Baby Shopping Guide
September 12, 2016
More often than not, the moment you find out you are expecting you might want to go out and buy every single baby item in sight (that is, after the heightened emotions go down). Don’t. Almost every first time parent has at least one item they bought which they’ve never used. Even something as simple as a baby onesie (romper) which was just too small for baby to wear. It’s fine to splurge on baby, but it is important to keep the clutter to a minimum, not just to save the space in your house but your pocket as well.
To help you not break the bank with your baby shopping, here is a guide on how best to go about it. You will also find alongside this article a separate photo which shows a shopping card summarizing the below information. You can print this out and carry it with you as you go shopping.
The best time to start your baby shopping is in the second trimester or the first month of the third trimester. During this time your energy level is higher and most of the pregnancy symptoms have usually subsided.
I usually suggest to most people that if they are not planning to have more than one child to get some items from close relatives. For example, items like cribs, play pens and strollers can be gotten from your older siblings or close cousins and/or aunties. Though only if they are in good condition. This is because these items are bulky, expensive and time bound.
If this is not possible then below is a list of the key essentials to buy and some substitutes you can use. The first step to baby shopping is prospecting. It’s important to shop around and compare prices for different items from different stores. Don’t limit yourself to new items (especially clothing – though towels and food related items should be new) as different sokos (markets) such as Gikomba and Toi just to mention a few, have some good quality baby items at an affordable price.
The key thing to bear in mind when shopping for baby clothes is that it all boils down to:
A. Safety – Avoid clothes which have harmful accessories or if possible strengthen items such as buttons by adding another layer of stitch to them.
B. Comfort – Your baby must be comfortable in whatever they wear to keep them from fussing. Look for cotton items of clothing as some fabrics such as wool can irritate your baby’s skin.
C. Easy to wear – Changing a baby can be a grueling affair especially in the middle of the night when you are exhausted. Therefore, buy clothes which are easy to put on and take off.
D. Unisex colours are best – Even after an ultrasound there has been cases where parents only bought gender specific outfits only to find themselves with a baby of another sex. This is not to say that this will happen to you but it has happened before. To be on the safe side, it might be best to have majority of your baby clothes in unisex colours and styles.
Below is a list of essential baby clothing:
1) Full and half onesies (rompers) – It’s best to buy both long and short sleeved versions.
2) Vests – A baby vest to wear on the inside can also come in handy to add an extra layer of warmth. These often comes in different designs and styles.
3) Baby hats and mittens – its best to go with one made out of cotton as some babies react to woolen items of clothing. Remember to buy different sizes of these to ensure your baby has something to wear as they grow.
4) Baby socks and stockings – it’s also best to buy different sizes of these as you’ll be surprised to find some socks which are just too small. These help add another layer of warmth for your baby.
5) Trousers – look for different style trouser, for example pencil style trousers come in handy to wear underneath a dress to add an extra layer of warmth and protection (e.g. against bruises) while still looking stylish especially for older playful toddlers. Jeans though are best reserved for older kids as they are not always comfortable.
6) T-shirts – It’s best to buy both long and short sleeved versions.
7) Jumpers – This is a good alternative to sweaters, especially jumpers which have a pull on hat. If you choose to buy a sweater buy one with close knits to prevent your baby’ fingers from getting stuck.
8) Bibs – In the early months a thick cloth bib should suffice as they mainly are for milk spills and drools. However, once your baby turns 6 months you might want to get a bib with a flexible waterproof back side and if possible one which is wide enough to cover your baby’s shoulders and chest. This helps protect your baby’s clothes from the messiness of weaning.
For safety purposes, never leave your baby unattended with a bid on or put your baby to bed while still wearing their bib as this could lead to unintentional strangulation.
9) Shawls and receiving blanket – These are useful to wrap your baby in to keep them warm.
10) Baby shoes – these only become useful when your baby starts to walk. Look for something which is easy to put on and preferably one that doesn’t have a lace as these could trip your baby. Also look for a shoe with a comfortable sole especially one that is not too heavy.
BABY BATH AND CHANGING ITEMS
For your baby’s bath items new is always best due to hygiene reasons. It’s important to have items which will only be used by your baby where possible.
The essential bath-time items include:
1) Baby Basin – buy one which is big enough to still be useful as your baby grows. Some basins come with a back support making it easier to wash your baby.
For safety reasons, never leave your baby unattended in the basin regardless of the water level.
2) Towels – These are best bought brand new. To make this purchase economical try to avoid the allure of cute hooded baby towels by buying a regular sized towel which will still be useful once your baby starts going to school. A good quality towel could even last until your baby becomes and adult and moves out.
3) Baby soap and soap dish – there are various brands of baby soaps which are mild and gentle on your baby’s skin. However, some parents with children who have sensitive skin opt to use bar soap which is very mild and rarely has any allergic reaction. A simple soap dish which allows the soap to dry should suffice. You can find these in most local stores and/or supermarkets.
4) Diapers – It’s usually best to buy a few diapers first before your baby is born. You might be tempted to fill your cabinet with diapers but the risk with this is that your baby might end up being allergic to the brand of diapers you have purchased. Since you can easily get these at your local supermarket, only buy diapers in bulk once you have identified a brand which works well for your baby (has no allergic reactions).
5) Wash cloths – Like towels these are also best bough brand new. You can set one aside to carry around with you to act as a handkerchief for your baby.
6) Grooming kit – Most supermarkets sell a small baby grooming kit which comes with a soft hair brush, baby hair comb, baby nail clippers and a finger tooth brush for later use. Some also have a small scissors to trim your baby’s hair. Since some of these items can be choking hazards ensure to keep the kit in a safe location.
7) Baby cream/lotion – depending on your baby’s skin type your doctor might recommend a certain brand of baby lotion/cream for example if your baby has sensitive skin.
8) Diaper cream – this helps protect your baby’s bum from nappy rashes and burns. You could always ask your doctor for a recommended brand.
ESSENTIAL BABY CHANGING ITEMS
In addition to diapers and diaper cream you will also need:
9) A changing mat – these are often waterproof and provide a soft surface to change your baby on while protecting the underneath part from accidental pees and poops.
10) Diaper bag – most diaper bags come in two part. A larger bag for long distance traveling and a small bag for brief out of the house moments. They also often come with a changing mat which will eliminate the need to buy a separate one as mentioned in number (9) above.
11) Baby wipes – these are usually water based and come in handy when changing your baby outside of the house.
12) Cotton wool – while in the house you might opt to wipe your baby using cotton wool dipped in warm water. This is cost effective and especially useful if you have a girl as some wipes might irritate the skin.
When cutting the cotton wool into small portions to place in the bucket (see next item) do so away from your baby to help prevent small cotton fragments from entering his/her eyes.
13) Small bucket – for hygiene purposes you might opt to buy a small separate bucket dedicated to placing warm water for wiping your baby with during a diaper change.
BABY SLEEPING GEAR
1) Crib/Baby cot – Ensure that the cot you buy is firm and has bars which are between 2.5 cm to 6.5cm apart. This is to help prevent your baby from getting stuck. The distance from the top of the mattress to the top of the crib should also be at least 50 cm.
2) Mattress – Ensure that the mattress you by for your crib fits perfectly as your child’s head could get stuck if there is a space between the mattress and the crib.
3) Moses basket – This can act as a useful substitute until you get a crib. However it is important to note that your baby will outgrow it fairly quickly. They also often come with their own mattress. If you already have a crib you can do without this.
4) Sheets – A few sheets for the crib and/or Moses basket to cover the mattress with. This should be able to cover the mattress completely to keep it from coming loose while your child sleeps which could be dangerous.
5) Baby sleeping bag – This is like a sleeping blanket which your baby wears as an outfit. They are very handy for when your baby is younger and come in different sizes. Regardless of how much tossing and turning done at least you are assured your child will always stay warm and covered. Cotton fabric sleeping bags are always best.
6) Blanket and/or duvets – This is especially useful once your baby grows older and outgrows their sleeping bag.
BABY FEEDING GEAR
1) Baby Bottles and nipples – before your baby is 6 months of age they will primarily be on breastmilk. If you will not always be around to breastfeed your baby, in addition to the breast pump and breast milk storage containers/bags mentioned later on, you will also need a few baby bottles and extra nipples in the event one gets damaged or wears out. Luckily most breast pumps come with their own bottle so you should already have one at your disposal if you have purchased a breast pump.
2) Baby spoons and bowls – Once your child is six months the process of weaning begins. You will need some baby friendly bowls and spoons to feed him/her food with. [See our article on “COMPLEMENTARY FEEDING/WEANING” for more information on how to go about this].
3) Baby food storage containers – You will need a few containers to store and/or transport your baby’s food with. Choose containers which are airtight to prevent leakage. If you had earlier purchased some breast milk storage containers then these can also double up as storage containers for your baby’s food.
4) Dish soap, bottle scrub and scouring pad – buy utensil cleaning soaps which are mild specifically for washing your baby’s utensils. A bottle scrub can help remove dried milk lodged in hard to reach areas of your baby’s bottle. Most of these can be found at most local supermarket.
5) Baby dish rack – this is usually a small rack which has a few protruded sections for drying your baby’s bottles with and another section for the rest of his/her dishes. However, a small tray can also suffice.
6) Teether – This can be bought at most local supermarket and can give some much needed comfort to your baby’s itching gums. [See our article on “TAKING CARE OF YOUR BABY’S TEETH” for more information on this].
In addition to the above items, it is also important to buy:
1) Thermometer – this is to check your baby’s temperature especially after each vaccination. [See our article “GUIDE: CHOOSING A BABY THERMOMETER” for more information on this]
2) First Aid Kit – this can come in handy and it’s often best for every household to have one. Since they are a bit expensive you can save up to buy it. Be sure to keep it in a safe place away from your children but where you can easily reach it when needed. You can also register for our Group Pediatric First Aid Classes here.
In the past baby walkers were considered an essential item but recent research have shown that walkers could actually slow down your baby’s walking development rather than boost it. An alternative to using a walker is organize pillows all round in your living room to build a barrier where your baby can try to walk around while lying on the pillows. Make sure the pillows are firmly in place and won’t fall over by lying them on the base of the couches and table to create a perimeter wall.
In addition to the above essential baby items you will also need to purchase the following for yourself:
After you have your baby it is important to note that you might not go back to your previous weight for a while. Therefore, do not discard your maternity gear as they will still come in handy.
In addition to the maternity gear you will also need:
1) Nursing bras – these have a clasp at the front allowing you to easily breastfeed your baby and are usually very comfortable which is needed for those days when your breast fill up with milk.
2) Nursing pads – These help absorb leaking breastmilk and come in two types, disposable and re-usable. The disposable nursing pads have a sticky side which help stick to your bra keeping them in place. However, they are quite expensive. The re-usable ones are washable and often go for around Ksh. 35 or so. You can buy a lot of these and they are very easy to wash. Depending on the type of bra you have it is not so difficult to keep them in place.
3) Breast pump – From around 6 weeks you can begin to express your breastmilk and store it or have someone give this to your baby while you catch up on some sleep. [See our article on “CHOOSING A BREAST PUMP” for more information on this]. You can also find the best deals on electric and manual breast pumps at our online shop.
4) Breastmilk storage containers/bags – If you choose to begin freezing your milk early it is important to buy these containers/bags to store the milk for later use. [See our article on “BREAST MILK STORAGE GUIDE” for more information on this].
In the below images you will find a checklist which summarises the above. You can print this out and take it with you as you begin your baby shopping.
Are there baby items you bought which you almost never used? Let us know by leaving a comment below