What do you really need for your new baby?

Although most of us spend a lot of money on things for our new babies, having a baby need not be expensive. Babies actually need very little, and what you […]

Although most of us spend a lot of money on things for our new babies, having a baby need not be expensive. Babies actually need very little, and what you do need doesn’t have to be cost a lot.

Every family finds they value different things and their baby wish list will be different.

A useful approach is to get the absolute minimum before baby is born, and then only get things if and when you find you need them. Ask yourself – is this essential?

Less stuff

There are many reasons to buy less – it saves money, has less impact on the environment and less clutter makes for a simpler life.

Buy 2nd hand

Go along to our local Nearly New Sale where you will be able to pick up things up at very reasonable prices. For safety reasons there are some things like car seats and mattresses which you are advised to buy new.

Beg and borrow and freecycle

Many parents want to get rid of stuff they no longer, or maybe never used. So ask around. Find out about your local Freecycle or Freegle.


If you write a gift list then friends and family can get you something that you actually want.


Breastfeeding is the cheapest option and most environmentally friendly option. You’ll almost certainly need nursing bras. Some women need breastpads. Nursing tops can be a good investment, but aren’t necessary.

Bottle feeding expressed milk and formula feeding both need much more equipment – bottles, teats, steriliser. Powdered formula is cheaper. For expressing you’ll need storage bottles/bags and although some mums express successfully by hand, most use a pump.


All a young baby really needs are a few baby suits. And depending on the time of year a few more layers for warmth – a hat, gloves and a jacket. Don’t get too many – they’ll grow out of them quick!


The cheapest long-term option is reusable nappies. Although you’ll have a bigger initial outlay you save over £600 for a single baby. Your council may have a scheme where you can claim money back for using reusable nappies. To cut costs and be as environmentally friendly as possible wash your nappies at a lower temperature, and line dry, or use a nappy laundry service.

You’ll need: Changing mat, nappies, nappy bucket, reusable wipes, waterproof nappy bag.
The Real Nappy Information Service Helpline: 08458 500606 www.goreal.org.uk

Another option is elimination communication or natural infant hygiene which cuts out or reduces nappies altogether. http://www.diaperfreebaby.org/ or http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ecuk/


A new baby doesn’t need any toys. Though you’ll be hard pressed to stop people buying cuddly toys!


Babies only really need a quick wipe with warm water and cotton wool, or a washable cloth. Bath with your baby, or as baby needs to be held the sink or a little water in the adult bath will do.


The simplest option is bed-sharing – no equipment needed.

Alternatively start with a Moses basket, crib or carry cot, then skip the cot and go for a cot bed. Or skip the Moses basket and go straight to the cot, or bedside cot/cosleeper which adjusts to the same height as your bed for easier night feeds. No pillows, cot bumpers, quilts or duvets – they are a suffocation risk.

Out and about

You’ll need a car seat unless you never travel anywhere by car.

A sling is a cheap, versatile option. Find out more at slingmeet.co.uk and thebabywearer.com.

A light weight reclining pushchair suitable for newborns will last longest. Expensive travel systems or prams may not be useful for long, so maybe borrow, buy 2nd hand or do without! There is a bewildering range of pushchairs and travel systems. What suits you will depend on whether you use a car, public transport and other factors. www.which.co.uk/reviews/baby-and-child/

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