Preparing for a Baby – What Do You Really Need?
Getting ready for a new baby can be overwhelming. There are a gazillion products for babies. And if you’re like me, a new mother with zero experience with babies, you probably have no idea where to start. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on things you may never use.
My son is now 3 months old and we’ve learned a lot about what is really useful and what you can simply do without. In this post I’m going to tell you everything we’ve learned (so far) and I’ll share what we’re using and why.
Crib – Even if you get a Co-Sleeper or bassinet or if your baby sleeps with you a crib is still great to have. It’s a safe place to put your baby down during the day.
Bedding – You’ll want at least two fitted sheets for the crib, one to use and one to swap out when you’re doing the laundry. We use a mattress pad as well.
Changing Table – In my opinion this is the single most important piece of furniture in the nursery. Trust me, you’ll be spending a lot of time here! This is one of the few things that we bought new. I deliberated quite a while over which table to get. Most changing tables have a shelf and I couldn’t quite figure out how that was useful. Then I came across this table with three drawers and a hamper. I absolutely love it! It’s so convenient to have the hamper right there to toss in poopy clothes (hello blowouts!) and the drawers are perfect for storing diapers.
Swing – I know every baby is different, but for us our swing has been a lifesaver. Baby Frugal loves the motion and will take nice long naps in it. It affords me luxuries like taking a shower or eating a meal uninterrupted. We bought this papasan swing because it looked very comfy and safe and it’s one of the only ones that can use an AC adapter and batteries. For some reason most models only use batteries which can get expensive if you use it a lot.
Comfy Chair – Whether you are bottle feeding or nursing you’ll want a nice comfy chair to feed your baby in, preferably one with padded side arms and an ottoman or foot stool. We have a leather club chair and ottoman that we moved into the nursery. I didn’t know it at the time but leather is nice because I guarantee you will get spit up on the chair and with leather it’s easy to wipe off.
Mobile – This is one thing that I didn’t really see the point in getting initially. But we got one as a hand-me-down, a very cute one with fire hydrants and Dalmatians that you wind up. Baby Frugal loved it! When we’d turn it on he would laugh and squeal in delight. The problem was that the wind up mobiles only last like 3 minutes. So I’d put it on and go do the dishes. But every three minutes I’d be heading back to the nursery to wind it up again. Suck! So Mr. Frugal found this one that takes batteries and runs for 20 minutes before shutting off. Hallelujah! I can now get through the dishes! Note, until babies vision gets better and they start to track on objects (about 4-6 weeks) they may not respond to the mobile.
Pump – If you plan to breastfeed I recommend that you also have a pump. You may need it for a variety of reasons: Pump at work, establish and maintain your milk supply, build up a supply to freeze for an emergency. Medela Pumps are supposedly the best on the market. Initially I used a First Years until it lost suction (after about 2 weeks) and then switched to a Medela Pump In Style. There’s no comparison.
Frugal tip: Medela pumps cost $250-$350 new but you can find them on Craigslist for up to a third of that. I got mine for $100.
Bottles/Nipples – If you are going to breastfeed but will need to introduce a bottle, I highly recommend the Breastflow nipples. They are designed to be close to the shape of the breast and mimic the sucking action that an infant uses on the breast. This is supposed to minimize the risk that introducing the bottle might confuse your baby and cause him to reject the breast.
Bottle Rack – These really are useful in allowing airflow into the bottles to dry them properly.
Bottle Brush – You’ll want to have a bottle brush dedicated to washing bottles. I prefer a brush with bristles only.
Burp Cloth – It never occurred to us to buy burp cloths, but after a couple days of frequent changes due to spit up I ran to my local Babies R Us to get some. I like flannel ones as they quickly absorb liquid.
Frugal tip: You can also use old hand towels as burp cloths as they are the right size and absorb well.
Pacifiers – I know some babies never take them but my son really likes his. It’s probably a good idea to have at least one handy. I’ve used both Soothie (which they use in hospitals) and Mam. I prefer Mam as they’re contoured to his face more than Soothie so they don’t fall out as much.
Diapers – In the first couple years this will be your greatest expense. You want one that is effective (containment), comfortable and inexpensive. By now we’ve tried most major brands, here’s our experience:
- Pampers – Like them, but frequent blowouts in back (worst kind because it gets everywhere). Expensive at .19/diaper
- Huggies – Like these too, but frequent blowout around the legs. Also expensive at .19/diapers
- Up and Up (Target brand) – These are by far the best AND the cheapest! Score! We’ve had very few blowouts with these diapers. And they are a great value at .14/diaper
- Kirkland (Costco brand) – I’ve read positive reviews on the Costco brand diapers and they are the cheapest at .13/diaper. We haven’t tried them yet as they don’t carry size 2 which is what my son is currently wearing.
Wipes – You’ll go through a lot of these too! I really like the Kirkland (Costco) wipes. They are all natural, contain no alcohol and also aren’t too wet. Wet bottoms lead to diaper rash. They’re also the least expensive along with Target Up and Up wipes.
Diaper Rash Cream – Keeping your babies bum dry is the best way to avoid diaper rash but it’s almost inevitable that they’ll get it to some degree. I keep a tube on the changing table so anytime I spot any signs of diaper rash I just dab some on.
Hand Sanitizer – You won’t always be able to run and wash your hands after changing baby so I keep a bottle of hand sanitizer on the changing table.
Diaper Pail – Oh how I love my diaper pail! I’ve heard some people say they’re not necessary, to those people I say your olfactory system is failing you. We got this one at our baby shower and I love it. It holds a lot and does a great job of containing odor.
Health and Hygiene
Bath Tub – Once that umbilical cord stump falls off you’ll be able to bathe baby. Some people use the tub or the sink, but I really like having a baby tub as it helps keep baby propped up while you’re washing him.
Baby Cleanser – You’ll want a mild cleanser like Johnson and Johnson that won’t irritate your babies eyes.
Baby Towels – Baby specific towels aren’t totally necessary, but they are more lightweight and have a little hood to keep their head warm.
Nail Clippers – It is amazing how sharp a babies nails are and how fast they grow. They have a tendency to scratch their faces so you’ll want to be diligent in keeping them trimmed and filed smooth.
Thermometer – You’ll want to keep one of these on hand. You don’t want to have to run to the drugstore in the middle of the night if you suspect your baby is running a fever but aren’t sure. And your Pediatrician will want to know their temperature when you call. If you get a digital thermometer you’ll want to test it out. You don’t want to have to figure it out when baby is sick and fussy.
Daytime – You’ll be changing diapers frequently so you’ll want something that gives easy access to that region. So far the only thing I’ve dressed Baby Frugal in is a onesie.
Sleep – It’s not a good idea to put your baby down to sleep with blankets so you want to dress him warmly. I dress him in long sleeve footed pajamas, but you can also get sleep sacks that fit over a onesie.
Hats – If you’re having a baby in colder months you’ll definitely want to invest in some knit hats to keep baby warm.
Diaper Bag – There are a ton of diaper bags to choose from. We got the Diaper Dude as a shower gift and it is awesome. It looks more like a messenger bag so my husband doesn’t mind carrying it. And it has lots of space and compartments and comes with a changing pad. I stock my bag with diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer wipes, an extra pacifier, a blanket and burp cloth, extra outfits, diaper rash cream and granola bars for a healthy snack when I’m on the go.
Baby Carrier – We got the Ergo Baby Carrier as a shower gift and it is great. It doesn’t hurt my back at all which is a common complaint I’ve heard about other carries.
Car Seat – You won’t be able to bring baby home without one. We use the Chicco Keyfit 30 and we’re very happy with it.
Stroller – Most strollers are kind of bulky and heavy. We have one but never use it. Instead we got this car seat carrier. It’s lightweight, opens with one hand and folds flat. It also has a basket underneath that holds quite a bit. I use this all the time.
When I was preparing for our baby I found a lot of advice on what to get, but very little explanation on why I need it or how will I use it so I hope you found this list helpful. But also keep in mind that every baby is different so what works for one may not for another.
And before buying anything new I highly recommend that you checkout Craigslist. Babies quickly outgrow things and so there is an abundance of gently used items that can be found for a fraction of the cost. Also, when I had my baby my hospital sent me home with a number of things like a manual breast pump, a cooler bag for milk/formula and some hygiene items for baby. So call the maternity ward where you plan to deliver and find out what they provide to avoid purchasing a duplicate. Finally, check with any friends with small children to see if they have any hand-me-downs. Parents are typically very happy to pass on items they are no longer using to expecting parents.
Related Posts From The Yakezie:
You CAN Afford That Baby – Ten Money Saving Tips @ Personal Finance By The Book
Frugal New Parents – What to Buy For a New Baby @ Money Funk
Parents: Before You Name Your Baby, Learn How to Spell @ Len Penzo dot Com