Having a baby: what you need and when
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Having a baby? Relax, our pregnancy checklist will show you which essentials you need to buy before your baby is born.
You're having a baby and you've just announced: 'I'm pregnant!' to the world. But now the initial pregnancy celebrations are over, what do you need to do first?
This Which? guide will help you take your first steps into parenting, with pregnancy advice and reviews on everything from car-seat safety to pushchair Best Buys.
Having a baby: essential shopping list
When you're having a baby, the first thing to do during your pregnancy is to write a list of what you do and don't need – see our list of to find out what other parents loved , and those baby products they thought were a waste of money.
Child car seat
If you're having a baby, you'll need a child car seat that is suitable from birth to bring your newborn home in. If you choose a 0+ car seat, this will usually last them until they are around 15 months or 13kg. See our guide to choosing the best child car seat to help you work out which sort of car seat your child needs.
When testing child car seats, we use far more stringent standards than the UK legal requirements, which simulate only a low-speed crash test and require no compulsory side-impact tests. Our expert tests include two crash simulations: a front crash, equivalent to a head-on collision at around 40mph, and a side crash. This means our tests more accurately reflect what happens in real crashes.
Visit our reviews to find the safest car seat for your new baby and make sure you know how to fit your child car seat safely. Not a member? You can unlock our thousands of reviews for just a £1 trial subscription to Which?.
Pushchair or pram
If you want to use a pushchair or pram from the moment you bring your baby home, you will need one that reclines completely flat to make it suitable from birth. We've tested hundreds of pushchairs for safety, ease of use and reliability. Visit our pushchair reviews to find the right one for you.
You'll also want to choose a pushchair that will fit in with your lifestyle – so, for example, you might want to check whether it will fit into the boot of your car or be easy to take on a bus. We can help with our guide to buying a pushchair and top picks for different activities.
And if you're confused by the terms buggy, travel system and all-terrain, find out which type would suit you best with our pushchair reviews.
Cot bed, Moses basket or baby crib
Potentially one of the bulkiest and most costly purchases you will make for your baby, cot beds can cost anything from £70 up to £600, but we've found a Best Buy for less than £180. The advantage of a cot bed rather than a typical cot is that it can be used from birth, then transformed into a bed that will last until your child is around age eight, depending on which you choose.
However, they are bulky and not easy to move around, and you may want your baby to sleep in your bedroom with you for at least the first few weeks.
There are alternatives for your newborn that can be moved easily – Moses baskets and baby cribs – but you can use these only for the first few months. Moses baskets are small and lightweight, and baby cribs are essentially smaller cot beds that often have a rocking mechanism to soothe your baby.
If you don't want to go the expense of buying one of these, another option is to use the carrycot from your pushchair travel system, but you need to make sure it's suitable for overnight sleeping, as not all are.
Our cot bed reviews will help you find the safest and best-value model.
You'll need to have some nappies in the house for when your baby arrives – you may need to change your newborn baby's nappy up to 10 times a day. But the type of nappy you need may quickly change depending on what your child fits into, what they're most comfortable with, or what is on offer, so don't go overboard when stocking up.
If you want to save on space and money, you might want to consider reusable nappies. Our guide to disposable vs washable nappies will help you decide what works best for you.
Baby products to add to your list
If you're breastfeeding, a breast pump is really useful as it allows you to store milk, giving you flexibility over feeding when you're out or allowing your partner to feed your baby.
There are manual and electric breast pumps – take a look at the pros and cons for using both before choosing which breast pump is best for you. Once you've decided, visit our breast pump reviews to find a Best Buy.
Although it's not essential, a lot of parents choose to use a baby monitor for peace of mind. There's a range of baby monitors available, from basic models costing around £15, to video baby monitors at around £150.
We've reviewed a number of models, looking at what is important to parents - reception and range, sound quality, battery life and ease of use. Take a look at our baby monitor reviews and see our tips on choosing a baby monitor.
Travel cot and baby carrier
If you travel a lot, then a travel cot might be a good option for you as it allows your baby to sleep anywhere, although be aware that not all are suitable from birth. Take a look at our guide to to help you decide.
Alternatively, you could consider a Moses basket or see if you can use your pushchair's carrycot (but not all of these are suitable for sleeping in overnight) if you have one.
Another useful product if you're out and about a lot is a baby carrier or sling. This is really down to personal choice, as we've found some parents can't live without one, while others find them uncomfortable. Visit our guide to choosing a baby carrier or sling to see the pros and cons. Once you have chosen the right type for you, check out our guide to buying baby carriers and slings to find the best one.
Pregnancy best deals
Once you've made your list, make sure you find out what you're entitled to free of charge. From baby product samples to government grants, we list a range of freebies and benefits you may be entitled to in our guide to getting the best deals on baby products. As well as saving you money, free samples can also help you work out which products you and your baby prefer.
In terms of when to buy the essential items, as long as it is before the baby is born - and remember he or she may arrive a little early - it's down to personal choice and your budget. However, it's a good idea to try out the bigger items that require effort to use/try on - such as a pushchair and baby carrier - while your bump is smaller, so it's less strenuous and you'll have a better idea of whether the products will be comfortable to use when you are bump-less again.
Once you've made a list of what you need, the next thing to do is work out approximately what you'll need to spend - so you can budget and spread the costs over time if you need to. Our reviews will help you see how much products cost, and what products are available within different price ranges. We've found that the most expensive products aren't always the best, and often find Best Buys for less than the average price, so it's worth finding out what has and hasn't done well in our tests.
Best places to buy baby products
Once you've worked out what you need and approximately how much it will cost, now the question is – where do you buy it all from?
We've rated and rounded up the best shops for baby and child products so you can have a stress-free shop. Also check out our guide on how to buy second-hand baby equipment so you can save where possible. And finally, see what our survey found to be the best and worst shops for buying baby clothes.
What should I pack for my baby's birth?
Your home is ready, you have all the baby products you need, now it's time to prepare for the birth. Our guide to what to pack for your baby's birth will talk you through what you need for a hospital or home birth.