A friend of mine is expecting his first baby soon, so I thought I’d offer my advice on what to buy and not to buy for the baby.

Here, then, is a list of all the things that we considered buying (based on various sources), and what we thought about them.

Buying for your baby.xls

I’ve sorted everything into 3 groups: ESSENTIAL, YES, and NO, based on how useful we found them.

  • ESSENTIAL are the things that we couldn’t have done without. The essentials include such basics as clothes, pram, sling, cot.
  • YES marks things that were useful but that could probably be replaced with something else, or you could manage without. This includes a changing bag, bath thermometer etc.
  • NO marks things that we bought or got, but didn’t end up using much at all. For us, this included scratch mittens and a breast pump.
  • There are also some items marked “Didn’t have one” or “Haven’t bought yet”; those are things that have been recommended somewhere but that we haven’t actually tried out, so I don’t have much to say about them.

I’ve also commented briefly on most items. The comments are of course my personal view only. If your habits or preferences differ from mine, or your baby has different needs, you may not agree at all.

Finally, I’ve guessed at roughly when you might want to buy these things. The things I suggest buying at 0 months are the ones you should probably sort out before the baby is born (and with a few weeks to spare). The ones marked “0-1 months” are those that you can live without in the first few weeks, and may want to buy a bit later, when you know more about your baby’s habits and preferences. But you could also buy these in advance.

Our best buys:

  • Pushchair. Don’t skimp; buy a good one. You are likely to use it many hours every week, so get one that you find comfortable and convenient to use. BabyCentre has good tips to help you choose a pram or pushchair. The right choice depends on your lifestyle: I’m very happy with our Stokke, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re going to be packing your pushchair into a car on a regular basis, or spending a lot of time on the Tube.
  • Moses basket. You can buy a cot straight away, but we found a Moses basket very handy to begin with. It’s light and small, so you can carry the baby with you from room to room. It also allows you to have the baby sleeping next to your bed, where a cot might not fit.
  • Sling. I love my slings. Many books and web sites recommend a Baby Bjorn-type baby carrier, but a sling is much more versatile and comfortable, for both you and the baby. Some men have been known to describe slings as somewhat “unmanly”, but if you buy one in black or denim, you can probably convince them otherwise! The Baby Wearer has a lot of advice on choosing a baby carrier.
  • Activity mat / play gym. Ingrid spends most of her day on the play mat. It protects the carpet from the baby, and lets the baby have fun looking at interesting things from a very early age. Get one with lots of loops and removable toys, so you can switch to new ones and keep the it interesting.
  • Bath seat. Cheap, easy to use, less faff than a baby bath, and takes up less space.
  • A good nursing pillow. A tiny baby is floppy and needs good support, and mum’s arms and back can get very tired without a pillow.

Baby clothes are a whole separate topic and deserve a post of their own, which I will hopefully be able to post later today or tomorrow.

Update: here is the post about baby clothes.