If you’re just catching up on the latest posts on FBL – I had a baby back in March 2020 (at the very start of the pandemic, no less.) And it’s been a wild, beautiful ride learning how to be a parent on top of a global pandemic. I’ve learned a lot of money lessons, and yes, kids are expensive.
I remember when my husband and I first went to Buy Buy Baby to look at cribs. What struck me was how expensive it all was – and how everyone else in the store had brought an in-law or parent.
We joked about how this was the only way anyone could afford parenthood – by leveraging the collective finances of extended family.
But babies aren't as expensive as everyone led me to believe. Not if you make smart choices and cut down on the thinking that you’re “supposed” to have this or that.
Babies really don’t need much, especially right at the start. When building out the registry for my baby shower (which you can see how that turned out here), I scoured the internet endlessly looking at lists for “registry must-haves” and “favorites every new mom should have.”
I fell down a rabbit hole. And while I feel like we ended up with so many practical, useful products, there are a few things I feel you can skip altogether. With this in mind, I wanted to create a thoughtful, budget-friendly list for those who are expecting in the next year.
- Different types of pacis – Thank goodness these are cheap because you do have to buy a few different brands to see what your baby likes. Some infants do not take a pacifier at all. You really only need two packs of two different brands to start.
- Zippered swaddles (2) – The reason we didn’t use a swaddle blanket is that we worried about him getting loose and being unable to breathe, and also because I watched many Youtube videos from bloggers about how hard it is to swaddle when you’re half-asleep after the night feed. We loved this swaddle and would use this alternative from Amazon when it was in the wash. That’s all you need until your baby sizes up or drops the swaddle completely.
- An extra set of pump parts – Washing pump parts (if you’re planning on breastfeeding and pumping) gets old super fast because you do it 7+ times a day at the start and it’s important to wash them each time. Spending extra on an extra set helps alleviate some of this pain.
- Zippered Onesies – (Bonus Points if they have mittens) – Again, halfway through the night you're not going to want to mess with snaps and buttons. Don't spend a ton because babies outgrow clothes very quickly.
- Baby sink tub – Save money by skipping the special washcloths and bath cup/accessories. You don’t need em'!
- Affordable diaper pad covers – I spent serious money on “designer” changing pad covers for baby’s nursery (see here.) We also set up a second changing station downstairs that sees much more action throughout the day. I bought multiple changing covers from Amazon for the downstairs station at about a fraction of the price and it keeps me from doing so much laundry. While I love the aestetic appeal of our changing covers upstairs, they really don't matter. Your baby will poop on them.
My final tip is to definitely invest in high quality burb cloths, bibs, and bottles. These see the most use, most washes, so you want them to last. Burts Bees burp cloths are our favorite!
- A high-chair – It’s fine if someone wants to buy this expensive item for you, but you really won’t need it until the baby is at least five or six months old. So, if you’re stressing about the budget and spending a lot to prepare for arrival, kick this purchase down the road.
- Plates, spoons, sippy cups – Same as above. Since babies drink breastmilk/formula for the first few months of life you don’t need these items when bringing baby home from the hospital.
- (Multiple) Swaddle Blankets – Swaddle blankets are useful. We used ours to cover the baby when he was napping in our sight and as a car seat/stroller cover. But you don’t need dozens of them. I think I ended up with twenty-four swaddle blankets and we really only ended up using about three in any given week. I wouldn’t even bother registering for these as you will almost certainly end up with a few as a gift.
- (Multiple) Paci Clips – I bought a lot of different pacifier clips thinking Mason would certainly be on the go and ABSOLUTELY need multiple clips to match his outfit. False. We use the same one constantly and I keep it clipped to his car seat when we are at the house.
- Expensive Outfits – Have two to three “outfits” to start and no more. Granted, all of our adorable newborn outfits were barely used thanks to Covid-19, but I often wonder how much we really would’ve been taking baby “out” while he was a newborn anyway. It’s much more practical, (and cost-effective) to order some solid colored short sleeve and long sleeve onesies. They’re easy to wash and undo as you’ll be changing diapers several times each day.
- Separate stroller cover – Again, you can just use a blanket for this.
Things some people use that I never did
Probably one of the most frustrating things about preparing for baby is that there will be items you’ll buy that you won’t use. It’s inevitable.
Due to Coronavirus I never used the following:
- Separate ice pack/bag for breast milk storage
- Additional breast milk storage components
- Breast feeding pillow
- Various (expensive) butt creams and bath products
Even if you buy every single thing someone recommends, you’ll forget something. Or your baby will have some weird quirk which means you’ll need something you never thought of because your sister’s baby didn’t deal with (x) thing. Sometimes you have to buy multiple brands of a product to figure out what your baby likes best, it's just inevitable.
My best advice is to embrace hand-me-downs and really lean into the fact that with baby's first months at home. Less really is more: less clutter, less money, less stress.