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Ask the doctor

Maternity nurse Sarah Norris advises mothers-to-be on the essentials they need to buy before their baby is born

By Lisa Salmon

Q. I’m currently pregnant with my first child and don’t have much money. What are the things that I really need to buy for my baby’s arrival?

A. Ian Burg Maternity nurse Sarah Norris, author of The Baby Detective (Orion Spring, £14.99), says: “Once a baby’s on the way, the instinct is to start buying, and there’s certainly enough stuff available. But while there’s plenty of choice, the prices can be eye-wateringly expensive.

“The truth is, you don’t actually need 95% of the things you see around you, especially if you’re struggling financially.

“A newborn baby doesn’t need very much at all, just comfortable clothes, somewhere safe to sleep and clean feeding equipment.

“You’ll probably be bought gifts when baby arrives, so just equip yourself with the very basics, enough to last you a couple of weeks.”

Sarah would suggest:

  • six longsleeved and six shortsleeved cotton newborn sleepsuits.
  • 12 muslin squares (around 70cm square). They double up as furniture covers, clothes protectors, swaddles, changing mats, playmats and bibs.
  • The cheapest moses basket you can find. Secondhand is fine, you don’t need a stand. (You will need a new mattress to reduce risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  • A brand new, cheap, but safety marked, mattress (you can use muslins, clean T-shirts/tea towels as sheets).
  • one cotton pram-size blanket — but you can use cotton towels and adult jumpers, just make sure they don’t holes to trap little fingers.
  • A microwave steriliser — although sterilising tablets, or a pan on a stove, do a great job of sterilising breast or bottle feeding equipment.
  • Dummies if you want to use them, two basic bottles, plus four bottles of ready-to-feed stage 1 formula. Even if you plan to breastfeed, make sure you have these in case things don’t go as planned because hospitals won’t provide them.
  • A cheap notebook to write times of feeds, which breast you started on, when baby poos etc because the lack of sleep makes it hard to remember accurately.

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