Last updated on Jun 11th, 2021 at 11:55 am

Shopping for your baby and making a wish list for your baby shower is exciting – and daunting. Where do you begin and what does your baby really need? Although the choices you make will depend on personal taste as well as practical and seasonal needs, here are some tips from moms who have been there, got this and returned that.
Knowing what you really need will save you precious time and money.

ALSO SEE: What to expect from your newborn in the first week

The magic hour

If you think about it, your baby’s skin has been bathed in amniotic fluid and hugged by your soft and gentle womb for the first nine months of life. Birth is a harsh awakening to the realities of life and your baby has to quickly adapt to a new environment with different sensations on his skin – the biggest organ of his body. Ideally, his first introduction to the world should be skin-to-skin – feeling his body against yours while he is still warm and wet with amniotic fluid in the delivery room. To make sure your baby doesn’t get cold, he can be quickly covered with a soft receiving blanket and his head covered with a cotton beanie.
Now your baby can squirm against your body, using his little hands and feet to learn where he can find your nipple without the interference of clothes. To enjoy this “magic hour” be sure to pack a beanie and receiving blanket for the labour ward in your hospital bag.

ALSO SEE: 4 benefits of skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth

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The essentials

  • Disposable nappies, or reusable nappies with absorbent, removable pads
  • Breast pump
  • Baby monitor
  • Fitted cot sheets
  • Square cotton bibs
  • Co-sleeper cot
  • Digital thermometer
  • Microwave steriliser
  • Rocking chair for feeding and comforting baby.

ALSO SEE: The ultimate baby-buy guide

What not to buy

  • Bottle warmer
  • Bottles and teats as gifts (it’s better to choose your own brand if you’re not breastfeeding)
  • Bath thermometer – use your elbow to test the water temperature
  • Hooded baby towels – plain bath towels are all you need
  • Baby mosquito net
  • Baby shoes
  • Ear buds (never put anything in your baby’s ears)
  • Nappy bag that opens into a cot
  • Bed pod or cot cocoon
  • Neck pillow for the car seat.

ALSO SEE: The 10 must-haves for baby and the 10 you really don’t need

Top tips

  • Don’t buy yellow or orange baby clothes – they make your baby’s skin look jaundiced. Neutral colours are best.
  • Choose front-opening tops – babies don’t like it when clothes are pulled over their heads. Quality babygros have reliable poppers.
  • Hand-knitted granny booties with ribbon ties are trending, because they stay on – socks don’t.
  • Bulk-buy face cloths and use these for nappy changing. In cold weather, you can warm them up with warm water. Save disposable wipes for outings.
  • Turn vests inside out so the seam and tag don’t irritate your baby’s skin.
  • All your baby needs is love, food and protection. He won’t thank you for a designer nursery, clothes and gadgets. Keep clutter down to a minimum – especially when space is limited.
  • Remember there’s no mechanical device that can imitate your loving arms and gentle, reassuring voice. There’s nothing softer than your nipple, more comforting than your breast or tastier than your milk.

What to pack for the hospital

How long you stay in hospital depends on the type of birth you have and how you and your baby are recovering, which usually takes about two or three days. The hospital will give you a list of what to take for this time. Here’s an example:

ALSO SEE: 12 essentials to pack in your hospital bag

  • Four baby vests (with envelope shoulders or fold-over front ties)
  • Four babygros
  • One packet of newborn nappies
  • Thick, durable baby wipes
  • Aqueous cream for bathing and washing hair. Baby care products can be used at a later stage when allergies have been ruled out
  • Beeswax for the nappy area
  • Cotton wool pads for cleaning the cord, and your baby’s eyes and face
  • Surgical spirits to keep the cord clean and dry
  • Nail clippers (overdue babies tend to have long nails)
  • Hair brush
  • Bottle-feeding paraphernalia if you’re not breastfeeding.

Wash all your baby’s clothes and receiving blankets with a baby detergent and rinse well.