Baby's first layette
The clothing and other essential items you will need to care for your newborn baby once you take her home from the hospital are called a layette, from the French word meaning small box or chest of drawers.

Preparing baby’s layette is great fun for expectant moms, but with so many gorgeous items to choose from it can be confusing to know what items are essentials and which are just nice to haves.

Have your baby's room and layette complete before your pregnancy advances

Most moms-to-be start preparing the layette from about 20 weeks. By this stage you may know whether you’re having a girl or a boy, and you will know that your baby is healthy and your pregnancy is progressing well. Plus, you only have about 4 months to go before B-day!

Try to have the room and layette complete before your pregnancy advances to the stage where you feel too tired and heavy to run around the shops. Also, you need to consider the fact that you might deliver your baby early – countdown starts from 36 weeks when baby is considered fully viable.

Borrow or buy second-hand

While it is nice to have everything brand new for your baby, if you’re on a budget it is worth borrowing or buying second-hand certain expensive, durable items like prams, cots, car seats and feeding chairs which can cost anything from R1 500 upwards each. Just make sure you have them thoroughly cleaned and buy a new mattress and bed linen.

Buy just enough of the basics

Your baby will soon outgrow her tiny newborn clothes, so buy just enough of the basics to ensure that you have at least two changes of clothing during the day as well as clean nightclothes, as small babies can get surprisingly dirty what with possetting, spilt milk and poos that escape from nappies.

You will also need to ensure that you have clothes for all weathers and temperatures as newborns can’t regulate their body temperature very effectively and need to be dressed appropriately whatever the weather.

Layette checklist (0-6 months)


  • Disposable nappies (+-8 per day)
  • 12 towelling nappies (to use as burp cloths, linen savers, bath towels, etc)
  • 6-8 vests – sleeveless and long-sleeved
  • 1 going-home outfit (newborn unless your baby is very big)
  • 6-8 babygros, leggings and tops for daytime wear (2 changes per day and alternative weather option)
  • 4-6 sleepsuits (one change per day and alternative weather option)
  • 2 sleep sacks (especially useful in winter)
  • Jerseys (2 in summer, 4 in winter)
  • 6-8 washable bibs
  • 6 pairs booties and/or socks
  • Bonnet and sun hat (2)


  • 2-3 bath towels – hooded and plain
  • 4 facecloths
  • 4 fitted cotton cot sheets
  • 4-6 receiving blankets for swaddling
  • Baby blankets
  • Special shawl or blanket for special occasions such as christening
  • Wedges for cot (help position baby securely and snugly)
  • Cot mattress


  • Baby bag
  • 6-8 bottles (small (125ml) at first, large (250ml) within 3 months (you will need these even if you are breastfeeding for expressing feeds)
  • Steriliser with bottle draining rack (electric or microwave)
  • Formula, if you’re not breastfeeding or are combining. Use the same formula baby is given in the hospital or consult your paediatrician to choose one you want to use
  • Bottle warmer or plastic jug
  • Dummies
  • Breast pump


  • Cot
  • Compactum or changing table
  • Chest of drawers
  • Armchair for comfortable feeding
  • Baby bath and bathmat
  • Pram with rear-facing car seat
  • Changing mat
  • Night light
  • Books and toys
  • Cot mobile
  • Sling

Toiletries and medicines:

  • Wet wipes (or cotton wool and water)
  • Baby paracetamol syrup or suppositories
  • Gripe water
  • Surgical spirits
  • Barrier cream (petroleum jelly)
  • Nappy rash cream
  • Aqueous cream
  • Baby bath lotion
  • Baby shampoo
  • Baby powder
  • Cottonwool swabs
  • Nail scissors

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