IWhen you find out you’re expecting your first baby, it can be tempting to buy every baby item imaginable. You want to make the first weeks and months with your baby as seamless as possible, of course.
The years have provided us with an infinite number of baby products. It’s hard not to get caught up in the gimicky ones. Everything sounds even better when your baby has arrived and you’re now sleep deprived.
Many of the latest products are not necessary. If you have an unlimited budget to work with, by all means, try anything. However, for a smaller budget, this list should help you narrow down what you need, more or less.
Additionally, there are things you could save your money on by buying used. Sometimes a seller will try to sell their item for almost the same price as brand new. The fact is, people shop used to get good prices. Even though the item may be “like new,” it’s not. In that case, you may as well spend a few extra bucks and get a new item.
Furthermore, make sure to check for all the parts. If it’s electronic, test it! Take batteries with you if it’s battery operated. Open up the battery compartment – I’ve purchased an item where the batteries had exploded and it was ruined. I also purchased a used exersaucer and the battery cover was missing. Luckily, all the bouncing hasn’t knocked the batteries out.
Don’t get caught in having everything available and everything new – your baby will not notice. Save that money!
A Practical List of what to buy when expecting a baby
Pack and Play – USED
Many people have their baby sleep in their room for the first weeks or months after baby arrives. Rather than buying a bassinet, purchase a pack and play with a bassinet on the top. Chances are, you’re going to want a pack and play anyway, so this is two birds with one stone. The pack and plays are great to take along when you need a place for baby to play or sleep since they are designed to fold and unfold easily.
DON’T buy a system with all the bells and whistles on it. They’re more expensive and you more than likely will not use them.
Crib & Mattress – USED
When baby transitions to their own room, they’re going to need a place to sleep. Purchase these used as they are expensive brand new. The idea of getting a used mattress may not appeal to you, however, all the crib mattresses I’ve seen have a plastic exterior and wetness and dirt can’t soak in. I purchased our crib AND mattress for $50 from an online seller. Note: There are safety requirements for cribs. Make sure all the pieces are present and that there are no recalls on the model you are purchasing.
Dresser* – USED
You may be able to find a matching crib and dresser set. Don’t worry if you can’t. You can purchase these items in the same or coordinating colors. This dresser is a perfect example of how you can find a cheap (or better yet, free!) item and turn it in to a beautiful piece. A fresh coat of paint would make this piece beautiful. You could even replace the hardware if you wanted.
Chalk paint was a miracle in my life when I discovered it. It is so easy to use; the adhesion is so amazing that you don’t need to sand previous finishes before painting and you can paint almost anything with it. You would want to wipe down the surface if need be. Not only that, but a little paint goes a long way, so you don’t need a whole lot to finish a project like a dresser.
*Alternatively, you may choose a different method to store baby clothing and items such as cube shelving in the closet (or both if you’re like me and have two kids crammed in one room). I have always found it difficult to find decent, used cube shelving. If you choose this, buying new is your better bet. The buckets for these shelves can be pricey, depending how many you’re looking to get. For a cheaper alternative, purchase buckets from a dollar store. Bonus: the plastic buckets won’t bend and lose shape like the fabric ones.
Rocking Chair – USED
Unless you are extremely fortunate and your baby sleeps through the night from birth, there are probably going to be many nights you are awakened for feedings. You are going to really appreciate having a comfy chair to nestle in. Even when baby is sleeping through night, it’s still a cozy place to sit back and feed or to read books before bed.
Travel System – NEW
A travel system is an infant car seat and stroller (comes with a base for the car). The car seat carrier easily goes from car to stroller. Buy this item new. Safety is so important with a car seat and you will want to know where it’s been. Furthermore, car seats expire. If you plan on using this for more than one child, chances are better it won’t expire before at least going through two.
Make sure you try many different types of systems before buying one! Everyone has their own preference. Important features to look for are quality, size (how small can it fold – it is going in a car after all), weight and functionality. If you have friends or family who have had children, ask around what they think of theirs.
If this is your first baby and you are planning on having another relatively soon after, I suggest a system like the ones pictured above. This is called a sit and stand. It holds an infant carrier as well as an older child. When the baby outgrows the carrier, it can sit in the stroller without the carrier and the older child can now sit or stand on the back. My one child just turned 4 and although she doesn’t need a stroller, there are times I wish I had invested on one of these for those days when she is just pooped out (I don’t bother buying one now because I already have a single seat travel system and we just make it work).
Baby Monitor – NEW
Although you can purchase a monitor used that may work well, it’s not worth the chance. I’ve bought used and it didn’t work well. DON’T skimp out – I’ve bought the single monitor at the cheapest price (more than once) and they always had static, poor distance and one even picked up another monitor from someone else’s house! Awkward.
Purchase a quality monitor with a base and two parent monitors. That way, one can be kept in your room and the other in the main living space. The one I have now (pictured above) also has a walkie-talkie function so I am able to respond to my older daughter when she is in her room. You are even able to talk between the parent monitors. Very convenient when I need something and don’t want to yell across the house… which I end up doing anyway most of the time, but that’s neither here nor there.
I have never used a monitor that has video capability, but in my experience, it isn’t necessary. I’ve been tempted to buy one, but I’ve never had a need to spend the extra money.
Breast Pump – NEW*
You may not decide to nurse or pump, in which case this doesn’t apply. I haven’t ever bought a used breast pump, but having had four pumps over the years and knowing what condition they’re in when I’m finished with I would suggest purchasing this new. You never know how well someone has treated their pump. I’ve been guilty of not cleaning mine as well as I probably should and the one I have now has damaged clips from not being very gentle to them (still works at 100%, but the horns don’t click properly in to the pump).
Additionally, I don’t recommend a manual pump at all! The only benefit to these in my opinion is that if you need to pump discreetly. I have tried manual twice and didn’t liked it either time. If your reason for considering a manual pump is for portability, there are electric pumps that use batteries as well as plug in to the wall, so you have the best of both worlds.
Likewise, I favored using a double pump. There are many times that I only pump one side since baby usually eats from the other, but if you buy a double pump, there is the option to pump one or both sides. It takes twice as long to pump two sides if you only have a single pump.
I can’t speak for all pumps, as I haven’t used them all, but my absolute favorite pump was my Evenflo double electric pump.
*If you have a friend or family member who has a pump you can have, borrow or buy, then used may be okay.
Wrap – USED OR HOMEMADE
I went through two children without having a wrap. Rather, I used a backpack style carrier. The backpack style carriers are convenient in that they have adjustable straps and snap together quickly. However, after using a wrap that my mother made out of some fabric she just had lying around, I realize it is much better! The weight distribution is much better and the straps don’t dig in to my shoulders. I carried my youngest in it frequently until 9 months (17lbs) and never got tired of holding her. The only down side is that when I want to put it on, I have long ends dangling on the ground, so outdoors on a wet day is not the most ideal place and time to be wrapping up.
Bedding – NEW or USED
When I say bedding, I don’t mean the bed in a bag bedding with every piece of bedding that has ever existed. The comforters that come in the sets are too bulky to put on a newborn or small infant, bumper pad aren’t recommended and skirts aren’t necessary. Buy a few fitted mattress sheets and a mesh bumper pad. I don’t like going without a bumper pad because all my kids would roll around and get their arms and legs through the crib bars in their sleep. The mesh stops that from happening, but still provides breathability.
Toys/Equipment – USED*
Exersaucer, activity mat, walker, bathtub and swing are all items you can buy used in excellent condition and for a great price. Check for all parts and look at the condition of the item.
*This doesn’t refer to some smaller items like teething toys and bath toys. Definitely buy those new.
Nail clippers, shampoo, pacifier (baby may never take it or you may choose not to use one), rash cream, vitamin D drops, Tylenol and thermometer are important items to have. You may never need the Tylenol or thermometer, but you don’t want to have a sick baby in the night and be sending someone running to a 24 hour store to buy it. Ovol is another life saver, but you may never need it. It’s used to relieve a baby’s gas.
Obviously diapers and wipes are essential. If you’re choosing disposable diapers, don’t buy too many newborn size!! Babies outgrow the newborn size very fast. I have found that all my children outgrew newborn within a week, give or take. They also outgrew size 1 and 2 fairly quickly and all seemed to linger in size 3 for a long time. My middle child never grew past a size 3 and my youngest has been in size 3 for a long time.
(Update – 13 months and still in size 3!)
You’ll want about 6 receiving blankets which not only serve as cozy blankies, but they make fantastic burping cloths, especially if your baby has reflux. Trust me, those tiny burp cloths won’t cut it for reflux. I can’t tell you how many times I had a gut full of milk unleashed on me. Using a receiving blanket might seem wasteful, but I could use one or two for an entire day. Only a few heavier blankets are necessary. I’ve always ended up with way more blankets than I need; people often buy them or make them for gifts. A swaddle blanket is a good blanket to have handy, but I never really got my kids on to them. It may have been a hit if I had started using it earlier, but I don’t regret buying it.
Have anything you couldn’t live without for your baby?