Bringing your baby home - what you need


There’s a lot to think about before your baby arrives. There are things you need to get and information you should know. And even if this isn’t your first baby, you’d be surprised at the number of things you might forget about!

But don’t despair. Rule number one is “Don’t panic.” Rule number two is “be prepared!”

Essentials for baby

Baby clothes

Choose inexpensive baby items that are easy for you to put on and comfortable for your baby to wear. Save the bows and frills for later when your baby is older and less fragile.

Babies grow quickly and soon he won’t fit into those tiny newborn clothes, so don’t buy too many clothes in the same size.

  • 4–6 cotton vests: choose the babygro style to keep his back warm
  • 4–6 front-fastening, cotton baby-grows
  • 2–3 fleecy sleepsuits (for winter babies)
  • 2 cotton beanies
  • 2–4 hooded towels or large bath towels
  • 4–6 face cloths
  • 4–6 bibs (T-shirt necks and popper fasteners are better than string ties)
  • 3–4 booties or baby slippers (for cold weather)
  • 4–6 pairs of cotton socks
  • 2–4 cotton sweaters or knitted cardigans
  • 1 going home outfit (go for practical and cute, not fussy)

Skin and bath care

Choose unperfumed products that are specially made for a baby’s delicate skin:

  • Baby wipes and tissues
  • Non-fibrous cotton wool pads or balls
  • Baby soap, baby wash or aqueous cream
  • A small bottle of surgical spirits (for the umbilical cord in the first week)
  • Baby lotion
  • Baby massage oil
  • Bum cream (plus one for your baby bag)
  • Disposable nappies and/or shaped cloth nappies
  • 4–6 cloth nappies (multifunctional: for mopping up/using as towels and blankets)
  • Plastic bags for soiled nappies (you can buy scented ones in the baby toiletry section at the supermarket)

Nursery items

You’ll need a safe bed for your baby – whether camp cot, wooden cot or Moses basket - and he should sleep in a room that’s warm (but not too warm) and draft-free. Don’t place the bed near a window. You’ll also need:

  • 4–6 receiving blankets and/or cotton “cell” blankets
  • 1 soft shawl or blanket.


When your baby is very young, you’ll need to have products on standby to soothe a sore stomach or hiccups, help with a stuffy nose or bring down a fever. In the case of fever, you should get medical attention promptly.

For any other symptoms you’ll probably also need to seek medical attention - pay special attention to vomiting and/or diarrhoea, as your baby can get dangerously dehydrated very quickly.

Make up a very basic baby medicine chest by including the following:

  • An easy-to-use baby thermometer (learn how to use it when your baby is well, so you aren’t trying to work it out the first time he is sick)
  • A medicine dropper and/or small plastic syringe
  • Calpol (and later on infant Panado syrup or Stopayne syrup) to use if your baby has a fever
  • Gripe water (preferably a brand with 0% alcohol in it) to settle a sore tummy or soothe hiccups
  • Colic drops for a sore tummy or colic
  • Saline nasal solution and a nasal aspirator to clear a stuffy nose (the Pigeon nasal aspirator is especially good)
  • Bennet’s Easy Breathe Kit (again for congestion) for babies over 3 months.

Be concerned if your baby’s temperature reads over 37ºC. Some digital thermometers that take readings from your baby’s ear will give you their own parameters of what constitutes a fever at different ages.

When using such a thermometer, keep the reference booklet that comes with it handy so you can take the reading, refer to the booklet and know whether to be concerned.

Cough and cold medicine warning

In January 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US declared that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines are too risky to give to infants under the age of 2.

If your baby has a cold, specialists recommend plenty of fluids and rest, saline drops to loosen stuffy noses and using humidifiers while sleeping.

Always give medicine on the advice of your doctor only and follow the recommended dosage meticulously. Also, look out for baby products that say “from 3 months only” and follow their advice.

Are you ready for the arrival of your newest family member? What are some of the essential things you've gotten ready so far for your newborn? Tell us by commenting below or emailing and we may publish your comments.

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