Buying for baby: what you'll really need

Congratulations, you're having a baby! It is an exciting time, with so much to do. Shopping for a baby can be bewildering for first-timers, so mum of two Nuree Greenhalgh shares her expertise on what to look for when buying the essentials.

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I am the kind of person who needed not only everything, but the best of everything for my babies. However, after my first baby was born, I discovered that we did not need or use half of the items that we had bought. Even some of the major essential purchases did not work as well as expected, and we ended up on-selling them and buying products that were much easier to use - hence my motto, "Don't waste time and money on bad purchases: Get it right first time!"

Where to start?
It's a good idea to make your large purchases first, in particular the essential items such as the cot, buggy, and carseat. Once these items have been purchased, you will have more idea of how much money is left in the budget for getting down to the truly important business of decorating the nursery. If you plan on finding out the gender of your baby, leave decorating, theme and colour scheme decisions until after the 20-week scan.

Nursery essentials
The first major nursery purchase should be a cot. Design choices come down to personal preference, as there are so many variations in colour and style to choose from. Most importantly, choose a cot that has been fully tested to comply with New Zealand safety standards. The most critical aspects of any cot are those less visible. Take a closer look to see how strong and safe the construction is.

After purchasing a sturdy cot, don't cut corners on the mattress. I would recommend a pillow-top mattress, as it has an extra layer of padded softness on top of the springs. We had a pillow-top mattress for our second child and she was such a dream to put down for her naps. I definitely believe it is well worth spending the money on a better-quality mattress.

Purchasing a set of drawers for the nursery presents a whole new dilemma.

Baby furniture stores are full of inspiration, but be warned - these shops are just gorgeous, and many an hour can simply disappear in them while you dream of your special nursery.

Once you have decided on the colour of the furniture, there is the type of drawers that needs deliberation. There are standard drawers, scotch chests, lowboys, tallboys... The list goes on. Basically, it comes down to the size of your nursery and what best suits the space available.
A nursery is not complete without two other big essential items - the change table and nursing chair. A change table is great, as it really does help your back while you are doing one of the many nappy or clothing changes you will do in your baby's lifetime. Back muscles are weakened during pregnancy, and changing baby on the floor can make you more prone to back injuries. Also, if you needed a Caesarean for one reason or another, it makes it doubly difficult to change your little one on the floor.

Finally, the nursing chair. From personal experience, this is a necessity, as when you get up for those midnight feeds you do not want to have to wander through the house to sit down in the lounge. The baby's room is kept at a constant warm temperature, making it much more inviting (even if it is the middle of the night) to settle into for a midnight feed. Make sure you choose a chair that is supportive for your back.

You may be wondering why I have not included a bassinette as an essential item. Many cots have the option of two levels, the higher one being safe to use as a bassinette. Again it comes down to individual choice - there are many different options on the market when it comes to a place for your newborn to sleep.

Out and about
Let's move away from the nursery to the all-important essentials that enable you to get out and about. As daunting as this may seem when you have a newborn, going out is inevitable, so you need to feel confident about leaving the house.

The buggy is going to take a big chunk out of your budget. I believe that buying a good, quality buggy is money well spent, as in most cases it will be used for more than just one baby. Which means it is also worth considering which brands have the best options for carrying toddlers as well.

You need to find a buggy that is easy to manoeuvre, lightweight, folds easily, and fits into the boot of your car. I had a fantastic buggy but it was extremely heavy, so lifting it into my boot was always difficult, especially after my caesarean. I quickly learned that a lightweight one would have been a better option, but as I said, I needed to have all the bells and whistles!

It is wonderful now that there are buggies to suit most of our busy lifestyles. There are the urban buggies, styled for the fast pace of the city, through to the terrain type of buggy that enables you to take your baby off-road. Budget-wise, it's important to remember that the price of a buggy does not normally include accessories such as the UV sunshade and storm cover, which I consider to be essential items, allowing added flexibility when getting out and about with your baby.

Now, to the baby capsule. A capsule infant carseat offers added flexibility to your busy lifestyle. You can move your baby to and from the car without waking them, meaning that errands need not interrupt naptime. Believe me, a sleeping baby is a peaceful baby! If you buy wheels for your capsule, you can even take them out shopping and they may sleep the whole time!

Some buggies have an attachment so you can fit a capsule to the frame of the buggy. The buggy, therefore, acts as the transportation for your capsule, so you don't have to buy a whole new separate set of wheels. I also have three words for you when considering what type of capsule to buy - snap and go. This is a capsule with a base that is strapped permanently into your car. All you have to do is snap the capsule into the base, and off you go! It's as simple as that.

With all the big essentials purchased, you can focus on the more creative task of designing your nursery and sourcing the smaller, but still much-needed items for your baby. It's time to have some fun, get decorating, and take your pick from the huge array of all things cute - but that's another story!

Nuree Greenhalgh is a mother of two, and so passionate about helping others as they embark on the parenting journey that she has set up a business promoting "deliveries according to plan". The Baby Plannerhas a range of carefully designed plans for clients to choose from when deciding on what items to buy in their preparations for baby. The plans range from "The Essential Plan" which covers the basics, through to "The Dream Nursery Plan". There is even "The Mother-To-Be Plan", which focuses on both pre- and post-natal care for mum and baby. Check out for more details.





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