The list of baby products you’re encouraged to buy before your precious bundle arrives can be long and potentially very costly.
Even without the items you can usually bypass (nappy stackers, bottle warmers, door baby bouncers), some parents may wonder if all of these so-called ‘essentials’ really are that necessary.
Read on to find out the pros and cons of buying baby car seats, carrycots, Moses baskets, baby monitors, high chairs and stair gates. As well as some alternative suggestions that might save you some money.
Do I really need a baby car seat?
If you don’t own a car, then you may think it’s pointless getting an infant carrier car seat.
However, check what the policy is at the hospital you’re going to give birth in, as some will strongly advise against you leaving the hospital with your newborn unless you have a car seat (even if you’re travelling home via a taxi or public transport).
While they can’t legally stop you, if you do then get in a private car without your child in a car seat, you’ll be breaking the law. If you’re not planning on buying a car seat, then the hospital may ask to see your pushchair with either the lie-flat seat or carrycot attachment.
Even if you don’t own a baby car seat, it could still be worth buying one in case you need to travel somewhere in a car (or a friend needs to transport your child). We’ve tested car seats that get good safety results and cost less than £50.
Do I really need a carrycot for my pushchair?
Travel system pushchairs have the option of clicking a carrycot onto the chassis to provide a lie-flat surface for your baby, but with some costing up to £200, it can be a hefty added expense.
Carrycots can be useful if you will be using your pushchair a lot and going for long walks where your baby is likely to fall asleep. They also provide a degree of protection from the exposure of wind or rain compared with a lie-flat seat on a pushchair.
Some carrycots are also suitable for overnight sleeping, so you can leave your baby in them rather than moving them into a cot or Moses basket. However, do check the manufacturer instructions as this isn’t the case for all carrycots.
It’s worth bearing in mind that carrycots have a shelf-life – your baby may grow out of it by age six or nine months.
An alternative is to choose a pushchair with a lie-flat seat. This means the seat can recline to a minimum angle of 150 degrees, which makes it suitable for a newborn.
Use our ‘Suitable from birth’ filter to find pushchair reviews that have this option.
Or look out for a pushchair where the seat can convert into a carrycot. This means you can switch between the two without the added cost (or the space-occupying attachment) of a carrycot. Models we’ve tested with that feature we’ve tested include the Red Kite Push Me Pace, Cybex Balios 2-in-1 2020, Graco Transform and Maxi Cosi Zelia 2.
While it’s possible to put a newborn in an infant carrier car seat and attach that to a pushchair chassis, remember that newborns shouldn’t be kept in a car seat for longer than 30 minutes at a time, as the position they’re held in could potentially affect their breathing.
Read our guide on how to buy the right pushchair for you.
Do I really need a Moses basket?
A Moses basket is (usually) a wicker basket with handles that your newborn can sleep in until he or she is around three or four months old (or potentially sooner depending on size).
It can be useful if you want your baby downstairs with you while they nap as it can be moved around easily, and it doesn’t take up too much space. But you can get by without one so long as you have an alternative lie-flat sleeping option.
The most obvious choice is a cot, as this is what your baby will end up sleeping in as they grow bigger. However, if you feel your newborn looks a bit lost in the larger space of a cot, you could use a co-sleeper or crib, or a carrycot that’s suitable for overnight sleeping.
Remember, babies need to sleep in the same room as you for the first six months, so if you can’t squeeze a cot in alongside your own bed, you’ll need somewhere else for them to sleep.
Do I really need a baby monitor?
You probably won’t need a baby monitor for the first six months of your baby’s life, as they’ll be in the same room as you pretty much 24/7 (good luck using the loo).
But once they start sleeping in their own room, it could be something to consider as they’re a handy gadget to keep an eye on your little one.
However, if you live in a flat or small house where you can hear your baby easily, you may want to bypass it.
Some choose to set up an old phone as a baby monitor, and download an app so you can see your baby on your own phone handset. However, this means it will be reliant on constant wi-fi, so if this drops out, you’ll lose connection.
Plus, older phones often don’t receive security updates so they could be at risk of hacking.
Do I really need a high chair?
This is one baby product that you’ll really struggle to get by without.
It’s not realistic or convenient to rest a wriggly baby or toddler on your knee and try to feed them that way, and you’re likely to get covered in food and very frustrated.
If you really want to get your money’s worth, you could opt for a high chair that can be converted into a toddler chair and later, a child chair, such as the Stokke Tripp Trapp or Safety 1st Timba. Or choose a high chair that separates into a small chair and table set, such as the Jane Activa Evo. These can sit at the pricier end of the scale as they’re built to last.
Some parents use a booster seat with a harness and removable tray but check how long they’re designed to last for so that your child doesn’t grow out of it too soon.
Look out for second-hand high chairs in charity shops and NCT nearly new sales if you’re trying to keep costs down or to avoid buying lots of new plastic products.
Do I really need a stair gate?
If you’ve got no stairs in your property, do you really need a stair gate? Not necessarily.
But they can still be useful if you want to keep your child out of a certain room such as the kitchen or bathroom. The good news is that we’ve got Best Buy stair gates for less than £30, so they hopefully shouldn’t break the bank.
The alternative is simply ensuring that you shut doors behind you to keep your little one out of harm’s way. Just remember that once your child is walking, much like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park, he’ll probably learn how to operate door handles pretty quickly…
Pick a safety barrier that’s safe and sturdy by reading our Best Buy stair gate reviews.