Ask the Expert: You don't need 95 per cent of the stuff people try to sell you for babies

Oi, mum – do you mean to tell me this is a second-hand Moses basket?
Oi, mum – do you mean to tell me this is a second-hand Moses basket?

Q: I'M PREGNANT with my first child and don't have much money. What are the essentials I really need to buy for when my baby's born?

A: Maternity nurse Sarah Norris, author of The Baby Detective (Orion Spring, £14.99), says: "Once a baby's on the way, the instinct is to start buying, and there's certainly enough baby paraphernalia available. But while there's plenty of choice, the prices can be eye-wateringly expensive.

"The truth is, you don't actually need 95 per cent of the things you see around you, especially if you're struggling financially. A newborn baby doesn't need very much at all, just comfortable clothes, somewhere safe to sleep and clean feeding equipment.

"You'll probably be bought gifts when baby arrives, so just equip yourself with the very basics, enough to last you a couple of weeks.

I'd suggest:

:: Six longsleeved and six shortsleeved cotton newborn sleepsuits.

:: 12 muslin squares (around 70cm square). They double up as furniture covers, clothes protectors, swaddles, changing mats, playmats, and bibs.

- The cheapest moses basket you can find. Secondhand is fine; you don't need a stand. (You will need a new mattress to reduce risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – SIDS)

– A brand new, cheap, but safety marked, mattress (you can use muslins, clean T-shirts/tea towels as sheets)

:: 1 cotton pram-size blanket – but you can use cotton towels and adult jumpers or shawls, just make sure they don't have tassels or holes to trap little fingers.

:: A microwave steriliser – although sterilising tablets, or a pan on a stove, do a great job of sterilising breast or bottle feeding equipment.

:: Dummies or pacifiers if you want to use them, two basic bottles, plus four bottles of ready-to-feed stage one formula. Even if you plan to breastfeed, make sure you have these with you in case things don't go as planned because hospitals won't provide them for you. Be prepared.

:: A cheap notebook to write times of feeds, which breast you started on, when baby poos etc because the lack of sleep makes it hard to remember accurately.

"This will keep you going until you find your feet."