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2 November 2020

Baby product essentials

Find out what essential baby products you need from day one, so you can stock up before your baby is born.
Nappies
Alison Potter

In the months or weeks before your baby is born, you'll probably be busy stocking up on the nursery and baby products you'll need for those first days and weeks after your little one arrives. 

Read our list below to make sure you've armed yourself with all the important bits and pieces.

Baby equipment you'll need from day one

Baby car seat

When we asked parents in June 2020 what baby products they owned, the number one product was a car seat. Some 76% told us they had at least one at home or in their car.

We crash test each car seat we review. Take a look at our independent and rigorous baby and child car seat reviews to find out which ones are the easiest to use and provide the best protection in a crash, as well as the Don't Buy child car seats you should avoid. 

Plus, check out our guide to choosing a child car seat for more help and advice on how to choose and fit your car seats so your newborn is as safe as possible.

Pram or a pushchair suitable from birth

In our survey, 72% of parents owned a pushchair, pram, stroller or buggy.

If you've got a newborn baby, you'll need to choose one that's suitable from birth. This means it needs a seat that reclines far enough back to create the flatter position, or travel system compatibility so that the seat can be replaced with a carrycot or car seat.

Every pushchair we review is tested for strength, stability, durability and safety. Don't be swayed by fashionable names or plush fabrics. 

Go to our Best Buy pushchairs to see the most impressive on test. If you're confused by the sheer range of products available, head to our guide to buying the best pushchair to help you pick the right model for you and your new baby, and avoid a costly mistake.

Our pushchair chooser tool helps you weigh up the pros and cons of the different types of pushchair available.

Moses basket, crib, cradle, cot or cot bed

There are lots of options for parents when it comes to where their baby can sleep. A Moses basket, crib, cradle, and cot will typically be suitable from birth until six months, while a cot bed will last until your child reaches around five or six-years old.

A cot bed is most expensive out of the options but it will be used for a lot longer, so it's actually the most cost efficient option. 

In our survey, 49% of parents told us they owned a cot bed, while 48% used a standard cot. A Moses basket was popular with 47% of parents, but just 27% used a crib or cradle and 25% opted for a bedside crib. 

  • Moses basket – compact, portable and cosy, but only usable for the first few months.
  • Crib or cradle – rocking motion may help baby to sleep, but these tend to be more expensive than a Moses basket.
  • Bedside crib – attaches to your bed and has a side that comes down so you can easily reach your baby for night feeding.
  • Cot – they vary in size but are typically bigger than the above options, which means you should be able to use them for longer.
  • Cot bed – these last the longest but it's important you buy a durable one. Our how to buy the best cot bed guide tells you how to find one that will suit your baby. 

Mattress and bedding

You'll need a suitable mattress and bedding. Our advice on baby bedding safety explains what you may need to buy, while our cot mattress reviews can help you find the ones which passed the latest safety tests. 

Read our baby safe sleeping tips guide for information about baby sleeping bags, as well as baby sleep positioners, pods and nests.

Nappies

The average baby goes through between six and 12 a day when they're first born, and will use around 4,000 disposable nappies before they are potty trained at around 18 to 24-months old.

We pitted brand-leaders Pampers against own-brand nappies from Aldi, Lidl and supermarket retailers such as Tesco and Morrisons.

Head to our reviews on the best disposable nappies to find out how to save money and if you're thinking of being more environmentally friendly, find out how to buy the best reusable nappies

Baby wipes

Baby wipes aren't for everyone, especially more environmentally conscious parents. But, if you do plan on using them, you may well be buying them for as long as your baby is in nappies. Costs could stack up. 

There are significant price differences between supermarket own brands and big-brand names. It's worth trying the own brands – if they suit your baby you could save some cash. 

Find out more about baby wipes, including what ingredients to look for, in our in-depth look at baby wipes.

Towel

Look for a soft towel just for your baby's use.

Changing mat or changing unit

Nappy changing mats are padded and have slightly raised sides to prevent your baby wriggling off the mat, while a changing table enables you to change your baby's nappy at a comfortable waist height.

Muslin cloths and bibs

These can protect your baby's clothes from spillages and accidents. A muslin over the shoulder will also protect your clothes if you're winding your baby after feeding.

Scratch mittens

These are to stop little ones from scratching their faces.

Cotton wool

Helpful with a range of cleaning and care tasks.

Shawl or blanket

Can come in handy when you're out and about with your baby.

Breast pads

Choose between washable, disposable and even thermal breast pads – you'll probably need to use them even if you're not breastfeeding your newborn baby.

Essential baby equipment if you're breastfeeding

Feeding bra

Look for a comfortable and supportive bra that has a bit of give so it can stretch to a larger size as milk comes in. 

It should never constrict your breasts, as this could make it easier for ducts to become blocked. Obviously the cups need to open and close easily, leaving plenty of room for your baby to feed.

Don't buy too early, as your bra size may change – look to get two or three in the last month of pregnancy. For help knowing what size bra to get, contact the NCT on 0845 8100 100 for a free personal fitting.

Breast pump

A breast pump can be a quick and easy way to express milk for your baby. Choose between:

In our survey, 34% of mums used an electric breast pump and 31% opted for a manual one.

Baby bottles

It's sensible to invest in five or more bottles and teats so you've got a ready stock. You'll need these whether you're going to feed your baby breast milk that you've expressed, or you're bottle feeding. 

Take a look at our baby bottles guide for more advice on what and where to buy.

Sterilising equipment

Babies' digestive systems are very sensitive, so you will do a lot of sterilising to ensure your baby equipment for feeding is completely clean and germ-free. 

There is a range of sterilisers out there and in our survey, 38% of parents use an electric steam steriliser, 36% have a microwave steriliser, 21% prefer a cold water steriliser kit, and 15% opt for a pricier UV steriliser. 

Other useful baby equipment worth considering

  • Baby monitor – see our baby monitor reviews to decide whether to get an audio, video or smart baby monitor.
  • Digital thermometer – 92% of parents in our last survey found theirs useful.
  • A high chair – don't forget to read our high chair reviews.
  • Stair gates – an essential when your toddler starts to become more independent. Make sure to read our stair gate reviews.
  • Teething toys – they can help soothe teething pain, but watch out what teething toy you buy as we found issues when we tested them.
  • Changing bag – 67% of parents depend on their changing bag. Make sure to get one with lots of pockets.
  • Small nail clippers – these are cheap and available at most pharmacies.
  • Dummies – 64% of parents said they use them with their baby.
  • Baby bath or bath supports – you don't need to spend much on this (a washing-up bowl in the sink or the bath will do fine).

Our research 

In June 2020, we asked 594 parents with children aged five and under about the baby products they have owned during the first two years of their baby's life.