Anna, of And Then We Saved, did a recent post about the cost of pregnancy & babies, where as a first time parent, she outlines all of their purchases & costs for pregnancy & the baby. While I think she’s done a marvelous job saving money & she is more than prepared for that little one, it got me thinking. How things have changed from when I had my first, to how things are now that I’m expecting our 5th.
When you’re a first time parent you don’t know what you need, so I think the tendency is to buy everything.
And if you go into Babies R’ Us, forget about it. That store will hypnotize you into thinking you need bottle warmers, nursing pillows & stools; diaper pails & stackers; a bassinet, a crib, & a toddler bed; a jogging stroller, a lightweight stroller, a full-size stroller, & a baby trike.
Granted I have pretty much everything I need for this baby since I’ve kept a good chunk of baby stuff from prior pregnancies. But it has been 7 years since my last baby boy, & since Asher wore Hyrum’s clothes (which were all second-hand &/or hand-me downs from cousins), I will have to buy some clothes for this baby boy that’s coming our way. But beyond that, I have plenty of blankets, a pack-n-play, onesies & pajamas, a portable breast pump & bottles, a baby monitor–pretty much all the things I really need.
My absolute essential item, after blankets & onesies is my New Native wrap. I used other wraps with prior pregnancies, but with Salem, I carried her in this thing until she was 15 or 16 months. In this picture she is 14 months. I love the ease & convenience & versatility of this style of wrap. You can easily slip it on & off & position the baby in different ways depending on their age.
(As a side note, I remember when this picture was taken–a year & a half ago–& I thought I was fat in those jeans. Now that I’m pregnant, I look at it & think, geeze I was skinny! Funny how our perceptions of ourselves change, isn’t it?)
The items you really need for a baby:
18 must haves
1) Baby blankets, especially thin, large ones that can be used to easily swaddle a newborn. I swaddle my babies (when they’re not in the wrap) for 0 to around 2 months or so. Swaddling helps them to sleep & feel safe.
2) Pack-n-play. We’ve only used a crib with one of our kids, with everyone else we used an adjustable pack-in-play. It’s portable so you can move it from room to room, or take it on vacation (which makes vacations easier because they get to sleep in their own bed). There are no rails or safety issues like you may have with a crib. Also, it’s extremely affordable. We’ve had the same pack-in-play since Hyrum. And, you don’t have to worry about buying all the crib accessories. Now don’t get me wrong, maybe someday, with a future pregnancy if I have money to blow on a cute crib & crib bedding, I will. But in terms of utility, frugality, & convenience, a pack-n-play does it.
3) An awesome wrap that you love. It is so important, particularly the first few months of life, to have as much physical contact with your baby as possible. They love being near you & it’s nice for you because you don’t have to worry about “is the baby still breathing, is she alright? have one of the other kids stuck something in her ear? is she suffocating underneath the blankets, etc.” Having the wrap frees my hands so I can do many things around the house (dishes, vacuuming, laundry). Of course good judgement needs to be exercised here. It drives me nuts when I see negative reviews about wraps, calling them unsafe because the “baby might get injured or fall out.” Well geeze, I guess I thought it was implied that the wearer of the wrap would exercise good judgment & learn how to carry the baby properly and not do things like a kettle bell workout while wearing the wrap.
4) Onesies & lots of warm pajamas. My mom ingrained in me the importance of keeping newborns warm & toasty, even when the weather is warm. Babies are so busy growing, they shouldn’t waste any energy keeping themselves warm, so to ensure this, a onesie & a swaddle in a blanket (+ an infant hat) will do the trick. When they get a bit older, a onesie & footed pajamas are awesome for keeping them warm at night. All the adorable outfits for kids 0-3 months, I’ve found, are really kinda silly. Babies mostly sleep & you want them to be comfortable, so all the frilly tutus, jean jackets, & shoes for newborns are completely unnecessary. Plus, they grow so quickly, it’s kind of a waste to spend much money on 0-3 month clothing (other than onesies & pj’s).
5) Diapers & wipes. (duh!)
6) Baby car seat & a baby seat cover. The car seat is the one item we buy new (not used) with every baby since car seats “expire” (did you know that?). The baby seat cover attaches at the handle & gives the baby shade/darkness, great when they’re sleeping & it doesn’t fall off like a baby blanket just draped over the handle will.
7) Stroller. You just need one (although if you have multiple small kids, you’ll want a double or triple stroller). I’ve purchased several used jogging & bike strollers & didn’t use them much. (The bike stroller was nice for awhile but broke.) If I want to go jogging, I’m going to go by myself. I hate pushing a stroller while jogging. If I want some exercise with the baby I’ll go for a brisk walk with a regular stroller.
8) Baby nail clippers. Those little nails are so small (& they grow so fast), you’ll want a pair just for baby fingers.
9) Portable breastpump & bottles. I think it’s so important to have some extra milk stored in the freezer so that you can leave the baby with family or friends for stretches at a time for work, as needed/or wanted. We wouldn’t have been able to do a date longer than 2 or 3 hours without me being able to pump & store some milk. I also wouldn’t have been able to work & breastfeed without a good pump. I’ve found a hand-held pump works fine, but every woman is different. They’re rather inexpensive–between the bottles & the pump, you can get a reasonably good one for about $60.
10) Nursing pads (if you breastfeed). Nothing more embarrassing than wet spots on your chest. I usually only need them for about a month or so when my body is still adjusting to milk production.
11) Baby sponge with the soft plastic bristles on one side (they use these in the hospital). I use this the first few months to gently scrub their scalp & prevent cradle cap.
12) Baby monitor. If you have a large house, a baby monitor is essential to giving you some freedom when the baby is sleeping.
13) Electric baby swing. My favorite was a short, portable one (rather than the tall ones). From about 0-4 months, a baby swing is essential (when you just can’t carry the baby in the wrap) to calming & soothing a baby.
14) A comfortable, padded rocking chair. It’s nice to be able to sit & rock. Not a must-must-have, but really nice.
15) Pacifiers. I don’t think pacifiers are actually essential, but they can be handy if your baby takes one (especially on long car rides). Some of my babies took to it, others didn’t (Asher sucked his thumb, which I thought was great since you can’t lose a thumb, but those darn pacifiers always get lost!). Some breastfeeding advocates suggest not using pacifiers because it may cause “nipple confusion” or interupt natural breastfeeding patterns, but I never found it to be a problem. All of my babies had no issues knowing where the food was & I never had any problems with breastfeeding because of pacifier use.
16) Colorful chew toys (especially ones that attach to a car seat), wooden blocks, soft balls & stuffed animals, & hardcover baby books.
17) A booster/high chair. I love the high chairs/booster seats that secure on a chair.
18) A blender to make your own baby food.
Items that I’ve had, but never used
1) A diaper bag. I just carry diapers & wipes in my car or in my purse.
2) Baby lotions, cremes, & wash. I wash my babies with warm water. They get a bath every night before bed (in the sink–we hold them, what an idea!).
3) Nursing pillows, such as the boppy. Decorative pillows from my couch do the same thing.
4) Changing tables. We have a basket filled with diapering supplies & change the baby on the ground, couch, wherever. I bought a changing table with Hyrum & it quickly became storage shelves.
5) A diaper genie. For disposable diapers, I go outside (after each diaper change–the fresh air is invigorating) & throw away in the garbage outside. Also, diapers aren’t really stinky until kids start solid food.
6) Nursing covers. Blankets work just fine for me.
7) Breastfeeding bras. Ugg. They are so unflattering & annoying. A sports bra or even the right kind of regular bra are a more comfortable/better option, in my opinion.
For pregnancy, these two things are essential
1) Flowy skirts/dresses with elastic waistbands. You want to be as unrestricted & as comfortable as possible.
2) A doula to assist with the birth, especially if you plan on going natural, a doula is imperative.
Don’t get me wrong. I like cute stuff (check out my stylish kids pinterest board)–it’s just that I, like you, am on a budget & don’t want to waste my $$ (therefore time), on stuff I don’t need.
I buy most of my kid’s stuff on ebay, craigslist, at kid’s consignment stores (like Kid-to-Kid), Amazon, & thrift stores (like Goodwill). I’m also a fan of the clearance racks at Kohl’s & baby Gap Factory Outlet store.
Did I miss anything? What are your pregnancy/baby essentials?