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

 

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You’ve heard me talk a lot about pricey baby gear so I thought it was time for a post on ways to save… In the course of my 4 years of mommyhood, I’ve bought A LOT (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 where you can save your money.  While hands down what you need is fairly personal to each family/situation etc. below 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, check consignment stores & local trading posts (for some items), do research and ask friends before you go to make purchases. You have many years of spending ahead of you, so 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 month clothes (obviously every baby if different).  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 etc..:-)
 
Bouncy Seat- Not saying don’t get a bouncy seat. I actually am a huge fan, especially with a younger sibling, but while there are some amazing and fancy options out there, I found the cheaper ones on the market still does the trick.  Mine is from a local resale store and has been through my 2 kids and loaned to others and still going strong!  
 
Baby Food Maker- while they are tempting and offer a few perks, this is totally an unnecessary purchase if you already have some type of food processor or blender  
 
Crib Bedding sets of bumper and quilts are 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, these are not needed.  If you have the money to spend go for it, if you’re lucky, you may get a couples months out it (that is 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 which have many uses for your little one and more worth the investment/bang for your buck. 
 
Changing Table- I wouldn't bother to get a standard changing table...unless you want to have a station downstairs (in which case I'd look for one gently used).  A contoured changing pad can be attached to a bureau for a great changing station that can go back to just a bureau after you are done with diapers... you can either convert a bureau you already have or find one used (make sure its the correct/comfortable height) or if you are wanting to buy new baby furniture, def. go with a bureau style (you're child can have it for years) and def. look around for deals and ask about floor models.  
 
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 baby refuses.  Try it out before buying more…        
 
Diaper Pail-  this could go either way.  Nothing really hides the odor of dirt 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 etc– 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… a good wash and your 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 etc… BUT this is another case of the cheap 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 2-part.  First of all, you don’t really need a high chair until usually 5-6 months (depending on baby), so this could be a purchase your stagger and buy later.  There are also a number of cost saving options in this category that work just fine, i.e. clip to the table high chair (only if they already have great head support), space-saver highchair (fits right into a chair), and there are standard full size high chairs that are on the lower end and def. 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 $ to get a carrier that is ergonomically correct for you and baby and the right sizing etc…you can certainly find great carriers used 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 come in way 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, than probably not a big deal, but if you have two close in age or are always on the go (esp. 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 IMO.  There are definitely options to save though, look for sales, floor models, consignment etc.. Check out my full post on strollers.  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! But, 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- (if you are planning to have baby sleep in his/her own room) you don’t need to break the bank but do buy real wood over composite ask your local store about floor models or last years models for savings.         
 
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 world- see my full review for more details.
 
Pack N Play- this category deserves its own conversation b/c there are just so many options…  but if you are planning to use it around the house for a bassinet/napping area/changing area etc.. Than 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 is necessary but if you are looking to pack it up and move it often or are big travelers than definitely something to consider (again, this should be and will be its own post) :-) 
 
 

I hope this is helpful! And don’t get me wrong, there are some terrific products out there in many of the categories above, but these are some ideas to think about if you’ve looking for places to save!  If you’ve already navigated this, what have you found to be your best purchases?  Any you regret?  I'd 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. :-)

- See more at: http://www.mainelymama.com/1/post/2014/02/where-to-save-and-where-to-spe...

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