Get your pregnancy off to a healthy start for both you and baby with these initial purchases in the first three months.
Mums have to look after themselves and their babies – supplement your diet with vitamins.Read more
Vitamin supplements that include folic acid should be taken during pregnancy because it's an important preventer of birth defects such as spina bifida. Vitamin D, which keeps bones and teeth healthy and prevents rickets in children, is also available to buy in supplements from high street retailers like Boots. Fish oil is a valuable supplement as it boosts the level of omega-3 fatty acids, but it should be avoided if it comes from the liver of the fish – cod liver oil, for example, contains high levels of retinol which is harmful to infants.
Vitamins, most importantly folic acid, are so important in the 1st trimester. Folic acid is given out free of charge by midwives, so you don't need to shell out.Aby Moore (youbabymemummy.com)
Learn what to expect during your pregnancy from the women who have been through it.Read more
It's well worth stocking up on some pregnancy books so you can ensure you're fully prepared and know what you should expect from conception to birth and beyond. Some popular options are below:
Pregnancy books are something that every mum-to-be buys – I know I did! The pregnancy ones are useful and let you know what you're in for. However, I don't think you can really plan a pregnancy, things always change. Trust your instincts and if you're worried, ask.Susan K. Mann (www.susankmann.com)
Maximise your comfort whether you're in bed or on the sofa.Read more
Sleeping can quickly become uncomfortable as your bump gets bigger, so a body pillow is a worthwhile addition to support it while you lie on your side. Some baby brands, such as Mothercare, design their pillows to mould themselves to your body to provide even greater comfort levels during the night. Certain pillows can also be used on the sofa and in chairs to make you feel more at ease during pregnancy wherever you are.
You really need your sleep when you are pregnant but it can be hard when your back and legs ache and you can't get comfortable. A body pillow that you can mould into position will physically support you and help you relax. It's useful whilst nursing too.Becky Goddard-Hill (www.babybudgeting.co.uk)
How to make your clothes go that little bit further – literally!Read more
One of the obvious effects of pregnancy is a growing bump, which might not be immediately visible but can provide discomfort and make it difficult to wear normal trousers and skirts. Eventually you'll probably have to make the transition into maternity clothing, but for now a waistband extender should do the trick. Examples like the Bellaband are bands of elasticated fabric that sit over the bump and which can be attached to trousers and skirts to allow them to be worn unbuttoned and further down without them falling off.
I didn't use an extender. In the 1st trimester I made do with clothes I already had and towards the end I bought a pair of maternity jeans from eBay to see me through until my bump got bigger.Aby Moore (youbabymemummy.com)
Why would you need a new bra? Find out here.Read more
As your pregnancy progresses, your breasts will become more tender and you may find that your regular bras become uncomfortable to wear. If this happens, you may want to purchase new cotton bras without underwiring or begin wearing sports bras to give you the support you need without any of the discomfort. A lot of pregnant women also go up a cup size or two, so you may have to buy new bras anyway.
Discover why moisturising takes on extra importance when you're pregnant.Read more
As the skin on your abdomen becomes tauter, it will become dryer and stretch marks may develop below your baby bump. Many women combat this by using specially-formulated moisturiser or body lotion on a daily basis for the duration of their pregnancy. Most popular brands are readily available in high street retailers like Boots and Superdrug.
Body lotion and body oils can't guarantee no stretch marks but they can increase the suppleness and elasticity of your skin and help it stay smoother, so it really is worth using. You are worth it!Becky Goddard-Hill (www.babybudgeting.co.uk)
Crystallise your thoughts and feelings during pregnancy so you can marvel at them later.Read more
Pregnancy is a one-of-a-kind experience that you'll probably only go through a handful of times, and you may be feeling and thinking things you never have before. You may want to start a pregnancy journal to document your emotions and thoughts each week or so to begin connecting with your child (in a non-physical way) as early as possible. It will make for a wonderful, unique keepsake of your pregnancy experiences for you to treasure for the rest of your life.
This is such a lovely little keepsake to have to remind you about one of the most special times in your life. Also very handy for looking back on in future pregnancies to compare how you felt then as opposed to now.Fiona Naughton (www.dollydowsie.com)
Adapt to your changing body, get a head start on the nursery and have a last holiday while there's still time during the second trimester.
Discover how much more stylish maternity wear has become.Read more
You might be able to get away without buying too much maternity wear. Any loose tops or leggings with elasticated waistbands can be worn for a relatively long time, so don't buy too much at once in case you don't need it. H&M have a decent range and are a good place to start, but most high street shops (Gap, Primark, ASOS, Mothercare) offer maternity wear so you won't be particularly limited.
I was lucky to have a small bump but I did get very uncomfortable in my old jeans – investing in roomy and comfy maternity skinnies was one of the best things I did. Maternity wear is so fashionable these days and hard to resist when you're expecting!Fiona Naughton (www.dollydowsie.com)
Make the most of your last few months sans baby with a babymoon.Read more
The second trimester is an ideal time to take a final holiday before the baby arrives. Nausea and exhaustion are at their most debilitating until around week 15, while a lot of airlines require a GP's letter or flat-out refuse to let you fly towards the end of your pregnancy. This is the last opportunity you'll have to relax and have a break for what could be a long time, so don't pass up the chance to get away for a couple of weeks in the sun.
Our babymoon wasn't extravagant – we just went on a city weekend break, but you appreciate the time together more as a couple when you know it's your last break away for a while. Three years on and we're just about to go on our first child-free break!Rachel Kowalski (www.mummyintraining.co.uk)
On those nights where you can't drop off, what can you do to make things easier.Read more
You may find it more difficult to sleep the further along you get, but doctors discourage taking sleeping pills – if you feel like they could be the only thing that helps, consult your GP before using them. Otherwise, invest in other sleep aids like earplugs, eyemasks and fans, and avoid consuming stimulants just before bed to help you get a good night's sleep.
Some think feeding chairs are essential, others don't – make your decision here.Read more
Although this isn't a specialised product as such, it's a good idea to buy or define a feeding chair that can be placed in your baby's room to handle late-night feedings. A chair with a rocker or glider will help soothe them and relax you, which you might need after a stressful night's sleep.
I loved my feeding chair. It was a comfortable rocking haven where I could sit and feed and cuddle my baby. It's really nice to have a supportive chair with a gentle gliding motion designed for this very purpose.Becky Goddard-Hill (www.babybudgeting.co.uk)
How many baby clothes do you actually need to buy?Read more
Having a baby can be messy and you'll find that you will be changing clothes frequently in the first days and weeks. Simple items such as babygros that button all the way down the front will make life much easier in the early days when you can be changing nappies hourly (at least!).
Judging sizes can be difficult in advance. Items sized at 0-3 months may fit larger babies from birth but smaller babies will need items sized for newborns. Because babies quickly grow out of clothes, friends or family who have recently had children may well have items that are still in great condition that they can donate. Also, you are likely to receive items as gifts when the baby arrives so don't be in too much of a rush to buy everything up front.
Depending on the weather, clothes you may need for the first few days and weeks include:
Don't buy too many outfits because they won't be very useful at the beginning. It's all about the babygros. Most are designed so you can pull them down over baby's legs if you have a messy nappy, rather than up over their head.Becky Goddard-Hill (www.babybudgeting.co.uk)
Better than the floor? Find out about changing tables here.Read more
A changing table itself is not an essential item. However, you will need somewhere to change nappies which is flat, stable and easy to clean, so maybe it should be essential for those that don't have a low chest-of-drawers or something similar to place a changing mat on. If you need the budget to spend elsewhere, though, you can get by without it.
This was one of the first things I got for my son's nursery. I loved having everything ready for his arrival and our changing table, with nooks and shelves for all his toiletries, blankets and bath things, made his impending arrival all the more real.Fiona Naughton (www.dollydowsie.com)
Three's a crowd – learn about baby sleeping options here.Read more
Cost: (Moses Basket)
The issue of where your baby will sleep is often debated – some parents opt for a Moses basket, some go straight for a cot. A Moses basket has the advantage of being portable, but your baby will probably outgrow it within the first three months. Another option that is becoming more popular is a bedside crib or co-sleeper. These allow the baby to sleep in a crib that attaches directly to the bed allowing mum easy access during the night for feeding or comforting.
Many parents opt for a cot straightaway but remember that it is advised that your baby does not sleep in a separate room for the first six months. This means that parents who are limited on space within their own bedrooms may find it difficult to accommodate a cot. Remember when purchasing a cot that a mattress will probably need to be purchased separately, increasing the cost significantly.
A motherhood irony is that you spend hours getting your newborn to sleep, then spend the rest of the night worrying if they're okay. A bedside co-sleeper let me have my daughter literally at arm's reach, so I knew she was safe, and I could sleep too.Jacqui Paterson (www.mummyslittlemonkey.com)
What are the priorities when choosing baby bedding?Read more
It is essential that mattresses for cots or Moses baskets are firm and fit tightly so that they don't allow any gaps to develop around the sides. Sheets should fit snugly around the mattress so that they don't come loose. This is crucial to ensure that your child remains safe during the night.
It is also important that your baby doesn't overheat during the night so avoid heavy blankets which could also be a suffocation hazard. Baby sleep bags or ‘grobags' are a popular and safe choice these days. If you are using regular light blankets, these should be tucked in securely around the foot and sides of the mattress and cover up to your baby's chest. Another option is a baby swaddle that wraps your baby tightly during sleep. Some babies react well to this, although it is important to be aware of guidelines for swaddling your baby.
Some newborns like the snugness of swaddling, but it's an art form! If you're like me, what you need are swaddling blankets – they're little sleeping bags with different togs that wrap their arms in with two fabric flaps and Velcro to keep them in place.Susan K. Mann (www.susankmann.com)
Do the old rules about decorating nurseries still apply?Read more
Decorating the nursery is one of the more fun jobs to complete before its occupant arrives. In the past, nurseries were decorated in blue for a boy and in pink for a girl. Some consider this an old-fashioned idea, though, and it may make more sense to decorate according to your baby's developing sight and colour recognition abilities. Favour bright shades and contrasting colours when buying pictures, mobiles, stuffed animals and furniture to pull the room together in a cosy, inviting way.
HIT: A soft lamp will allow night-time nappy changes without waking your little one.Jacqui Paterson (www.mummyslittlemonkey.com)
MISS: Forget the nappy bucket; it's just one more thing to empty and just as easy to take nappies straight to the big bin anyway!
Ewan the Dream Sheep was an essential for us. Anything with white noise will help sooth your baby. Ewan was invaluable at the beginning and helped me fall back to sleep too after a night feed.Rachel Kowalski (www.mummyintraining.co.uk)
How should you deal with swollen feet?Read more
One of the effects of pregnancy often forgotten about is the way that your feet might swell up, as your body will be holding more water than normal – this extra water will often collect in the lower parts of the body. With this in mind, comfortable shoes without heels, straps or anything that might pinch should probably be prioritised, especially if you're on your feet a lot.
Prepare for birth and the first few weeks by wrapping up your shopping list in the third trimester.
Gain extra support at the time when you may need it most.Read more
As you near your due date, the baby will reposition itself in the womb to make as efficient an entrance as possible, but it will also put a lot of pressure on your pelvis. This causes back, abdominal and leg pain which needs to be eased to keep you going through the final stretch of your pregnancy. Many women employ a belly support band that can be worn discreetly under clothing.
I've experienced heavy pregnancy with and without them, and they do make a difference. The soft, stretchy band adds a layer of support to your back and a gentle lift for your belly and, when you're carrying around all that extra weight, every tiny bit helps.Jacqui Paterson (www.mummyslittlemonkey.com)
Find out what you need to be stocking up on, from sterilisers to rubber nipples.Read more
Regardless of whether you're planning to breastfeed or not, you'll need a variety of supplies to make every mealtime as stress-free as possible.
Don't be caught short – find out how many to stock up on here.Read more
You'll never seem to have enough nappies, but it's important to have a decent supply of them to cover at least the first week or so – you'll need about ten a day to start with! There are different sizes available that correspond to the size and weight of babies at different ages, but they differ between stores. Newborn sizes 1 and 2 should be suitable for all new babies. When a nappy begins leaking, that's when the size should be increased. You should also purchase a change bag to hold the nappies when you're out of the house.
We used spare cash during the 3rd trimester to stock up on nappies. Make the most of any special offers that you see in supermarkets. We found that supermarket own brands were quite competitive and performed well.Aby Moore (youbabymemummy.com)
Are baby baths essential additions to your home?Read more
Although babies can be bathed quite comfortably in a full-sized bath as long as you constantly have a hand on them to keep them upright, some parents prefer to buy a baby-specific bath. While it isn't necessary, it can ease the strain on your back from leaning over an adult bath. Bath seats and bath supports that make it easier to wash a baby in an adult bath are also available, allowing you to free both your hands.
This was another staple for us. I couldn't wait for those precious bath-time moments with my son (I still do to this day!). A baby bath keeps your little one safe whilst they're being bathed – we used ours until our son was past the age of one!Fiona Naughton (www.dollydowsie.com)
Keep things portable with a baby sling.Read more
Baby slings have been used to carry infants for millennia, and it's still a convenient way of carrying your baby when a pushchair or pram would be impractical (for example when taking the dog for a walk). It can be a very effective method of soothing, though it may be too effective, preventing the development of a settled sleep pattern at night – if this happens, reduce the amount that you use the carrier. Additionally, the sling shouldn't put any strain on your back or knees.
Ensure you're prepared for birth in advance – not at the last minute!Read more
Because you might have to drop everything and get to the hospital at a moment's notice, it's important to have your bag packed for a couple of weeks before the due date.
There are lots of bits and pieces that are easy to overlook, and the list below is designed to ensure that you remember everything you need (as well as the bits that are just nice to have) in order to make giving birth as stress-free for mum and dad as possible.
Get out of the house in a big way with prams and pushchairs.Read more
Choosing a pram and/or pushchair can be one of the most difficult (and costly) purchases you make. Generally speaking, prams are recommended for your baby's first three months as they allow him/her to lie flat which is recommended as good for healthy development. Pushchairs, on the other hand, tend to be lighter making them more portable and convenient in later months.
Many prams these days offers complete travel systems, meaning they include a carrycot (for the first 3 months), a car seat and can also be converted to a pushchair. These offer a great all-in-one option but do tend to stretch the budget and also require more space to store the component parts.
Before considering your pram or pushchair purchase we recommend asking yourselfthese five questions.
Walking your baby is such a pleasure and prams enable you to keep your eye on them as you do so – the baby can lie flat and have a good snooze. I found singing to my baby as we walked along together really helped us bond.Becky Goddard-Hill (www.babybudgeting.co.uk)
Stay on the right side of the law when you use an infant car seat.Read more
Car seats are an absolute essential for any parent who will be transporting their baby by car and can be another costly and confusing purchase.
Rear facing car seats are the safest option and are recommended for all children under 15 months of age. Car seats are fixed in the car using either a seat belt or an isofix system and it is important to consider which better suits your needs. Isofix involves buying a separate base that is fixed semi-permanently using standard fittings found in most modern cars. These make it easier to move the seat in and out of the car and are often considered safer due to their fixed anchoring. However, isofix bases can be expensive and sometimes cost more than the car seat itself.
Whichever car seat you choose always make sure you follow the fitting instructions carefully. Some retailers will offer to check that your car seat is fitted correctly after purchase.
Take the fuss out of feeding with specially-designed nursing bras.Read more
Given the frequency with which you may have to breastfeed, anything that saves time is worth investing in. Nursing bras have flaps that open for easy access, so a few of those should be picked up to take to the hospital. Look for bras that aren't too tight but still offer support.
Avoid inconvenient leakages with extra protection.Read more
When breastfeeding, many women find that leaking is a problem – it's not the end of the world in private but it can be embarrassing in public, so breast pads that slip inside the cups of your bra are a good way of making sure that you don't have any visible accidents. Note that leaking can begin before birth, so be vigilant and prepared.
Disposal breast pads are a necessity for your hospital bag and you may even need them prior to birth. It's better to use them than to get caught out answering the door to the postman. Yes, it happens!Susan K. Mann (www.susankmann.com)
What do you do after the baby arrives? These books have all the answers.Read more
Given that you'll already have bought pregnancy and birth books, it would be more cost-efficient to try and find titles that combine those areas with information about caring for your baby once he or she has arrived. Everything from breastfeeding techniques to swaddling should be covered to help ease the pressure that parents, especially if this is their first child, will probably be feeling. Titles to consider include:
Learn why mums swear by baby swings.Read more
A baby swing can be very effective at soothing an irritable or fussy baby, though some don't like it at all. Most models are either wind-up or battery-operated and offer a range of speeds. The frame should be sturdy and solid for maximum safety – test it with your baby in the shop before purchasing if you're buying it after the birth. Be aware that some models are not suitable for use with babies under six weeks old.
We purchased both a bouncing chair and a door bouncer. The chair was a lifesaver! I could pop her in it on the bathroom floor and it would give me enough time for a shower, keeping her in full view.Aby Moore (youbabymemummy.com)
Keep things clean post-birth with extra supplies.Read more
Maternity pads are going to be very important immediately after the birth and for the next couple of weeks. They are stronger, more absorbent and longer-lasting than sanitary pads and are better suited to dealing with uterine bleeding (lochia) that begins straight after both traditional and caesarean birth. They'll need to be changed every couple of hours to start with, but the bleeding will slow and eventually stop after around four weeks – sanitary pads and pantyliners can be used after the first couple of weeks.
Take lots of these to hospital with you. The bleeding is something I was not prepared for. Take as many as you can fit into your hospital bag!Rachel Kowalski (www.mummyintraining.co.uk)
As your baby gets older, you'll need to make fresh purchases to satisfy their curiosity and stimulate their developing minds and bodies.
When you can't be in the same room, you can still keep an eye on your baby.Read more
Although it is recommended that your baby sleeps in your bedroom at night for the first six months, there will be times during the day and early evening when you need to leave your baby to sleep while you get on with other things. At these times a baby monitor will allow you to move around the house while still allowing you to make sure everything is alright. Most models typically come with a transmitter, which picks up sounds from the nursery, and a receiver, which broadcasts the sounds where you are. There are more expensive video monitoring options available too.
We purchased a video monitor which was invaluable – if my son made a noise I would go in to check he was okay, but he was just moving in his sleep and I woke him up. The video helped me see if I needed to go in.Rachel Kowalski (www.mummyintraining.co.uk)
What do you need to include in your baby's first aid kit?Read more
Compiling a health kit for a baby is different to compiling an adult one. There are often child-specific versions of adult medicines that have to be bought – if you're unsure about any product then you should check with your GP. Some of the items you may want to incorporate into your kit include:
Is it worth investing in a play mat for your baby?Read more
Playtime is a very important aspect of the parent-child bonding experience and also acts as a time when your baby can begin to learn about the world and human interaction. A soft play mat with an attached mobile will keep them entertained and stimulated for hours, and from the parent's point-of-view it can be transported and used anywhere with a flat surface.
Our baby gym was great for encouraging my baby to use his hands and his feet as well as introducing him to bright colours. It was also great for encouraging rolling over if he wanted to get something.Rachel Kowalski (www.mummyintraining.co.uk)
Do all babies like dummies? How effective are they?Read more
Some babies respond well to dummies, others absolutely hate them. Though you may not consider them essential if they don't work, dummies can be extremely useful as a method of soothing. While some people believe that they can lead to speech development problems and dental issues if they are used for too long, there is no evidence supporting their point of view. If a dummy works for your child, there's no harm in using it.
I was that mum that said I would never use dummies. On one really bad night I grabbed for the one I had bought ‘just in case'. It worked like a dream. He used it till he was about six months and then swapped to his thumb.Rachel Kowalski (www.mummyintraining.co.uk)
Discover just how unsafe your home is for a baby and what to do about it.Read more
It's never too early to baby-proof the house, even though your little one won't be mobile and exploring for at least a few months. Babies are naturally going to be curious about everything from power sockets to drawers to fridge doors to toilet seats, so latches and covers need to be employed to make sure they don't get their hands on anything they shouldn't be touching. Safety gates installed at the top and bottom of the stairs will also prevent nasty accidents.
These are invaluable. We stocked up at a DIY shop. You don't realise how dangerous your house is until you have a crawling baby. We found corner protectors, socket covers and of course baby gates to be the most useful.Rachel Kowalski (www.mummyintraining.co.uk)
Lessen the stress of this painful time with teething toys and gels.Read more
Teething is a difficult time for children, usually beginning when they are around six months old. It may present the first substantial problem for parents to deal with. Sore gums mean increased levels of irritability and pain coupled with sleep problems, but your baby's discomfort can be eased with teething toys that can be safely chewed upon. Some parents also try teething gels which have the same effect, but a GP should be consulted before doing so, as there can be side-effects in rare cases.
The best teething toys we used were the ones you can freeze. You can get them in most baby shops. Stick them in the fridge or the freezer and let baby chew on them to soothe those pesky gums!Rachel Kowalski (www.mummyintraining.co.uk)