Where to save and where to spend: navigating your purchases for the newest member of your family

You’ve heard me talk a lot about pricey baby gear, so I thought it was time for a post on where to save. In the course of my four years in mommyhood, I’ve bought a LOT of (likely too much) baby gear, clothes, and other products. Some purchases have been validated 10 times over and others, not so much. There are some things you really don’t need and some areas to save your money.

While what you need is fairly personal to each family/situation, here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for your bundle to be. Remember while you want to be prepared, better to air on the side of caution than to buy things you don’t use. Also shop around for deals, use coupons, do research and ask friends before you go to make a purchase. You have many years of spending ahead of you, so you might as well save what you can.

Where to save:

  • Newborn clothes through 18 months: It is amazing how quickly most babies go through this phase. Most don’t plateau and stay in a size for very long until they hit 18 months. Do what you can to avoid splurging too much until that point (easier said than done… I know). Try to use hand-me-downs, buy consignment, shop sales, and use coupons. Put them in one piece options, and just pick out a few key pieces you love for outings.

  • Bouncy seat : I'm not saying don’t get a bouncy seat. I am actually a huge fan, especially with a younger sibling. While there are some amazing and fancy options out there, I found the cheaper ones on the market still do the trick.

  • Baby food maker: While they are cute and offer a few perks, this is totally an unnecessary purchase if you already have some time of food processor.

  • Bedding sets of bumper and quilts: They're often really cute but will likely get used for one photo op and not used again (as the case has been in my house).

  • Bassinet/Moses basket: While they are really cute, both of these are not needed. If you have the money to spend, go for it. If you’re lucky, you may get a couple months out of it (if your child likes it), but otherwise, make do with purchases that are more versatile like a pack n play, rock n play, or arms reach co-sleeper—all of which have many uses for your little one and more worth the investment/bang for your buck.

  • Bottles: Do buy one small pack to have on hand, but don’t buy your bottles in bulk before baby is born. I’ve seen a lot of people assume their baby will like a certain bottle, and then the baby refuses. Try it out before buying more.

  • Diaper pail: This could go either way. Nothing really hides the odor of dirty diapers. Many people just use a small trash can with a cover and empty it often. I do have a diaper pail and at times appreciate the convenience of leaving a diaper for the time being, but I still feel like I have to empty it often to avoid the house smelling like a nursing home.

  • Jumpers and stand up toys: These are great to have (my Jumperoo was essential), but these are a great item to pick up at your local resale store or buy off a friend. Give it a good wash and you're good to go. The window in which they’ll play in/with these is pretty short.

  • Bath tub: Of course you can use your sink, but I always liked having an infant tub or some type of support. BUT this is another case of the cheap plastic version is ALL you need. I actually preferred the cheap one I got at Walmart to a more expensive model.

  • High chair: This one is two-part. First of all, you don’t really need a high chair until around five or six months (depending on the baby), so this could be a purchase you stagger and buy later. There are a number of cost saving options in this category that work just fine: clip to the table high chair (only if they already have great head support), space-saver highchair (fits right into a chair), and standard full-size high chairs that are on the lower end and definitely do the trick. I just recommend something that is easy to wipe down and has all the function you NEED. Splurging on this purchase is totally up to you, but I would personally only do so if the chair has multiple stages of use and functions.

  • Breast pump: DO get a breast pump if you are nursing, but before you spend the long dollar on a nice double electric one (which you’ll want), check carefully with your insurance company. Many are starting to cover them!

  • Don’t get ahead of yourself: Buy what you need in the moment, unless a purchase has multiple uses or you get an amazing deal.

Where to spend:

  • Baby carrier**: Do spend the money to get a carrier that is ergonomically correct for you and baby with the right sizing. You can certainly find great used carriers for a savings, but don’t skimp on the quality and fit of a carrier. And do have something—wrap, sling, or SSC—that will work well for your newborn; it will be handier than you imagine. **Note that not everyone wants to babywear, this is just my personal experience and recommendation.

  • Stroller: This could go either way based on your lifestyle. If you are always using a carrier, then probably not a big deal, but if you have two close in age or are always on the go (especially in the city), a stroller is a huge asset. When buying a stroller, you get what you pay for. A higher end stroller is usually easy to use, has better features, and will last longer. There are definitely options to save though: look for sales, floor models, consignment etc. Choosing the right stroller can be a challenge, so do your research and go to the store to try it out; this is definitely a purchase you want to be sure of.

  • Car seat: Always buy your car seats new! And make sure you are comfortable using the seat. Spending the money to get a seat my kids are comfortable in and one that I can easily install has been worth it to me! Take your car seat purchases one at a time, otherwise it can be overwhelming and super expensive. Start with your infant seat, and then worry about the convertible seat when it looks like you little on is heading towards the transition.

  • Wood crib-: You don’t need to break the bank but do buy real wood over composite. Ask your local store about floor models too!

  • Rock N Play: You may question this, but I highly recommend the purchase of a Rock N Play. If you are going to buy one extra piece of equipment, let it be this. It can serve as a seat/rocker upright enough for little babies to see the word.

  • Pack N Play: This category deserves its own conversation as there are just so many options, but if you are planning to use it around the house for a bassinet/napping area/changing area, then your standard pack n play with the bassinet higher level (super important) and some decent storage will do. Getting the changing station included is a nice addition but really only helpful for the first couple months, and then your child gets too heavy. There are some super fancy models on the market now, none of which are necessary but if you are looking to pack it up and move it often or are big travelers, then definitely something to consider. (Again, this should be and will be its own post!)

If you’ve already navigated these purchases, what have you found to be your best buys? Any you regret? I would love to hear from you.

As always, I hope this was helpful, but keep in mind this is just my personal opinion. My recommendations are based on my own experiences that I’m offering from one parent to another. Your purchasing decisions are your own.

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