Don’t Go Broke Because of Your Baby

I have noticed that a lot of moms-to-be have been asking for advice on some of the blogs that I read regarding what they really need for their child versus what the big box baby stores insist you must have. I read through all of the responses and started getting fairly frustrated. Although there were a lot of great responses that focused on simplicity, the majority of moms were prattling off a list longer than the Mississippi River. The point of the questions was to help new moms avoid the trap of “you are a bad parent if your child does not have this, this, and this.” I was starting to write my own response but decided to address it on my blog instead. I took it a step further and actually took a challenge from one of my friends. What 5 things do moms-to-be REALLY need and what 5 things are big box baby stores pushing on you that you can do without? I also included my top 5 things that I am on the fence about.

Top 5 things you NEED

1. Somewhere for the baby to sleep. This is a long topic in and of itself but in a nutshell, you need to figure out where your baby will sleep. If you plan on co-sleeping, do not waste money on a crib that you will never use. This is exactly what I did. I bought a crib that Tiny never used. Not once. Luckily the crib converts to a full size bed. So at least the money wasn’t totally wasted. The top of the line organic mattress? I gifted that to a friend. At least it went to a nice home. Anyway – if you are undecided about whether or not you will be co-sleeping long term, at least wait to purchase the crib or get one that converts to a full size bed so your money isn’t completely wasted should you never need the crib. If you do not plan on co-sleeping, the by all means, get a crib. You might also look into a bassinet or a co-sleeper for when your baby is a newborn. You will not want your baby all the way on the other side of the house when he or she is waking up every hour or two for those first couple of months. If you are using a crib, I suggest that you outfit it with 2 water proof mattress pads, two fitted sheets, 1 lightweight blanket, and 1 medium weight blanket. Having two mattress pads and fitted sheets allows you to have a spare should your baby soil her bedding in the middle of the night. No reason for a midnight wash and dry session. For the blankets, I suggest that you get ones that are not newborn size. Your newborn baby will not use blankets so get something a little larger. Chances are, your one year old will not even use blankets. Little ones are notorious for kicking covers off. It is still good to have them.

2. A car seat. Duh. I suggest that you invest in a convertible car seat. These car seats are expensive but you will only need one and many of them will last from birth until your child is 60 pounds. I purchased the Britax Advocate CS and love it. Tiny will probably not hit 60 pounds until she is in high school so we will get a lot of use out of this one! J

3. One of the many baby wearing options out there. I had two…a Moby Wrap which I used when we were indoors and a Beco which I used for walks. I switched to using the Beco exclusively once Tiny was about 10 months old. It supported her better. If you aren’t into baby wearing then you certainly will need a stroller of some sort. Even if you baby wear, if you plan on doing a lot of outdoor activities, then invest in a decent jogging stroller. I didn’t start using a stroller until Tiny was about 8 months old and even then, it was only for really long walks. To this day, she still runs errands on my back, in the Beco.

4. Basic health supplies, i.e. thermometer, nasal aspirator, nail clippers, etc… You will need these at some point in time.

5. Diapers. I am an advocate for cloth diapering. You can read my post about cloth diapers HERE. Regardless of whether you choose cloth, disposables, or elimination communication, you will need diapers.

Top 5 Things You Do NOT Need

1. YOU DO NOT NEED THAT SUPER FANCY, SUPER EXPENSIVE crib bedding set! Really, you don’t. Your baby won’t care about it and you will not use the set long enough for it to make sense spending the money on one. Yes, you will be in nesting mode and REALLY want that cute bedding set that costs $300 but you can do without it. Really, you can. Spend the money on an organic mattress and organic sheets and blankets instead.

2. You do not need special towels for your baby. The towels and washcloths you use on yourself will work just fine. I never used a baby towel on Tiny. They were too thin and in my opinion, not nearly warm enough for a small baby.

3. A special infant bath tub. The first month will pretty much be sponge baths and after that, just get in the tub or the shower with your baby. If you are uncomfortable with that idea, then baby can bathe in the sink. No big deal. Those infant bath tubs only fit the baby for a few months anyway so they are a super huge waste of money.

4.Toys. Seriously. Your baby wants to be with you. They are not interested in toys yet.  A few items made from natural fibers and materials will suffice. A small cloth doll, a silk scarf, a felt or cloth ball, a long wooden block to chew on, a set of wood keys, and maybe one or two small cloth or wooden animals.

5. Doorway jumper. After much research, I discovered that these are really bad for baby. They actually can delay walking as well as cause injuries both from improper use as well as random accidents.

Top 5 Things I Am On The Fence About

1. Changing table. I do have one and find it super convenient in terms of storing diaper supplies. It also saves my back and knees from constantly having to get down on the floor to do a diaper change. I am lucky in that Tiny still (at 2 years) wants to be changed on the changing table. Most children despise it once they are mobile. So maybe you will get a year or so out of it. Personally, I found a great deal and the small investment paid off in storage capacity alone.

2. Swings/Bouncers/Etc. if you plan on baby wearing, you probably won’t get much use out of these items. However, some parents feel more comfortable having someplace cozy to secure baby when mom needs a shower or is having a meal. Try to borrow or buy used as the cost versus length of use doesn’t usually pay off.

3. Rocking Chair. I happen to LOVE my rocking chair. It is one of my favorite places to breastfeed and rock Tiny to sleep. However, if I had to, I could live without it. As long as you have a comfortable chair, you can make it work. You do not have to have some fancy chair to rock your baby. You can sway back and forth in any number of positions to create a rocking effect.

4. Pack and Play. We received one as a gift and well, never had a need for it. The idea of one is nice, especially for travel and possibly as an alternate location for naps. They can also be a great co-sleeping option if you are not comfortable having your newborn in bed with you. So they do have some benefits. I suggest that you leave it in the package and keep the receipt until you get baby home and see whether or not you will really need it. (It only takes a few minutes to set up so resist that nesting urge to unpack it!)

5. Diaper Wipe Warmer. I made my own diaper wipes and did like the diaper wipe warmer for storing the wipes. However, I do not think it is crucial. The wipes aren’t THAT cold.

And there you have it! My thoughts on things. What are some of your must haves and what could you do without????

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  1. says

    This is a great list! We NEVER had a changing table. I think that if I did have one, it would have been used more to store diapers, clothes, etc. than used to change diapers. We didn’t have a crib. We co-sleep. We did get a pack n play to use as a temporary crib and I thought I might use it for naps when my little one got bigger (and mobile) but it never did get used except as a giant toy box.

    It’s amazing the things that people think the MUST have. When I did my baby shopping, I just asked myself, “What do people in primitive villages have?” It put those “Must-Haves” into perspective! Babies do not have to be expensive!

  2. says

    I concur with your needs and don’t needs, for sure! We finally sold our infant tub when Annabelle was 9 months old. A big thing we never really used was the nursery. I was so big on having it ready, and making it beautiful, before my daughter’s birth, but only now at 13 months is she even napping in there.

    The only things on your third list we got were a bouncer and a rocking chair. I sold the bouncer on craigslist because it got no use, and gave the rocking chair away for the same reason. There’s definitely no reason to go overboard on the baby gear!

  3. says

    Are you a minimalist, too… or just smart? 😀

    There is SO MUCH JUNK that the stores and companies try to convince us we MUST have! The one thing you didn’t mention, and which I wouldn’t call a necessity, is a nursing pillow of some sort. I LOVE my Boppy Cushion. I used it for my belly when I was pregnant and I’m still nursing my 19mo on it now. She likes to nap on it when I’m not home, too.

    I feel the same as you on rocking chair and changing table. I felt I really had to have them, but I’ve let both go now – even though I plan one more child.

  4. Candice Y says

    Great list! If you are looking for new gear and discount pricing, totsy and zulily are good to have in your back pocket. Craigslist is always my first go-to though.

    The only ‘stuff’ I registered for this go around were clothes (different gender this time), nursing pads, lanolin, and fun stuff like music cd’s to rock her to (my first born, good god, there was close to 250 items or something on there!). I loved loved loved having a glider, but I got mine as a hand me down from my grandmother, and we literally wore that thing out. I’ll be searching for a new to me one soon; it was a great place to rock my son to sleep, and enjoy the middle of the night nursing sessions.

    I didn’t need a swing until he was older (6 months?), but I did enjoy it as a good place to lay him when I needed to get things done (like shower and eat), and he was already a-snooze. A quick tip, make sure the model you get plugs in. Stupid things eat batteries like crazy. But they are not a necessity by any means at all.

    Baby towels are the suck. I refuse to use them anymore. They got in the way more often than not, and were never really thick enough to keep him warm right out of the bath. I got a great gift made by a friend of mine; it was a full sized bath towel, with a hand towel sewn in at the top for a hood! At two years old, we still use it. We never had a tub either. He got bathed right in the kitchen sink with a bath sponge (the things you’re supposed to lay in the bottom of a bath tub) wedged in for comfort.

    I had so many toys. Including a stupid floor gym/mat thing. Nobody ever bothers to tell you how little infants “play”. All my little guy ever needed was me. I found myself many a time with an infant in my arms, reading a book aloud to him (I learned from 3 men and a baby that “it doesn’t matter what you read, just the tone you read it in.” :-)

    All you need are a place to sleep, clothes to wear, boob to eat from, and a snuggly wrap to be close to mom in. Changing table is just frosting on the cake.

  5. says

    i love having a crib and i co-sleep. we side-carred it. I can roll her over after she has nursed herself to sleep and still cuddle my husband for a couple of hours before rolling back over to cuddle baby and nurse the rest of the night. i like having that extra room and the side rail, knowing she wont roll off the bed and i can stretch out sometimes. after co-sleeping for 4 years straight, i like having room to stretch! :)

  6. says

    Luckily I got many donations before my son was born so I didn’t end up spending much money on anything but I did give away many things after I found out how unnecessary they were. Essentially what I’ve used: diapers, wipes, baby carriers, receiving blankets, cloths, baby clothes, rocking chair, and a change table (to store clothing rather than actually use it!). Not much else was necessary.

  7. says

    I agree with all of this. For your on the fence items, I also love our rocking chair. I can’t imagine having gotten through all of the thousands of hours of nursing without it.

    Thanks for participating in the NPN Frugal Living Blog Hop on I Thought I Knew Mama – and thank you especially for organizing it all!

  8. says

    Great list!

    If you do plan to use a crib, buying one that converts into a bed is a great idea. Then if (like us!) you end up co-sleeping unexpectedly, the crib/bed still gets used eventually. I’d really have been kicking myself for our useless crib purchase otherwise!

  9. Ronna says

    Great list!

    My top 5 must-haves are:

    1. Baby carrier. I used pouch for the boys as newborns and a mei-tai as they got older cause I liked how super-adjustable and secure it was.

    2. Cloth diapers. We did EC, but cloth diapers were still vital for laying baby on, cleaning spills, or outings/trips we weren’t sure would be EC-friendly.

    3. Carseat. I did not spend money on a bucket, but went with one the baby could grow into. It seemed awkward to me to carry a bucket around with me, and I felt better having the baby close to me in the pouch sling. Normally, he’d go right back to sleep in the sling if he’d been sleeping in the carseat.

    4. A couple baby blankets for laying on the floor or staying warm or using as a portable changing pad.

    5. Some baby onesies, baby leg warmers, and other simple simple clothing items like gowns with the elastic bottom. I never used those 3 month size baby jeans even though they were super cute. Quick & easy changing is the name of the game. I really liked the onesie with baby legs… no pants to wrestle with. This will be especially convenient around 6-9 months when they really start wiggling around and trying to get away!

    Things I never used: Stroller, crib, baby jeans, baby shoes, pack & play, excersaucer, baby food, highchair. Seriously, and I never missed it.

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