Preparing for the arrival of new baby is an exciting time, but your first visit to the baby store can be quite daunting; there are so many pieces of equipment that you have not seen before, had never thought of, hadn’t considered, and some you don’t even understand!

Don’t let the salesperson sweep you off your feet and guilt you into buying things they tell you that you “mustn’t do without” and that “your baby deserves”.  What your baby deserves is a loving home, plenty of cuddles, and to feel loved, nurtured and wanted.  Plus a place to sleep, and a few other important bits and pieces.

What do I really need?

So how do you negotiate the minefield of baby world without coming home with lots of expensive and unnecessary items whilst still providing the essentials for your baby and your own changing body?  Here are a few tips to help you with your preparation, but remember – what is best for you and your baby is exactly that: what is best for YOU and YOUR baby, so what works for one family, might not work for another.

These ideas might help you make some of your shopping decisions, but ultimately you are the one in control, and no sales person (or parent, or in-law, or well-meaning friend, or stranger in the shop or on the street) should be the reason for you making, or not making, any particular purchase.

Clothes for you

Maternity clothing can be expensive. Depending on the climate, your own personal clothing preferences, and your own body shape, you may be able to avoid buying too much in specific maternity wear.

In warmer weather long, flowing summer dresses can often easily accommodate your baby bump.  The purchase of a belly belt (belt designed to form a connection between the button and button hole of your jeans when they refuse to meet) can keep you in your favourite shorts, jeans or pants for longer and is easily hidden with a long top.

Depending on how you grow, often just buying the next size up in shirts and tops will provide stylish and comfortable clothing at a reasonable price.  Material that will stretch means not only will it be more comfortable and move with you, but it will also “grow” with your bump and hopefully extend its lifetime.

Clothes for your baby

Babies grow quickly! Buying an entire wardrobe in 0000 can mean baby only gets to wear half before they ‘graduate’ to 000.

Check with your parents and your partner’s parents – how big were you?  If you were big babies, you might not need 0000 for long – if at all.  Check with your obstetrician as to the approximate size of your baby and if it is “big for dates” and might not need the smaller sizes.

Check with friends who have recently had babies – often the 0000 sizes are worn for such a short time that they are stored away for the next baby looking almost new, and might be perfect for you to borrow for the short period that your baby needs them also.

Plan ahead

Think about the next six months. When your baby is born you will be inundated with gifts and new outfits, but as the novelty of your new baby wears off with your friends, you might find your baby has outgrown all of their beautiful gifts and you are heading into next season without a thing to wear (haven’t we all experienced that)!  So when you see the baby clothing section on sale, don’t just look at the newborn outfits but think of the season six months down the track and what size your baby might be then (usually about 00-0).

The nursery

Have a look at the space in your nursery and how much ‘equipment’ you can realistically fit in there. It might seem like a lovely idea to have matching bassinet, cot, change table, chest of drawers and bath stand, but is it practical?

Your chest of drawers can double as a change table by purchasing a padded change table insert to place on top of the drawers.  Many parents also opt to put baby straight into a cot (at the bottom of the cot according to recommendations for the prevention of SIDS).  Your newborn baby isn’t going to be rolling around in the wide expanse of the cot, and by the time they can they will want the extra room.

Have you thought of hiring?

Consider hiring rather than buying some of the bigger, short-term items, such as a baby swing (they usually play music and have a battery-operated automatic swing). They can be a great seat that is safe and secure, gives baby a different view of the world, and also soothes and entertains, however they have a limited lifespan as your baby will soon grow out of it.  For items that you know you will only need for a short period, hiring might be a more viable choice, and means you don’t have to store it waiting for the next baby.

What about secondhand?

We all want shiny brand new items to go with our shiny new cute little bundle of joy, but sometimes the secondhand options are as good as new.

Obviously safety standards need to be considered, for example a new cot mattress purchase is recommended for each new baby (even if you keep your cot for your own second child), however a cot that is in good condition and meets Australian standards can save you hundreds (just remember to look for little chew marks in the wood that might harbour germs and sand them down).

Some babies are out of their cots at a young age and a secondhand cot can look new, or easily be restored to new.

A baby carry pouch can be a wonderful way to have closeness with your baby but be hands-free!  They do, however, have a limited lifespan and usually you will outgrow wanting that big, heavy baby hanging on your front before baby stops enjoying it.  But it does mean that the top brands are available near new on the secondhand market and are usually machine-washable and easily laundered to new.

If you are definitely planning a second baby and hope to pass furniture down from baby to baby ensure to buy gender-neutral colours (or at least be prepared that your little princess might try her first solids in your little prince’s blue highchair).

Shop the sales

It isn’t just baby clothes that go on sale, but nappies too…which are be a big expense. If you choose disposable nappies you can estimate to go through anywhere up to 8-10 nappies per day with your newborn!

If you shop at the same supermarket most of the time, check with them if they will allow you to exchange your unopened nappies in case your baby grows out of a size before you use them up.

Notice your nappies

Pay attention to how your nappies perform. If you decided to opt for cheaper brands of nappies, notice how many you go through. Usually more expensive brands are more absorbent so the costs might even out and you can avoid so many changes!

If your baby starts childcare, check with the childcare on their nappy changing routine.  Many childcare facilities will change all the babies in the room when one needs a change, so you might go through more nappies in a day and in that case it might be better to send the cheaper nappy knowing you will go through more but you aren’t risking nappy rash as your baby will be changed very regularly.

Do your research

Check with friends and online forums – what mums did and didn’t use; what they purchased and sat in the corner gathering dust; what they didn’t purchase and wish they had; what they hired for all of their children and should have just bought first time around.

Again, what suits everyone else may not suit you, but by hearing the experiences of other mums it might help you figure out what will work for your little family.

Whatever you do, don’t be brand-pressured by the other mums! The pram/cot/car seat/breast pump you buy does not determine the type of mum you are or how clever your baby will be.