Your baby's equipment
Babies grow quickly and some items of equipment may be more expensive than they're worth for the short time they're in use. Try to choose equipment that has a long life - a cot that becomes a bed for a toddler, for example. Baby equipment is rarely worn out, simply outgrown, and there's no need to buy everything new - ask friends and family or check for secondhand items on the Internet.
Travel with baby's equipment
You'll need something to carry your baby around in as soon as he arrives. Before you buy anything, think very carefully about how much space you have for storage, and the kind of lifestyle you lead. A simple baby sling is perfect for the first few months.
The newest models can be used from birth until your child is about three. Most have a seat that reclines in several different positions so a young baby can lie flat or an older baby or toddler can sit up and watch the world go by. Some also include a car seat, shopping basket, canopy, and so on.
Baby's car seats
By law, your baby must be safely restrained in a car, so make sure you have an appropriate safety seat before taking him home from the hospital and check that it's securely anchored. The seat must meet UK safety regulations. Never buy a car seat secondhand because it might be damaged.
Portable baby chair
Your baby will enjoy sitting in one of these so he can see what's happening around him and a bouncing chair will be fun when he kicks his feet. These are easy to carry around, but check that the base is wide and sturdy so that he can't tip himself over. Always strap him in securely, and never put it on a raised surface like a table.
Sleeping and bathing equipment
At first your baby will fit snugly into a baby basket, carry cot, or even a drawer! The important thing is that his bed is the right size and is comfortable. Choose a thin, close-fitting, waterproof mattress and cotton sheets. He must not have a pillow. It's important to keep your baby's room draught-free and at an even temperature. Warm, light cotton cellular blankets are probably best for bedding. Remember that if your sleeping baby seems to be chilly, don't just add an extra covering as this will trap cold air inside, making him colder. Pick him up and cuddle him until he's warm, then add an extra blanket to his bedding.
If your newborn starts off in a baby basket, he'll need a cot as soon as he's too big for it. You can buy a new or secondhand cot. Get a large cot, it may seem enormous at first, but it will last him longer. Make sure it's sturdy and has non-toxic paint or varnish. The bars should be no further than 6cm (2 ½ in) apart so your baby can't push his head through. The sides of the cot should be high enough to stop him from climbing over, and have safety catches at each end of the drop side to stop it being released by accident. Choose a close-fitting, waterproof mattress, with no gaps between the edges of the mattress and the cot frame. Don't use cot bumpers as the baby can get too hot, and an adventurous baby may even use it as a step to help him climb out of his cot.
Changing and bathing equipment
All you really need is a plastic changing mat that can be used on the floor, a sturdy table, or a chest of drawers. But if you do want a special changing unit, choose one with plenty of storage.
You can bathe your baby in a sink, but if you want a baby bath on a stand, check that the stand is stable and at the right height.
Meeting your needs
You don't need much equipment at first - just something in which to transport your baby, somewhere for him to sleep, and something to bathe him in.
Make sure that your pushchair or buggy has handles that are at a comfortable height so you don't strain your back. Good brakes are essential: you must be able to apply them without letting go of the handle.
Your baby will quickly outgrow a baby basket, so it may be cheaper to start with a cot, some convert into beds. Make sure the height can be adjusted so you don't have to bend low to lift your baby.
Meeting your baby's needs
- Choose blankets and quilts without any fringes or loose ends that your baby could choke on.
- Use closely woven blankets that don't trap fingers and toes.
- If you use a baby sling, choose one with a neck support and wide straps that will support your baby's weight as he grows.
- Check that cots, prams, and pushchairs don't have any sharp edges or sharp screws.
- When choosing a pushchair make sure there's adequate protection for your baby's head.
- Check there's nothing on the pushchair that will trap his little fingers or toes.
- Choose covers with bright colours and patterns to stimulate your baby.
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