|Source: shopboppy.com via Mandi on Pinterest|
At the bottom, there’s a link up for other bloggers to link to their own lists (which, although they don’t all agree still are immensely helpful to read to help decide whether they work in your circumstances).
1. Is it necessary? The following questions will help you narrow down items that you aren’t sure whether you will need or not, but before you get to them, I’m sure there are many items that you can rule out simply by using common sense. If you can’t think of specific reasons or situations why you might need something, or if you are just wanting to get it “just in case”, “because everyone has one”, or “because it’s cute”, than it is probably not a necessity.
2. Do we have something already that will work? For each traditional baby items you think you may need, consider its function and whether you already have something in your home that can fulfill that function. Just because something isn’t made specifically for a baby, doesn’t mean it can’t be used for one.
Ex. Furniture. While you probably don’t have something just hanging around your home that can function as a crib, you may already have furniture that can serve as the remainder of the nursery furniture (if you are having a nursery; that in itself is not a necessity). My husband’s parents bought him a very nice bedroom set when he moved out of state to start grad school. When we got married, my furniture became our bedroom furniture and his became guest room furniture. When we found out we were pregnant, we decided to just get rid of the bed and keep the rest of the furniture for the baby. We simply needed to find a black crib to match it.
3. Is there something else “non-baby” that will work instead? Similar to the last question, can you buy something similar without the “baby” label to do the same function. It seems that anything found in the baby section automatically has a mark up in price (I found the same thing regarding “wedding” items when I got married a few years ago).
Ex. Diaper pails, furniture. Diaper pails can be ridiculously pricey and require specific pail liners. It’s much cheaper to buy a nice step on trash can and use regular trash bags (or a few washable pail liners if you are cloth diapering). Perhaps they don’t contain the smell as well (although I’ve heard that they don’t really work any better), but that simply means you have take the diapers out a little more often.
For me, a baby bath tub, although not usually too pricey, is still a waste, especially of space. Some are inflatable, but to have to inflate it each time seemed to be too much work. The plastic ones seem to take up a lot of room that we don’t have. And since lining a sink with towels works just fine, no baby bath tub for us.
5. How long will I use it for? It’s probably no surprise that babies outgrow their clothes quickly. The size labels are deceiving as well – our little girl has outgrown some of her 0-3 month clothes already (at barely over a month). But babies outgrow other baby gear as well. While your baby will certainly need clothes, and you may want to get him/her some of the other baby items that will be outgrown quickly, look for these things used. They will be in great condition because they were only used for a short time.
|Source: toysrus.com via Mandi on Pinterest|
6. Does it fit our lifestyle/parenting style? It’s often hard to know exactly what your parenting style will be like before you are actually in the midst of parenting, but I many people have an idea of how they would like to parent. Some items are more useful for stay-at-home moms. If you will be working and your child will be in daycare, that may dictate some items that you may or may not need. If you plan to attachment parent, certain items are no longer necessary. If you are environmentally conscious, some baby items don't make sense (disposable diapers/wipes, plastic baby items and toys that will eventually end up in landfills). So if you have ideas of how you would like to parent, keep in mind how that will affect the items you need for baby.
7. What if baby doesn’t like it? Many baby items are not easily returnable once you open them, wash them (everything fabric should be washed before touching baby’s skin), and put them together. In many cases, it’s easier to wait to buy something until after the baby is here and you determine that you need it. Although you might have to pay full price if you wait until you need it, so if you see something at a great deal or very cheap used, it may be worth it to buy it then. Or if you receive something as a gift, you might want to wait to take the tags off and wash it until you need it.
Ex. Swing. My baby hates her swing. I know, all babies loves swings, right? Mine is just strange. Maybe she will still grow to love it, but right now, I’m so grateful that it was given to me by a friend who already got great use from it with her two kids.
8. How many do I really need? This is very similar to the question above, you don’t want to have so many of something that some of the items never get used. There are a few things that you probably can’t have enough of. In our house, these are burp clothes, receiving blankets, and washcloths. But most other baby items, buy sparingly, especially ones that will be quickly outgrown.
Ex. Clothing. This question especially pertains to clothing: if you take off the tags and wash them, most places won’t take them back. Sure, babies go through clothes quickly, but you’ll probably be doing wash often so that items don’t stain when their diaper leaks or when they spit up, so you really don’t need that many outfits. And you probably will want more sleepers, onesies, and matching pants than the adorable outfits. We have found our favorite sleepers for Lucia and those get used very often while some of the more cumbersome items to put on and off only get put on when going out and when company comes over. Every parent I’ve talked to has told me that there were outfits that their baby never wore because they outgrew them too quickly. So don’t go overboard with clothes (plus, you’ll probably get many gifts when the baby is born, and these tend to be clothes, so be prepared for that).
Remember, just because you rule something as non-essential doesn’t mean you can’t have one, it simply means that you should budget for the essentials first. You may very well receive that non-essential item that will make life so much easier as a gift or find it at a garage sale (in fact, garage sales are brimming with the “unnecessaries”!). I’ll admit, I have many of the items I’ve listed above as examples of non-essentials. Some of them I even love. But I didn’t (and wouldn’t) pay full price for any of them, they were either gifts, hand-me-downs, or purchased at garage sales.
Ex. Wipes warmer. One of my favorite non-essentials is my wipes warmer. My mom went crazy buying baby items at garage sales last summer while I was pregnant. She bought us a wipes warmer for $1 (and later saw ones at other garage sales for $0.50). It is certainly a luxury, but for that price, I certainly can justify the purchase. It works wonderfully and Lucia loves having warm wipes during diaper changes, it’s definitely eliminated all crying on the changing table! Would I suggest you pay full price for one? Never. But if someone gifted it to you, gave you theirs, or you came across it at a garage sale, go for it!
Being realistic about what a baby needs is immensely important to saving money with a baby. Once you have a list of what you think you will need, you can further budget for baby by acquiring those items in the most cost-effective way: asking for them as gifts, buying them used, acquiring them as hand-me-downs, buying them on sale or with discounts/coupons (posts on each of these to follow in the upcoming weeks).
If you have written (or would like to write) a post on a similar topic, whether it be your “Top 10 Baby Essentials”, “The Most Worthless Baby Items”, or something more specific like your “Breastfeeding Necessities”, please link up your post here. Since each baby and situation is different, it would be so helpful to get a range of opinions about which baby items did/didn’t work for you so that other moms can weigh their choices and try to figure out what are true baby necessities for them. Thanks!
Please check out the other posts (including some great guest posts) in my Baby on a Budget series.