I received an e-mail the other day from Amazon with an interesting announcement. Apparently, they have the exclusive list of Khole Kardashian’s baby must haves. Now, I don’t follow the Kardashians (never seen the show) (or shows? not sure) but I had to see what was on the list. And so I clicked, which I’m sure was the point. Go on and check it out – I know you’re interested.
Funny how these are called “baby essentials” with so many unessential items:
This reminded me that I’ve never talked about my baby preparation philosophy. As a frugal mother of three, whose first son was born a few months after finishing college, my standard for “baby needs” is high. I was an avid follower of The Tightwad Gazette back when my oldest was born, and it helped me to see just how few baby needs there are. She had an entire article about preparing for “oops surprise twins” after giving away and selling all her baby items. If you’re interested in living an ultra-frugal life, I highly recommend getting this book. From the library if you can, but I’ll be anything you’ll save more than the $20 you would spend if you bought the book.
So now, here are my must haves – and how to get them for the lowest long-term cost.
Babies Aren’t Babies For Long
When purchasing products for a newborn, it can be easy to get carried away with the wonder of a new baby. Tiny clothes, bassinets, baby swings, washcloths, towels, room decorations – all made just for that tiny little one that will be joining the family.
But kids grow-fast. Those ultra tiny washcloths will soon be too small. The cute hooded towel will be outgrown, it will seem like you can’t get to all their clothes before they’re too small.
So the first rule when buying for a baby, is to differentiate between short- and long-term purchases – and try to make as many of your purchases long term as you can. That may mean shelling out more money up front for a convertible carseat, or a crib that converts to a toddler bed and then to a regular bed. But over the years, those kinds of purchases will save you a ton of money.
Don’t Fear Used – Embrace It
It’s precisely because of point number one – babies grow fast – that there is a robust used market for all things baby. You can buy lovely clothes at a childrens consignment shop, name brand and expensive, never worn, for about half the Walmart or Target price. Baby swings and bassinets? Very inexpensive used. Bath toys and baby toys can be bought by the basketful for almost nothing.
The two best sources of quality used items over the years for me has been a nearby childrens consignment shop and tag sales. Tag sales are usually the least expensive option, and if you go to sales in “nice” neighborhoods, you can get great stuff for almost nothing. Consignment shops are more expensive than tag sales, but are much cheaper than
Obviously the least expensive way to get baby items used is to get them from friends or family. Unfortunately, I was never the recipient of this kind of generosity, mostly because I was the first to have kids in my family/friend group. So even as a broke just out of college student, I had to buy all the things myself.
There is only one item you should never buy used – the carseat. Cribs can be iffy too – you really need to check out the current safety regulations for cribs and make sure one you’re looking at meets it. For all other items, you can get them used. Just be sure to check to make sure there are no active recalls or safety warnings. You used to have to do this by calling the manufacturer or writing a letter (imagine!) but now with the internet it’s really easy. You can likely do a search on your smartphone right in the store/during the tag sale, to ensure the item you’re buying is safe.
Baby Must Haves
There are very few must-haves for a baby, believe it or not. I know, I know – you’ve seen the “must have” checklists out there, the articles, and TV shows that make it look like babies need a ton of stuff before they’ve even arrived. But they don’t need that.
So what do they need?
- Food – if you’re not nursing, then you need formula
- Diapers – cloth or disposable
- I actually did cloth diapering for my oldest son. Ask me anything
- A carseat, assuming you’re driving them around in a car. A convertible carseat option is my favorite because you just buy it once and use it until they don’t need a booster seat anymore.
- A place to sleep. I like cribs that convert into toddler beds and regular beds – a “buy it for life” concept. Here’s a new crib for under $140 that does just that.
- Clothing. Preferably used because newborns outgrow their clothes in weeks. I would actually suggest not planning too far ahead with baby clothes
List seems short? Remember that it’s really only here in Western society that we think babies and children “need” tons of stuff. Babies are born everyday all over the world, in all kinds of circumstances, and they survive. If you don’t get a light-up owl for the nursery, your baby won’t care – and won’t ever notice.
Just to be transparent, I did have more than just these five items on hand when my babies were born. For my oldest, anything extra I had was a gift given to me at my baby shower. People gave all sorts of things, some of which I used, some of which I didn’t. Probably the most handy thing was a rocking chair my grandparents got me, which I still have today.
For my middle son, we had kept everything from my oldest. So not only did I have a lot of the items we had on hand when the oldest was born, but also all the items he got as Christmas gifts and for birthdays. There were (and continue to be) many hand-me-downs.
For the little guy, we got a few fun things for his room, but most of the items came from elsewhere in the house. We got a second hand changing table, baby swing, and a baby bouncer, all from the consignment shop. These can all be sold back when outgrown.
One note, two of my three babies have hated baby swings. So buyer beware.
Baby High-Priority Wants
OK, I know most parents will want to get more than this before their baby comes home. And there are some things that are just handy to have on hand, even if you might not need them for a few months. So here are my high-priority wants:
- Baby wash/shampoo
- Not the fancy lotions, etc. Just the wash
- Why is this a “want”? Babies can be washed with regular soap.
- Comb/brush for baby hair
- You can use a regular comb too if you want
- Motrin and Tylenol for infants, to have on hand in case of fevers
- You need to watch out because these things expire quickly. So make a note in your phone when you need to restock. Nothing worse than a baby with a 103 degree fever and you need to run out at 2 AM to get medicine.
- Diaper cream – we like Butt Paste. The other kinds never work on my kids
- Baby powder – mix it with the butt paste for very bad diaper rashes
- Stroller or carrier. My consignment shop has tons of these.
Not This – Try That
Oftentimes on baby must have lists (or in ads) you’ll see someone trying to pitch all sorts of things that babies just don’t need. Here’s a list of “not this-try that” items where there’s a much less expensive alternative to the conventional baby industry.
|Dreft, or other “baby” laundry detergent||Regular laundry detergent. If your baby has sensitive skin, buy a “free and clear” detergent for about 1/3 the price of Dreft. I used All Free and Clear with my oldest, who had horrible eczema and food allergies|
|Diaper Genie with the expensive “exclusive” bags. Or a $70 Ubbi “award winning” pail||A trash can with a lid and regular garbage bags. I also get baking soda at a warehouse club and put a bunch in the bottom to prevent odor.|
|Baby towels||Regular towels|
|Baby nail clippers||Regular nail clippers|
|Baby washcloths||Regular washcloths (see a pattern?)|
|Bottle sterilizers||A pan of boiling water. Buy an electric kettle if you want to be able to boil water faster.|
|Pacifiers||No pacifiers (my kids hated these anyway)|
|Burp cloths||Cutting up an old worn towel|
|Changing table||Any table or bed with a towel on it|
So There You Have It
What did you think of the Kardashians must-have baby essentials? Are you now going to run out and buy a $280 swivel bassinet or an $800 stroller?
And what do you think of my baby must-haves? Anything you’d add or change? Let me know in the comments!
Be sure to follow my blog for more great posts via e-mail or WordPress, or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter and say hello! You can also check out what I’m buying or baking on Instagram, what I’m pinning on Pinterest, or the latest books I’m reading (or want to read) over on Goodreads.