How to save money on baby shopping buying only these 5 essential things.
When the nesting phase strikes during pregnancy, it’s hard to resist the impulse to buy every single thing. Baby shopping can be stressful or you might end up buying a huge amount of things that you don’t actually need.
Since I’ve been there, I know that the only way to save you is to be as brutal as possible:
Slowly put down the Armani onesie and step back from the shop counter with your hands in the air!
Now take a deep breath and visualize the real situation you’re in. Don’t let hormones win this battle. If you’ve been good so far and haven’t bought an entire store yet, great job! But be ready to face the last decisive trimester, because it’s the one when everything starts to become more real and it feels like your baby’s arrival is around the corner. That’s when you realize that you have absolutely nothing ready to welcome her and you start wondering: “what if she comes early?”, or “what if she gets a cold?” NO! Baby shopping doesn’t have to be like that and you can control it!
As an Italian mom I tend to be very practical, but there’s always that little voice inside that makes me worry about what people might think or that dress code is important. For example I heard that voice saying “You can’t let your baby sleep in a play pen”. Yes, I can. It’s handy, especially when I’m travelling, so that she won’t have to adjust to a new place every single time. But I’m going a little too far ahead now, let’s step back.
Remember: the first baby shopping is only for her needs
Let’s go back to the situation you’re in: you’re close to the due date and it’s your first kid, so you likely have 430 people telling you what you should do or buy and have no idea where to start from. Well, I’ll take the risk to be considered a cheap mom, and tell you that for now you don’t need to spend a fortune.
What you need for yourself
The first thing that you’ll need to prepare is your hospital bag (if you decide to give birth in the hospital). So if you don’t already have everything you need, here’s a baby shopping list for the big day:
- 2 comfortable night gowns. I knew I wanted to breastfeed so I chose a kind that easily opens on the chest or allows me to expose my breast with no struggle.
- Slippers. Before, during and after labor you might need to walk around.
- Kit for your personal hygiene. Such as toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, soap, etc.
- A couple of onesies for your little one
- 2 baby blankets
- baby cap
And with this we covered all you need for the big day.
Baby shopping for your baby
Now that your hospital stay is covered we can move on and make a baby shopping list based on real needs:
1. A place to sleep.
As I briefly mentioned above, a play pen can be a very handy solution for many reasons and I truly regret not considering it when I had to choose. My in laws wanted to buy my son a crib and I was very grateful for that. I recommend this product as it’s fairly cheap, it lasts a long time and you can move it around the house according to your needs. Also when you travel your baby won’t feel confused or lost feeling like she’s sleeping in a different place.
You can place it close to your bed, in the living room or anywhere at sight if by chance you’re cooking (or more realistically making a quick sandwich while she’s napping). It’s light to move and offers protection on each side just like a crib but with a net instead of a wooden frame. When your baby will grow and will start moving around, roll on the side and so on, the net will be very useful. An accidental kick to the net won’t wake her, while a head butt to a wooden edge clearly will. It’s probably one of the baby shopping products least considered but most useful.
Crib. If just like me you choose or receive a crib as gift, do not fear my dear. There are wonderful options out there. I bought mine on Amazon and I’m very happy with it. You see, I chose one that, in time, goes from being a crib to become a toddler bed and eventually a single bed. It comes with the extensions and all parts you need to transform it from one to another. Which means that my in laws spent 250 dollars and my son has a bed for the next 16 years. And it also looks good. All I’ll have to do is to change the mattress and it’s done.
2. Changing needs and personal hygiene
So clearly you’ll need diapers (we’ll see which one works better for you later), wipes, butt paste to avoid diaper rush and I suggest also a waterproof portable baby changing pad. This last one, whether you have a changing table or not. You might need to improvise a quick diaper change on the floor or on the couch and you’ll need it outside the house anyway. For the post-change hygiene, you can choose wipes and appropriate baby soaps, but until you know what is more appropriate for your baby type of skin, I wouldn’t buy too much. To be clear: don’t bother buying a year long stash of wipes because you might have to change brand or type.
Leave alone the shampoo until you know if she’ll need it or not. My son was born with so much hair that Bon Jovi declare open war to him, so I was very grateful when I received the shampoo kit as a gift. 🙂
When it comes about food, baby shopping can vary depending on whether you choose to breastfeed or use the formula. In this case, unless already know you’re not going to breastfeed, I would wait to buy any kind of accessorize such as nipple guards or breast pump for instance, until you know for sure what you need. If you decide you want to give breastfeeding a try, then you’ll most likely need a nipple cream or balm to keep your nipples hydrated. Very often breastfeeding comes with sore or cracked nipples and It can become painful, so I suggest to start using it even before the baby is born to prevent this kind of discomfort from the very first latch.
If instead you choose formula, I’d buy the most generic brand at first and only a couple of bottles along with the kit to clean and sterilize them. I would not recommend to buy big sets of bottles and accessorizes for now. Until you know your baby needs there’s no point. Will she need a slow, moderate or fast flow? Will she have baby colic? Will she grow 4 lbs in a month? These are all things that you cannot know in advance, so don’t buy things that you might never use. There are tons of types of formula, bottles and accessorizes that match any kind of need (yes, also for colic), so I recommend to buy only what you’re going to use for the first two or three weeks at the most and then go from there.
Ok, if you reeeeally can’t resist and you feel like you have to buy ONE super cute branded onesie to vent your mama-fashion joy out, go ahead and do it. But be aware that it won’t last long. So, considering that there are other priorities, I personally forgot my Italian origins and used the budget for a different kind of baby shopping. Keep in mind that you’ll receive lots of clothes as a gift or handed down by friends and relatives.
If you want to buy something, wait until the last couple of gynecologist appointments when you’ll have a better idea of your baby’s size. Not all babies are born in a 0-3 months size, some of them are already bigger than that. Also consider the season you’re in, but remember that infants shouldn’t be covered too much. Also you don’t know how much you’ll be able to get out of the house. My son had very bad baby colics so we couldn’t really go anywhere for the first 3 months, besides rare occasions. For the most part he was in his diaper all swaddled up in a blanket, so all the 0-3 months size clothes were completely ignored. So I’m very happy I spent ZERO dollars. Shoes? Nope. Those few times we were able to get out of the house, we chose to use just socks. Why bother to cover the most beautiful feet you’ll ever see with uncomfortable shoes if she’s not even walking yet? 🙂 Although, you might want to have one pair available, especially if it’s a cold season. You really wouldn’t want to give up on a rare occasion to have dinner out just because your baby doesn’t have anything to wear, right? It’d be slightly depressing.
5. Car seat and stroller
While the first is mandatory by law, the second isn’t, but let’s say that 90% of the times it’s very handy to have. As mentioned above, we couldn’t leave the house much in the first months so the stroller became useful way later, but still it was good to have. At the beginning I personally preferred the baby carrier.
But let’s talk about which car seat you’ll want to add to your baby shopping list. First let me say that I’ve been extremely lucky having it handed down by my brother and sister in law. So I didn’t get to choose, but I most gratefully accepted what I could get and saved even more money. My advice is to always ask friends and relative before buying it.
If instead you need to buy one, I’d suggest a product that will last a very long time. Since they’re very expensive it’s convenient to consider the price/quality ratio. Car seats change by age, but there are also those that go from infant (rear facing seats) to toddler age. If you decide to buy a used car seat, make sure that it never experienced a car accident. This product is designed to absorb the impact instead of the baby, so it might be damaged even if not visible, losing completely the meaning of it’s own existence.
For what concerns the stroller, choose one that it’s easy to open and close with one hand. You’ll thank me the first time you’re in the grocery store parking lot and you’ll feel like all eyes are on you while you attempt to open it without flipping your kid in the air. My stroller is the classic 3 in 1 which includes the infant car seat that you can detach from the base in the car and attach it as it is on the stroller. A bonus for not having to wake up the little monster. When my son grew out of it, we changed car seat and used only the stroller.
You made it!
These are the essential baby shopping items you need to worry about. Leave alone any toys because rattles and rubber ducks will certainly come as gifts. Also forget about cold medicines until you actually need them and the pediatrician will be the one telling you what and where to buy them.
In the end, everything that is not strictly necessary for your baby’s primary needs can wait until you get to know her better. Oh don’t worry, you’ll need tons of things, but you don’t get to know exactly what or when in advance.
During my first trimester my husband and I went for a day trip and, once in the souvenir shop, I couldn’t help myself. I bought a stuffed animal in the shape of an owl for our baby. Being a Harry Potter huge fan I thought It was too cute to resist. I indulged 5 dollar expense, but after that I haven’t bought anything until the third trimester. It worked great and, just to end with a smile, the little owl is now my son’s favorite stuffed animal. Babies just feel these things, don’t you think? 🙂
Buy only what’s really necessary, wait for everything else. Indulge yourself once and then fight the hormones. You can win over the impulse, I promise.
The 5 essential items of your baby shopping list are:
- a place to sleep
- changing needs and personal hygiene
- Car seat and stroller
When in doubt, a simple reminder of what the priorities are will put you back on track 😉
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