OMG! You're having a baby, congratulations! But wait – unless you're planning for Junior to sleep in a drawer, you'll need to buy a few things for the nursery, so where do you start? What features should you look for? Do you need that $1800 super-ergonomic rare Norwegian spruce cot? If you get a slightly cheaper changing table, have you failed completely as a parent before the kid's even born?

As safety is a priority for bub and ease of use is a priority for tired new parents, you'll be pleased to know that over years of testing, CHOICE has found that eye-watering price tags don't guarantee safer or better baby furniture. Here are the things we consider to be the essentials, the things you need to start off; click the links to see more detailed buying guides for each category.

Bassinets

Bassinets are convenient because they don't take up as much space as a cot and can be placed in your bedroom, beside your bed. However, babies grow out of bassinets quickly and generally shouldn't be used once your baby can roll over or pull themselves up.

Cots

Although only used for a short time safety, durability and ease of use for the parent are important factors when buying a cot. It's a costly item, so doing your research can save time and money.

Portable/travel cots

Portable cots (also known as travel cots and portacots) make it easy to be mobile, but their soft construction can pose some serious safety risks.

Change tables

Wrestling with a wriggly infant can not only be infuriating, it can be downright dangerous if you have a poorly designed change table. The CHOICE change table buying guide gives you a handy checklist of things to look out for when you're shopping.

Furniture for older babies

When your little one starts to get mobile it's time to think about the next batch of furniture you'll need.

High chairs

Once your baby can hold its head up (at about six months) a good high chair will make feeding much easier, provided you buy a high chair that is stable and easy to clean!

Safety gates and barriers

Notoriously curious and very fast, babies can be surprisingly dextrous when they set their minds to a task. That's why buying the right safety gates and barriers and installing them correctly to block off stairs and doorways is crucial for your peace of mind.

Child safety devices

Every room in the house can present a host of enticing but dangerous objects such as power points, kitchen chemicals, medicines, and hazards like a toppling TV or the danger of strangulation from loose blind cords. (Are you stressed yet?) So well-designed and secure child safety devices can help prevent a tragedy.

Playpens

Giving a harried parent a little hands-off breathing space, playpens can be a godsend – but in the absence of an Australian standard you'll need to do your research. (Once you've read the buying guide, we humbly suggest our playpen test as a good starting point.)

Bunk beds

It's not safe for a child under six to sleep on a top bunk, but a bottom bunk could suit a baby moving from a cot to a bed. Be aware that each year about 4000 Australian children need medical care because of bunk-bed related injuries

Bed rails

Also known as safety rails or bed guards, these devices create a barrier that prevent falls from a bed. With prices ranging from around $40 to $100, our bed rails review found that none tested could be recommended, but four were worth considering.