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WHAT DO YOU NEED TO LOOK AFTER YOUR BABY?

Clothing

There's a huge choice of clothing for new babies. You'll have your own preferences about the style and colour of your baby's clothes - as well as your own budget - but there are a few other things you might like to look out for.

New babies hate to be dressed and undressed, so anything that helps make the job quick and simple is a plus. Look for clothes that are stretchy and have wide neck openings. Front-opening clothes are easiest and poppers are easier than ties or buttons (ties and buttons can also come off and present a swallowing risk). Nappy changing is easier if the clothes open round the crotch. Avoid lacy patterns that tiny fingers can get caught in. A baby's skin is delicate so natural fibres may be more comfortable. Check that there are no rough seams or stitching. Also, make sure that the clothes are non-flammable and don't need ironing.

As a general guide - and depending on how much washing you're prepared to do - more clothes equals less frequent washing. For a new baby you might need:

• Six to eight stretchsuits (3-4 first size and 3-4 second size). Buy according to weight, not age;
• Two nightgowns. These are easier than stretchsuits to put on and take off
quickly and make nappy changing easy at night. Choose ones with a drawstring round the hem so they don't ride up;
• Four vests or bodysuits, that is, sleeveless vests with poppers under the crotch to stop them riding up;
• Two to three pairs of socks;
• Two to three cardigans.

Summer

• A light jacket and sunhat.

Winter

• A warm hat, mittens and snowsuit.

Prams and pushchairs

Your pram or pushchair is likely to be the most expensive purchase that you'll make and unless you travel everywhere by car you'll be using it a lot, so take your time to weigh up the options before you buy. In particular, think about how you'll be using the pushchair: Will it fit in your car? Can you use it on public transport? Is it possible to fold while holding your baby in your other arm?
The choice is huge and can be confusing, but your basic options are:

1) A traditional pram;

2) A two-in-one or convertible pushchair. This can be used flat for a newborn baby, or with an upright back for when your baby has head and neck control;

3) A two-in-one-plus. This comes with a lift-off lie-back seat that can be used for carrying a sleeping baby. However, it is not suitable for overnight sleeping;

4) A three-in-one or combination pushchair, which is like a two-in-one but comes with a lift-off carrycot. If you buy a special mattress, the carrycot can be used for overnight sleeping;

5) A travel system: all of the above, plus a Group 0 car seat which can be locked on to the pushchair chassis;

6) An 'umbrella' buggy that is easy to fold up quickly. This is unsuitable for a newborn.

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