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What should you be putting on your baby essentials list? We asked our resident blogger Babs, AKA Patchwork Cactus (mum of 2) her thoughts on the matter.

I have the most vivid memory of walking (waddling) the aisles of a baby store ten months pregnant looking at all of the things and thinking - what a bunch of junk. 

It was 2011, so the Instagram aesthetic hadn’t taken hold - everything was plastic, the only colours were primary and I just knew instinctively that it was all completely unnecessary. 

I was at that stage of pregnancy that the are-you-all-sorted questions were rolling in thick, and I felt like I was. But it was hot and the baby store had air conditioning, so I wandered.  

At home in our one-bedroom apartment, there was a freshly painted green cot that had belonged to my sister’s kids, an ad-hoc changing station on an old dresser and some picture books. I had a handful of muslin wraps, a mobile that I had bought in South America and a garbage bag full of hand-me-down clothes. 

Now, almost twelve years and two kids later, I can categorically say that I did have everything I needed to bring a baby home. To be honest, I could have done with half the clothes. And I did slightly underestimate the role wet wipes would play in my future. 

I have been asked to write so many articles over the past ten years about baby essentials in the first three months, and they’re always incredibly short. But when it comes to the things you don’t need, well that’s an article I can really get on board with. 

So let’s do this. 

Sleep stuff 

There are three things your baby needs - food, nappies and sleep. So it makes sense that there are a million sleep-related products out there. But so many of them are completely unnecessary. 

Let’s start with the cot bumpers, pillows and doonas. These are in the ‘please don’t’ category. There’s lots of info on safe sleeping out there and none of it recommends these products. 

Baby sleeping bags - yep, I have two healthy and relatively well-balanced kids who were never zipped up in one of those things. If they work for you, great, but if they don’t, that’s fine too. 

Nightlights that play music and project things onto the roof. Your baby may love this, or they may need to be rocked enthusiastically to the sound of Bohemian Rhapsody before each nap. You’ll figure it out when you get to know them. 

Socks that record your baby’s vitals and sleep alarms. I understand the allure of these products, but they are far from necessary for most babies. 

So what do you need? Sleep. Sleep for you and your baby is so essential, and the first 3 months can be brutal. So If you want to buy a thousand-dollar white noise projector that monitors wonder weeks (is that still a thing?) then go for it. But if you don’t, that’s cool too. 

When I see parents buying this stuff, I so want to say - spend your money on getting the support that will help you rest. Hire a cleaner, a babysitter, a meal service, a psychologist! But I don’t, because unsolicited parenting advice is an act of war. 

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Oh, and if your baby has a snuggly friend that helps them get to sleep, immediately go and buy seven of them. Go do it now, we’ll wait. 


Toys and equipment

Do you know what your baby will want to play with? You. Their favourite toy will be your fingers, your ears, your eyelids, and your feet. If you do manage to get some personal space, they will likely be playing with the remote, your glasses or the dog food. 

You don’t need special crinkly blankets or those things that hang toys over their faces while they lie on the floor. 

Trains that sing nursery rhymes in American accents are not essential for Australian babies, and the sound will drill through your sleep-deprived soul. 

Jumpers, walkers and bouncers are also not really a necessity. And that stuff takes up so much space. Plus, you don’t know if they’ll even be your baby’s jam. My now 9-year-old gets the worst motion sickness, no wonder that as a baby he just screamed at me when I tried to put him in those things. When you get to know your bub, just hit up Marketplace - it’s full of jumpers, walkers & bouncers that have been rejected by their tiny owners.

Soft toys don’t only take up a bunch of room and do nothing, they also have a way of becoming sentimental and incredibly difficult to part with. Consider yourself warned. 

I do highly recommend finding an old remote for your baby to play with so they don’t constantly change the channel while you’re watching your stories - just take the batteries out before you hand it over.  

Lotions and potions

I often wonder how many tubes and bottles of baby products are being sent to landfills unused. 

In my (not professional) experience, when a baby’s skin is unhappy - the answer usually lies in removing something (plastic nappies, bubble bath, foods they are reacting to etc.) rather than adding a lotion. 

We never used baby soaps or bubble baths, that newborn smell is like crack for your hormones and I highly recommend not washing it away. 

And baby massage oil is great if your goal is to make your baby too slippery to pick up. But that’s not a fun game for anyone. 

I never routinely applied nappy cream at every change, my theory is - if you need to use a barrier cream to prevent nappy rash, you’re using the wrong nappies. 

Opt for a tox-free bamboo nappy instead. They are just better for your baby in every way.

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Out and about 'essentials' 

I’m a huge believer in getting a great pram, prams are like lifelines, they can be beds, restraining devices and pack horses. Never let anyone tell you you don’t ‘need’ a fancy pram. Buy the pram, and the matching capsule that also clicks into your car. Buy the one that folds up at the press of a button if you want to. Your pram is your ticket to the outside world, it’s ok to want to travel first class. 

Baby bags and baby bag essentials - I never used or owned one. That’s what the pram is for. 

But, those mirrors that you put in your car so you can see your baby’s face at all times - not a necessity. 

Shoes for newborns - only good for the ‘cute’ factor. 

Cushioned supermarket trolly inserts - they’ll be fine without them. 

All the baby wraps and carriers - you won’t know what your baby likes until you get to know them.

Trikes that have sunshades and big long parent handles, again - you do you but it’s ok to not want all that stuff.    


Neither of my children ever wore a singlet under their onesie, ever. To this day I really don’t get why they are a thing.

Start small 

The day you have your baby, your whole world will change. But the actual world will keep on existing. The shops will still be open, Marketplace will still be churning and all of the baby products will still be sitting there on the shelves of those air-conditioned stores. There’s no rush to get all the things, especially because you really don’t need most of them.


And how did my minimal approach to baby ‘stuff’ pan out for our family? The bub who gave us a thumbs up at her ultrasound is now in her final year of primary school and the proud owner of 75 Squishmallows. 

Enjoy making all the decisions while you can."

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