What you might need. And what you definitely won’t.

Before our two were born, we thought about what we’d need to buy. These were our first kids, and we didn’t have many friends with nippers to ask for advice. And we didn’t want to spend wads of cash. We’re not broke, but we’re not rolling in it, and would rather spend any spare money on fun things for the nippers like matching teddy bear outfits and tiny ‘rock and roll’ T-shirts (see above).

We searched on the internet, and found lengthy lists of ‘must-haves’ and ‘nursery essentials’. Very lengthy. So we whittled those lists down to what we actually, really needed the minute the kids were born.

That list looked something like this:

1 Nappies and wipes – we got small packs to begin with to try them out. The goody bags the hospital gives you had some in to get going (we blagged as many bags as we could from the midwives. They were happy to oblige.)

2 Babygros and hats – we bought three babygros each, as we weren’t sure what size the kids would be. As it happened, they were small, so Mooching Dad had to run out and get some that fitted properly.

3 Something in which to sleep. We had one second-hand Moses basket for both twins. It worked. They were comfortable, warm and happy.

Really, truly, that’s all you’re going to need for the first week. Of course, if you choose not to breastfeed (let’s open that whole can of worms later, eh?), or it just doesn’t work out for you, you’ll need formula, bottles and all that jazz. But most hospitals will encourage you to try to breastfeed for at least the first few days, and will have equipment to help you out if you need it (we certainly did!)

As it happens, we forgot to take the babygros and hats, because I went mental and unpacked the bag the night we were due to go into hospital and took them out, but that’s hormones and nerves for you. The hospital gave us some clothes, which we were hugely grateful for.

Yeah, that list is basic, and you’ll want more. But it’s a good place to start. Let’s add some more stuff in, which you’ll need over the next few days.

4 Car seats – if you are planning on taking your kid(s) home from hospital in your car, or a relative’s car. You can borrow them, if you don’t need them permanently, and some taxi firms have a stock (you’ll need to book ahead).

5 Blankets – they don’t need to be new or special baby blankets, but you will be using them a lot, in and out of your basket or cot. Maybe ask someone good at knitting to make some?

6 Muslins – they mop up puke, keep heads out of the sun, go over the front of a pram, and can even serve as temporary clothes if you’re out and about (yep, my hand goes up, I have fashioned a crude pair of pants from a square of cloth).

7 A baby bath – we were all prepared to use the sink, but then found a baby bath dirt cheap at a boot fair. We didn’t use any bubble bath for the first few months; doctors say you shouldn’t. And you only need to bath a newborn about once a week. Confession: we didn’t bath ours for three weeks. Er, we just, kind of, forgot… I mean, we washed their faces and bits, enough. It kind of didn’t matter. Although we found some weird cheesy stuff in the creases in their elbows. Anyway, I digress…

8 A pushchair – choosing one is a world of pain. I’ll write a separate post about it another time, but to sum up, we let the boot fair gods decide. Then, when they hit six months, we had a better idea of what they’d need, and targetted eBay with ruthless precision.

9 A changing mat – we didn’t bother with a special table, just slung a mat on top of a handily sized chest of drawers in our room. We always meant to upgrade. It never happened. No-one died.

Anyway, you get the idea? Most stuff that’s slated as an ‘essential’ isn’t. We weren’t entirely puritanical – we could have used small towels for A and D, but chose to get some cute ones with hoods. But does anyone actually need a wipe warmer? Babies don’t mind room-temperature wipes. At least, ours didn’t. And a nappy bin? We used a groovy tin bucket with a lid.

We also got bits and bobs passed on from friends which was fantastic. It also gave us a chance to try things out – we slung a baby gym which they loathed and never used. This taught us a valuable lesson – don’t splash out until you’re sure you actually need stuff.

Other places we scouted things from included eBay, Freecycle (there’s TONS of baby gear on there, and it’s also a great place to pass things on – second-hand karma is important), local NCT sales, and boot fairs. I guess we just didn’t sweat it. Their nursery wasn’t a co-ordinated Mamas and Papas confection, but they didn’t care. And we were happy. And we weren’t broke. Aim achieved.

Did I miss something in my essentials list? Comment below!

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