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Preparing to welcome a new baby is a surreal time of eager anticipation and dreaming of a beautiful future with your precious little one. It’s also a real drain on your finances.

You want to do right by your baby in every way, so you dutifully research brands, gear, and forums to determine what’s best for junior. The problem is there are so many gadgets and gizmos on the market and everyone has a different opinion on what is essential. When you’re a new parent-to-be, all this information is overwhelming.
Most of us don’t have infinite funds to funnel towards baby goods, so it’s important to figure out when to fork over the big bucks and when to pinch pennies. This guide is a big picture look at how to confidently stock up for your baby without spending more than necessary.



Invest in New

Sometimes, you’ve got to shell out full price for an item. In terms of the baby items included in this guide, the underlying principle is safety. Certain items that were once considered perfectly safe soon proved to be otherwise or standards have become more stringent since these products first made their way to the market. Just because a product has been declared unsafe or out of compliance doesn’t mean some resellers won’t try to sell them to you. Do yourself and your baby a favor and commit to buying new for the following goods.

Car Seat

Your baby’s car seat is a life preserving device that is one of the most important items you will purchase. The technology and safety standards change so frequently with car seats that it is always best to buy a current model. Additionally, if you purchase a second hand car seat, even if it has not yet expired, you are likely not going to receive a full history of how the seat has been used the way you would if you were purchasing a used car. If that car seat has been through a motor vehicle collision and sustained damages that are difficult to detect with the untrained eye, you are at risk of buying a worthless hunk of plastic and metal that won’t keep your child safe.


A good night’s rest is something you won’t be getting for awhile once baby comes, but your baby’s crib is essential to his or her comfort and security. The craftsmanship of many modern cribs is breathtakingly gorgeous and costly. The sticker shock I received the very first time I went crib shopping is the stuff sitcoms are made of! In fact, I have to admit that our first child’s crib was actually purchased by my mother-in-law because between paying tuition x2 and getting on our feet following two moves in just a couple of months, we were cash strapped. Since then, we’ve become parents again and we’ve managed to purchase cribs, toddler beds, and twin beds (sniff — they just won’t stop growing!) all without breaking the bank. We haven’t purchased any of those gorgeous oak and cherry cribs yet, but they’re out there if that’s the type of quality you’d like. Fortunately, there are some great and sturdy cribs that’ll set you back only a couple hundred dollars.


The mattress you use for your baby is as important as the crib you use since the fit between them should be as snug as a hand in a glove. Additionally, to prevent the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) experts recommend a firm mattress. Used mattresses soften and lose their shape over time, which isn’t always evident to the naked eye. A quality baby mattress can be affordable at under $100. Learn more about how to choose a suitable mattress for your baby here.

Breast Pump

Breast pumps are in contact with the liquid gold that is your milk and must be treated with the highest level of hygiene just like your feminine products. In other words, you wouldn’t pass on your Diva Cup to another woman no matter how well-sanitized, so why be so quick to use another woman’s breast pump? In fact, the majority of breast pumps available to consumers are designed for a single-user. A notable exception: hospital grade rentals. This equipment is carefully maintained by medical professionals, so by all means, feel free to use these breast pumps if this is your preferred option for pumping. If you are concerned about affording a breast pump, check with your insurance company. Some companies will give you a pump once over the lifetime of your plan.


Visit any second hand shop for baby and you’re almost guaranteed to see cast off stollers littering the walls along the edges of the store. Before you rejoice at the rock bottom prices, be warned: strollers made prior to 2015 are unsafe for reuse according to the latest standards. Your stroller will be yet another big ticket expense for baby, but it is necessary to keep up with the latest technology in order to prevent injury and death.

Baby Carrier

I could write a sonnet expressing my deep love for the various Soft Structured Baby Carriers on the market. Wise mothers on every continent have worn their babies using woven fabrics or special hard carriers designed to keep baby close and content while mommy (or daddy!) carries on with every day activities. In fact, I owe my undergraduate degree to my baby carrier. This equipment is not a must-have, but if you give it a try, it may easily become your favorite. There are so many wonderful brands around that it’s tough to know what is going to work for your baby. If you can attend a baby wearing meetup near your home, go out and get fitted with a few different types. This is a little easier after baby is here, but it’s worth it to do in advance to ask questions and learn more about how baby wearing could benefit your family. After you’ve narrowed down your options, purchase your favorite one. You can get a sturdy carrier for under $200.


The Ergo carrier is what I prefer to use with my children.





Most modern baby bottles are made of plastic rather than the durable, yet heavy (and breakable!) glass of early models. The problem with used bottles is two-fold: 1) Some older plastic bottles are made with the controversial, allegedly hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA). Though bottles made past 2012 in the U.S. are BPA free, you could inadvertently pick up a bottle containing the chemical if you aren’t careful to check. 2) The nipples on an older bottle may have deteriorated and are no longer safe to use. Old nipples can let liquid pass through too quickly, they could contain BPA, or they could tear away from the bottle and end up in your baby’s mouth. None of these scenarios end well.

Buy a set of new bottles and spare nipples to make bottle feeding your baby a breeze.


Pacifiers are similar to the nipples used on a baby bottle. They are typically made of latex or silicone and they can deteriorate quickly not only because of the materials but because of their purpose (if you’ve never observed the damage a teething or nursing baby can do to a pacifier or a human breast, be warned — it’s brutal! In short, pacifiers past their prime pose a choking hazard to your child. New pacifiers are just a couple of bucks, so skip the trouble and get them new.

Play Yard

I know some moms will be groaning at me over this one, but I don’t believe in buying used play yards. Not only are they difficult to properly clean, they aren’t build to withstand the years. We had a play yard we used with our eldest that we wanted to hand down to our second child, but it became clear that it had suffered some structural damage even though we had been careful to store it safely. When I worked in homeless shelters, we would often set up our stock of play yards as temporary beds for younger children who were coming to stay with their mothers. I am sad to report that those play yards were often used well past the time when they should have been put out to pasture. It may not be obvious when examining a used play yard how flimsy it is until you’ve already placed your child inside. Play it safe and get one that you can rely upon.

Suction Nose Cleaner

The bulb syringe they give you at the hospital as one of your departing gifts isn’t the best, nor the most hygienic, method of clearing a stuff nose. Nasal aspirators with removable, cleanable parts are a far better way of gently clearing a blocked nose. You don’t want to be caught without one in your diaper bag or nursery. Trust me on this one.

“Most of us don’t have infinite funds to funnel towards baby goods, so it’s important to figure out when to fork over the big bucks and when to pinch pennies. ”

From Bread Baker to Bread Maker

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Save with Used

You may have read the first half of this wondering if it’s ever okay to buy used for your baby. Of course it is! Here’s a suggested list of things to purchase second hand.

Clothing and shoes

Your little baby is going to be a busy toddler before you know it. You may be tempted to buy that $50 outfit for your little prince, but don’t do it unless you’ve got money to burn. Keep your children looking sharp with thrift store and consignment sale finds.


Babies don’t need much to be happy. Buy a few easy to clean classics — rattles, blocks, stacking cups, and puzzles —  and let your child’s imagination supply the rest of the fun.


A good baby swing can be a life saver on those days when you need a little extra help rocking baby. You should be able to find one for cheap at a consignment shop or Craigslist.

Changing Table

Some parents find the changing table completely unnecessary. We didn’t use one at all with our first child. We had one with our second, but my husband’s long-legged genes were passed down to our little guy, so he wasn’t able to be changed on it for long. If you must have one, get it used. Better yet, skip it completely and just use a changing pad on the floor.

Cloth diapers

I’ll admit I have mixed feelings on this one because of the potential ick factor, but cloth diapers can be purchased second hand as long as they are in excellent condition. This is one way many moms make cloth diapering even more affordable. We bought our first cloth diapers new thanks for a buying club I stumbled across on social media. Since then, I have come across reliable sites for diaper swaps and sales. My personal recommendation is to stick with second hand diaper covers that don’t come in direct contact with the baby’s waste. Cloth inserts can be very cheap new, so if you can afford it, buy them new. No matter which option you choose, take care to launder your diapers gently and thoroughly to keep them sanitary and in good working order.

High chair

Used high chairs are perfectly fine for your child provided they have a 5 point harness. You should also look for a design that is easy to clean, sturdy, has a high enough crotch guard so your child can’t slide out, and has an adjustable seat so it can grow with your child.

Swaddle Blanket/Sleep Sack

Some babies dig swaddling. Provided it is done the correct way, swaddling can be a safe and helpful way to help your little one adjust to life outside the womb. You can find gently used swaddle blankets or sleep sacks with velcro wings and zippers that will keep your baby cozy, warm, and comfortable.

“If you are fortunate enough to have family and friends who want to relieve a bit of the early financial burden of accumulating supplies for your child, embrace it!”

Keep Your Wallet Closed

These next few items are nice to have, but they’re non-essential to caring for your baby.

1) Wipes Warmer

Unless your baby’s nursery is ice cold, the wipes are not going to be so chilly that your baby will be bothered. If that’s the case, you could always just run a washcloth under warm tap water and wipe baby down.

2) Crib accessories and bedding

The only thing your baby’s crib mattress needs is a fitted sheet. Save the blankets and accessories for the toddler bed (and keep it minimal!)

3) Bassinet

Bassinets aren’t meant to be used beyond a couple of months, so borrow one or go without it and use the crib on day one.

4) Baby food maker

These fancy machines are a waste of counter space. Mash baby’s first solids by hand or use the food processor/blender you already own.

5) Special baby detergent

My kiddos are owners of the world’s most sensitive skin, but we’ve been able to make it through with “free and clear” detergents produced by several trusted brands. Your child will likely be fine with the same unless his or her doctor says otherwise.

Your Baby Shower: Ethical Crowd-Sourcing and Super Money Saver

In general, I loathe crowd sourcing thanks to the shenanigans I’ve come across over the years. The amount of people who brazenly ask others to finance their poor decisions is astounding. The baby shower does not fall into this category. Baby showers are a cultural tradition borne from the understanding that little humans are expensive. If you are fortunate enough to have family and friends who want to relieve a bit of the early financial burden of accumulating supplies for your child, embrace it! Use this guide as you assemble your registry. Yes, even the big ticket items should make it on your list. You may not get those larger items, then again, some wonderful persons in your circle may decide to buddy up and make your dreams come true!

What Matters Most

The time with your little one will fly. It’s more important to invest in quality time rather than on flashy and trendy items that will break your budget. As long as you have the basics to keep your baby warm, dry, clothed, and fed, you are doing well!

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