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How to set up your nursery and get ready for baby

A guide to gathering the essential items for your newborn.

crib with teddy bear mobile
Last updated: 23 September 2019

It's easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of baby paraphernalia on offer. What's more, some of the price differences are huge. Here's our guide to the essentials, which features links to more comprehensive buying guides and reviews.

Baby furniture essentials

Cot or bassinet? Do I need a change table?

Starting with the basics, you'll need some baby furniture – somewhere to sleep and probably a change table to make changing nappies easier. Our baby furniture guide will walk you through the world of cots, bassinets, portable cots and change tables.

Baby car seat or capsule

You'll probably need a baby seat or capsule for the car, to get baby home from the hospital. While not strictly 'nursery', it's something to think about well before the due date, as our car seat buying guide reveals.

Prams

And on the topic of transport, you'll almost certainly want a pram or stroller; a newborn will need one that has a seat or a bassinet attachment which can lie-flat. You might also consider a baby sling or carrier which can be more convenient than battling with prams and strollers on public transport, and also a way of keeping newborns close and comforted (and your hands free) while you're out and about, or even just pottering around at home.

Clothing and nappies

Other things to consider buying before baby comes home are clothes, so you can wash them before they're worn, and nappies – having a small supply to get you started will save a visit to the shops on your way home from the hospital. Just don't go overboard on the super-tiny sizes – your baby may not be that small, and they grow faster than you think!

Bedding and accessories

Having your stylish and – thanks to CHOICE recommendations – safe cot and cot mattress, cradle or bassinet, you'll want some bedding and accessories.

Bouncer or rocking chair

When your baby isn't sleeping, feeding or needing a new nappy – yes, this will happen sometimes! – a bouncer or rocking chair could help keep them off the ground and out of trouble while they hang out watching the world go by.

Baby walker?

On the other hand, you might want to give baby walkers a miss. They allow babies to access objects and places they shouldn't, making them dangerous and unhelpful. But if you really, really want one, some are better than others.

Baby monitor

Want to keep an ear (or eye) out for baby needing attention? A baby monitor can be useful, though by no means necessary, unless you're likely to be out of earshot or have a large home.

Dummy?

The use of dummies is a controversial topic. Studies suggest that when used consistently, there is some evidence that they can reduce SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in babies, according to the charity Red Nose (see its tips for safe dummy use). However, you shouldn't buy one until you need them and if your baby isn't into using a dummy, there are other safe sleeping tips to follow. There's an Australian standard for dummies to make sure they're safe to use, but some are still better than others. You can wean your baby off a dummy after they turn one.

Toys

And finally, there's the fun bit – toys. Like all baby stuff, there are certain safety requirements that must be met. And sadly, as with other baby stuff, there are plenty of toys on sale that don't meet these requirements. Small parts, poor durability, unsecured button batteries and poor safety warnings are some of the risks. Your best guarantee is to check them yourself with our handy safety checklist.

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