Simplifying Baby Gear: 5 Money-Saving Tips for First-Time Parents |

Simplifying Baby Gear: 5 Money-Saving Tips for First-Time Parents

hannah February 25, 2013
Image by Spider.Dog

By Hannah, Contributing Writer

Maybe it has been the hours I’ve spent in Amish homes over the past year, or maybe its the fact that with three children we are really growing into our two bedroom home. Whatever the reason, I have become obsessed with simplifying.  And considering that certain stores  can tell when a woman is pregnant and specifically market to her based on how her buying habits change, it seems obvious that pregnancy can cause women (and men) to just buy more stuff.

There’s something about such a big life change that makes us want to go out and upgrade our cars and homes and buy every gadget within reach that is related to this big event: having a baby.

As a first time parent, you have so much to sort through, and some really huge buying decisions to consider if you decide to bring special furniture in the mix. What kind of crib? Cosleeper? Montessori set up? Rocking Chair or Glider? Bouncy Seat, Swing, Baby carriers, car seat, strollers? And that’s just the furniture! I haven’t even mentioned clothes or the Great Diaper Debate.

As a mom of three, with plenty of mommy friends, (and being a doula on top of it all) I  have been to a pretty impressive number of baby showers. Despite registering for carefully chosen items, the expectant parents are often showered with the small, easy-to-afford items like five different types of disposable diaper receptacles instead of the big things on their registry. Needless to say, it often remains the parents’ job to buy most of the gear. And that can get really expensive.

So what do you do if you are on a budget? Well, for starters you can ask questions like, “Do I really need that one specific jumping toy that she’ll only use for 3 months, at most?” If you work from home, having a broad arsenal of great distracting toys might be really important to you, but you can always borrow these items from a friend.

Here’s a list of 5 things that can get you thinking of where to save money and simplify when bringing new babies into your home:

1. Invest in Cloth Diapers

I was a cloth diaper skeptic at first. Why would I want to deal with poop in my laundry? But thankfully friends bought me some cloth anyway, and I was quickly influenced by other mommy friends who cloth diapered. I realized I was going to deal with poop…. one way or the other but at least I could save some money and be more gentle to the earth!

I’ve added more diapers to my stash over the years, but I also have ones that I have used since my first. That’s almost 5 years of continuous use! I’ve even bought cloth diapers used, and sold them for not much less than I paid. If that’s not frugal and simple, I don’t know what is!

2. Get a Stretchy Wrap

Using a soft, stretchy carrier such as a Moby Wrap for the newborn days is pretty high on the list of indispensable items. Does baby need to go down for a nap? Put him in the wrap! Gassy and grumpy? Put him in the wrap! Do you want a nursing cover? The wrap works perfectly. Or just nurse with baby nestled in the wrap. Need a soft item to lay him on for a diaper change in the park? Yep, I’ve used my wrap for just about everything 🙂

There are other carriers that become very useful once your little one is out of the newborn stage. But for the first 6 months or so, a single stretchy wrap can cover a huge multitude of needs. I found that by my third child I was using the wrap (the same one I used with my first) far more than the bouncy seat, the swing, or the bumbo chair.

Plus, there’s plenty of evidence that shows keeping babies close and wearing them is beneficial to development and even fostering independence. With my last newborn I often found myself running out of the house with only my wrap, a cloth diaper, and a wet bag and knew I was set for up to a few hours.

3. Skip the Crib

If you are planning to cosleep, there is often little need for a crib or bassinet. Some people, even if bed-sharing, get them anyway if only for naps, but I think new parents need to know that it isn’t a necessity. Instead, invest in a new, nice twin mattress to lay on the floor for naps and for eventual transition after bed-sharing. Since natural mattresses have a large price tag, investing upfront in something that will last throughout childhood,  and not just infancy,  is an awesome way to simplify.

This is something we didn’t realize until our third child. For the first two, we shared our bed, but also used a crib for naps. But as our family grew and space became a more precious commodity,  we were forced to make decisions about bedding that included letting the crib go and using a mattress on the floor for naps (and for easy sneaking away after nursing…no more laying a baby in a crib after they’re asleep only to have them wake back up again crying for this momma!). Which leads me to the last, but definitely not the least, way you can simplify baby gear, which is:

Image by goldberg

4. You don’t need a bigger house

Babies don’t care how many square feet you have, and if you keep it simple with baby gear, you won’t need a lot of space to store it all. My family of five currently resides in a 2 bedroom home. I’m not going to say it’s always easy. It’s actually not. But doing so has allowed us to live free from debt and free to enjoy these precious fleeting moments with our little ones. I know plenty of families with 3 or more bedrooms and everyone ends up in the same space by morning anyway! Plus, until even age 5, it’s not a bad idea for children to sleep near their parents. I love the challenge of living in a smaller space and making sure we actually need every item we hold on to.

5. You don’t need a bigger car

Another business that gets excited by pregnant couples is your local car dealership. Who said that just because you are having baby, you need to buy a large, potentially gas guzzling minivan? Quality, narrow base car seats like this one make it possible to fit three across in many compact cars and eliminate the need to buy up to 3 separate car seats as your child grows (since many work from 5-65 pounds)!

And if you have a great stretchy wrap, you don’t necessarily need a traditional infant carseat-carrier, since you can just pop baby into the wrap when you are out and about. For some, there is a true need to buy a larger vehicle, but it is well worth asking yourself, “Is it really needed?”

You often hear about how expensive having children can be, but if you sort through what is an actual necessity and what isn’t it is possible to simplify and be frugal by simply buying the minimal amount of extra gear for babies. Think of all the extra snuggling you will get to do when you don’t have to work as hard to pay for all that stuff!

How have you simplified your baby gear?

This is the writings of:

  1. Great article, Hannah! I’ve always been on the lookout for ways to save money. I usually just make my own or do it myself. After I started couponing I realized that I could save money simply by not buying most of the stuff I had been buying. And now that I’m pregnant with my first child I’m quickly rethinking and reevaluating what I’ve always thought every parent needs.

    We have already decided not to get a crib and cosleep and make our own mattress that will last for a few years. I’m even learning about Elimination Communication which will greatly reduce diapers and cloth diapers. And then also doing things like 100% breast feeding, not buying or making baby food and making toys and learning tools ourselves.

    I’ve always heard that having babies is stressful and expensive and obviously on some level it is but I’m starting to think that it’s all these added things we think we need and think we need to do that make it more stressful than it naturally is.


  2. As we were getting ready to welcome baby #3 this fall, I went through baby things and got rid of many things…extra baby blankets, extra clothes, carriers that I didn’t like. We did buy a minivan, but paid cash for it and since it is the family vehicle, we only drive it with the whole family and since I am a stay-at-home mom, mostly it just sits in the driveway! When Hannah was 6 weeks old, we signed a purchase agreement for our first home — we were moving from our 1600 sq ft “apartment” to a 1150 sq. ft. house. More downsizing happened: exersaucer, swing, more clothes, more blankets, extra wash cloths. As she outgrows one size of clothes I am still finding some to get rid of…not packing away for another baby someday.
    Bonus: the crisis pregnancy center in our area was happy to take all my “gently used” baby items and I get a tax deduction!


  3. Thank you soo much for this post! Husband and I are getting ready for baby #1 … and I have no idea what we’ll need. This is so encouraging to read, knowing that I can keep it simple – especially since we’re in a 2 bedroom apartment and need one room for husband’s home office!


  4. Ditto on the wrap! The snuggly, soft, knit wrap was easy for my little guy to adjust to and he loved it (still does at 14 months!). But I would also recommend, if you can, getting some kind of carrier that you can wear your baby on your back. A stretchy knit wrap is not the best idea for back carrying, since babies can lean back right out of it, but I would have benefited so much from being able to wear him on my back. I wore him a lot during his naps, but I couldn’t do much cooking or washing dishes with him in front of me, and those were the things that really made me grumpy when left undone. So I’d say a knit wrap is a great idea, but think about a back carrier too!


  5. I agree that wraps are wonderful tools for parenting, but I would like offer caution about using stretchy wraps on the back. This was once acceptable, but is now seen as unsafe. Due to their nature, babies can easily lean out of them in ways that are not possible with woven wraps.


  6. […] Simplifying Baby Gear: 5 Money-Saving Tips for First-Time Parents […]


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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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