What to Buy When You’re Expecting – a Comprehensive List of Items and Helpful Resources for Expecting Parents.

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If you are currently pregnant and wondering what to buy and why, this is for you.

It covers what you should buy prior to the birth in preparation. As baby gets older, you will need to get more things, but by then you will know what you need.

We have also included general purchasing advice (to save you money) as well as links to online resources we found useful!

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- General Purchasing Advice -
- Useful Resources For Parents -
- List Of Needed Items -
Changing | Sleeping  | Feeding | Clothes | Miscellaneous

Prior to the birth of my son I had no idea what pregnancy and child raising would involve. The emotional roller coaster in the lead up to the birth was intense. I bounced regularly between excitement and anxiety, feeling quite befuddled with the (often contradictory) advice given from books, videos and medical experts.

Talking with experienced friends helped immensely as we could learn from them, but there was still a lot of unknowns. My partner and I were still left wondering “what exactly do I need to buy and how much will it cost?”. I had heard that new prams could range into the thousands and was freaking out about how we would afford it all. How many bibs will we need? Where should the baby sleep? How many pairs of socks should I buy? What should we have beside our change table?

We searched for a comprehensive list of what we would need in the first months but couldn’t find one that covered it in enough detail. Thus, the idea for this post was conceived.

But before I get into the list, I wanted to give you some awesome resources that helped us, as well as cover some general pieces of purchasing advice that will help you to save money and purchase the right stuff for your child.

General Purchasing Advice

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Buy second hand: Babies require a lot of gear at the start, most of which they will quickly grow out of. If purchased new, this can be prohibitively expensive. We found most of the stuff we needed from eBay, online baby groups, opportunity shops and from friends with new children.

Looking back, we purchased a lot more stuff than needed (some that we still haven’t used). But because the second hand price was so cheap (often under $10) we found that the added mental security was worth the price. In addition, it will all be going back on eBay as soon as it is no longer needed, so we will make some of the cost back.

However, be careful to find out the history of important safety items like your car seat and cot. If they have been previously damaged, there could be a risk of product failure! Make sure to check the safety standards for your country.


Wait to purchase: There are some things that you won’t need straight away and in my opinion it is best to wait and see if you will need them before you buy. In the list below we go into more detail, but some of the things that you could wait to purchase include: bibs, hats, clothes larger than size 000, cot, breast pump, baby monitor, toys, baby cutlery and the 'perfect pram'.

Our seldom used jogging pram

Our seldom used jogging pram

We mistakenly purchased a jogging pram prior to the birth. Whilst second hand, it still cost us $125, which, for the two uses we have gotten from it thus far, is just not worth it (we use a baby carrier for going out). Although having a pram on hand in case you need it is good, we would suggest holding off on spending thousands until you know you are going to use it and know what functions you will want from it!

Also hold off on moving to a bigger house/extending to add a baby room. For the first few months to a year, baby will be in your room anyway and their stuff doesn't take up much space. Don't make our mistake of moving into a larger house six months before birth and setting up the nursery. Realistically we could have stayed in our old house for another year and not have had the stress of moving whilst pregnant!

Suggest gifts from friends and family: When a baby is on the way, you will get a lot of gifts. This is great; however, you will often receive many more items of the one thing than you would ever need. People want to buy cute gifts for the cute new baby. It is not uncommon for the baby to grow out of things without even wearing them. Ask people to give you ‘older’ clothes that your baby can grow into.

In the list below, we highlight items that are common gifts as they are presented and suggest that you hold off from buying them. The main ones include: very small clothes (0000 & 000), hats, socks, muslin wraps, blankets, and toys.

Look to rent or borrow: Some local councils, businesses or groups may offer some equipment to hire. We have seen prams, car seats, breast pumps and toys available from a variety of places. Speak to new mums, Google search or ask your hospital for suggestions on where to find them. This is a great way to try before you buy. Family and friends also often have baby items that are in storage, no longer being used.

Compare 'baby' and 'non baby' options: Like weddings, stuff that is ‘made for babies’ often comes with a massive mark up (or mark down). Products like cloth nappy inserts, nappy bags and diaper waste bags are exactly the same in terms of functionality as their adult alternatives, yet they are often double or triple the cost. Where possible, avoid the ‘baby branding’ mark up. In the list below we mention 'non baby' options where applicable.

 
Our son "Archer" at two months 

Our son "Archer" at two months 

 

Useful Resources For Parents

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The following groups and pages have provided us with an amazing wealth of support and knowledge, please check them out:

“Southern Natural Parenting Network”
Provides information and support on breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, cloth nappies and ‘attachment parenting’.

Archer being carried in a baby bjorn

Archer being carried in a baby bjorn

“Babywearing”
Provides information on how to ‘wear your baby’ using different types of carriers. They will help fit you and you can try before you buy. There will be groups in your area, just search on Facebook.

“Belly Belly”
Pregnancy, birth and parenting advice, focusing on developing a good attachment with your baby.

“Purple Crying”
Information on the ‘fourth trimester’ (the first three months of life when babies are particularly vulnerable).

“Keeping Baby Safe”
Information on basic child safety to avoid SIDS and other general problems.

“Kids Health Info”
A comprehensive resource covering many common health concerns children face, eg: ear infections, fever etc.

“Calmbirth”
Birth education and preparation classes, using meditation and calm breathing techniques to induce a calm birth. Depending on your cover, it can be claimed via private health insurance.
We used this one, but there will be similar classes close to you.

“Two Sisters Birth Services”
Providing birth and postnatal Doula packages as well as private and group childbirth education. A Doula is present for the birth and can advocate on your behalf. We found having a Doula present during the birth to be one of the best investments ever.
We used this one, but there will be many available in your area.

“What to Expect When You’re Expecting”
A comprehensive book that will help prepare you for the changes during pregnancy and the birth itself.

"Cloth Nappy Information"
Information about different types of cloth nappies and how to use them. This group has great information on how to best clean cloth diapers.

Maternal and Child Health Line 
A 24/7 telephone service (Australia only) staffed by maternal and child health nurses for families of children aged from birth to school age: 13 22 29

"Australian Breastfeeding Association"
Information and free helpline that provides support and advice on breastfeeding 24hrs a day. Becoming a member provides access to local catch up groups facilitated by breastfeeding councilers, as well as the option to hire hospital grade breast pumps for $15 p/w ($30 for non members). Free (no membership required) breastfeeding helpline also available: 1800 686 268
- Breastfeeding confidence information PDF

Formula and breast feeding storage and cleaning advice:
Formula preparation advice from the World Health Organisation
The Australian Breastfeeding Association breast milk storage guidelines

"Having a Child Isn’t as Bad as Everyone Says It’s Going to Be"
A blog post that can help expecting parents to overcome the negative stories that are often shared with them.

"Using Meditation to Overcome the Trauma of Pregnancy"
A podcast episode covering how meditation, Calmbirth classes, Education and a Doula helped to make our birth experience amazing! 

"The Joys and Challenges of Parenthood"
A podcast episode that provides advice as to which information and purchases were useful and which were not.

List Of Needed Items

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This list will cover what you need, how many you should get (initially) and why you need them. I will make note of the purchase price both new and the second hand price that we paid (where appropriate), as well as if it was a common gift.

Change Area

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We decided to try both disposable and cloth (reusable) diapers – verdict's still out on which is best, so I have included information for both.

Our change table: on the side/below, you can see the containers we use to hold the wipes, bags and other accessories

Our change table: on the side/below, you can see the containers we use to hold the wipes, bags and other accessories

- Change table x 1
New: $150 + from Baby Bunting
Used: $60, from a friend
On our change table we added a set of four side containers from IKEA $14.95 (ONSKLIG). Our change table has a shelf below for storage, and a bin attachment. The added side containers are great for storing the high use items for easy access.

- Newborn nappies, disposable (up to 6KG) x 200
*Common gift
New: $40 - $70, from supermarkets (depending on brand)
We found that a lot of people gifted nappies along with their other gifts, and still continue to intermittently buy them for us. You will go through about 10 per day at the start, so stock up! But be aware that they will grow out of this size quickly. Also try some different brands to see which best suit your baby!

- Diaper bags (disposable plastic) x 200
New: $8, from eBay
We use ‘doggy bags’, they work exactly the same, but avoids the mark up of things that are labeled for babies.

- Wet wipes, x 6 packs of 80 wipes
*Common gift
New: $10 – 25, from supermarkets
Used to wipe baby down during a nappy change, as well as with general cleaning after eating. Another option to use is a wet cloth or wet cotton wool for cleaning baby's bottom, particularly useful if wet wipes are giving your baby a rash.

- Nappy cream x 1 100g tube
New: $11, from supermarkets
This helps to get rid of nappy rash and heal minor scratches/cuts. We received some samples from the hospital during the pregnancy.

- Disposable gloves x 100
New: $8, from supermarkets
Initially I used these to change diapers, however now that I am well practiced, I no longer need them – but the confidence that they gave me initially was well worth it.

- Hand sanitiser x 1 250ml tube
New: $10, from supermarkets
Great for a quick clean when you are in a hurry.

- Cloth diapers x 10
New: $150 to $300, from baby stores
Used: $100, from a Facebook mother's group
Get two each from five different brands/types so that you can work out which version is best for you (often eBay sellers will bundle them). Read more about them here, and how to wash them here.
Terry towel nappies can also be used for change mat covers, pram/bassionet liners, burp cloths, general spills, and baby towels etc.

- Cloth liners (micro polar fleece) x 20
New: $24, from online baby stores
Used: $10, from eBay
DIY: $17, from Spotlight
Put inside a cloth nappy to catch most of the waste, which makes cleaning easier. Disposable liners are also an option here ($12 for 100, from baby stores). There is also a DIY option, purchase a micro polar fleece sheet and cut it into small strips.

- Cloth wipes x 20
New: $100, from baby stores
DIY: Cut up an old bed sheet into small pieces
Used as an alternative to wet wipes to clean the baby after a change (need a spray bottle, see below).

- Spray bottle x 1
New: $2, from a supermarket
Used to moisten the cloth wipes, with a ratio of two cups water to one tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of baby soap. Spray directly on baby and wipe with dry cloth.

- Nappy change table covers x 3
New: $60, from Baby Bunting
Used: $12, from eBay
Replacement covers for the change table mat as it may get messy. Use a terry towel nappy on top for extra protection/cleaning ease (get two for this purpose, $6 from eBay).

- Small laundry bin x1
New: $2, from supermarkets
To be kept beside the change table as a place to put the soiled cloth diapers down whilst changing the baby. Get a small one, so that you are motivated to regularly put them in the main laundry bin (otherwise the smell will overtake your room!).

Our laundry basket: we store our cloth nappies in a separate  basket to keep our other washing clean

Our laundry basket: we store our cloth nappies in a separate  basket to keep our other washing clean

- Large laundry bin (aerated) x 1
New: $10, from Kmart
Get one with a lot of holes because that way, the air can come through and help the laundry not to smell. Don’t put used diapers with normal washing.

- Fragrant room spray x 1 250ml
New: $7, from supermarkets
Whilst not necessary, a general room spray can be used after changing to help make the room pleasant again.

Sleeping

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Everyone will have different sleeping arrangements and desires for their newborn. This is what we found works. For more information on sleeping options, please look at the ‘Useful Resource’s’ section above.

Archer in his sidecar bed, this allows for easy night time feeding

Archer in his sidecar bed, this allows for easy night time feeding

- Sidecar bed or cot x 1
New: $500, from Baby Bay
Used: $300, from a friend
We favored Baby sleeping in our room beside us. The sidecar bed allows for quick and easy feeding as Mom can just roll over and breastfeed without going into another room, or even getting up. This arrangement is great for overcoming sleep deprivation as there is less disturbance to the nightly routine. Another option is to use a traditional cot from the start in your room or in a separate room.

- Linen for Baby's bed (mattress protector x 2 and fitted sheet x 2)
New: $40 to $120, from Baby Bunting
Used: $8, from eBay
In order to keep the sidecar clean, a good trick is to layer your sheets in the following way: mattress protector > fitted sheet > mattress protector > fitted sheet, with a burp cloth tucked in on top of that at the baby's head area. This way you don’t have to change sheets as often and in the middle of the night there is already one ready to go as a backup (which saves midnight fussing around).

- Dummies x 2
*Common gift
New: $24
Dummies can be used to soothe a baby. There are two types of dummies, cherry and orthodontic. Some babies prefer one type over another so it is a good idea to try both before you get more. In addition, sometimes using a dummy can negatively impact breastfeeding as it may teach the baby to suck incorrectly. If this occurs, you may need to give up the dummy. Our baby does not like dummies, so we don't use them at all.

- Swaddles x 3 (one of each kind initially, until you know which kind you like)
*Common gift
New: $30 + from baby stores
Used: $1-$5 from friends/eBay
Swaddles are great for helping the newborn baby to get to sleep as the swaddle wraps them tightly, simulating the constriction within the womb. They can also be used as burp cloths or floor rugs when needed. We found the Velcro swaddle to be the best, however some people prefer the muslin cloth or ‘I Love to Dream’ variations. Muslin cloths can also be used as shade cloths to protect the baby from the sun when traveling.

Archer's bassinet: we use 'Pram clips' to hang his toys up!

Archer's bassinet: we use 'Pram clips' to hang his toys up!

- Blankets x 6
*Common gift
New: $50 - $200 from baby stores
Used: $5-$30 from eBay
Used to keep baby warm at night and throughout the day, or just throw over baby when you’re holding them. Can also be used as a floor rug. Don’t use as a sun shade as they will get too hot underneath it.

- Bassinet (on wheels) x 1
New: $100 + from Baby Bunting
Used: $30, from eBay
A place for baby to sleep and hang out during the day. You can hang toys or pictures from it to entertain them. Having the bassinet on wheels allows you to move around the house without having to rouse the baby, and also provides a good, calming rocking motion. This can also be used at night time for sleep as well.
Another option is to just use your pram (if it has a bassinet attachment). Make sure that it is a flat surface not a capsule, if baby is spending a lot of time inside.

- Sheets for bassinet x 4
New: $20-$120, from Kmart
Used: $10, from eBay
Fitted sheets are easier to use then loose sheets, but then they can only be used for the bassinet.

Archer with one of his Comforters

Archer with one of his Comforters

- Comforter x3
New: $10-$100, from baby stores
DIY: $20
A comforter is something that can be used to calm the baby in your absence – like a blanket or a soft toy. A great idea is to get three of the same item, as then it won’t be a massive drama if one is lost or in the wash. If you have a soft blanket, you could cut it into four even pieces and use that. Sleep with the item to get your smell on it, before giving it to your child.
 

 
 

Feeding
 

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We believe that breastfeeding is preferable to formula feeding as in our opinion it is more convenient (particularly at night), healthier for the baby and free. In addition, there is no question of correct dosage. Many breastfeeding mums find that they never need to express at all, with their baby starting on solids and sipper cups at six months.
However, some parents prefer to bottle feed or can’t breastfeed, or choose to do a bit of both – these options are all fine!

- Breastfeeding bras/singlets x 6
New: $200 + from clothes shops
Used: $60, from eBay
If you are breastfeeding you will probably want to replace all your bras with breastfeeding bras (for the first six months) as the convenience factor can’t be understated – without breastfeeding bras and singlets, you would have to remove your bra completely just to feed. During pregnancy and into breastfeeding, the breasts grow, so you may not fit into your old bras for a while anyway.
 

Some of maria's assorted breast pads

Some of maria's assorted breast pads

- Breast pad x 20 (pairs)
New (cloth): $100, from eBay
New (disposable): $10 for a 60-pair pack, from supermarkets
Used: $40, from eBay
Placed inside the bra to stop (and mop up) leakages. You will probably go through four pairs per day, if not more. We use the cloth variation because they are more comfortable and effective.

- Hydrogel Breast Discs x 1 (packet of 12)
New: $7.50, from chemists
Kept in the freezer, these are used to soothe sore breasts when you are getting used to feeding. An alternative option is to use frozen cabbage leaves or a wet frozen nappy instead.

- Nipple cream x 1 50g tube
New: $6, from chemists.
To be put onto sore nipples from breastfeeding. Make sure that it is digestible for the baby, so you that don’t need to wash it off before feeding.

- Colostrum syringes (optional) x 10
New: free from lactation consultant
New: $40, from a chemist
Used to catch some expressed colostrum at the end of the pregnancy, to be given to Baby later. Store in the freezer, and give to Baby following a C-section (or any other reason that you can’t breastfeed straight away). Also, can be used as an immunity boost during the first weeks of life.

- Clean up cloths x 6
*Common gift
New: $60 + from baby stores
Used: $1-$5 from friends/eBay
While there are dedicated ‘burp cloths’ on sale, we found that spare muslin wraps were a lot more useful (can also be used for swaddling and warmth). In addition, their larger size provided extra usages before needing a clean.

- Face washers x 10
*Common gift
New: $50 from linen stores
Used: $10 from eBay
Used for bathing to wash the whole baby's body in the bath/shower. Also as a face washer when Baby is eating solids.

- Bibs – x 0
*Common gift
Whilst you will receive many bibs, you won’t need them until Baby starts teething (3 months onward) or eating solids (6 months onward). However, parents of babies with reflux may need them from the start. When a baby is teething (or bottle feeding) it is useful to have a bib on to collect all the extra drool, saving you from the hassle of a complete costume change.

If you do decide to express and feed with a bottle or formula feed, you will also need the following:

- Bottles x 6
New: $72, from supermarkets
Used: $20, from eBay
If baby doesn’t take to the bottle, you can also try different types of bottles (with different teats, similar to a dummy) or use a cup, spoon, syringe or pipette to give the baby expressed breast milk or formula.

- Bottle warmer x 1
New: $60, from baby stores
Used: $10, from eBay
Whilst not essential, bottle warmers make feeding easier. Other options to warm the formula/expressed milk include warming the bottles on the stove or under running water. Microwaving is not recommended because of the potential for ‘hotspots’ to occur within the bottle, which could burn the baby. In addition, some babies are fine with cold milk anyway.

- Steriliser x 1
New: $72, from baby stores
Used: $1, from eBay
DIY: free (using a pot on a stove)
Bottles need to be sterilised after use, particularly formula bottles as the clumps of formula can hold bacteria. A dedicated steriliser can stand alone or go in the microwave. Another option is to boil the items on the stove top for five minutes.
(Formula preparation advice from the World Health Organisation)
(The Australian Breastfeeding Association breast milk storage guidelines)

a "spectra' breast pump - we found that the manual option was more convenientfe 

a "spectra' breast pump - we found that the manual option was more convenientfe 

- Breast pump x 1
New (manual): $60, from baby stores
New (electronic): $300, from baby stores
Used: $5 (manual), from an opportunity shop
Used: $100 (electronic), from eBay
Hospitals provide these while you are in their care (for a couple of weeks post birth), If you are still need after that, you can hire or purchase one (make sure to sterilise it thoroughly before use). Many mums buy a pump before birth and it is never used.

Whilst you can just hand express into a bottle, some people prefer to use the assistance of a pump. Electronic or manual options are available, depending on preference. The ‘Spectra’ electronic pump has a reputation for being the best, however we preferred the ‘Avent’ manual pump.

Clothes

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In general, people love to gift clothing so expect a lot of it. We ended up asking for larger sizes as the smaller ones kept coming in, which was a good thing because our baby grew out of a lot of the newborn stuff very quickly.

- Onesies x 10
New: $50 - $500, from baby stores and supermarkets
Used: $20, from eBay
Onesies are a great all around option for a newborn. You can get short sleeve, long sleeve and some that are full length with included feet coverings. Go for the options with press studs over traditional buttons for convenience when changing. Instead of a onesie you could also opt for separate tops and bottoms, climate dependent. Make sure you have some 0000, 000 and 00 sizes before Baby comes, because you won’t know how big they will be until they are out.

- Singlets x 5
New: $20-$100, from baby stores and supermarkets
Used: $10, from eBay
Used under a onesie for extra warmth.

- Hats x 1
*Common gift
New: $10, from baby stores
Used: $1, from eBay
Winter babies will need a hat outside. In addition, newborn babies, particularly premature ones lose heat easily and will need a hat at first. Make sure to remove the hat when Baby is sleeping to reduce the risk of SIDS. Hats are a very common gift, that are seldom used. We ended up with at least 10 more than we needed, with most never being used, however our son was a summer baby.

- Mittens x 1 pair
New: $10, from baby stores
Used: $1, from eBay
Used primarily to stop a newborn from scratching their own face in the first few weeks. Can be used for warmth in colder areas, however you will most likely have the baby covered with an additional blanket if it is that cold. Some onesies also have inbuilt mittens.
 

Still not all the socks that we were gifted!

Still not all the socks that we were gifted!

- Socks x 2 pairs
*Very common gift
New: $10, from baby stores
Used: $1, from eBay
Used to keep baby warm when not wearing a onesie that covers their feet. Once again, socks are a very common gift (baby socks look ridiculously cute).

- Jacket x 1
New: $20-$70, from baby stores
Used: $10, from eBay
On particularly cold days, you may want to put an extra jacket on Baby for warmth, particularly in a car seat when swaddling isn’t an option.

Miscellaneous

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- Baby Carrier x 1
New: $239, from Baby Bunting
Used: $20 +, from eBay
We used the Baby Bjorn brand, but other structured carriers include: Ergo, Manduca, and Tula. Used to carry Baby on Mum or Dad's body, allowing you to be hands free whilst also holding the baby. We prefer this option to a pram as it is infinitely more transportable. In addition, Baby can sleep and breastfeed in the carrier as needed. Other options include using specifically made babywearing wrap, or ring slings, but we found those to be confusing to use and expensive ($500 +). Women who have had a cesarean may not be able to use a baby carrier until they have recovered from the surgery.

- Pram x 1
New: $500 + from Baby Bunting
Used: $1 + from eBay
Prams come in many shapes and sizes, and have different levels of functionality. Some come with rain proof covers, sunshades, seat covers, adjustable seats and handle positions. We initially thought a ‘running pram’ would be a good idea, however we have never ran with it, and have only used it two times (preferring the baby carrier to hold the baby when out in public instead).

- Car seat x 1
New: $250 + from Baby Bunting
Used: $125 + from eBay
Get this professionally installed to ensure that it will properly protect your baby in the case of a crash ($55). If you opt for second hand, make sure that it has never been in an accident and that it is under 10 years old, this will ensure that it is still safe to use.

Archer being entertained by his bouncer

Archer being entertained by his bouncer

- Bouncer x 1
New: $60 + from Baby Bunting
Used: $5 + from eBay
Used to keep Baby entertained and held whilst Baby is awake. We have one that also plays music, has some dangling toys and vibrates, all features that help to entertain and occupy the baby for longer. Make sure to clip your baby in, so that they don’t fall out!

- Hooded baby towels x 2
*Common gift
New: $50, from Baby Bunting
Used: $14, from eBay
You could use your own towels or even terry towel cloth nappies, however a dedicated, hooded baby towel made drying Baby quick and easy.

Our bath support is sitting inside our adult size bath.

Our bath support is sitting inside our adult size bath.

- Bath support x 1
New: $20 +, from Baby Bunting
Used: $10 + from eBay
Whilst not needed, this one does save your back and makes washing Baby a lot easier. You place Baby on top whilst in the bath and it provides a support that keeps Baby partially submerged (make sure to keep your hands on the baby at all times so that Baby doesn’t slip under).

- ‘Pram clips’ x 4
New: $13, from Baby Bunting
Used: $1, from eBay
Traditionally used to put a muslin cloth over a pram for shade, however we have found them to be excellent at hanging toys over the bassinet for Baby to play with (whilst supervised). Make sure to remove all toys/hanging cloths when baby is asleep to reduce the risk of SIDS.

- Nappy Bag
New: $70+ from baby stores
Used: 20+ from eBay
Used as a 'going out' bag to hold a change of clothes for Baby, changing items, toys, muslin wrap, comforter, cleaning items and Mum's wallet, phone, and keys. Make sure to get one that has many small compartments/sections. A large handbag would also work.

I hope that this post has helped to better prepare you for your coming child, congratulations and good luck! If you think that I have missed something, please let me know and I will update the list accordingly.

Good luck with the birth and enjoy your new baby!

Zachary and Maria Phillips

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Related: Having a Child Isn’t as Bad as Everyone Says It’s Going to Be

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