It’s easy to get caught up in the emotional excitement of wanting the best for your baby. Here is a practical list of baby must-haves on a budget.
So there I was visibly pregnant, waddling around a baby store with my husband in tow. The time had come to start compiling a list of what we both wanted and needed for our little one and his or her nursery. As I flipped through the crib mattresses like pages of a very over-sized book, I examine each label carefully. This was our baby. He or she was going to have the absolute best. I was scrupulous with each detail, making notes to research everything.
It was then that I noticed a label on a mattress “organic.” Immediately, I figured it was a baby must-have. Our baby couldn’t sleep on some less-than-great bedding if speciality items were available.
As we made our way to the diapers, I looked at my husband, “These ones!” I beamed. “Alana,” my husband said somewhat disapprovingly, “All you are doing is choosing the most expensive ones.” My heart sank.
My heart sank.
They had to be the most expensive for a reason right? He continued, “I mean have you ever had or known someone who’s had an organic mattress before? And do you have any idea why these diapers are any better than these cheaper ones?”
Just to further prove his point, he grabbed a store associate to inquire about the difference between the two diaper brands. Turns out, my hubby was right. There was no difference aside branding.
I wasn’t thinking. For the first time in my adult life, I was emotionally going through a store making not-so-wise choices. After having my ‘aha’ moment in the store coupled with experience of having my first, I became a whole lot more prudent.
What are considered baby must-haves will certainly vary from family to family and from budget to budget. What works is dependent on so many different variables. But based on my own experience having two babies under two, research, and what other friends have agreed on, here are my best suggestions on baby must-haves. I have included whether it’s worth it to buy new or not too!
Practical Baby Must-Haves on a Budget
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I highly recommend doing your own research before making a purchase. Government websites, consumer reports, and online reviews are all good resources. Then, start searching on Craigslist. I got our bassinet for 30% less than it was being sold online and it had never been used (the parents had chosen to co-sleep).
Car seat, stroller, car seat adaptor and weather shield
We did thorough research on our car seat and decided to buy brand new. Spend money on a good stroller. If you buy second-hand, you can also get all of the accessories included for a couple hundred dollars less than in stores. I highly recommend jogging strollers because they turn on a dime, are light weight, and handle well on all terrain. I am highly partial to BOB. Some like having an umbrella stroller in their car to have in a pinch, and a good quality one for the longer excursions.
Baby swing/ bouncy seat
See if you can borrow someone’s baby swing and/ or bouncy seat. Our daughter out grew out of the swing we borrowed before she was four months. And, they retail for over $100 brand new. We got a bouncy seat on sale for $25. Neither items were ones we used for a long duration of time.
Changing pad, no changing table
Once they start rolling (around four months), you’ll change them on the floor. We bought a change pad at Walmart. I recommend foregoing the cover for the change pad; the pad itself should be water resistant and therefore you can wipe/ clean/ disinfect as needed. Just put it on top of baby’s dresser until you no longer need it.
Few newborn clothes. An ample number size 3 month PJs and onesies
We’ve all heard about kids growing “in the blink of an eye”. The expression couldn’t be truer for the infant stage. Some “newborn” sizes are meant for up to 7 lbs., while others extend to 10 lbs. Either way, with the average Canadian baby weighing in at 7.5 lbs (3400 g), some outfits may only fit once. For the most part, we rolled the sleeves3-monthonth sleepers.
The reason I suggest onesies and sleepers, especially in the first few weeks, is that most new moms are just getting their bearings and starting to get to know their little one. Jammies are easy, cover the baby up perfectly, and probably match what you’re in anyways! Onesies are great underneath pjs in colder months (they also help contain blow-outs, if and when, they happen). If baby is born in summer, they are great as is!
I say get ample onesies and pjs because no matter how often you are doing laundry, whatever supply you do have will be puked on, peed on, and leaked on faster than you likely thought possible.
A good number of receiving blankets
These are key for burping and quickly wiping up those imaginable and unimaginable mishaps outlined above!
Second-hand, quality breast pump
Of course, this is only if you plan on breastfeeding. A good breast pump goes a long way. It helps if you end up with a clogged duct, or worse still, mastitis. Furthermore, if you’d like to introduce a bottle, mix milk into pablum, or increase your milk supply, you will be relieved you have the pump. When I asked roughly a dozen momma friends what they use themselves, all of them but one said go for electric.
The idea of second-hand may have you squeamish. When I had both a public health nurse and a nurse at prenatal suggest renting, I realized it wasn’t uncommon. As it turns out, every piece that needs to be sterilized can be. Renting one adds up quickly. I bought my Medela Swing for $50 on Craigslist (regularly $140 retail).
Use throw pillows instead of a nursing pillow
This way you can use more/ less pillows to get the desired height based on your position.
New/used, good quality baby carrier
You’ll likely use it A LOT. I recommend ensuring there is a waist strap to alleviate pressure on your lower back. We had the original Bjorn lent to us, and though I loved the structure of the carrier, I needed something with more support. Fortunately, we got a new one as a gift. After asking many mommy friends, and casually surveying moms at a “Baby and Me” yoga class, the two brands that were consistently recommended were Baby Bjorn (at least one model comes with a waist strap), and Ergo Baby. If you are interested in some of the reported benefits of regularly using a carrier, check this out!
Finally, the parenting book I had recommended to me frequently, and incidentally resonated with me the most was the series by Tracey Hogg called the Baby Whisperer.
Related reading for expecting moms
Baby Must-Haves On A BudgetMay 20, 2014
3 SIMPLE Ways to Foster Language Development in InfantsMarch 13, 2016
Baby Sleep: The number one tip you need to knowApril 26, 2017
Best Baby Bottles: A guide for the nervous mamaMay 17, 2017
Baby Sleep: Why sleep training might not work & what to do insteadJune 27, 2017
Good list! Its so hard in the beginning to know what you really need. I’ve learned over half of what I thought was a must, simply wasn’t. I didn’t put my,twins in their crib til 5 months (coslept in a pack n play I got off craigslist) and my baby is almost 11 months and still sleeps in the pack n play in my room. I used the changing table maybe once but almost always change everyone on the floor or couch. Clothes are so lightly,worn before they outgrow them I see no reason for tons of new clothes. I did do some, but mostly I got second hand lightly worn clothes, and my youngest has almost all hand me downs haha….he’s got two of every outfit from his brothers. You figure out what you need as you go, but honestly, I’ve learned all I really need is clothes, a few toys (which can also be bought from craigslist lightly used), a baby carrier is absolutely essential, and a car seat. Stroller is a good thing to have but a baby carrier could even be enough if need be. Breatfeeding cuts out a lot of needs, but I agree you need a pump! There’s so much people make you think you’ve gotta have, but really, as long as they’ve got the basics and YOU, that’s all they really need. ☺