When you’re expecting your first baby (or second, third, etc.) things can be pretty overwhelming. It’s hard to figure out what you need, or to remember what you need if it’s not your first. Everybody will want to give you advice on the best things to buy and the worst things to buy. If you’re having a baby shower, chances are you will receive many of those necessary items from others. Living in England where baby showers are only recently becoming more popular, I didn’t get to have a baby shower for either of my babies and therefore we had to buy a lot of the bigger items ourselves. I’m going to share my list of things I wish I’d been told or wished I’d paid attention to earlier than I did about buying for baby. Hopefully you’ll find this list helpful if you’re about to have a baby yourself.
1. You don’t need a high chair. I live in a house with very limited space. When my first baby arrived, we bought a second hand high chair and it took up a very large bit of floor space in our already cramped dining room. It was in pretty sad shape when Jude grew out of it so we sold it and bought him a booster seat instead. Brand new, it was only about $20 on Amazon. It’s plastic, it has a tray, and it straps to one of our dining room chairs. Space saving and affordable! When Melody came along, I never bothered with the high chair. We fed her in her bouncy seat until she was sitting up on her own, at which point we transitioned our son out of the booster seat, and our daughter into it.
2. Sometimes, store brand is just as good as name brand. Sometimes it’s even better! Diapers are expensive. If you live in a happy little bubble where you think diapers and formula are affordable items for baby, then I am sorry to be the one to burst it, I’d much rather just move into that bubble with you. They are expensive. However, store brand diapers are slightly more affordable than the name brand ones like Pampers and Huggies. You will get a vast amount of opinions if you ask your friends and loved ones what they think of store brand diapers. I’ve found that the only way to truly know how you feel about them is to take the plunge and try them out for yourself. We did that with ASDA (ASDA is England’s Walmart…literally, it says on the sign that it’s part of the Walmart family) brand diapers when Jude was a bit older and we loved them. We loved them more than the Pampers that we had been buying previously and they cost us half the amount we’d been paying for the Pampers.
3. Making your own baby food is not ridiculous, it’s actually quite easy, fun, and cheaper. I hate to say it, but before I had my babies I was one of those people who sat in silent judgment of women who made their own baby food. I thought it was a “hippy” thing to do. I thought, “Why take all that extra time to make your own baby food when you’re already so busy taking care of the baby?” I’ve also always been a trusting sort of person so I assumed they wouldn’t sell baby food that was harmful to babies. I started making my own baby food for my second baby. Not only is making your own food super easy, it’s much cheaper than buying store bought, it’s healthier because there aren’t any unknown additives, and it makes you feel good to know that you’re doing the best you can for your baby. I tend to do a mix of store bought (for those busier times in life when I don’t have the time to make my own) and homemade. It’s saved us a lot of money.
4. Most large purchases can wait until after baby is here. Most new parents get caught up in the whirlwind of anxiety about having everything ready in the weeks and months before baby arrives. You know what? Most of that stuff can wait! The baby is not going to need a high chair, jumperoo, baby gates, certain toys, a crib (if they’re sleeping in your room to begin with), or many other items immediately. If you’re breast feeding, you don’t need a pump immediately either. If you’re not sure which things can wait, ask your friends or loved ones who’ve had babies, research the internet, you can even feel free to comment here and ask us. The list of items you really need in the beginning is pretty basic; diapers, formula (if you’re formula feeding), clothes, wipes, etc.
5. Don’t buy a lot of the same type of bottle until you know whether baby likes it. Sometimes those little new people are picky. They may have a harder time getting used to a certain kind of bottle nipple and sometimes they may refuse to drink from it. I’m here to tell you that they’re pretty much the rule makers in those early days so if they don’t like a certain kind of bottle, you’re going to have to get a different kind. This can be pretty bothersome if you’ve already forked out money on a certain kind that you’d heard great things about. Resist the temptation to buy a bunch of the same and try one out first.
6. Unless you know you’re the type of person that will lose them frequently, you do not need a lot of pacifiers. Jude only used 3 pacifiers in the year and a half that he had a pacifier. He used one for many months until the nipple started to wear down and we gave him a new one. He used the new one until we lost it at the beach, and then he used the third one until we took his pacifier away permanently. My daughter didn’t even use a pacifier, she was a thumb sucker from the very beginning. Pacifiers aren’t that costly, but when you have a baby, every little bit helps. I’d suggest only buying two to begin with, that way you have one and you have a backup in case you lose that one. Also, what I said about bottles in number 5 can be said about pacifiers; your baby may not take to the kind you picked out. I know there are a lot of cute ones for sale, but honestly, you won’t care so much what it looks like in the end, you’ll just care about the job it does.
7. Google that expensive item you’re wanting to buy and see if somewhere else sells it cheaper. Okay, I admit, I didn’t need to be told this one, I did it on my own from the very beginning. I just want to suggest it to others who may not think to do it. I found a crib that I really liked at Babies R Us and I found it at an independent online retailer for $45 cheaper AND it came with a mattress, which wasn’t the case at Babies R Us. It doesn’t have to just be cribs you do that with, try it with any item you’re buying that’s on the pricey side. You could save yourself a lot of money!
8. Buy in bulk. If it’s something that you know you’ll be using a lot of, buy it in bulk and save yourself some money. Before buying, make sure that you’re actually getting a better deal by doing it that way. Obviously, check out the expiration date if it’s formula that you’re buying. We save quite a bit on diapers by buying multiple packs at a time because our local store has a two for less deal most of the time.
9. You don’t need to buy a lot of clothes or shoes in the beginning. If there is one thing that people love to buy pregnant women, it’s baby clothes! Who doesn’t love shopping for baby clothes? They’re cute, tiny, and adorable. If you have a circle of friends or family that you know are going to be getting you gifts, don’t bother buying clothes yourself until you see what they give you. We received more than enough great clothes for both of our babies. I didn’t have to buy clothes for Melody until she was about 9 months old and then I bought a lot of second hand clothes. Also, in the beginning, you tend to just leave them in sleepers and gowns because it’s easy and comfy. Shoes are not something that babies need when they’re tiny. They just aren’t. Now, if you think they’re adorable and you can’t resist getting some for them, then go for it. Shoes aren’t really a necessity until the baby starts standing and then trying to walk.
10. Don’t buy a humidifier until or unless you need to. Our son very rarely got sick. There have been two instances where we needed a humidifier for him and he was past the age of 1 when they occurred. We bought one that plugs into the wall and looks like one of those Glade plug in air fresheners. It was much cheaper than buying a regular humidifier and we felt like it did the same kind of job. Also? A steamy shower can work wonders. When our daughter was sick I put her in her bouncy seat in the bathroom, shut the door, turned the shower on as hot as it would go, and sat down with her while she played with her toys in the steam. Equally effective.
11. Just because everybody else thinks it’s great, doesn’t mean it’s for you. With my son, I never had a baby monitor. We live in a tiny house and I didn’t need one. I heard him whenever he cried, so it wasn’t a problem. I got one with our daughter just because I wanted to be able to hear her or my son as soon as they started crying so that they wouldn’t wake each other up. I never had a wipes warmer and I have it on good authority from one of my fellow Three Ladies that they’re not that great. Just because she didn’t like it, doesn’t mean you won’t, but she’d heard from many people how wonderful they were and she found that they actually dried out the wipes and were pretty pointless. Just a couple of the many examples of baby gadgets that are out there now. You don’t need every single one. Do your research and decide whether you really think you need or want it before you buy it.
12. Cloth diapers can make excellent, cheap burp cloths. You can buy some pretty cheap cloth diapers at places such as Walmart or Target and they work just as well for burp cloths as, and can be more affordable than, actual burp cloths.
13. You don’t need a changing table. I never had one, I couldn’t afford it, and I don’t feel like I suffered in the slightest. Would a changing table be handy? Absolutely. If you want it and can afford it, go for it! We used a plastic changing pad on our bed for middle of the night changes and we used it on the floor or the foot stool for daytime changes. Easy peasy.
14. If you plan on having more than one baby, opt for the sturdier stroller, even if it costs more money. Kids can be rough on a stroller. Coming from someone who does a lot of traveling, so can airports! If you want a stroller that’s going to be strong enough to last for your first and second (or more) child, shell out for the better model. Better to pay a little bit more the first time than to have to pay for a second stroller somewhere down the line. You can also find a good used one if you look hard enough. I saved a ton of money by buying a second hand tandem stroller when we had our daughter and it’s in excellent condition.
15. Birth announcements are cheaper online. You can buy personalized birth announcements at places like Etsy, Ebay, and even photo printing websites such as Shutterfly. Now, for a shameless promotion for yours truly, I also create custom designs for birth announcements, birthdays, and every other type of event you need an invitation or announcement for. You can find me on Facebook at Rayford Printables and Etsy (all of my designs are found at Facebook, just a select few are listed on Etsy). I do custom requests as well, just send me a message on Facebook or an email at RayfordPrintables@Gmail.com and we’ll work something out together.
While there are probably way more things I could come up with if I thought hard enough, those were the things I found would have saved me the most money when I had my babies. I hope they save you money as well!