The Thrifty List of Essential Baby Items

After becoming pregnant with Rosalie and signing up with a few pregnancy related websites, I suddenly felt inundated with information about different products and items that I needed to get for my new baby. I found it very difficult to wade through the treacle of marketing to figure out what things were actually essential, and which were just gimmicks.

So, hopefully in writing this post, I will be able to help some other overwhelmed soon-to-be mums figure out which items are essential and actually worth spending money on. I have broken my list into sections for ease.

Clothing & Bedding


Your baby will spend a lot of time in sleepsuits when they are newborn, so you will probably need in the order of ten to twelve, to ensure there is always a clean one! Look for sleepsuits with scratch mittens as these will come in very handy.


Depending on the season you may need vests; a similar quantity to sleepsuits.


When venturing outside baby will need something warmer on top of their sleepsuit, and a cardigan is ideal. One or two should be plenty initially.


Your baby will lose a lot of heat from their head, so some kind of hat is a must. If it’s winter you should also get mittens.


You will need these for the cot/crib/moses basket as well as the pram and for use around the house. Four should probably be plenty. I would recommend cellular blankets for use in the moses basket/carry cot/pram.


You will need sheets to fit the mattress you’re using, again four should be plenty.


Muslin Squares

No new mum should be without a good supply of muslin squares. I had about ten and this seemed to be a good number to enable me to have one in each location around the house where I usually fed Rosalie, plus one in the change bag plus allow me to wash and dry them without running out!


Even if you have every intention of breastfeeding, you will still want to have bottles in just in case, trust me as I was this person.


Some method of sterilisation will be required – definitely if you are bottle feeding, but also if you plan to breastfeed you might want to express milk, in which case you will need to sterilise the pump and storage containers. I have a microwave steriliser, but there are many methods of sterilisation to choose from.


If you intend to bottle feed from the outset then obviously you will need a supply of formula milk, but if you plan to breastfeed then you wouldn’t think about formula, but I would advise getting some – perhaps a few ready-to-feed cartons, just for those ‘I’m too sore to nurse’ emergencies (trust me, I’ve been there).


Baby bath or bath seat

We had both given to us, and personally I didn’t get on with the bath seat as R seemed to slip down in it, but they do allow you to have both hands free for washing.

Cotton wool

Essential for topping and tailing.


The baby towels with hoods are not a gimmick! Having the hood is really useful to keep the towel on and keep baby’s head warm.


Obviously! My best advice with nappies is to try several different brands until you find one that fits well. Make sure the first nappies you use have the wetness indicator strip – this will be so useful when the midwives are asking whether baby has had a wee yet.

Nappy cream

You’ll undoubtedly have had a sample of some nappy cream in your Bounty packs, but I can highly recommend the Waitrose Bottom Butter – slather it on after each nappy change and then the next dirty nappy will be super easy to clean off! (Waitrose have not asked me to promote their product, I genuinely love it)

Nappy sacks

Handy for disposing of smelly nappies or bagging up soiled clothes – essential for the change bag.


In reality you’re not going to be using cotton wool and water for every nappy change. Babywipes will be required at home and are definitely a changing bag essential.

Nail scissors or clippers

It might surprise you that babies often have long nails when they’re born, so be prepared by getting yourself a pair of baby nail scissors or clippers.


Some form of thermometer will be invaluable when you have a crying baby and you’re trying to deduce what’s wrong. We opted for a digital one which you stick under the armpit, these are averagely accurate. The in-ear thermometers are the best for accuracy but most expensive.

Out and About

Pram (including sun shade & rain cover)

Choosing a pram is a complete minefield, which is why I plan on writing a separate post on the topic {update: here is my post on how to choose the right travel system for you}. Here I will just remind you not to forget about accessories – a sun shade and rain cover are a must.

Car seat

When travelling in a car babies must be in a rearward facing car seat (UK). Consider whether you want to fix the car seat to the pram wheels, or whether your travel system comes with a compatible car seat or adapters.

Change bag

There is absolutely no need to purchase a fancy changing bag that matches your pram. If you are thrifty like me, then use the free change bag you get by joining the Boots Parenting Club – it’s done me well!

Baby sling

Some babies love to be held close and having a baby sling enables you to fulfill that need whilst pottering around the house, or striding out across the fields, your choice! This is definitely something you could save money on by purchasing secondhand – we got a great bargain on eBay.


Moses basket / crib / carrycot

It isn’t essential to have these, but newborns feel more secure sleeping in a smaller space. We opted for using the carrycot part of our travel system but you must make sure it is suitable for overnight sleeping.


Consider whether you want a cot or cot-bed, a drop-side, mattress height options. We have a regular wooden cot with drop-side and three mattress positions. Rosalie is the 4th baby to sleep in her cot (we got a new mattress) as me and my two sisters also used it when we were babies – it’s over 30 years old!

Drawers / wardrobe

You will definitely need some storage for baby clothes and sundries; for small people they sure do accumulate a lot of stuff! We opted for an Ikea chest of drawers and wardrobe – not specifically marketed as ‘nursery’. I found that most of the furniture that was designed for a nursery was smaller yet more expensive, not ideal in my opinion.

Changing station

You can get stand-alone changing units, or toppers for chest of drawers. We opted for just a changing mat on top of the chest of drawers.


Not essential but really useful to have. We found a lovely cheap one in Ikea which we hung over the changing mat to keep R amused during nappy changes. We were also given a musical cot mobile.

Room thermometer

Knowing the temperature of your baby’s room (or your room for the first 6 months) is really important to make sure baby doesn’t get too warm.

Bouncy chair

I have found our bouncy chair invaluable – and we still use it now, 10 months in (R is napping in hers as I am writing this post).

I do hope you have found this post useful, and if you have any questions about baby equipment then I’d be more than happy to answer them, just leave me a comment below, or drop me an email.

Happy nesting!

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  • Reply
    Vickie Rich
    October 23, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    This is a really comprehensive list that I would've found really useful when I was pregnant. ๐Ÿ™‚ I found the advice dished out by the likes of Emma's Diary and the pregnancy books I read was very conflicting and we ended up buying a lot that we didn't need.

  • Reply
    Jessica Eliot
    October 24, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Thanks Vickie; I totally agree re conflicting advice, and of course you want to do what's right and best, so you end up buying unnecessary items. Babies are big business!

  • Reply
    Six Little Hearts
    October 25, 2014 at 4:28 am

    As a Mum of six, I fully back your list! Gorgeous blog too! I blog at Six Little Hearts. Will be a bit of a visitor from here on ๏ฟฝ๏ฟฝ

  • Reply
    Jessica Eliot
    October 25, 2014 at 6:08 am

    Wow, 6, I bet that's quite a handful! It's good to know such an experienced mummy agrees with my list. I'll head over and check out your blog; thanks for your kind comments about mine x

  • Reply
    Aby Moore
    October 28, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    What a great list, such a lot of fab information! Thanks for linking up to #TheList x

  • Reply
    Jessica Eliot
    October 29, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks Aby x

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