Starting a family is a whirlwind adventure. But just like any adventure, the path is beset with obstacles to overcome. One of the first hurdles we encounter as new parents is bringing a baby home. What are the must-have baby items that will make this transition easier? What do they need? What can you not live without?
Go on any parenting blog or forum and you’ll get a shopping list as long as your arm, and the truth is that there’s a lot you really don’t need – and even less that you’ll actually like.
While in so many ways we have it easier than our parents, we are also bombarded by so many adverts telling us we need the latest shiny bit plastic or our babies will never thrive. It can expensive and overwhelming when you don’t know what you need or what you’ll really use – and it’s even harder when you just don’t like much of what’s available in the traditional baby stores.
I’ve scoured the web to find practical items that you and your baby will love, without compromising on style. So ditch the list of clashing, colourful plastic gear, and find something you love instead.
7 Must-Have Baby Items to Add To Your Shopping List
1. A Different Kind of Changing Bag, by Tiba+Marl
Tiba + Marl was created in 2015 exactly for people like you. Two mums, Anna and Lydia, realised there were almost no options for cool, functional changing bags. So they created Tiba+Marl!
The Miller backpack is a utilitarian, unisex design that makes it easy to transport all the things you and your kid need for a day out – without compromising on style. And it can be wiped clean! It’s so useful and good looking that you might find you still use it years after you no longer need a changing bag.
2. Nursing tops you actually want to wear
One of the hardest adjustments to life as an expecting or new mum is the inevitable adaptation to your wardrobe. It feels like every day starts with flinging open the wardrobe in a fit of despair, which invariably remains whenever you try to shop. Until you get online, and dig out the hidden gems.
Your shape is going to be different for a few months at least. And if you’re breastfeeding you need clothing that can easily accommodate this. There are so few shops that sell decent nursing tops that work well as staples items in a capsule wardrobe. These items do exist, but can be hard to find.
If you want to look good and crack on without giving the old boys in Debenhams cafe a fright when your baby is hungry, I recommend Clary and Peg and Isabella Oliver. Dress up, dress down – having a baby doesn’t mean you’re destined to slouch around looking like a sack of spuds!
Peepul is a brand of children’s peg dolls. Although they’re not suitable for under-3s, these beautiful handmade items are a great decorative addition to a baby’s nursery – especially when they’re customised to include your baby’s name!
They’re superb for the small world, imaginative play that older toddlers love to engage with. Made of FSC Certified beech wood, Kate then paints the dolls by hand at her home in Oxfordshire. She uses non-toxic child friendly paint and toy sealer, so you know you getting real quality that will survive even the dribbliest toddler.
4. Little Magpies Teething Necklace
Babies love to chew, and be close to mum. These soft, gummable necklaces are the perfect way to combine these two needs – and they double as an eyecatching accessory too.
Because they’re made of food grade silicone, and they’re BPA free, you can be certain they’re safe for your baby to teethe on without breaking the surface – so your skin won’t get scratched like it would with hard broken plastic.
5. Tula Baby Carrier
Baby carriers are a genius way to get out and about with your baby.
They distribute the weight evenly, so you should never feel sore if you’re wearing your baby properly. You don’t have to consider accessibility in the way you would with a pram, so you can still visit your favourite coffee shop. They fold up small and be stashed away, and they can even go in the wash.
What’s more, they come in a huge range of colours and prints so you can get a design you adore.
And when your baby is a bit too big to wear on your front, you can scoot them over and carry them on your back. My two year old still gets around this way – perfect for the school run.
6. Starry Night Play Gym
Gone are the days of brightly coloured, ugly baby gear (or at least, they should be banished. I’m looking at you, Jumperoo!).
The Starry Night Play Gym from Fox’s Felts is small and can be placed directly on the floor, so you can move it around the house to keep baby entertained wherever you need to be.
It has beautiful hanging accessories that can be removed and taken with you in the pram or car seat, and they’ll withstand life with a teething baby.
7. Literally Everything from Little Bit Small
Little Bit Small is a one woman band making beautiful baby and childrens clothing from her home in Derbyshire.
The clothes are gorgeous, all made from funky premium fabric and some items are organic cotton. There’s lots of choice, and nothing looks like your average high street item. Caroline is massively helpful too, and offers lots of options to personalise your favourite items.
I highly recommend the harem dungarees for maximum flexibility – my toddler loves to test hers out in muddy puddles and they always come out of the wash looking brand new.
When pregnant with my first child I remember waddling into a babystore and immediately leaving without buying a single thing. It was all a bit too much. Ugly, cheaply made clothes and big bits of brightly coloured plastic (optimistically labelled as toys) just made me feel stressed and uncertain.
But now I know there are beautiful items available instead, things that don’t look out of place in the home you’ve thoughtfully decorated, and things that don’t cost the earth.