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When to start buying baby stuff: Best time for new mothers

Discover the best time to buy all of your baby essentials

A pile of baby clothes
Chloe Best
Lifestyle Features Editor
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There are often two types of expectant parent when it comes to buying baby stuff. For some, the excitement of finding out they're having a baby makes them want to rush out to stock up on bibs and babygros from the moment they get that first positive test, while others want to wait until the last possible moment to avoid tempting fate, or because they simply can't quite believe they're about to become a parent.

While there's nothing wrong with either approach, you should ensure you allow enough time to buy all the things you need for your baby – from clothes to a crib – so you're not rushing around at the last minute when you'd rather be resting with your feet up.

So when is the best time to start buying baby stuff and what should you buy when? Although there isn't a set timeline of when to buy your baby essentials, there are a few guidelines you may wish to follow – including the things you should buy first, and the ones you may want to hold off on.

When is the best time to buy things for your baby?

Many parents choose to wait until after the first trimester to start buying baby items, such as clothing and other essentials. By then you will have typically had your dating scan and seen your baby for the first time, and started to tell family and friends the good news, so you may also be tempted to buy something for your bundle of joy.

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How early you start shopping for your baby probably also depends on whether it's your first child or not. Those expecting their first baby will likely want to start buying things earlier on in their pregnancy than those who already have another child or children, as they will possibly have more to get.

Some parents choose to wait to buy anything until after the 20 week scan if they're planning on finding out the gender of their baby, as this may impact their decision on what to buy, particularly when it comes to clothing and accessories.

Meanwhile, you may find that loved ones want to gift you some items for your baby, or pass on stuff they've used for their own children but no longer need, so it can be worth holding off on buying certain items before rushing out and spending all your money early on in your pregnancy.

Can I buy baby stuff before 12 weeks?

Of course, if you can't resist picking up a cute comforter or outfit for your baby, it is okay to do so before 12 weeks. However, it is advisable to wait a little longer before buying lots of baby essentials – typically until the second trimester once you have had your dating scan and the risk of pregnancy loss drops considerably.

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What is the first baby item you should buy?

There is no specific item you should buy first for your baby, ultimately it depends on what you are prioritising first and what you see in the shops. Perhaps you find an adorable blanket you think would be perfect or maybe there's an offer on a car seat that's too good to be missed, as long as you have all the essentials you need before your baby arrives, there's no set order you need to buy items in.

When should you start buying baby clothes?

You should start buying baby clothes during your second trimester onwards. If you're planning on finding out your baby's gender, you may choose to wait until after your 20 week anomaly scan, but there's no reason not to buy basics like sleepsuits and vests before then.

When should you buy a pram and car seat?

Prams and car seats are two essentials every new parent needs, but you won't want to buy these until later in your pregnancy as they can be quite bulky to have hanging around the house for months on end.

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Take your time to do some research on the best newborn car seats and best prams for your baby beforehand. Shops like John Lewis offer a baby advice service that allow you to book an appointment to learn more about these items and try them for yourselves, which may be useful if you're feeling overwhelmed about what to choose. 

These are expensive purchases and ones that will likely get a lot of use, so it's important to be sure of your decision and check that they comply to all the latest safety regulations too.

When should you buy a cot and nursery furniture?

Decorating a nursery for your upcoming arrival can be an exciting milestone during your pregnancy, but you don't need to rush into buying big items such as a cot if your budget or time doesn't permit. Safe sleep guidelines state that babies should sleep in the same room as you for the first six months, so you may find that buying something smaller like a Moses basket or bedside crib is more suitable initially.

These items can be bought whenever you feel is best; perhaps if you've found a great offer on a beautiful Moses basket or crib, or when you are making your final preparations for baby's arrival.

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