Yay, you’re having a baby!!!
It may not be your first thought, but at some point you will need to consider what you need to buy for your new bundle of joy. Good news, having 9 months to get ready gives you plenty of time to check out your options.
It can be overwhelming to look at a registry list and see everything they say you need for a baby. The main thing you need to take into account is the word “need.” Baby stuff is so fun to buy that we often get wrapped up in all the frilly fun things and forget that some of it isn’t necessary or even practical (baby bathrobe, anyone?).
Now, I’m not suggesting that you ignore all the fun things, but it’s important to start with actual needs before you spend a bundle on your bundle. There are plenty of places to scale down your baby budget and here are my top five ways:
1. Car Seat
If you know me in real life, you may know that I”m a little bit of a car seat safety freak. However, most car seat safety has to do with the installation of the car seat and proper use, rather than the actual seat used.
Taking this information into account, an easy way to save money is to skip the infant car seat. That bucket seat that most people leave the hospital with? Not actually necessary! Most babies grow out of an infant car seat by height somewhere between 8-12 months and with Max, we stopped taking it out of the car around 6 months because he could sit up, so it wasn’t needed (plus, it was heavy!).
When your baby grows out of their infant car seat, you’ll need to buy a convertible car seat that rear-faces, as most states mandate infants rear-face until age 2 at a minimum (but it’s recommended until age 4). It is very common that convertible seats are able to rear face from 5-40 lbs, so unless you have a tiny preemie, you have the option of skipping the infant seat and starting out with the convertible style.
Potential Savings: $100-$300, depending on infant seat.
2. Baby Bedding
Don’t you just love all the little sets of bedding choices for baby? You can pretty much find any design in a package deal with a crib sheet, quilt, bumper, pillow, crib skirt, and window valance these days.
Now, let’s check off which of those items are safety hazards for a newborn: quilt, bumper, pillow.
If you can’t use half of the items, does it make financial sense to buy a whole set? You can easily have an adorable nursery with a few cute crib sheets you love and some great swaddling blankets! Much more affordable and you can mix and match until your heart is content, just in case you want to change it up from day to day (or poop to poop!).
Potential Savings: $50-$150, depending on brand.
3. Baby Clothes
Now, this one is tough! Because aren’t all little baby clothes adorable?
But does your baby need to be wearing all name brand clothes to explode through their diapers onto? No. Do they even need to be wearing brand new clothes? Definitely not. Do you know where you can save on gently used baby clothes? Second hand shops, Goodwill, and Salvation Army, just to name a few.
Now, I know that thrift shopping isn’t particularly glamorous, but you can almost always find brand new baby clothes at any of these places for a fraction of the cost! You want something hand painted? Try our DIY onesie painting for your own original designs. It’s fun and inexpensive, plus a great activity for an older sibling.
If you have friends willing to share baby clothes, take advantage of their kindness. My sister-in-law is expecting her first in September and currently has 5 giant tubs of clothes from friends. I think she’ll probably make it a few years before she needs to buy anything!
Potential Savings: Variable
4. Baby Stroller
Now, I’m not suggesting that you forgo a stroller completely because there are a lot of times I couldn’t function without one. However, I do think it’s possible to postpone this purchase, depending on your lifestyle and where you live.
With Max, we wanted to make sure we would have a jogging stroller for when he was old enough to ride in one, which has proved to be a great purchase. But we also bought one of those snap on strollers for the infant seat and I’m pretty sure I can count on one hand how many times it was used. We lived in tropical Key West, didn’t have great sidewalks, and when we took him downtown it was much easier to wear him in a carrier because it was crowded.
Your options? An infant carrier, a wrap, or a sling.
Potential Savings: $60-$200
5. Swing and Jumper
These items can be useful… or useless.
And it totally depends on your baby. Who you don’t know yet. So, you may be able to save money here by finding out you have a super content baby that likes to lay on the floor or in a $20 bouncer instead of the $200 deluxe swing.
Now, how do you figure this one out? Well, I’d recommend waiting on these purchases. In fact, with Max, I didn’t register for either of these because I wanted to be sure I got the essentials first. You can always buy one if it turns out that your baby won’t stop crying unless they are in a swing or you find that a jumper is the only way to contain your baby while you put groceries away (yep, happened to us!). If you’ve got a friend with one, you can always do a test run before you spend the extra cash.
Bonus here? If your baby doesn’t need it, you don’t have it cluttering up the house!
Potential Savings: $100-250
Just in case you are wondering, besides items we already have (like the jumper), I’m taking all of my own advice here for baby #2. We’re using a convertible car seat, we bought one new crib sheet to go with Max’s old ones, only a few special coming home outfits have been purchased, and we won’t have a stroller that fits a newborn this time, just our jogger, plus a wrap and sling.
What are your tips for paring down the overwhelming New Baby Essentials list???