4 of the most confusing purchases you need to make for a newborn, explained.

Let's start with a disclaimer: we're going back to basics here. If you're a parent-to-be who's already compiled an Excel document which compares the length of different pram handles, you might be too advanced for this crash course.  

I'm talking, here, to anyone who is officially overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things they apparently need for their impending bundle of joy.

The sort of person who's been nodding along for months when they hear words like 'swaddle' and keeps forgetting to Google, "What is swaddle?".

Watch: What these funny baby faces really mean. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

The sort of person who knows, vaguely, that the baby needs a place to sleep, but can't quite grasp where that place should be (and what it has to do with Moses).

The sort of person who enters a baby store to buy a car seat only to emerge, empty-handed and tearful, absolutely bewildered as to why there are 157 different types.

My dear friend, let me take your hand: today we're going to walk through four of the most needlessly complicated purchases you'll be making for your newborn, and try to make it as painless as possible. Are you with me? Let's roll.


1. But where will they sleep? (Bassinet vs. Cot)

Image: Baby Bunting/Mamamia.

Right, starting from the top: the baby will need a place to sleep and/or for you to pretend that they will sleep when in fact the only place they sleep will be on top of you. Eventually, that will be a cot. There is no reason a newborn can't sleep in a cot, so if you're buying one thing, a cot is your guy.


However, a lot of people like the flexibility of the cot's little sister, the bassinet. A bassinet is just a small cot! Bonus trivia: a Moses basket is just a bassinet without legs which you put on a stand! Some bassinets have wheels which mean you can move them from room to room (great for introducing baby to day naps in their own room but having them sleep with you at night). Some of them can attach to the side of your own bed for side-by-side sleeping. Some of them are just really tiny and cute!

The main reason most people I know invested in both a bassinet and a cot is the recommendation to "room in" with your baby while they're a newborn. For a lot of us, a full-sized cot in your bedroom just isn't feasible, so a bassinet is an easy answer.

Learn from my mistake: Once your baby's sleeping space is set up, you will be tempted to buy many adorable, soft and fashionable items to place in and around it. In this category: cot "bumpers" (a type of cushioning you attach to the inside of the cot), soft toys, mosquito nets and dangling mobiles. Unfortunately, when you do your first prenatal class, you will learn that none of these things are advised in a safe sleeping environment, and then you will panic, remove them, and hide them in the wardrobe. It is easiest (and cheapest) to spend your money on cute cot sheets instead.

2. But how will we drive? (Capsule vs. Car Seat)

Image: Baby Bunting/Mamamia.


Baby capsules are designed for use by newborns. They're smaller and, critically, more portable - you can disconnect a capsule from its base (which stays inside the car) and carry a sleeping baby into the house or, if you have the right attachments, clip them straight into your pram. It's safest for babies to be rear-facing in their early years, so capsules are rear-facing only. The downside is they don't last long - you'll probably need to shift bub into a car seat between six months and a year.

A car seat, on the other hand, will last you a lot longer. The most flexible models can carry your child from newborn all the way until 4 (or even older, depending on their height). If you decide to opt for a car seat only, you'll need an adjustable model that can be rear-facing and forward-facing so it's safe in the early months.


Like the bassinet/cot decision, you can choose both, or go straight to the 'bigger' version with perfect safety. For the best of both worlds, some companies offer capsule hire, meaning you can use the capsule for six months to a year before switching over to your own car seat. 

Learn from my mistake: Most places you purchase or hire a car seat or capsule from will offer an installation service for a small fee. Installing a car seat is a miserable experience (and it's critical you do it right for safety). Invest in a professional job and think no more about it.

3. But how will we move? (Pram vs. Carrier)

Image: Baby Bunting/Mamamia.


I'm going to make this one really easy for you - unless you absolutely never leave home, you probably need both, and from pretty early only. Your baby might prefer one over the other, especially to sleep, but you'll want the hands-free options offered by the carrier and the freedom to move long distances (and stop to nap!) offered by the pram.

Deciding what pram to buy can be totally overwhelming, but as long as it has wheels and carries your baby, everything else is a bonus.

Learn from my mistake: There are expensive baby carriers on the market which are convertible and adjustable in 10,000 different directions. These are great for older kids and absolutely baffling (why are there literally one million straps?!) when you have a newborn. Go for something simple, safe and cosy for the early days, and if your baby likes being worn, invest in a fancier model later on.

4. But how will they stay warm? (Sleep Suits vs. Blankets)

Image: Baby Bunting/Mamamia.


As a new parent, you're going to learn a whole bunch of seemingly useless terminology, but please allow me to introduce you to something you'll actually use: the sleep suit, and in particular, the TOG.

Sleep suits were created to avoid the need for loose blankets in bed with your newborn, which aren't safe as they can pose a suffocation risk. The idea of the sleep suit is that it comes in different TOGs (fabric warmths) so there are options for the warmest summer days to the coldest winter nights. Every brand will have an online TOG where you can check the appropriate TOG for your baby's room temperature and what they should be wearing underneath guide (no, seriously, this is a thing parents do, I'm sorry you're about to become one). Some sleep suits are also swaddles, meaning they tuck baby's hands in either by their sides or up near their ears. I'm no baby scientist, but can confirm babies LOVE having their little hands tucked in.


It's also perfectly safe to use muslins and blankets in the cot, so long as you're tucking everything in nice and tightly so baby doesn't move things around in the night. My tip for new parents, despite the expense, is to go the sleep suit route (they're easy to find secondhand on Marketplace too). It'll save you so much middle-of-the-night angst to not have to wake up to a DIY swaddle that's fallen to pieces.

Learn from my mistake: Experiment with different brands and styles of sleep suits to see what suits your bub before investing hundreds of dollars in one variety - your baby might be a hands up, hands down or even hands out kind of kid. With that said, you must always, always have a spare: your beloved child is going to pee through that sleep suit at 3am on the reg. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Want more newborn tips? Listen to This Glorious Mess below to know the pre-baby bucket list you might need.

Side note: Whether you're navigating sleep routines, 3am wake-ups or you want to know which baby products you actually need, we've designed the Baby Brain mailing list to be your go-to source for everything you need to know. Sign up here.

Feature Image: Supplied/Baby Bunting/Mamamia.

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