much easier, especially if you have a little wriggler!
Depending on the climate you live in, you may also want to get some vests to go under the baby’s clothes to keep them warm. Some parents do this no matter what the weather is, but don’t worry: You’ll soon know if you have a “hot” or a “cold” baby. Hats, mittens, socks, and booties are also essentials. As are large muslin cloths – these can be used for a plethora of things: As swaddles, like blankets, as a sun shield, as a comforter, nappy changing mat, to wipe up spit-up. The list goes on. We adore Aden & Anais muslin cloths (marketed as ‘swaddles’), they are whimsical, super soft, and long-lasting.
Sleeping bags are also genius. Because loose blankets are a bit of a hazard, as they can easily get tangled up and cover your baby. (With this in mind, if you do go down the blanket route, it’s important that you purchase the blankets with “breathability”). What we love about sleeping bags is there is no loose blanket to worry about, and also, there’s no risk of your baby waking up because he or she has lost their blanket and gotten a chill. Again, we think Aden & Anais are the best in this field, their sleeping bags are utterly perfect, and come in a range of toggles to suit your climate and the seasons.
You may also want to invest in a swaddling option, in case you go down that route. Just remember: Your baby will be the one to decide. So don’t buy a ton of swaddling options until you’re sure your baby loves it. Our advice is: Try using one of the large muslin cloths that are in the essentials kit anyway, and if your baby loves it, you can go from there…
Last but not least, we recommend purchasing some special baby-safe laundry detergent and fabric conditioner. Look for free-from chemical concoctions that won’t irritate your baby’s sensitive skin.
- 4-6 newborn size onesies
- 4-6, 0-3 month size onesies
- Optional: 4-6, 3-6 month size onesies
- 4-6 large muslin cloths
- Optional depending on climate/preference: 4 newborn size vests
- Optional depending on climate/preference: 4, 0-3 month size vests
- 1-2 newborn size hat
- 1-2, 0-3 month size hat
- 4-6 pairs of mittens (some onesies have cleverly built-in mittens, so if yours do, don’t buy as many mittens)
- 2-4 pairs of socks (divided between newborn and 0-3 month sizes)
- 4-6 booties (you might not need as many if all of your onesies are booted)
- Optional: A few cute outfits for pictures and social occasions
- 2 of the smallest size sleeping bags and/or breathable blankets with holes
- Optional: Swaddles
- Optional: Baby-safe laundry detergent & fabric softener
NURSERY ESSENTIALS: SOMEWHERE TO SLEEP SAFELY, A HUMIDIFIER/AIR PURIFIER AND A BABY MONITOR
We’ve noticed that there are two polar opposites when it comes to first-time parents. Those who rush to pull together an incredible, Pinterest-perfect nursery, and those who just get the essentials and put them in their room. Whichever camp you belong in, our only advice is to remember that if the baby is sleeping with you at the beginning – you will barely use your nursery, so if you’re on a tight budget or time isn’t on your side, don’t sweat it: An Architectural Digest-worthy nursery is not necessary at first.
What is necessary is somewhere for the baby to sleep safely. Most authorities recommend that the baby sleeps in the same room as the parents for the first 6 months of life. Studies show that this greatly reduces the risk of SIDs. Do your research and make the decision that works for you.
So. Sleeping vessels. There’s a ton of noise about this on the Internet and we don’t want to add to it. A cot that your baby can grow into, a Moses basket, or a smaller, newborn cot solution, including the many co-sleeping cots on the market, are all great. If you’re on a tight budget, just get the big cot and then one of the many, amazing sleep positioners (we love the SleepyHead Deluxe, £120) to cradle your tiny tot until he or she is big enough to go it alone. If you want to cater to the newborn stage more specifically, get something smaller for your baby – like the Snuzpod (£199.95). We love this product, it’s super handy during the baby’s first weeks of life as you can take the top part off and travel around the house with it whilst your baby naps (and they nap a lot).
There are also a lot of different humidifiers and air purifiers on the market, with more and more being launched every year. We use and love the Roolen Breathe Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier. Although by no means “essential”, a humidifier is great because it protects your little one from dry air – adding moisture, which helps relieve your baby of irritated, dry skin and help them to breathe, and sleep soundly. Not convinced? There’s an interesting article on the benefits of using a humidifier in your baby’s nursery here.
Last, but not least, a baby monitor. This may be essential for some, but those who can’t afford one – fear not – they weren’t always available and many parents survive just fine without one. Personally, we are advocates for them. Especially the ones with video capability. And if and when you do sleep training, as it’s such a relief to be able to see your little one – not to mention during those precious few weeks at home. We love the iBaby monitors – they are expensive ($100-$250), but they have night vision, video, the ability to play nursery rhymes, a microphone so that you can speak to your baby, and hear your little one. They can even take photos and videos and some devices are fitted with humidity/air quality and temperature gauge. They also pair up with any device installed with the iBaby app. Snazzy.
Lastly, although not essential, we thoroughly recommend a white noise machine. Here at Parent Hive some of us started using speakers attached to laptops through Bluetooth, others a dedicated Alexa in the nursery – but these things all rely on WiFi and they can go awry. Not ideal. A white noise machine is consistent, doesn’t need WiFi or Bluetooth and there are some excellent ones that are small enough to travel around with you too. Check out this one on Amazon. We love it.
Note: at the time of going to press, iBaby is about to release its most state-of-the-art monitor – the M7, with an in-built moonlight soother, sound and motion sensor and feeding and diaper change alerts.
- Somewhere to sleep safely: A cot, a Moses basket or whatever you decide to opt for
- 2 crib or Moses basket sheets
- Optional: A humidifier/air purifier
- Optional: A baby monitor
- Optional: A sleep positioner
- Optional: Mattress protector
- Optional: White noise machine
BABY GEAR ESSENTIALS
A car seat is the most important item on this list. In fact, depending on where you live, you might find that the hospital won’t let you take your baby home without one – it’s the law. There are a lot of car seats on the market, and we recommend researching to find the one that will best fit your needs. We opted for the MaxiCosi Pebble Plus (£199) (pictured below). What we love about MaxiCosi is that they are compatible with almost every pram/stroller/buggy, thanks to their smart little adapters. We also love the MaxiCosi car seat base (£199), which offers the safest (and easiest) instalment of your little one’s car seat in your car. MaxiCosi actually just released the world’s first car seat with in-built airbags.
Buying a pushchair/pram/buggy is another very personal decision. We went with the Bugaboo Chameleon3 (£999) (pictured below). We rated the fact that the Bugaboo is available to buy almost everywhere, and as expats living in Dubai, felt that this provided the best solution for repairs, replacement parts (etc) if needed. It’s definitely on the most expensive end of the scale, but what we love about the Chameleon3 is that it grows with your child – the 3-in-1 design adapts to car seats, reversible carrycot, and reversible seat.
However, in hindsight, we would have skipped the Bugaboo and dove straight into the GB+ Pockit (pictured below) – a.k.a. The world’s smallest stroller, which you can fold up and take on the plane with you. This is a gamechanger because waiting for your stroller at the luggage carousel with a heavy, hot baby in your arms after a long, tiring flight is not the ticket. And let’s not even discuss the fact that a couple of us have had strollers “go missing” (nightmare). This genius product is also now suitable from birth thanks to the ‘Cot to Go‘, which also folds down super small.
For car travel, you may also want to invest in a sunshade for the windows and a baby-safe mirror so that you can see your baby from your driver’s rear-view mirror. Amazon is your friend for both, and if you can track down the cloth sunshade that goes over the window like a jumper – get it. It is far superior to the silly-sized ones with the irritating ‘lick and stick’ plugs.
A car seat and buggy are the pure essentials, but there are other ‘baby gear’ items that you may also want to invest in… A baby carrier can be handy – and there are two ways you can go. You can either get a cloth one (best for newborns) or a more study carrier like the Parent Hive-recommended ErgoBaby Four Position 360 Carrier (pictured below). Design-enthusiasts will also love the simplicity of the Cybex YEMA Carrier.
The Boba Wrap cloth baby carrier is really nice and soft. Although it’s worth noting that you will need to watch a YouTube tutorial or two to master how to wrap it.
Lastly, some babies absolutely love a rocker, bouncer or a swing, whilst others positively loathe them. If at all possible, we recommend borrowing one from a friend to see how your little one fairs. But if you are in the market to “get all the stuff” we suggest investing in the Coco Go 3-in-1 Organic Bouncer by Bloom (pictured above).
- A car seat
- Optional: A car seat base
- A buggy/pram
- Optional: A baby carrier
- Optional: Rocker, bouncer or swing
- Optional: Mirror to watch the baby while driving
- Optional: Sunshade for car windows
FORMULA, BOTTLES, A STERILISER, BOTTLE BRUSH AND BABY-FRIENDLY BOTTLE WASH
Planning to breastfeed? Great. Most people agree that this is the best possible nutrition you can give your baby during the first weeks of life, and there are many benefits for the mother too. Not going to breastfeed for whatever reason? Also great. A fed baby is best. Remember that. Either way, we recommend getting at least one tub of formula just in case for any reason your plans to breastfeed don’t actually go to plan. There are a lot of formulas in the market. We loved this informative article, which highlights the pros and cons of the top organic products on the market. Thanks to this, we used and loved Baby’s Only Organic LactoRelief Formula. It’s not readily available outside of the U.S, and therefore some of us also opt for Hipp Organic Combiotic.
Bottles are another essential. If you plan to breastfeed you won’t need as many, but you should definitely buy at least a couple just in case (a) breastfeeding doesn’t work out, and (b) you want to express and feed your baby from the bottle. We love Dr. Brown’s Options bottles. They come complete with a clever little vent, which helps reduce colic and wind problems and you can use the bottle with or without it.
You also need a baby bottle brush to clean them, and a baby-friendly bottle wash solution. We love the MAM Bottle Brush and the Bollicine Wash. These aren’t essentials, but they do make cleaning your babies bottles an easier, chemical-free process.
A steriliser is also another handy device in the new parent kit. If you are on a tight budget, you can actually boil your bottles, pacifiers and teethers over the stove in a pan of water, but it’s a bit of a hassle. A steriliser does the job super fast and easily – so if you have the money, it’s worth investing in one. We use and love Dr. Brown’s Steriliser (59.99).
- One tub of formula suitable for newborns (Tip: If you are torn between a few brands, buy them and try them – you’ll soon know which works best for you and your tot) Note: If you plan to skip breastfeeding and just do formula, you will want to buy at least 4 tubs to start you off.
- Baby bottles: At least 2 4oz bottles if you plan to breastfeed, and more if you will be exclusively pumping or formula feeding (4 minimum)
- Optional: Bottle brush
- Optional: Special chemical-free bottle wash solution
- Optional: A steriliser
Breastfeeding can feel like a daunting task when you prepare to attempt it for the first time. In terms of whether or not it will work for you and your baby, this is a very personal thing. But to give yourself the best chance of succeeding we recommend watching YouTube tutorials on the art of helping your baby to “latch on”, and requesting the breastfeeding consultant visit you as soon as possible after the birth. You should also steer clear of synthetic Folic Acid, which is associated with tongue-tied babies (more on that here). As with every subject, the more you research and learn and prepare yourself, the more likely you are to nail it when the time comes. Just don’t put too much pressure on yourself, let nature work her magic, and if it doesn’t work out for you for any reason whatsoever, remember: A fed baby is best.
In terms of breast pumps, the Haakaa Breast Pump (£15.99) (pictured above) is a genius little contraption that we recommend purchasing if you plan to breastfeed. It is just one piece of chemical-free, food-grade silicone and it’s so simple to use, with no batteries or power, sound-free, and pretty discreet. It’s also relatively inexpensive compared to other pumps. To see how it works, watch this YouTube video here.
Once you’ve gotten into your breastfeeding groove, you may wish to purchase a stronger, battery-operated pump. We do recommend waiting to see how you and your baby get on first, as these can be quite expensive. We tried and loved the Medela Swing with Calma (134.99).
Note: Medela does a great “starter” kit which includes the Medela Swing with Calma and other breastfeeding essentials for £99.99. Check out the Medele website to see if you can avail this offer.
If and when you begin to pump breastmilk “seriously”, you will want breastmilk storage bottles and/or bags. Again, we recommend waiting to see how you get on with breastfeeding and pumping, before investing in these.
For those who want to be able to discreetly breastfeed in public, there a range of handy breastfeeding aprons. However, if you are on a tight budget, a large muslin cloth will also do this job just fine.
Lastly, whether you decide to breastfeed or not, if your milk comes in, you might find that you (a) leak milk as your body adjusts and, (b) get sore or cracked nipples. With this in mind, it’s definitely worth packing some breast pads and a good nipple cream like Lanisoh in your hospital bag.
- Breast pads
- Nipple cream
- Optional: The Haakaa Breast Pump
- Optional: (And we recommend buying at a later date) An electric or battery-operated breast pump
- Optional: Breast milk storage bags and bottles
- Optional: Breastfeeding apron
- Optional: Maternity bras
TOYS, SOOTHERS AND TEETHERS
Newborn babies aren’t very “active”. And they can actually get overstimulated really easily, however, there are some things that you can purchase to pique their interests and help with development.
A cot mobile, light projector and safe, soft cuddly things are all great options. Just remember that most authorities recommend that your baby sleeps without toys or comforters to reduce the risk of SIDs. Read up on this.
In terms of comforters, it’s a good idea to consider that this might get lost or damaged at some point. So we recommend against encouraging your baby to fall in love with one object that won’t be easily replaced. We used and loved tying knots in Aden & Anais’ big muslin cloths to act as a comforter for our babies. There are also many cuddly toys with attached blankets.
Another handy thing you may want to invest in is a baby play mat. This will provide your baby with somewhere soft and safe to lay and get to know the world that he or she has just been born into. Lovevery does an awesome one (pictured above) that grows with your child, features 5 development zones and is non-toxic, safe and organic. It is available on The Tot, here.
Lastly, dummies/pacifiers. Some loathe them, some swear by them. We suggest buying just one, just in case (although it is not essential). Hevea does great ones. They are non-toxic, made of 100% natural rubber latex, have no artificial colours, PVC, BPA or phthalates, and meet all safety standards. They are also one piece of rubber latex, with no holes or attachments, which means no mould or other nasties can get in.
- Optional: Cot mobile
- Optional: Light projector
- Optional: Safe, soft cuddly things
- Optional: A baby play mat
- Optional: Non-toxic teethers
- Optional: Dummies/pacifiers
- Optional: Buggy/pram toys
Featured image by Little Mannequins