Bringing your baby home can be an exciting time. From clothes, bedding and car seats, here are a few hints on what you should have ready.
Babies grow very quickly. All you need for the first few weeks are enough clothes to make sure that your baby will be warm and clean. Clothes need to be comfortable and easy to get on and off.
You'll probably need:
- 6 jumpsuits (all-in-ones) for the day
- 2 nightdresses or jumpsuits for the night
- 2 cardigans or jackets (for winter) — wool or cotton rather than nylon, and light rather than heavy
- 6 singlets
- 3 tops
- 3 cotton wraps (for winter) or muslin wraps (for summer)
- a couple of cotton hats
- a few pairs of socks
- a sun hat for going out if it’s hot or the sun is bright (take care to keep your baby out of direct sunlight)
Washing your baby's clothes
If you use a washing machine, don't use washing powders with strong detergents or fabric softeners, as they may irritate your baby's skin. Always rinse clothes thoroughly.
For the first few months, you'll need a crib, a carry cot or a Moses basket (a light, portable bassinet). Your baby needs to sleep somewhere that's safe, warm and not too far from you.
If you are borrowing a crib or a cot, or using one that has been used by another of your children, you should ideally buy a new mattress. If you can't do this, use the cot mattress you have, as long as it is firm (not soft), flat, fits the cot with no gaps, is clean and waterproof.
You will need:
- a firm mattress that fits the cot snugly without leaving spaces round the edges, so that your baby cannot trap their head and suffocate
- at least 4 sets of sheets to cover the mattress — they need to be changed often (fitted sheets make life easier but they are quite expensive, so you could use pieces of old sheet)
- light blankets for warmth
For more information on safe sleeping, see safe sleep for babies.
Pillows and quilts
Don't use pillows — they are not safe for babies who are less than 2 years old due to the risk of suffocation. Quilts or doonas can also make the baby too hot. Quilted sleeping bags and baby nests are not suitable for your baby to sleep in when you're not there because of the danger of suffocation.
Your baby will spend many hours in a cot, so make sure it is safe.
- The cot needs to meet the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 2172.
- A portable cot needs to meet the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 2195.
- The mattress must fit snugly, with no space for the baby's head to get stuck.
- The bars must be smooth, securely fixed, and have any gaps less than 50mm or greater than 95mm between the bars (so the baby’s head or limbs can’t get trapped).
- The cot should be sturdy.
- The moving parts should work smoothly and not allow fingers or clothing to get trapped.
- Cot bumpers are not recommended because babies can overheat or get tangled in the fastenings.
- Do not leave soft toys in the cot.
- Never leave anything with ties, such as bibs or clothes, in the cot because they might get caught around your baby's neck.
- The safest place for your baby to sleep is on their back in a cot in the same room as you for the first 6 months.
For more information on safe sleeping, see safe sleep for babies.
Out and about
Take the time to think about what 'going out' equipment is likely to suit you before you make a choice. Ask other mums about what they've found useful. Before buying a stroller or a pram, check that:
- there is a 5-point harness that goes around the baby’s waist, over their shoulders and between their legs
- the brakes are in good working order and there are at least one or more parking brakes
- the handles are at the right height for pushing
- the frame is strong, with easy steering and has a strong and secure footrest
- look for the Australian Standards label, or ask the retailer if the model meets the mandatory Australian New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 2088
Baby carriers are soft, padded carriers that are attached with straps which allow you to carry your baby in front of you. Most babies like being carried like this because they're close to you, and warm. The back part of the carrier must be high enough to support your baby's head. Check that buckles and straps are secure. Your baby should be able to move their head, arms and legs. Older babies who can hold up their heads and whose backs are stronger (at about 4 months) can be carried in carriers that go on your back.
Strollers are only suitable for young babies if they have fully reclining seats so the baby can lie flat. Wait until your baby can sit up before using another type of stroller. Consider the stroller's weight if you use public transport, as you might have to lift it onto trains or buses.
Be careful running with a stroller unless it meets Australian standards for that type of movement and ensure the footpath surface is safe.
Prams give your baby a lot of space to sit and lie comfortably, but they take up a lot of space and are hard to use on public transport. If you have a car, look for a pram that can be dismantled easily. Get into the habit of always using the safety harness — your child can fall out unless they're strapped in securely. Be careful running with a pram unless it meets Australian standards and the footpath surface is absolutely safe.
Carrycot on wheels
A carrycot is a light, portable cot with handles, similar to but smaller than the body of a pram and often attachable to a wheeled frame. Your baby can sleep in the carrycot for the first few months, and the cot can be attached to the frame to go out. Most modern carrycots can also be taken in a car with appropriate restraints, but check that yours can.
If you have a car, you must have a car seat, also called a 'safety restraint'. Your baby must always go in their seat, including when you bring them home from the hospital. It's illegal and very dangerous to carry your baby in your arms in a vehicle.
When your baby is under 6 months old, they must travel in a rear-facing infant car seat with an inbuilt harness. This is held in place by the adult safety belt. Children who are under 4 years old cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with 2 or more rows, unless all other back seats are occupied by children younger than 7 years in an approved child restraint or booster seat.
The following advice should ensure your baby’s car seat is as safe as possible:
- Make sure the car seat meets the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1754.
- Make sure the car seat is fitted correctly. It is a good idea to have it fitted professionally at a local fitting service. About 7 in 10 child restraints in Australia are not properly installed.
- Do not buy a second-hand car seat as it may have been damaged in an accident.
For more information, see car safety.
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Last reviewed: July 2020