Pre-Baby Essentials

Those little kicks are a constant reminder that soon there will be a baby living in your house! But there’s no need to spend a fortune on baby paraphernalia – our budget tips and pre-baby essential buys will help stretch your finances as far as possible.

Cot, crib or Moses basket?

The first consideration is where your baby is going to sleep. The traditional option is a Moses basket, but although these have many advantages – for one thing, they’re portable, so great for naps in the early days – some bigger babies grow out of them in as little as six weeks. Some might be too big even at birth! For longevity, a crib might be a better pre-baby essential, as it generally suits a baby up to six months. Going straight into a cot is another option. If the cot feels a little big for your baby, a cot divider is a good investment. A new mattress is recommended for each baby.

Travel system

This is often the biggest investment for a new parent, and the choice can be confusing and bewildering but is a pre-baby essential. A travel system grows with your baby, generally converting from a pram into a pushchair and might even accommodate your early car seat for ultimate portability. However, these can be expensive. A cheaper option is a pushchair that can recline completely for a new baby (babies under six months old should be reclined completely in a pushchair. Consider your needs when it comes to choosing a travel system. Will you use the pram function? Is size and weight an issue when it comes to opening and folding your choice? Would you like a system that allows you to attach your baby’s carseat? Once you have worked out your needs, shop around for the best deal.

Infant carseat

A carseat is an essential first purchase when buying for baby if you are planning on driving your baby home from hospital. Choose one that’s rear facing, complies with safety standards and that’s suitable for a newborn baby. Practice strapping in and taking out the carseat before the baby is born.

Baby bath

A baby bath isn’t an essential purchase when buying for baby but is useful if you are nervous about bathing a slippery newborn. Alternatively, there are inserts suitable for a standard bath that can help. A top and tail bowl is also not an essential purchase but useful when it comes to giving the baby a wash in the early days without going to the trouble of a full bath.

Baby seat

It might not look like an pre-baby essential buy, but a baby rocker or seat can be invaluable – not just because it gives you somewhere to put the baby when he or she is not feeding or sleeping. A chair with an inbuilt vibration unit can be useful for fussy babies as well. Shop around for a chair when buying for baby, as they can range from as little as €20 up to €100+.

Baby monitor

Good news – you don’t have to invest in a baby monitor until your baby is in a room by his or herself. A monitor allows you hear immediately if your baby is distressed, and gives peace of mind to parents who might be nervous of leaving baby by his or herself. Options include a straightforward audio system, a video monitor and an audio monitor that incorporates a sensor mat, which sets off an alarm if it senses the baby is having trouble breathing.

Changing station

Some parents like to invest in a whole changing unit, but if you don’t have the space, this is not at all necessary. A baby can be changed anywhere, but for comfort and ease of use, a simple changing mat is a good investment. These can cost as little as €10-€15 and will be used almost constantly!

Baby’s clothing

Although it’s tempting to buy lots of little outfits when buying for your baby, bear in mind that he/she will grow very fast, and for convenience’ sake, he or she will probably spend most of their early days in babygros. Look for 100 per cent cotton items if possible. A basic wardrobe is 8-10 vests; 8-10 babygros, 2 hats, 2 scratch mittens, 2-3 cardigans, a snowsuit or jacket and 2-3 blankets for walks. Babies can grow out of the “newborn” size very quickly so it’s best to only have a couple of items in this size, and concentrate your budget on the 0-3 months.

Bedding

Whatever bed you decide upon for your baby, you will need sheets and blankets as well. Opt for cellular, cotton-rich blankets, which are less likely to overheat your baby. Four sheets and about four blankets should be plenty. Remember you can swaddle with an ordinary blanket, so there’s no need for a separate swaddle blanket unless you want one. As your baby gets older, sleeping bags are a great option.

Playmat

Babies really don’t need any toys for at least six months – simply staring at you or listening to you talk and sing is all they need. But a good piece to invest in is a padded playmat for tummy time. As your baby grows, he or she will enjoy reaching up for the toys and the features on the mat will encourage movement while on the tummy. Mats vary in price from about €20 upwards so there is no need to spend lots of money on one.

Buy later

If this is your first baby, the sheer size of the list of baby equipment can be daunting when buying for baby. But remember you don’t need everything at once. For instance, your baby won’t need a high chair until he or she is about six months old. Or if you have a Moses basket or crib, you won’t need a full-sized cot just yet. It’s also recommended that your baby sleep in with you for the first six months, so there is no need to have a full nursery or bedroom set up or decorated for your little one. Finally, there’s no need to baby-proof your house until your baby is mobile – which won’t be for several months yet!

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