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From Pregnancy to Parenthood: Your Complete Shopping Guide

When You Should Save, Spend or Splurge, as well as Items to Skip When Preparing for Your New Baby

A Newborn baby girl sleeping with her hands tucked under her face by Christchurch Newborn, Baby & family photographer Kirsten Naomi Photography

Welcoming a new baby is one of life's most exciting and joyful experiences. As expectant parents, the anticipation of meeting your little one is filled with dreams of tiny fingers and toes, first expressions, and new milestones. Alongside this excitement, there's also the practical side of preparing for your baby's arrival, including ensuring you have everything you need to keep your baby safe, comfortable, and happy.

As new parents, the temptation is to have the perfect nursery ready and waiting for when you bring your baby home. Many of us focus on purchasing everything brand new and ensuring that we have the latest gadgets that are certain to make life easier and more comfortable for our growing family. Looking back, we often realise that this wasn’t necessary, but it can be hard to work out what you actually need ahead of time. Thoughtful purchasing is key to balancing your baby's needs, your budget, and the occasional indulgence. It’s easy to be swept up in the array of adorable baby products available, but taking a step back to consider what is truly necessary can make a big difference. Not only does it help manage your expenses, but it also ensures that your home is filled with items that genuinely enhance your baby's well-being and make your life easier.

Additionally, being mindful about what you buy can have a positive environmental impact. Opting to borrow or buy second-hand items reduces waste and lessens the demand for new manufacturing. By choosing to borrow certain baby essentials and being selective about what you purchase new, you contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle, setting a positive example for your child from the very start.

As a photographer specialising in photographing maternity, newborn babies and families, this is a topic that often comes up while we are chatting in the studio. Many of our clients have requested that we create the “definitive list” of what to buy to help them navigate this shopping minefield.  


So, drawing on the experience of parents who have already traversed this stage of life, we’ll guide you on when to save (borrow), spend (buy new), and splurge, as well as the items you can confidently skip — helping you to create a welcoming, safe, and environmentally friendly space for your new arrival. By focusing on thoughtful purchasing, you can enjoy this special time without unnecessary stress, knowing that you have made good choices for your baby, your family and the planet.

A baby boy being cradled in his mother’s hand, showing how small a newborn is in those early days, image by Christchurch Newborn, Baby & family photographer Kirsten Naomi Photography

SAVE (Borrow or buy second hand): Embrace the Pre-loved Charm

Borrowing items is not only budget-friendly but also eco-friendly. These 18 items can be cleaned, reused, and cherished once more.

1 Maternity Clothes

Comfortable and practical maternity wear can be expensive to buy new and doesn't get a huge amount of wear, making it an excellent choice for borrowing or a second-hand purchase.

2 Baby Clothes (0-6 months)

Babies grow so quickly that many outfits are hardly worn, so you don't need to go overboard buying lots of brand-new clothes. We've compiled a handy guide to the essential wardrobe items HERE

3 Bassinet

Often used for a short period, many parents have one to pass on.

4 Blankets and Swaddles

Soft, durable, and easily washed. While you may want to purchase some new blankets and swaddles, most of these can be pre-loved.

5  Nappy Bag

Functional and sturdy, a pre-loved bag can serve just as well.

6  Baby Monitor

Older models can still provide peace of mind.

7  Baby Swing or Bouncer

A lifesaver for many parents, yet often only used for a few months.

8  Baby Bath Tub

A simple item that is easy to clean and borrow.

9  Play Mats and Gyms

Clean thoroughly, and they’re as good as new.

10  Books and Toys

Babies love exploring, and "gently used" toys and books can be wonderful.

11  Nursing Pillow

Easy-to-wash covers make these perfect for borrowing.

12  Baby Carrier

Ensure it’s in good condition and provides proper support.

13  Push Chair

A well-maintained stroller can save you a significant expense.

14  Baby Bottles and Sterilisers

We recommend you buy new teats/nipples for bottles, but the bottles themselves and sterilisers can often be borrowed.

15  Nappy Bucket

Clean and disinfect, and it’s ready to go.

16  White Noise Machine

Handy for soothing baby to sleep, and a borrowed one works just as well.

17  High Chair

Look for models that can be easily cleaned and adjusted.

18  Cot, Changing Table and Nursery Furniture

While you may choose to invest in a sturdy cot, changing table, dresser, and other essential pieces, much of this can be borrowed or purchased second-hand. Always replace the mattress on a second-hand cot — these should be new for hygiene reasons.

A tiny newborn baby girl being cradled by her parents during a session with Christchurch Newborn, Baby & family photographer Kirsten Naomi Photography

SPEND: Buy New for Baby’s Safety and Comfort

Certain items should always be bought new to ensure safety, hygiene, and longevity. Here are 15 items we think you should invest in buying new.

1  Crib Mattress

A firm, new mattress is essential for baby’s safety.

2  Breast Pump

Personal use items should always be new for hygiene reasons.

3  Pacifiers and Teethers

These should be new to avoid any risk of contamination.

4  Bottles Teats/Nipples

Even if the bottles are borrowed, always use new teats/nipples.

5  Nappy Cream/ Baby Toiletries

Nappy cream is essential to soothe and protect baby’s skin and, along with other personal care items, should be purchased new.

6  Nappies

Newborns go through nappies quickly, so stock up on new ones. You may want to consider reusable nappies for a more environmentally friendly option. While the initial investment in reusable nappies can be higher, the ongoing cost is significantly lower. Once you have a sufficient supply, you can use them throughout your baby's nappy-wearing years.

7  Wipes

Essential for cleanups, always buy fresh packs. Water wipes can be gentler on babies' skin as they contain fewer irritants. You may want to consider reusable wipes for a more environmentally friendly and gentle option.

8  Formula

If you’re using formula, ensure it’s new and within date. Always check when purchasing, as occasionally, expired formula is still on the shelf.

9  First Aid Kit

A new, fully stocked kit is a must-have.

10  Baby Clothes (Special items)

While you can borrow most of your everyday items, it's nice to have some new clothes for special occasions.

11  Breastfeeding Accessories

Nipple cream, nursing pads, and other personal care items should be purchased new for hygiene reasons.

12  Changing Pad

A fresh pad with covers that can be easily washed.

13  Travel Changing Pad and Travel Wipes container

A fresh and compact travel mat and refillable wipes container will make life on the move much easier. Choose a mat that folds out large enough that you can use it on the floor if no baby change table is provided.

14  Infant Car Seat (check expiration date)

Ensure it meets current safety standards. Be wary of buying or borrowing a second-hand child restraint. It may not always be obvious if it's been involved in an accident, parts may be missing, or it may not meet current safety standards.

15  Thermometer

Accurate and new for reliable readings.

Amanda took advantage of the studio maternity wardrobe and chose these classic black and white dresses for her maternity session with Christchurch Maternity, Newborn and Family photographer Kirsten Naomi Photography

SPLURGE: Treat Yourself and Your Baby

While not essential, these items can enhance your experience and create lasting memories. Here are 12 items we think are worthy of your investment.

1  Professional Photography Sessions

No list would be complete without including professional maternity, newborn, and milestone photo sessions. Although these are undoubtedly a luxury item, they represent a valuable investment in documenting this amazing time in your life. Investing in professional photography to capture your pregnancy, your newborn baby, and your baby's first year is a decision you won’t regret. These fleeting moments are precious, and documenting them with high-quality images ensures you’ll have beautiful memories to look back on for years to come. At Kirsten Naomi Photography, we offer Gift Vouchers and Gift Registers, so this is something you could ask friends and family to contribute towards as a baby gift instead of receiving multiple newborn-sized outfits your wee one will quickly outgrow.

Here’s why it’s worth the splurge:

Maternity Photography Session

  • Pregnancy is a unique and wondrous time. Professional maternity photographers know how to capture the beauty of your changing body and the joy of pregnancy, creating stunning images that celebrate the anticipation of your baby's arrival.

  • Maternity photographs are a meaningful keepsake to share with your child; children are fascinated with babies and love to see photos of themselves inside Mummy's tummy.

  • Incorporating siblings can be a lovely way to help future big brothers and sisters feel involved and excited about the changes in your family.

  • Maternity photography has gained in popularity in New Zealand in recent years. We believe this is linked to women hearing their mothers, sisters, and friends express regret at having so few photographs to commemorate their pregnancy; and encourage their daughters and friends to ensure they capture this fleeting and precious moment in time.

Angelique took advantage of the studio maternity wardrobe and chose these classic black and white dresses for her maternity session with Christchurch Maternity, Newborn and Family photographer Kirsten Naomi Photography

Newborn Photography Session

  • The newborn stage is incredibly brief. Professional photographers will capture the delicate features, tiny fingers, and precious expressions of your baby, creating timeless images that you’ll cherish forever.

  • With the right lighting, props, and expertise, professional newborn photographers can create beautiful, artistic images that stand out from regular snapshots.

  • Choose a newborn photographer with appropriate training, relevant newborn photography and safety qualifications and lots of experience in photographing newborn babies to ensure you have a fabulous experience and get photographs you will cherish forever.

  • Celebrate your heritage with meaningful elements such as a whānau Korowai, Sari, heirloom knits or something else that is special for your family.

A Newborn baby girl sleeping with her hands tucked under her face and holding a tiny poi made by her grandmother. She is wearing an infant-size Korowai and the image is by Christchurch Newborn, Baby & family photographer Kirsten Naomi Photography

Milestone Photography Sessions for Older Babies and Toddlers

  • From the first smiles to the first steps, taking the time for milestone baby photography sessions during your baby's first year will allow you to capture the key stages of their development. These sessions provide a beautiful record of how much your baby changes in such a short time.

  • By investing in milestone baby photography, you create a visual story of your baby’s first year, creating a treasured keepsake that you and your family will enjoy for generations.

  • By investing in a professional baby photographer with the necessary baby posing and safety qualifications, you ensure that these once-in-a-lifetime moments are beautifully and artfully captured in a safe environment, providing you with high-quality images that preserve the joy, love, and wonder of this special time.

An eleven-month-old girl wearing a lace dress from our studio wardrobe. She has been photographed against a floral backdrop during a session with Christchurch Newborn, Baby & family photographer Kirsten Naomi Photography

2  High-End Stroller

For parents who enjoy daily walks, a luxury stroller can be worth it. It’s worth considering how much space your preferred stroller takes up in your car boot, as it’s frustrating when you can’t fit the groceries in too!


3  Designer Nappy Bag

Stylish and functional, a treat for fashion-forward parents. You will take your bag everywhere, so having something you enjoy carrying is a practical treat.


4  Organic Baby Clothes

Soft, sustainable, and oh-so-cute.


5  Wooden Toys

Beautifully made wooden toys not only encourage imaginative play and development, but they photograph beautifully, are better for the environment and can become lovely hand-me-downs or stored for future generations.

6  Smart Baby Monitor

Advanced features for peace of mind.


7 High-End Stylish Nursery Furniture and High Chair

Creating a beautiful nursery is many parents' dream, and it's lovely to be able to add personal touches to make the nursery unique.


8  White Noise Machine with Night Light

A soothing combo for a restful sleep environment.


9  Luxury Swaddle Sets

Soft, high-quality fabrics for ultimate comfort. Muslin is a great option.


10  Designer Baby Carrier

Fashionable, comfortable and practical for both baby and parent. While these can be purchased second-hand, buying new lets you choose a style you love and will enjoy wearing.


11  Premium Baby Skincare Products

Organic, hypoallergenic products for delicate skin.


12  Nursing Chair

A comfortable, supportive chair for feeding times is lovely to have and something that will get a lot of use.


A nine-month-old girl wearing a vintage-style knit romper dress from our studio wardrobe. She has been photographed playing with some of our lovely wooden toys during a session with Christchurch Newborn, Baby & family photographer Kirsten Naomi Photography

SKIP: Items to Avoid for Safety and Simplicity

While preparing for your baby's arrival, it's easy to get carried away with all the cute and seemingly necessary items on the market. However, some things are better left off your list, either because they aren't essential or because they pose safety risks. Here's a guide to 14 items we think you should avoid:

Unsafe Items

1 Pillows and Cushions

Reason: These pose a suffocation hazard for infants. Babies should sleep on a firm, flat surface without any pillows or cushions.


2  Loose Blankets, Sheets, and Covers

Reason: Loose bedding can lead to accidental suffocation or entanglement. Instead, use a sleep sack or swaddle for warmth.


3  Bumper Pads

Reason: Despite their decorative appeal, bumper pads increase the risk of suffocation, strangulation, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).


4  Heavy Blankets or Quilts

Reason: These can be too warm and pose a suffocation risk. Stick to lightweight blankets designed for infants, if needed.


5  Stuffed Animals in the Crib

Reason: While cute, stuffed animals can obstruct a baby’s breathing. Keep the crib free of toys and other items.


Unnecessary Items

1  Bottle Warmers

Reason: You can warm bottles just as effectively using warm water. A bottle warmer is an added expense and takes up counter space.


2  Nappy Disposal Systems

Reason: While they can help with odour control, regular bins with secure lids and frequent emptying work just as well and are more environmentally friendly and cost-effective.


3  Expensive Clothes and Shoes

Reason: Babies grow quickly and often outgrow clothes before they’ve been worn more than a few times. Shoes are just a nuisance; they don’t stay on and are usually uncomfortable for the baby. Babies don’t need shoes until they start walking. Socks or booties are enough to keep their feet warm. Comfort and practicality are key.


4  Baby Food Processors

Reason: A regular blender or food processor can handle baby food just as well. There’s no need for a specialised appliance.


5  Wipe Warmers

Reason: These are a luxury item that aren’t necessary. Room temperature wipes are just fine and safe for your baby’s skin.


6  Baby Towels and Washcloths

Reason: Regular soft towels and washcloths work just as well. There’s no need for special baby-specific ones.


7  Baby Walkers

Reason: These can be dangerous and are not recommended by paediatricians. They can lead to accidents and do not aid in walking development.

8  Specialised Laundry Detergent

Reason: As long as it’s fragrance-free and gentle, your regular detergent is typically fine for baby clothes.


9  Nappy Stackers

Reason: While they look neat, a regular drawer or basket works just as well for storing nappies.


Tips for New Parents

Keep it Simple: Focus on the essentials that keep your baby safe and comfortable.

Safety First: Always prioritise items that meet the latest safety standards.

Borrow Wisely: Consider borrowing or buying second-hand for items that have a short usage period — but ensure they’re in good condition.

By avoiding these unnecessary and unsafe items, you can ensure your baby’s safety while also saving money and space in your home.


A tiny newborn baby girl sleeping curled on her back during a newborn photography session with Christchurch Newborn, Baby & family photographer Kirsten Naomi Photography

Baby Wardrobe Essentials: What you actually need!

Babies grow so quickly that many outfits are hardly worn. Here’s a helpful guide on the types and quantities of clothes you’ll need for the first six months:

  • Bodysuits (Onesies)

Quantity: 6-10

These are essential, versatile pieces that can be worn alone in warm weather or layered under other outfits when it’s cooler. Look for onesies with snaps at the bottom for easy nappy changes.


  • Sleepers or Sleepsuits

Quantity: 5-7

Comfortable and cosy, sleepers are ideal for night-time and naptime. Opt for those with zippers for quick and easy changes, especially during night feeds.


  • Vests (Singlets)

Quantity: 5-7

Ideal for layering, vests help keep your baby warm and provide an extra layer of comfort under their clothes.


  • Socks and Booties

Quantity: 4-6 pairs

Keep those tiny feet warm with soft socks or booties. They’re easy to misplace, so having a few extra pairs is always handy.


  • Hats              

Quantity: 2-3

A couple of soft, cotton hats are perfect for keeping your baby’s head warm, especially in cooler weather or after a bath.


  • Mittens

Quantity: 2-3 pairs

Prevent your baby from scratching their delicate skin with soft mittens.


  • Swaddle Blankets

Quantity: 4-6

Swaddle blankets help your baby feel secure and can aid in better sleep. They’re also versatile and can be used as burp cloths or nursing covers.


  • Sleeping Bags

Quantity: 2-4

A sleeping bag is a valuable investment once you transition your baby away from swaddles. They can’t be kicked off, or slide up over little faces, so they are very safe. They also work as a great bedtime cue.


  • Cardigans or Sweaters

Quantity: 2-3

For cooler days, lightweight cardigans or sweaters are perfect for layering over bodysuits or outfits.


  • Trousers or Leggings

Quantity: 3-5

Comfortable and stretchy trousers or leggings are great for everyday wear and pair well with bodysuits or tops.


  • Rompers / Babygro’s / All-in-One Outfits

Quantity: 3-5

These are convenient for quick dressing and perfect for playtime and outings.


  • Bibs

Quantity: 5-7

Protect your baby’s clothes from dribbles and spit-up with a collection of soft, absorbent bibs.


  • Jacket or Snowsuit (Season Dependent)

Quantity: 1

Depending on the season, a warm jacket or snowsuit will keep your baby snug during outdoor adventures.


  • Special Occasion Outfits

Quantity: 1-2

Have a couple of nicer outfits for special occasions or family gatherings. These aren’t everyday essentials but are lovely to have on hand.


Tips for Baby Clothes

Sizes: Babies grow quickly, so having clothes in sizes 0-3 months and 3-6 months will ensure you’re prepared as they grow.

Easy to Wear: Look for clothes with wide necks, snap fastenings and zips to make dressing your baby easier.  Zips are great on Babygro’s – especially when changing baby in the middle of the night!

Fabric: Choose soft, breathable fabrics like cotton to keep your baby comfortable and avoid irritation.

Quantity: It’s better to have a few extra items on hand to account for inevitable spills and nappy leaks. Borrowing these items can save you from overbuying and ensure you have enough on rotation.

A sleeping newborn baby boy wearing a Sik Turban during a newborn photography session with Christchurch Newborn, Baby & family photographer Kirsten Naomi Photography

Welcoming a new baby into your home is a journey filled with excitement, joy, and a bit of anxiety as you navigate the myriad of baby products available. Preparing for your baby's arrival is about striking the right balance between essential needs, budget considerations, and a few indulgences that make the experience special.

By carefully choosing what to save, spend, splurge and skip, you can create a safe, comfortable, and environmentally friendly space for your little one. Borrowing items is not only cost-effective but also contributes to a sustainable lifestyle, reducing waste and promoting a circular economy. Buying new ensures that you have the most up-to-date and safe essentials, particularly for items where hygiene and safety are paramount, and allowing yourself to splurge on a few luxury items, such as a maternity or newborn photography session, can enhance the joy of this precious time, creating beautiful memories and a nurturing environment for both you and your baby.

Remember, thoughtful purchasing isn't just about managing costs—it's about making choices that genuinely benefit your baby's well-being and simplify your life as new parents. Avoiding unnecessary and unsafe items ensures that you can focus on what truly matters: the health, happiness, and safety of your baby. As you embark on this incredible journey, know that every decision you make, big or small, contributes to a loving and supportive environment where your baby can thrive.

Cherish these moments, stay mindful of your choices, and enjoy the beautiful adventure of parenthood.

We'd love to hear from you! Add your recommendations to the comments sections to help parents with their shopping.

A tiny newborn baby girl being cradled by her parents during a session with Christchurch Newborn, Baby & family photographer Kirsten Naomi Photography


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