© Dakota Corbin, under a creative commons licence.
You've got nine months to fill, but before you hit the shops take some time to figure out what you need to buy, when.
We know it's tempting to hit the shops as soon as you get that positive pregnancy test with visions of cute outfits, cuddly toys and cheerful nursery accessories, but here's a friendly reminder to wait. Or at least hold off making some of your purchases.
Instead of hitting the shops why not plan your pregnancy announcement? If it's your first pregnancy then it's hard not to feel that you have to buy absolutely everything (baby bath with built-in scales anyone?), but many new parents find that they just don't use some of the stuff they buy. There's also the issue of where to store it all, not to mention the costs involved. It's wise to be as prepared as you can for bringing your baby home, and as babies tend to arrive when they're ready, rather than when you're ready it's a good idea to try and have everything you need by about week 35. But, before you dash out to start buying baby stuff straight away, read our top tips for when to start shopping.
If You Need To Assemble – Buy It Early
There's a very real possibility that you'll hit month eight of your pregnancy and find you can't even tie your own shoelaces, let alone put together a cot or chest of drawers. Aim to buy anything that needs assembly before your bump gets too big, provided you have the space at home. If you have a spare room that will be the nursery then you can build your cot, chest of drawers and so on and store it here, even if the baby won't use it until it's a little older.
Focus On Food, Comfort And Sleep
There are few things that are really essential, but somewhere to sleep, something to eat and something to comfort is about as basic as it gets so you can get these sorted early in pregnancy. You'll need a Moses basket or crib as well as a new mattress and plenty of blankets and sheets for it. If you plan to bottle feed then as a minimum you'll want enough bottles for a day and a tub of baby formula. Don't stock up on formula as one brand may not agree with your baby, so it could be trial and error. Electric sterilisers and bottle warmers are extras that could make your day easier, but aren't essential.
Research Early, Buy Late
Big ticket items can eat up a considerable amount of your budget so take the time to carefully research your options and figure out what will suit you and your lifestyle. If space is tight at home then look for multi-purpose items, like dressers with built-in change units and baby baths. Or cot top changers that slide under the cot when not being used.
The same goes for prams. Make sure you have time to try a few out, thinking about how they'll fit in your car if you have one, and how it can be stored at home. Spend a few months researching and then buy them when you've made up your mind. This way you can also take advantage of future price drops too.
Stock Up On Essentials For A Newborn
No one wants to do a mad dash at four in the morning to buy more nappies. This is why stocking up on basic essentials like nappies, muslins, baby shampoo and so on is crucial. These are also the sort of thing that you can start buying each time you do a shop so by the time you hit your due date you're well prepared. When it comes to nappies there really is no such thing as having too many, your baby could go through as many as 12 in a day. But do remember that just as with clothes they will move up in size over time.
Factor In Gifts For The New Baby
For a little person, these babies sure get a lot of gifts. So, unless you want to find yourself swamped in vests, cute baby clothes and dinky socks, show some restraint in your own shopping habits. You'll want to make sure you have enough basics to get you through a few weeks (always make sure you double the amount of vests/sleepsuits you think you may need). But hold off fully stocking their wardrobe so you can get an idea of what you'll need to complement the gifts you've been given.
Consider What You'll Really Need
You won't be able to leave the hospital and drive home if your baby doesn't have a suitable car seat so this should definitely be a pre-due date purchase. A buggy is also an essential for baby. Getting out every day for some fresh air every day is vital for your own wellbeing and good for baby too.
...And What You Won't
Of course, you're going to need a cot, but many people choose to have their baby sleep in a Moses basket for the first few weeks, in which case there's no rush to start buying a cot just yet if you've not found one you love. Likewise, in the early days, some experts recommend you use cotton wool and water for nappy changes rather than wipes, so these could also come later on.
There's No Such Thing As Too Early
If it feels right to you, then start buying baby stuff when you want. Pregnancy should be a happy time and if that involves buying baby essentials then do it. Many people avoid making any purchases in the first 12 weeks believing it is bad luck. It's not. While you may not want to rush into your big ticket items there's no harm in popping an outfit, nursery decoration or toy in your trolley if you've spied it and fallen in love with it.
Try Before You Buy
A baby sling is a worthwhile investment, but if you can wait until the baby is here you can visit a sling library and try out a few with your baby. It's crucial to get one that is comfortable for both you and the baby so worth waiting until the baby is here.
Take Advice From Others
Ask other parents what has been their best buy, the chances are it will be something you've not yet thought of. Just a few baby items that many would say are indispensable include black out blinds, sock-ons (for keeping pesky socks on) and a hook for your pram so you can sail home with all the baby stuff you sensibly put off buying during pregnancy.
Don't Be Fooled
Shop posters and online ads will have you believe that you'll be dressing your baby up in cute outfits every day. If this isn't your first baby you'll know that baby-grows are the perfect choice. They're easy to get on and off (after all, who wants to be wrestling a newborn into a pair of tights with every nappy change) and comfortable for your baby. The baby clothes can come later, for now, start buying those baby-grows.
Cora Lydon is a freelance journalist living in Suffolk with her husband and two children. She’s also a children’s book author who loves finding activities and place to inspire her children. Her dining table bears the scars of many craft activities attempts (many unsuccessful).