Everyone always talks about how expensive it is to have a baby, and say stuff like, “We’re waiting till we can afford it.” Before I got pregnant myself I kinda bought into that mentality.
But after having my first child I realized that kids do not have to cost a fortune! Here are some great tips to help you decide what you should buy and what you can do without.
Buy gently used.
There is nothing wrong with buying something pre-owned for baby. It will be considered “used” after the first time your child touches it anyways, so don’t feel like you have to have brand new. Believe me, baby won’t know the difference, but your wallet will!
Buy gender neutral gear.
If you plan on having more than one child. I’m talking about a stroller, carseat, swing, highchair, bassinet, playpen, diaper bag, the things that you’ll need for every baby. I know it’s tempting to buy all the cutsie girly stuff for baby girl, but try to be practical about it.
If you’re pretty sure that you’ll be having another baby in the next few years, buy neutral patterns. They can still be just as cute, and can be used again and again. You’ll be glad you did!
Don’t buy more clothes and shoes than you need.
I know, I know, it’s so hard to pass by that adorable outfit for baby, especially buying for a baby on the way. But all too often people buy way more than they could ever really use, and end up with clothes still sporting the tags and baby too big to wear them. You really don’t need more than 12 outfits (in each size) for baby.
You don’t need so many toys and books.
Honestly, it’s true what they say: Kids are happy playing with wooden spoons and pots and pans. We have SO many toys, from family and friends, and the kids really don’t play with 80% of them. 5 toys, honestly, would be enough for baby.
There are plenty of other things around the house that would entertain your little one for free. And books can be borrowed from the library. Collect a few all-time favorites, and let the library keep the rest for you.
Buy good quality clothes.
They don’t have to be expensive either. You can find really good deals on used, quality clothes. The best quality stuff I’ve found is from Baby Gap and The Children’s Place.
In my experience these brands of clothing really hold up from child to child. Not to mention their re-sell value is very high; it’s easy to get your money back out of the clothing, and possibly even make a profit on your used items.
Buy gender neutral sleepers and sleep sacks. Pale yellow, white, and mint green. Nobody will see baby in them so it won’t matter much if it’s cute or not. It’s nice to be able to use them over and over with each child.
Buy Portable Gear. Instead of buying a regular baby swing, consider a travel swing. It serves the same purpose, is more practical, and even takes the place of a bouncer or glider. Instead of a traditional high chair and a booster, just buy a booster seat with tray. It can be used longer and is great for travel.
Opt out of a Changing Table. When I first got pregnant some friends of mine told me that I really didn’t need a changing table. They wisely warned that I’d end up changing baby everywhere but the changing table. They were right. The only thing it’s good for is storage, so if you can do without that, you don’t need it.
Buy A Multi-Functioning Playard. A good one can take the place of a bassinet, a changing table, and a gym/playmat. Look for one with a bassinet attachment, a holder for diapers and wipes, and a mobile hanging over it.
Crib Bedding: Try to find a used set. I know they make the new ones in the stores look so irresistible, but if you can’t get the crib bedding as a gift, try to find a cute used set. You’ll save a small fortune not buying new.
This is the one thing I would never go cheap on! Your child’s life is worth it. Never buy a used carseat; you don’t know if it has been involved in a car accident, or if it’s been recalled. Try to find a seat with excellent safety ratings, that will fit your child for a long time.
Here is a list of things that you DON’T NEED:
- Bouncer/Glider- all you need is a travel swing.
- Gym/Playmat- a playard with a mobile is all you need.
- Boppy- just use a pillow.
- Bumbo- really, you just don’t need it.
- Walker/Jumper- an exersaucer is all you need.
- Bottle Warmer- warm water in a bowl, it works fine.
- Wipes Warmer- this is just silly.
- Baby Safe Feeder- puree your baby’s food and you won’t need this.
- Changing Table- only good for storage.
- Diaper Pail *Although I’ve used mine a ton, you could do without.
- Bassinet- get a playard with bassinet attachment.
- Wedge or Sleep Positioner- mine never kept baby in.
- Teething rings- use a frozen wash cloth.
- Baby Tub- I always found it much easier to just hold baby on my lap in the bathtub with a little bit of water. It’s so hard to reach all of those little crevices in a baby tub.
- Digital Ear Thermometer- the doctor told me that these really are not very accurate.
- Hooded Towels– just use your regular bath towels.
I would suggest getting:
- An Exersaucer
- Baby Food Processor (if you’re going to make your own)
- Travel Swing
- Stroller/Travel System
- Baby Carrier
Of course, this isn’t every single thing you’ll need. Obviously you’ll need a crib, bottles, a diaper bag, and stuff like that. But you get the point. Hopefully this will help you in deciding what you really should register for and buy.
Return what you don’t want.
Unfortunately, you’re probably going to get a ton of gifts that you don’t actually need or want at your baby shower. Try to return them as quickly as you can if you know you aren’t going to use them. You don’t want to miss yoru chance to do so in the return window.
Save at the hospital.
Before going to the hospital to deliver your baby, make sure you research what your insurance company covers. If you can, pass up a private room if there’s a charge. Don’t turn on the television (some places charge extra for television privileges).
Resist the urge to buy doubles.
Just because you’re having twins, that doesn’t mean you need two of everything! Most things can be shared.
Minimize birthdays and Christmas.
This one is tough – but until your baby is old enough to know the difference, there’s no reason to go overboard with gifts. They won’t understand and you can save your money until baby’s a bit older.
Look for convertible gear.
A crib that converts to a toddler bed is essential, but there’s other gear that can pull double-duty too. High chairs, strollers, and other items will grow with your child so you don’t always shave to buy new gear.
Line up cheap or free babysitting ahead of time.
Have a parent or sibling that’s willing to babysit for free? Make sure you have a list going so you know who to call in a pinch.
Call to get medical advice.
If you can, call your pediatrician to get advice instead of paying for a costly office visit.
You won’t find these everywhere, but Babies R Us is one store that offers annual trade-in events where you can get 25% discounts on a new car seat when you trade in a used one.
Carry stain remover pens in your diaper bag.
When you can treat baby stains right away, you’ll throw out far fewer clothes!
Buy generic brands if you can.
Most of the time, generic is just as good as name brand. It can save you lots of money. Find cheap community classes.
There rare all kinds of free resources out there in the community to help expectant and new parents. From breastfeeding to Lamaze, there’s something out there for every need. Meeting up with others in your community can also help you score deals on baby item swaps and other gear, too.
Share stuff with your baby.
You might not need to invest in expensive baby shampoos, soaps, and other products. Often, you can get by just by purchasing scent-free products that you can also use yourself.
Take advantage of diaper deals and stock up.
Buy diapers and wipes in bulk. They’ll be cheaper, and usually, you can get big boxes from companies like Amazon and Costco for huge savings.
Facebook Marketplace is a great place to score deals on gently used baby gear. Also, shopping online can sometimes save you money, too – but it depends on what you’re buying.
Skip big “maybe” baby items until you know you will need them.
There are some items, like swings, that you might not actually need. You won’t know that you need them until you get to know your baby – so save your money at first.
Make your own baby food.
If you already grow a lot of your own food, this is a great way to save money on pricey purees. You can always just puree food from your plate to give to baby, too!
Don’t buy baby shoes.
Babies don’t need shoes until they start to walk. Plus, wearing shoes will restrict a baby’s ability to learn how to walk. Put socks on instead – shoes really aren’t necessary unless you are going out to dinner or a special occasion.
Ask for books instead of cards at your baby shower.
A cheap board book costs about as much as a card – and you’ll probably throw the cards out anyway. This is a great way to start building your little one’s library.
Buy reusable whenever possible.
Things like nursing pads and cloth diapers can be reused – and can save you a ton of money.
Don’t go overboard on the nursery.
Really, a baby just needs a sleep space, like a crib or bassinet. They don’t care how the room is decorated.
Plan for both breast- and bottlefeeding.
Even if you plan on breastfeeding, have some bottles (just one set is fine, even if you plan on feeding formula – you don’t know what your baby will like) and formula on hand. You never know what will happen. You can get free samples of formula from your doctor’s office, in most cases.
Also, did you know that you can often get a free breast pump from your insurance before your baby even arrives?
Stock up on postpartum care essentials from the hospital.
Your hospital will offer you all kinds of goodies, including pads and sometimes formula, so take anything you are offered! Don’t be afraid to ask for extras, either.
If this is your first baby and you plan on doing a registry, do so smartly. There are all kinds of websites, including Amazon and BuyBuyBaby, that will mail free gifts and trial size items to you so you can try them out first.
Other registries like Amazon offer completion discounts and will give you a certain percentage off remaining items on your registry as your due date approaches.
Some registries, like Amazon, also let you start a “diaper fund” that your friends and family can contribute to.
I do hope this helps. This, of course, is just my humble opinion. But being on baby #3, I’d say I do have some experience, so I’m passing on what I’ve learned to all the new mommies out there. Love ya!
If anyone has anything else to add to this list, please share!
updated 06/15/2020 by Rebekah Pierce
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.