As The Handbook’s Founder and CEO, Elly Stancliffe, embarks on motherhood for the fifth time, who better to talk through a newborn must-have checklist than her? Teaming up with John Lewis & Partners, Elly takes us through her most trusted little black book when it comes to all things baby, from bedtime essentials to the clothing you genuinely need (and the stuff you don’t!) to all the other bits in-between.

Whether you’re looking for  baby clothing or trusted monitors, prams for all circumstances, or breastfeeding essentials, the British high street store has it all. They stock the best brands in the business including some of my favourites like Stokke, Babyzen, and Totter + Tumble, as well as customer service that is second to none.

For example, when you spend over £500 in the Nursery department (easily done when you are factoring in prams, cots, etc), you can spread the cost over 12 months with interest-free credit, which is transformative for new parents embarking on this exciting, but slightly terrifying, journey in the midst of a cost of living crisis.

They also have great guides on site for those feeling overwhelmed by their impending parenthood, from what to pack in your hospital bag to the essentials you need to kit out a nursery. The team goes one step beyond too, with their All Things Baby service.

Here, the John Lewis experts can guide you through everything you need, either in-store or online, to ensure you’re spending your budget on the things you really need. They leave no stone unturned, from feeding accessories to the top-rated car seats and the pram that is going to fit in with your lifestyle and needs. They also know their baby brands inside out, and I honestly cannot recommend this service enough. There’s no fee and no obligation to buy; it’s just there for friendly, seriously good advice. Find out more here.

Scroll to find out which essentials I’ve used over the years, the brands I trust and the bits I’ll be rebuying this time around. I hope it helps any parents-to-be out there about to take this wild but totally magical journey. Good luck!



It’s tempting to buy the adorable tiny baby outfits in preparation for your new arrival but trust me, half of it will go unworn for the first few months. In reality, you spend most of your time at home in sweats and the baby in sleepsuits – for the first few weeks at least – so only buy what you REALLY need. Plus, it’s likely you’ll be inundated with cute newborn outfits and hand-me-downs for those days when you do venture out and want to dress baby up a little.

My top tip? Buy long-sleeved vests, sleepsuits, hats and mittens in plain white so you can throw them all in the wash at once.


Newborn hats and mittens are a must for your hospital bag to keep baby snug on the first few days and to avoid unwanted scratches from their nails to their faces.



If you’re having your baby during these winter months, a cosy pram suit is essential. John Lewis stocks tonnes of names but I love their own brand, ANYDAY for quality and price point. The Borg Fleece Onesie is currently very on-trend and well-priced at just £18. I’ve also got my eye on the Frugi Teddy Bear Snuggle Onesie with its adorable little ears and gender-neutral colourway – I still don’t know what I’m having!



A lot of choosing the right pram comes down to your individual needs and budget. I’ve used iCandy prams for all of my children, and they are fantastic. They have big, sturdy wheels, which make it far easier for country walks and if you’re thinking of expanding your family, they have the best options for adding multiple bassinets, footstools for toddlers, etc. They are pricey but worth it.

For parents-to-be that live in the city or travel a lot, Babyzen’s Yo-Yo is faultless. It’s lightweight and compact – perfect for slipping onto London buses, back of taxis and restaurants. Plus, it’s one of the few prams that can be folded and put in the overhead compartment on the plane, making travel and navigating a huge airport with little ones so much easier.


Again, this is very much a trial and error thing – some parents get sore backs from carriers, some babies end up hating them. If you want to give one a go, I love this BabyBjörn design in leopard – proving baby accessories needn’t be boring.


We have used Maxi Cosi car seats for all our children – they are not only super easy to use but I feel really confident that they are a safe option and super comfortable for little ones.

The Maxi-Cosi Pebble 360 rotates easily on the FamilyFix 360 base and can be turned around using only one hand – essential when battling with five kids. The easy-in harness makes getting your baby in and out quickly and hassle-free, too and the super-comfy Baby-hugg inlay keeps your little one snug at all times.


After four (soon-to-be five) children, I can safely say having a nappy bag isn’t essential. If you don’t want to waste the budget on a specific baby bag, a roomy tote will do instead – simply use beauty or toiletry pouches to divide your stuff up into fresh clothes, nappies, wipes, etc.

One of my top picks, however, is a smaller baby bag that hooks onto the handle of your pram. I love this Jem + Bea one as it means I can get wipes or muslins, soothers or snacks out in seconds. Also, as much as I love the Yo-Yo pram, the shelf area at the bottom is so tiny so you can’t fit a big changing bag in there. These handy pram organizers do the job instead.

If you’re looking for a baby bag for bigger days out or when you travel and need a bit more with you, the BabaBing! Mani Changing Backpack is a great option for both men and women.


You can never have too many muslins at the newborn stage to wipe up milk sicks or add an extra layer of warmth.

Spoiler alert: you will go through a lot of bibs, blankets and muslins. Buy muslins in a range of sizes to help with everything from cleaning up milk spills to swaddling your little one.

For blankets, go for a range of sizes and thicknesses depending on where you are. And always opt for cellular blankets for bedtime as they are the safest option to ensure baby doesn’t overheat. John Lewis’ ANYDAY range is great for packs of two at reasonable price points.



As baby will be sleeping in the same room as you for the first six months, at least, I’d definitely recommend a bedside crib. The SnüzPod is my favourite and really reasonably priced at under £160. It can be raised at one side to help colicky babies and has a flap that allows you to feel like you’re sleeping next to the baby but they’re still safe in their own space – a godsend for 3 am feeds. There’s also storage underneath and at the sides for everything you might need during the night like muslins, new babygrows, nappies, wipes, etc. Definitely one of my all-time top-rated baby products.


You might not want to move baby into a bigger cot until they are six months, but if you’re looking to get it set up in good time, I really rate Stokke’s Sleepy Oval Crib. The sleek Scandinavian curved design and natural wood make a soft and calming option for a baby’s room, plus it can be adapted as they grow and even turns into a bed to be used up until they are five.

Top tip: you don’t need to buy the Stokke bedding – it’s expensive and John Lewis does just as good oval options that will fit its unique shape.


A baby really doesn’t need a wardrobe at this stage, a chest of drawers is ample room to fold dozens of their little pieces and will save you so much space in a bedroom or nursery. One thing I would definitely recommend, however, is a chest of drawers with a baby changing unit on top.

John Lewis’ classic white ANYDAY Elementary Dresser will slip into any room however you decide to decorate, whilst the Snüz Skandi Changing Unit and Dresser will add a cooler edge to a little one’s space with its sleek slate grey design.


You can wait until you start weaning to invest in the highchair but I highly recommend Stokke’s Tripp Trapp Highchair that you can attach a newborn fitting to from day one. This is great to have baby with you around the table whilst you eat dinner or have another space for them to sit safely whilst you get chores done.



If you choose to breastfeed there are SO many options out there when it comes to pumps, it can be overwhelming. I can, however, totally recommend the Elvie Electric Breast Pump. It’s so discreet and can be worn inside your bra whilst you get on with your day – a big cosy jumper or oversized cardi is best if you don’t want it to be noticed at all. It’s also really quiet compared to a lot of breast pumps and super easy to use, especially if you are new to breastfeeding.

Whilst the Evie is of a more premium price point, on the other end of the spectrum, I also love the humble haakaa pump. This no-frills pump is not only super affordable but it doesn’t require any batteries or charging, it simply uses the magic of pressure to gently draw milk out whilst you’re feeding on the opposite side. A must for new mums choosing to breastfeed.

And finally, if you are keen to collect as much milk as possible to store for your baby, the Evie Catch is a great little accessory that you can slip inside your bra to catch any excess milk that might leak when you’re not feeding. They are £20 for two and would also make a great practical gift for a new mum.


Much like breast pumps, the steriliser market can also be a minefield. John Lewis has a range of types that cater to all budgets. For cheap and cheerful, the Tommee Tippee Closer To Nature Microwave Steriliser (£17) can sterile four baby bottles in just four minutes and keep bottles clean for up to 24 hours – great for waking up to or when you’re having a night of multiple feeds.

If you are looking for a more all-singing, all-dancing steriliser, I really rate a UV one. Using UV sterilisation, this handy gadget kills 99.99% of bacteria, mould and viruses without the fuss of conventional sterilisers that use chemicals, water or heat. It will dry the bottles too and, the best bit, can sterilise just about anything else, from soothers to toys, car keys to your mobile phone. It’s far pricer at £130 but a must-have in my book if the budget stretches.


When it comes to bottles, I like to think I’ve tried them all – a baby bottle hall of fame, if you will. There’s no one-rule-fits-all here, I’m afraid, and rather a case of trial and error, but I will always return to MAM’s Easy Start Anti-Colic Bottles. I think they are the best on the market but John Lewis stocks a wealth of brands too.

From grobags to baby baths, moses baskets to the best monitors, these are my go-tos when it comes to bath and bed.


I cannot rate the brand Totter + Tumble enough. They do THE chicest playmats you’re going to find, with cool, muted prints that will fit into a living space without making it look like a primary school. They clean so well and are super hard wearing for years to come. Plus, each one is reversible so you can switch up the look for a refresh every so often.

For play gyms, again, if you’re after one that’s not too garish, Ingenuity’s Cozy Spot Reversible Activity Gym comes in soft greys with pastel play toys and a natural wood frame. I also love Tiny Love’s Magical Tales Black & White Gymini Activity Gym which is great for tiny babies when they only really respond to shades of black and white.


You won’t need these for a little while, but a few teethers are essential when those pesky first teeth start to pop through. Sophie La Giraffe is without a doubt the best, I can’t count how many of these we’ve had over the years.


You don’t need tonnes of toys in the early days but I do love John Lewis’ selection of sweet soft books. They are great for keeping little ones engaged when you’re out and about and great for exploring new sounds and textures when you’re playing at home.

For more information on John Lewis & Partners’ baby ranges and services visit


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