Cot and mattress
Make sure it’s sturdy, has no space between the mattress and cot sides, and doesn’t have drop-down sides, which are now regarded as a safety hazard. An adjustable mattress height is also a useful feature. You’ll pay a premium at the outset, but consider a cot that can turn into a toddler bed using a conversion kit, which will save you money in the future and could make the transition to a toddler bed easier for your little one.
Whether you’re opting for a nanny, a granny or creche, have your plans in place before your bundle of joy arrives. If someone is caring for your baby in your home, make sure they attend an infant CPR and first aid course beforehand (yes, granny too).
Infant car seat
This is a non-negotiable. Don’t be tempted to save and buy a second-hand car seat – being involved in any kind of collision makes a car seat less safe and you don’t know how that second-hand seat has been handled. Look for an NCAP 5 safety rating.
A pram is one of the most useful items you’ll buy. Look for one that you can open or collapse with one hand and make sure it fits in your car’s boot before you hand over your credit card. Also, look for removable, machine-washable covers. It’s a big-ticket item, so shop around for the best price.
Your newborn’s skin is delicate, so take the guesswork out of bath time with a reliable bath thermometer.
Buy a humidifier that makes as little noise as possible. Ask for a demonstration in-store to find out just how quiet it is, and make sure it has an aromatherapy dispenser – this will be a huge help when your little one has a stuffy nose.
Breastfeeding without the proper support can be a pain in the neck – literally! A proper nursing pillow does a better job of protecting your neck and back than a regular pillow will.
If you’re planning to breastfeed, particularly when you go back to work, a breast pump is a must. Choose electric if possible, since hand pumping can be tiring and time consuming.
A baby monitor will give you peace of mind while you eat dinner, grab a shower, or just want some quiet time. There’s a huge range of products, features and prices, so go with what will work best for you.
There are plenty of options available, but yours should include a good digital thermometer, a medicine dropper and syringe set with small increments on the syringe, nail scissors and a nasal aspirator for a stuffy nose.
10 things you don’t need…
No baby needs tiny shoes, no matter how irresistible they seem in the shop. Blink and your baby will have outgrown them.
For the cost, they really aren’t worth it – your baby is only small enough to fit in one for about three months, and you’ll still need to buy another bigger cot after that.
A diaper bin
Especially avoid ones that need specific cartridges. Trust us, a regular pedal bin that uses standard supermarket liners is a better investment.
A regular fluffy bath towel will work just as well!
Designer cot duvets and sheets
You’ll be washing these a lot, so go for a utility brand and spend your money elsewhere.
Any clothing with scratchy trim or fiddly buttons
The stress of getting a tiny baby into fussy clothing isn’t worth it.
A sturdy chest of drawers will do the same job and be far more functional in the long run than a pricey compactum. Just pop a changing mat on the top and you’re good to go.
Several organisations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, believe they are a SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) hazard.
Baby food blender
A regular stick blender will do the job for a fraction of the cost.
Too many newborn nappies
They don’t stay that tiny for long and you don’t want to have a pile of expensive nappies you won’t use.
Setting up a nursery can be costly. Don’t be afraid to check out second-hand shops – there are baby-specific second-hand stores for items like cots and prams. Also use price comparison websites like pricecheck.co.za to see which retailers are offering specials or have the most competitive pricing.
Our experienced editors work with trained journalists and qualified experts to compile accurate, insightful and helpful information about pregnancy, birth, early childhood development and parenting. Our content is reviewed regularly by our panel of advisors, which include medical doctors and healthcare professionals. Meet the Living & Loving Team and our Online Experts.