Illustration for article titled Dadhacker - ​Is There Such A Thing As An Essential Shopping List For A Newborn?

Looking back over my first year as a Dad, we spent a lot of cash on various baby paraphernalia. I thought it might be useful to take a look back through where we spent out money and consider what have been the really useful items, and which have been a waste of time. We did think really hard about the purchases we made and spoke to quite a few parents finding out what they bought; two common themes came out. Firstly, each child is unique and what one child loves, another will hate, and people will have personal preferences for what they consider essential. Secondly, everyone we spoke to said they were super careful in what they bought, but still ended up spending way more than they planned too, and still ended up with some things that were rarely used!


A huge industry seems to have been created around having a baby, just like organising a wedding. They seem to take everyday items and whack up the price when it is designed for a baby. As a new parent, it is really hard to know what you really need to buy, and when you are being sold junk. Obviously you want the best for your baby and straight off the bat, you don't want to feel like a bad parent for not buying that electric bottle warmer, or the automatic diaper sealing bin.

So below is a list of items which we genuinely found useful, and some things that are definitely in the "nice to have" or "completely unnecessary" category. I would be really interested in your thoughts on this. My list got quite long quite quickly, perhaps my essential list is a bit on the bulky side.


With the vast majority of the items listed, even the most useful items will be short lived in their usefulness. Babies grow so quickly that this is inevitable. For this reason, I would really recommend checking prices on eBay or Craigslist – you can save huge amounts of money. Some of the clothes we bought second hand from eBay have been "designer labels" in outstanding condition (some literally had not been used). You don't want to be the person selling bundles of clothes on eBay that have hardly ever been used.

Oh, and I guess the final thing to consider is depending on the size of family you are planning, as long as you have sufficient storage, lots of what you by can be reused (if you go for the non gender specific colors).



  • Cot (plus mattress, sheets and blankets - I would recommend putting them in a baby sleeping bag as soon as they are big enough)
  • Car seat - handy is a system where you can fix your car seat directly into your travel system
  • Pram/buggy/travel system – something that lies near to flat is handy, a forward and rear facing position is nice to have. Rain cover/parasol
  • Sleepsuits/ long sleeved suits – nothing fancy but should be easy to get on and off
  • Short & long sleeved vests
  • cardigans/ jackets
  • Hat (though in the UK you are given one in hospital)
  • Shawl or snow/pram suit (winter only)
  • Mittens and bootees (winter only)
  • Loads of nappies (disposable or washable)
  • Bottles/teats/bottle brush (if not breastfeeding)
  • Bibs (water proof and easy to clean)
  • Plenty of flannels/ muslin squares (for bathing and dribbles!)
  • Loads of cotton wool pads & cotton wool for cleaning dirty diapers
  • Baby friendly laundry detergent
  • Diaper bag (does not need to be a custom bag, but something that can be used for this purpose)
  • Travel cot – this possibly should be in the nice to have category, but we got a lot of use from ours visiting family, and it also doubled as a play pen/safe place to put her while you use the bathroom etc)
  • Steam steriliser (if not breastfeeding)
  • Breast pads (if breastfeeding)


  • Pacifiers (worth considering, but not for the long term)
  • Baby monitor – we went for one with video monitor and vibrate functions. You can get other versions that connect to a smart phone too – possibly a bit excessive.
  • Room Thermometer
  • Medical thermometer
  • Toys/rattles etc – but don't go over the top, in the first few weeks/month they really don't use them
  • Thermal bottle bag
  • Changing mat
  • We did consider upgrading our first aid kit, but with a new born if they need any medical attention it was straight to the Doctor or hospital.
  • Nursing bra (though you could get away with a sports bra)
  • Moses basket/crib (plus mattress, sheets and blankets)
  • Sun blinds for the car
  • Baby bath/ baby bath seat
  • Nail scissors
  • Books
  • Play mat/ gym
  • Teething toys
  • Tumble dryer (if you do not have one already)
  • Disposable bags for dirty diapers
  • Black out curtain
  • Breast pump (if breast feeding and want the flexibility of expressed milk – also consider options for renting)

Towards unnecessary

  • Baby sized clothes hangers if you have a lot of second hand clothes (or save them from store-bought clothes)
  • Cosytoes
  • Play pen
  • Baby bath towels
  • Baby wipes
  • Bath thermometer
  • Changing table
  • Sling
  • Bouncy chair (Though I do have a few friends who swear they are useful)
  • Nappy wrapper/bin
  • Baby wardrobe/ baby chest of drawers
  • Cot mobile
  • Rocking chair
  • Night light
  • Hair brush
  • Baby sleep pressure sensor/breathing monitor
  • Fancy clothes – inevitably family member tend to buy you these and they end up being dead fiddly to put on and take off.
  • Bottle warmers
  • Wipe warmer
  • Feeding cushion
  • Doubles of changing equipment/Moses basket

Worth picking up after new born

  • Baby Calpol (though I think you are not meant to start using this until 2/3 months)
  • High chair – bowls, spoon, sippy cup
  • Stair-gate/other baby proofing

Photo by Anthony James & manipulated in Pixlr


You can follow me on Twitter @TheDadHacker

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