Preparing for baby: Starting your research

A man and a woman research pregnancy on their laptop

If you’re expecting a baby and it’s your first – you might be thinking: where do I start? It’s a fair question. With so much to think about, we thought we’d give some tips on how to start your research and help you prepare for your little one’s arrival.

Jump ahead to the relevant section:

  1. What should I think about?
  2. Researching pushchairs
  3. Researching car seats
  4. Researching nursery furniture and bedding
  5. Last minute essentials

Starting your baby research | What should I think about?

Let’s start at the beginning and look at what you should prioritise when researching for your child.

What do I need to buy before baby arrives?

There is a wide range of essentials to buy for your newborn baby, these include:

  • Pushchair
  • Car seat
  • Nursery furniture
  • Nursery soft furnishing
  • Bath time essentials
  • Feeding accessories – bottles, bottle prep machine, breast pump, etc.
  • Changing accessories – nappies, wipes, changing mat, creams, etc.
  • General accessories – bibs, muslin squares, blankets
  • Clothes – baby grows, vests, socks, outfits
  • Playtime essentials

That list looks like a lot, and it can feel overwhelming but it’s worth remembering that you don’t need everything before baby arrives. Items such as toys, playtime essentials and even nursery pieces don’t have to be ready for your child. Likewise, certain items like feeding accessories might not be needed, but you won’t know until bubba rocks up. The important thing to remember is there’s always time to stock up later.

What is the priority?

Really, this is up to you, however, if you’re struggling to know where to start, the best thing to do is make a list. Map out the things you know you’re going to need and then figure out the order of priority – and the best way to do this is consider what your child is going to use first.

We believe the important items are:

Car seat

In many ways, this is the most important purchase, as you need a car seat to bring your child home from the hospital. Not only that, but as you start to get out and about after the birth, a car seat can be a live saver – not only for making journeys easier but also giving baby a safe, secure place to nap on the go.

Pushchair / travel system

Similarly, a pushchair is a huge help as you start to transition back into everyday life after the birth. Your midwife will encourage you to get out into the fresh air and go for walks, so a pushchair is an essential accessory. It’s also a good way to lull your little one to sleep if they’re putting up a fight at nap times.

Cot / crib / bedside crib

Of all the nursery items, this is the one you’re going to need straight away. Your little one needs somewhere to sleep in those early weeks, so if you have a bed, the rest of the nursery can wait.

Figure out the plan for when baby comes home. Do you have the space to let them sleep in your bedroom? If so, you’ll want to find a crib or mini cot bed. If you want to keep them close by, a bedside crib or Moses’ basket is a great solution. Consider how your little one is going to fit into your life, and that will dictate which items you need first.

Clothing and accessories

This takes in everything from outfits to bibs and from bedding to nappy bags. These are all important to have when baby arrives BUT there’s no rush. We recommend using the last few weeks of your pregnancy to ensure you’re stocked up on these smaller everyday items.

Creating a budget

Once you’ve figured out your list of priorities, create a budget. By knowing how much you can afford; you can set yourself achievable goals and keep the costs down.

Read our guide to budgeting for baby

And that’s about it. It’s easy to streamline your list of essentials to ensure you don’t go over budget and that your house isn’t bursting with baby items before bubba even arrives. Over the next few sections, we will go into detail about researching the various essentials.

Image of various travel system and pushchairs

Baby Prep | Researching pushchairs

Possibly your first big purchase – definitely the one that starts to make it all feel more real - but what plan should you take when researching your pushchair? We’ve got some top tips.

  • Create a budget
  • Think about your lifestyle
  • Consider available space
  • Choose between a travel system and pushchair

Create a budget

As with all baby products, figuring out a budget ahead of time makes everything easier. When it comes to pushchairs, it’s useful to allocate a healthy amount as this is one item you will use a lot. Find a figure you’re comfortable with and maybe give yourself some leeway in case you find something extra special.

Think about your lifestyle

Of course, baby is the one getting pushed around, but you’re using the pushchair just as much, so you need to think about how you will use it. If you like long walks or country trails, an all-terrain pushchair might be best. If you use public transport often, look for pushchairs that are lightweight with good steering and a compact fold. How you live your life will determine the sort of pushchair you should invest in.

Think about space

One thing that’s important to know about pushchairs is that they can take up lots of space. If you live in a flat or apartment, smaller, compact pushchairs might be best. Alternatively, you might store your pushchair in the car boot overnight – so you need to make sure the pushchair you choose fits in your car.

Travel system or pushchair?

If you’re not sure what the difference is, then check out our guide to travel systems. But this will affect not only the sort of pushchair you get but how much you spend as well. Travel systems are a great investment as they cover your car seat and carrycot too.

Don’t forget to take a look at our range of pushchairs and travel systems.

Image of different car seats with various aged children

Baby Prep | Researching car seats

Car seats are a similarly important early purchase. As we mentioned above, you need a car seat to leave the hospital with your little one. But what should you consider?

We think it’s important to look at:

  • Safety features
  • Comfort for baby
  • Installation
  • Travel systems

Safety features

All car seats should be safe, but how can you be sure? Look out for clear signs, such as whether they are compliant with the relevant safety standards – ECE R44 and ECE R129. When researching car seat brands, look at their approach to safety testing. Consider the specific features of the car seat – such as side impact protection, a reinforced shell and protective head and neck support.

Comfort

Once you’re sure on a seat’s ability to keep baby safe, think about comfort. Do they offer additional features that ensure baby can sit, lie, and sleep comfortably? Do they adapt to suit your baby’s size as they grow?

Installation

Understand whether your chosen car seat is attached to your car with seat belts or ISOFIX. ISOFIX anchors a seat to your car chassis for a more secure fit that can’t be installed incorrectly. Some older cars aren’t compatible, and some car seats need an additional base for this.

Travel system

As we mentioned above, if you purchase a travel system, there are options to buy your pushchair and car seat in one go. If this is what you want, make sure the car seat is compatible with both your pushchair and your car.

Don’t forget to read our handy car seat guide and check out our range of car seats.

Image of nursery furniture

Baby Prep | Researching nursery furniture

Right, that’s travel out the way. Let’s go home. Getting your nursery ready can be one of the bigger jobs, but it can also be one of the most fun. Nothing beats bringing a bit of your little one’s personality into your own home.

We recommend:

  • Setting a budget
  • Creating a timeline
  • Considering styles
  • Thinking about storage and longevity

Budget

As ever, setting a clear budget can help you to scope out exactly what’s needed. Give yourself some room to manoeuvre. If you don’t have much to spend, remember you can focus on the essential furniture pieces, and build out the rest as you go.

Timeline

As with any DIY, this sort of job can be as quick or as drawn out as you let it. With plenty of time before baby arrives, it can be easy to keep putting it off. A clear timeline will help you to set achievable goals. But remember, it’s highly likely that baby will spend the first six months in your room (if you have space), so there is no rush. It can always wait until baby is here but remember it can be trickier planning the work around a newborn in the house.

Styles and colours

Set yourself a clear style and even a mood board if you’re feeling creative. Knowing what look you’re going for will help you to narrow down your options for furniture and soft furnishings.

Storage

Storage is a big must when you have a baby – so consider the space you have and work out how much storage you can fit. Whether that’s wardrobes and dressers or shelving and toy boxes, it’s good to consider these things early on.

Longevity

Most nursery furniture comes with the option to adapt pieces as your child grows, such as adjustable cot beds and chest of drawers with removable changing units. Investing in pieces like this will mean your little one will be at least four years old before you need to think about upgrading.

Check out our guide to planning your nursery timeline and styling your nursery. You can also shop all manner of nursery furniture and bedding and soft furnishings.

Image of a felt storage caddy full of nappy changing essentials.

Baby Prep | Last minute essentials

Now that all the big stuff is sorted, let’s look at those everyday essentials. These can include:

  • Nursery soft furnishing
  • Bath time essentials
  • Feeding accessories – bottles, bottle prep machine, breast pump, etc.
  • Changing accessories – nappies, wipes, changing mat, creams, etc.
  • General accessories – bibs, muslin squares, blankets
  • Clothes – baby grows, vests, socks, outfits
  • Playtime essentials

When should I stock up on baby bath time and nursery accessories?

We recommend waiting until your third trimester to start stocking up on these essentials. By this point, you might be well on your way with your travel system and nursery furniture. These additional items can be picked up along the way as you continue nesting and getting everything ready for your little one. But remember – there’s still time to get this stuff once they arrive.

Buying breast and bottle feeding accessories

It’s worth researching these items ahead of time, to make sure you understand what they are and what they do. However, the reality is that you won’t know whether baby will breast or bottle feed until they arrive, unless you have actively chosen to bottle feed. However, if unsure once they’re here and settling in, you can figure out whether you need to buy a breast pump or stock up on formula – maybe even both.

When should I buy baby clothing?

It’s entirely up to you when you start with those cute little outfits. You may be the sort that purchases something every time you nip to the shop – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Likewise, you can bulk buy closer to your due date – whatever makes you feel more comfortable.

The truth is, you’ll likely get lots of baby clothes from friends and family when your little one arrives. Sometimes it will be ready to wear, and sometimes it will be to fit your child as they get older. It’s good to have a bit of both, but we recommend stocking up on a good amount of those everyday essentials such as baby grows, vests, socks, rompers, etc. As you’ll find out, bubba goes through more outfit changes than an Oscar host – so give yourself plenty of the important outfits to keep at home and in your changing bag, in case of little accidents.

Summary

And that’s that! We know there’s a lot to think about, but hopefully this guide has helped to break things down and make them feel a little less overwhelming. Don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog to find more top tips for pregnancy and baby shopping.