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Article: Essential Items For Your Newborn

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Preparing for the arrival of your baby is an exciting time, however with so many baby products on the market it can be an expensive time too. Deciding what is and isn't truly essential for a newborn is a daunting task, and we have tried to simplify the process by listing the basic items that we found useful following the arrival of our own children.

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Baby Clothes
Bodysuits/Vests - These are long or short-sleeved cotton body vests which have popper fastenings around the crotch, and are easy for changing nappies and for keeping them in place. They can be bought separately or in multipacks.

- These are all-in-one cotton suits with either enclosed feet or ankle cuffs, which fasten up the front and legs with poppers to allow easy access to your baby's nappy. They can be worn on their own or over bodysuits, and can be bought individually or in multipacks.

- These are two-piece cotton suits, with a long-sleeved top and trouser bottoms. These provide similar warmth to a sleepsuit, and can be worn over bodysuits.

You will probably find that your newborn needs no other clothes for the first few weeks, and a combination of vests and babygros can be worn during the night and day depending on the season and temperature. A guide to clothing and temperature is dicussed further in the Bedding for Baby article.

Top and Tail Bowl - This is simply a plastic bowl with two large compartments which you fill up with warm water to wash your baby's top and tail halves. This is quick and hygienic as the compartments keep the two washing areas separate, and the bowl normally contains a third smaller section for storing soap or cotton wool. This is more than sufficient to keep your baby clean for the first few weeks after birth and the bowls come in a range of colours at an affordable cost. 

Baby Bath
- This is useful after the top and tail phase, as you are not confined to using it in the bathroom, and its size makes bathtime more manageable for both you and baby. It is however time-consuming to fill with jugs of water. A relatively new type of baby bath is the bucket bath, which as the name implies is bucket shaped and enables your baby to sit (very often in a foetal position) with water up to their shoulders, leaving your hands free to wash your baby.

Baby bath support - This is an alternative to the baby bath, and is a moulded seat made from pladtic or foam, which sits in the adult bath and supports your slippery newborn in a reclined position so that you have your hands free to wash. 

Bath thermometer
- This is essential to ensure the bath water is not too hot or cold for your baby. Many of the thermometers change colour to alert you when the water has reached a safe temperature.

Cotton wool/bath sponge
- Cotton wool is a hygienic way of cleaning baby's face and bottom as it can be discarded afterwards. Bath sponges are also convenient as long as they are replaced regularly. A range of soaps, shampoos and other skin products are available for babies, although it is not necessary to use anything to aid washing other than water for the first few weeks at least.

- A soft adult towel is fine to use, however there are a range of baby towels with or without hoods which are comfortable and soft on your baby's skin.

Nail file/nail clippers
- A newborn's nails will be very soft for the first few weeks and a nail file is a gentle way to keep their nails short. Nail clippers are however a quicker and easier method of cutting their nails although be careful not to catch their skin.

Toys- Newborn babies have limited sight and colour perception, and spend much of their first days sleeping and eating, however toys are still important for sensory development. Toys most appealing to a newborn are those with bright, bold primary colours or contrasting black and white patterns. In addition, toys with movement, sound, or music will keep your newborn entertained, and shatter-proof mirrors are particularly fascinating to them.

- Soft fabric books and chunky board books are perfect for your newborn.

Activity centers and play gyms
- These become more useful later on, although a newborn can still lie and watch the attachments dangling above them.

Bouncy chairs and rockers  -
These are both suitable for newborns and can also be useful for feeding and napping. A lot of them come with their own activities and attachments to entertain your baby.

Bottles and teats - If your partner is not intending to breastfeed any or all of the time, then you will need to start off with newborn feeding bottles, and may need to buy up to six to avoid having to wash up several times a day. There are many different brands now available and these normally come with slow flow teats suitable for newborns. Teats come in different types of material (latex or silicone) and different shapes (standard and natural, which mimic the shape of a nipple). Silicone is less flexible than latex but will last longer. Variations of both types of teat and bottles are available that aim to reduce the amount of air your baby takes in while feeding.

- V
arious styles of bibs are available and particularly useful if you are bottle feeding, but will be used anyway as soon as it comes around to weaning. 

Bottle warmer
- This is really useful for warming both breast and formula milk, particularly in the middle of the night, and comes in handy later on when weaning as thay can also be used to warm up baby food safely. It is important to make sure that the warmer takes all sizes of bottle.

- This is essential for a newborn baby as it allows sterilisation of all baby items such as bottles, dummies etc. in order to protect baby from infection. There are various ways of sterilising: cold-water sterilisation (using fluids such as Milton) or steam sterilisation (microwave and standalone electric).

Nursing bras
- Although these are not necessarily essential, they are more convenient, particularly if your partner is planning to breastfeed in public, as they allow her to feed your baby more discreetly than normal bras allow.

Breast pads
- If your baby is being breastfed then your partner will more than likely need to wear breast pads in her nursing bras to prevent milk leakage onto her clothes. Shop branded nursing pads are generally cheaper but not necessarily as good.

Breastfeeding nipple cream
- Treatment for sore and cracked nipples through breastfeeding.

Breast pump
- These may be useful on several levels: if your baby does not take to the breast but you want to still provide breastmilk for them to have in a bottle, if you are going out, or if you fancy a go at feeding the baby. 

Muslin squares
- Whilst bibs protect the baby, muslin squares are essential for protecting parents, be it from snot, sick or poo!


Bed - Many newborns spend their first few weeks or months sleeping in their parent's room, and there are a choice of beds to suit you and baby, i.e. Moses baskets, cribs, carrycots, baby hammocks, cots, or cotbeds. Each has its benefits, and these have been discussed in more detail in the Beds for Baby article.

- Cots and cotbeds do not come with mattresses included and these must be purchased separately. There are many different types of mattress available including foam, spring interior, natural fibre, anti-allergy, or a combination of these. The FSID (Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths) states that the type of mattress you use is not important as long as it is clean and dry, firm not soft, fits the cot without any gaps, and does not sag or have any tears, cracks or holes.

- With regards to the mattress, fitted sheets are a good purchase for Moses baskets, cots and cot beds as they are less likely to come un-tucked while your baby sleeps, and are easy to put on and take off. In terms of bedding for your baby, there are a wide range of top sheets, cellular blankets, swaddling blankets and sleeping bags available, and these are discussed further in the
Bedding for Baby article.

Cot bumper
- This is a quilted insert for the cot which protects baby's head from banging against the rails and waking them up. Cot bumpers are available in sizes to either fit around one end of the cot, or to fit around all sides. They tuck around the edges of the mattress and have ties at the top to fasten them to the rails/slats of the cot. It is recommended that they are removed as soon as your child can pull themselves up/sit up.

Room thermometer
- These are very useful for monitoring the temperature of your room/nursery to ensure your baby is not too hot or cold. For a 0-1 month old, the recommended room temperature is 65-70F/18-20C, and for a baby over 1 month old, the recommended temperature is 62-68F/16-19C.

Changing mat
- It is obviously necessary to have at least one of these for hygienically changing your baby in comfort at home. Many changing bags come with travel changing mats for changing baby's nappy when out and about. Changing units can also be purchased which allow you to change your baby at a more convenient height. 

Cot Mobile
- Although not essential these can sometimes aid soothing your baby to sleep or act as a good distraction device so that you can escape the room before they notice!

Night light
- Again not essential, but very useful for navigating your way around the room at night when your baby wakes for a feed. Since they are low wattage they don't tend to wake baby, and they comsume less energy.

Nappies, wipes and nappy bags
- You will obviously need all of these in copious quantities as newborns need changing as many as ten or more times a day. It is essential that you get the right size of nappy for your newborn in order to avoid leaks. There are a massive variety of brands for nappies (reusable and disposable), wipes and nappy bags, and these vary in quality depending on the manufacturer. You may have to try several before you find the best ones for your baby.

Nappy bin
- Various types of nappy refuse systems are available which vary in their usefulness, however it is important to remember that you can still just use an outside bin if you are using nappy bags.

- Depending on whether you choose to use these, they can be useful for comforting a fretful baby, and the FSID (Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths) suggests that the]ir use may be beneficial in reducing the risk of cot death. However it is important not to force your baby to take them, and they should not be introduced to breastfed babies before one month old. For more information on this, consult the FSID website.

Safety and wellbeing
Baby monitor
- This may or may not be essential depending on your type of dwelling, i.e. how far your are from your sleeping baby during the day as well as the night. While many generations have managed perfectly well without monitors, they are very useful for hearing your child stir or wake, and the ones which come with sensor pads (i.e. pads which sit under your child's mattress and track their movement/breathing) are particularly reassuring for a good night's sleep. There are many types of monitor now available with various built-in gadgets, and prices to suit all budgets, and if nothing else they are very useful if you go away.

Nappy cream
- This is important for treating nappy rash.

- This is very useful to check your baby's temperature if they are unwell. Many different types are available at a range of prices, including digital ones which take readings from the ear, the armpit, the mouth, or the rectum, as well as ones which take readings by simply rolling the thermometer across baby's forehead.

Infant paracetomol/ibruprofen
- These are available in sachets or bottles, and are effective at quickly reducing temperature and other symptoms in babies, although they should not be used for children under 2 months old.

- A thick orange flavoured liquid which is designed to alleviate trapped wind, infant colic, and griping pain. It has a cumulative effect, and should be given to your baby before each feed using the dropper provided. It is suitable to be given from birth.

Baby carrier/sling/wrap
- These are fabric support systems which secure around your body and hold your baby in a variety of positions. They are an excellent way of comforting and soothing fretful newborns, and most are suitable for sleeping and feeding. They can be worn around the house or out and about, and allow you to have your hands free to do other things or tend to other children.

Pram/pushchair/travel system
- Unless you plan to carry your newborn all the time in a baby carrier, you will need to invest in some type of pram or pushchair. Many are suitable for newborns with adjustable reclining/lie-flat backs, and most will last your child a good number of months or years. Travel systems are also available and are all-in-one systems which incorporate a pram, pushchair and infant carrier. The infant carrier clips on to the pushchair chassis, and is detachable for use as a rear-facing car seat for your newborn. It is a good idea to shop around before you buy, as there is a large choice of 3-wheelers and 4-wheelers with varying designs and gadgets. It is important to look for one which will suit your lifestyle, for example, ensure that it fits in your car, can be used on public transport, is easy to steer, fits through doorways, is easy to fold and unfold on your own with baby.

Car seat
- This is likely to be one of the first things you require for taking baby home from the hospital. There are various car seats available which will cater for the needs of your child for a good many years. It is important to ensure that the car seat is up to current legislation, therefore it is normally recommended that you buy your seat new rather than second-hand.
Head support is essential for a newborn so ensure that your car seat has a head-hugger. This can be removed as soon as your baby gets bigger.

Changing bag
- When you go out with your baby there are normally a mountain of items to take with you. Changing bags are specially designed to cater for this, with changing mats normally included and insulated pockets for holding bottles. They are available in a wide range of designs, colours, and prices to suit both mums and dads.

Travel cot
- This is useful if you travel away a lot with your newborn. Travel cots come in a variety of styles and designs, all of which fold down compactly for fitting easily in the back of a vehicle.



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