Baby stuff is expensive. With so much selection, deciding what to buy can be overwhelming. What do babies actually use?

When I was pregnant, I looked through many baby must haves/essentials lists and spoke to a lot of parents. There seemed to be two opposite schools of thought:

  • Babies only need diapers and clothes
  • Babies need every gadget available on the planet

I knew I was somewhere in the middle of both camps. While I aspire to be a minimalist (although I’m nowhere near devout), I’m moreso in the frugal category.

Not cheap, but frugal in the sense that I prioritize value over price. I will buy a more expensive item if it’s better quality and I will get more longevity for it.

 

Below is a complete list of what we bought that suited our frugal lifestyle. I tried to make it comprehensive so it’s long, but it includes what we actually used and didn’t use on a regular basis.

I’ve included what my baby used as well as what I as a mom used. Why? Moms have just gone through a major shock to their system between labor and birth. Moms need care too.

 

Every baby is different and will have unique preferences. Every family has different priorities and lifestyles.

You should do what’s best for you and your family. Here is our experience of what we actually used or needed.

 

(To help with managing costs, don’t forget to sign up for an Amazon Baby Registry! You can get almost every product from Amazon. Amazon provides you with a one-time 10% discount on select items from your registry, 60 days before your child’s arrival date. There are also free 90 day returns on baby store purchases.

If you are an Amazon Prime member, the one-time discount is 15%! Amazon Prime also comes with 20% off diapers and baby food when you have more than 5 subscriptions.

The best part about this membership: 2 day FREE shipping and FREE access to movies, TV shows, music and books. You no longer have to worry about last minute items. You can cancel your other movie, music and book subscription services!

Get the Amazon Prime 30 day FREE trial here, which you can cancel at anytime. No questions asked.)

 

Feeding

We only breastfed so I can’t speak to formula feeding. I think formula is a great option and know many formula-raised adults who are smart and accomplished.

If breastfeeding didn’t work out, we would have gladly embraced formula feeding. We chose to give breastfeeding a try due to the benefits of passing your immune system to your child, having the convenience of mostly not using bottles, and saving money from not purchasing formula.

Nursing Pillow

One thing I wasn’t expecting was how difficult breastfeeding would be! It can be painful in the earlier weeks when you and your baby are learning about the proper latch technique. In the meantime, your back, neck and shoulders are hurting because you’re getting used to holding a baby who’s only getting bigger.

In the first 3 months of baby’s birth, I used the my brest friend with EVERY feeding.

It helped me attain and maintain the ideal latch and comfortably supported my upper body and my baby. It even has a small pocket that I used for spit-up cloths and to store the vitamin D supplement. I have a boppy pillow as well, but it just didn’t provide the support necessary for nursing.

 

Breast Pump

This was something we bought last minute because I had difficulties breastfeeding.

Within the first few days of her birth, my daughter got close to losing 10% of her original weight. I had to pump to determine the amount of milk I was getting and to increase milk supply. Initially, we were thinking of renting a pump, but the costs didn’t justify the amount of use we were projecting.

The pump also came in handy when we introduced her to solids and put breast milk in cereal and other foods .

 

We purchased this Ameda Purely Yours pump directly from the hospital. The nurse who delivered our prenatal classes said it would be the cheapest way to get a high quality pump and she was right!

We ended up paying 40% off most listed prices. When I spoke to other moms, they mentioned that they received the exact same breast pump from their insurance provider so you might want to look into that first before checking your local hospital for prices.

 

Nursing Bra

This nursing bra is comfortable and inexpensive. It has easy-to-use nursing clips. I’ve tried similar nursing bras without underwires from other retailers and this one is the cheapest for relatively good quality.

 

Vitamin D Drops

As my baby was exclusively breastfed, my doctor mentioned that we need to give her Vitamin D drops. Baby Ddrops was the brand my doctor recommended. I almost purchased the wrong type – there are different dosages for babies and adults so make sure you’re purchasing the one meant for babies.

 

Nursing Cover

What I love about these Aden and Anais large muslin blankets are their versatility; you can use them as a swaddle, but also as a burping cloth, a nursing cover, a tummy time mat, a changing pad cover, a car seat/stroller cover, general blanket etc.

I still use these to this day! They get softer with each wash! They’re breathable, which was reassuring as a first-time mom as I was constantly checking my baby’s breathing.

 

Diapering

 

Diaper pail

The Ubbi Diaper Pail was one of the most expensive diaper pails on the market. After a lot of consideration, we got it and we are so glad we did.

It has been 8 months and it still traps in the odor. The odor hasn’t been absorbed like what I’ve heard can happen with the plastic pails.

 

You can open it using just one hand. With its tall and thin frame, it’s a space saver and is large enough to hold at least a week’s worth of newborn diapers. There is a child safety lock feature but we haven’t had to use it yet.

As it has a classic steel design, we might just keep it after our diaper days are over and use it as a regular trash can in the house.

There are no special expensive refill bags like the Diaper Genie; we just use regular garbage bags. If you do have a leak in your bag, I highly recommend cleaning the pail immediately because otherwise you might get rust.

 

Diapers

While we were considering cloth diapers, we ended up using disposable diapers.

We loved how cloth diapers would be more environmentally friendly. The decision ultimately came down to cost vs. time. There would be initial savings for cloth diapers. The cost and time to wash (water, electricity, laundry detergent) and dry made the savings too small to justify the family time that would be sacrificed.

 

We tried a few different brands of diapers when she was born. We had heard that some brands are better for certain shapes of babies. We were surprised that every brand worked fine as long as the size matched her weight and we did frequent changes.

Overall, we seemed to find that Pampers diapers resulted in fewer blowouts.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can get 20% off diapers in a subscription. Get the Amazon Prime 30 day FREE trial here, which you can cancel at anytime. No questions asked.

 

Wipes

We use the Kirkland Signature Tencel Baby Wipes from Costco as they’re cheap, durable and don’t irritate my baby’s skin.

 

Diaper rash cream

The hospital we delivered at recommended Vaseline to help with cleaning the meconium and to prevent diaper rash. We put vaseline on her consistently after each change only for the first month. She hasn’t had a diaper rash since.

 

Diaper bag

One thing to consider is whether you’re planning on taking a trip or flight and will need a certain amount of capacity. I didn’t think about this before I bought my first diaper bag, which was more of a hand bag.

My current everyday diaper bag is the Ferlin travel diaper bag, which I purchased right before I went on my first flight with the baby. It’s great because it has more compartments and functionality than most bags. The backpack configuration allows me to be more comfortably hands-free.

 

Portable dirty clothes bag in the diaper bag

For soiled clothes and cloth items. I previously used plastic bags, but I’ve since bought this Skip Hop Grab and Go Wet/Dry Bag because it can be washed. It’s got 2 pouches – one for wet/dirty and another for new/replacement clothes. It’s worked well. I’ve heard it doesn’t hold dirty diapers well so I wouldn’t use it for this purpose.

 

Portable changing pad for the diaper bag

A portable changing pad is usually included in your diaper bag. The Ferlin travel diaper bag comes with one. If you don’t have one,

I love this Kushies Baby Deluxe Change pad. It’s better than most changing pads because it’s much larger. It’s also soft and easily washable.

 

Bathing

 

Bathtub

We loved how this Fisher-Price bath tub grows with the baby. We’ve only used it for the first 3 stages. I could see how each stage has provided just the right amount of comfort and security for my baby.

The 3rd stage (that provides a seat) is particularly great because while she could sit up unaided. She was still unsteady so the seat helped her not slip when she would get excited and start splashing around.

One thing I would caution against using is the hook to hang on your shower pole. We have a tension rod and the weight from the bath tub brought the tension rod down and broke it!

 

Clothing

 

2-way zipper sleepers

Zipper pajamas are convenient for getting the baby quickly in and out of their clothes. But 2-way zipper pajamas are even better because you only need to zip from the bottom up half-way to do diaper changes.

This is something I regret not getting because this would have been particularly handy at night or when it’s slightly chilly in the baby’s room.

 

Toque

Our baby was born in the winter so a toque was necessary when we were out and about.

We actually just got one from the hospital. It didn’t quite fit her, but it did the job. If I was handy, I would just knit her one. If I didn’t get one from the hospital, I was considering this toque which I heard great things about:

 

Sunglasses and Hat

When the baby’s under 6 months, he/she can’t have sunscreen. When you’re going for walks or lounging at the beach or outdoor pool, a good hat, sunglasses or combination are essential for protecting baby’s skin.

We used both a hat and sunglasses. Her grandma gifted her cute sunglasses from Carter’s from around 3 months. She started understanding how to remove the glasses at around 6 months so we only got a few months use. We did a lot of walking during that time so I felt that we got our money’s worth.

Along with sunglasses, it’s a good idea to get a baby hat that protects your baby’s face and neck for those sunny days at the park or beach.

 

Traveling

 

Everyday Stroller

I got the Uppababy Cruz stroller as a gift. We love it because it’s light and has a large lower basket.

I was initially considering the Uppababy Vista stroller. It’s much more expensive and larger. I wasn’t sure if the short lifespan of the bassinet would justify the additional cost.

 

The Uppababy Cruz is a nice stroller, but in hindsight, I should have gotten the Uppababy Vista.

I had assumed that the strollers were identical except for that the Vista was larger to accommodate the bassinet and other configurations. One thing I should have inspected more carefully are the stroller wheels.

 

I live in the suburbs in an area that has extreme winters. The Cruz wheels are plastic whereas the Vista wheels are made of rubber.

When you’re using it regularly on uneven terrain – even sidewalks in the suburbs that have larger gaps between concrete slabs – rubber wheels make for a smoother ride and last longer.

 

Infant Car Seat

We got this Graco infant car seat because it’s lighter and cheaper than most. We debated for a while about whether we needed to get an infant car seat or if we could just use a convertible car seat.

Ultimately we decided to get one because we live in the suburbs and mostly commute by car. The infant car seat made it easy for us to bring her in and out of the car without waking her.

 

Carrier

This Original Ergobaby Carrier was a lifesaver for me to be able to carry my baby while being hands-free and get stuff done around the house!

I’m not a doctor. After reading about hip dysplasia and the importance of using a baby carrier that has a supported seated position, the ergo became my #1 choice. Of course, you should always do your own research on the topic before making a decision.

 

The reason why I chose the original vs. the 360 is because it’s cheaper and I didn’t anticipate using the outward facing position too frequently. The baby actually ended up just turning her head side to side when she wanted to see outwards.

What I like about the original ergo is that it is comfortable and can be used with the infant insert right away up until the baby is 45 lbs.

You can even feed your baby in it which is helpful in those early months when the baby is constantly feeding.

Sometimes I found the carrier easier to use than a stroller when I was out of the house. For example, when I was going to a restaurant with tight spacing or on a plane.

 

Cuddle bag

We used the JJ Cole Bundleme for just the stroller for walks on colder days. I liked how it was like a sleeping bag for my baby. I didn’t have to worry about her being cold and blankets falling off the stroller.

 

Car seat canopy

My baby was born in the winter. Having a car seat canopy was handy to block the wind and sun to and from the car for appointments etc.

This was especially useful when she would often fall asleep in the car. You could just put the canopy on so she would have the darkness to stay asleep for longer periods.

 

Blanket

In the spring or summer, I often use the aden and anais muslin blankets to keep the baby warm. In the fall and winter time, I used a baby blanket , especially for when she was in the car seat and being transported from the house to the car.

 

Playtime, Development and Napping

 

Activity mat

This Bright Stars mat has all of the essential components at a great price. It has bright colors, a machine washable mat and a few interesting toys.

Some of these activity mats contain a tummy time pillow. This isn’t necessary as you can always use a small rolled up blanket to achieve the same purpose.

The toys are easily removable for tummy time use. You can always add extra toys up top as there are loops for this.

 

I like how the mat is not too bulky so it’s easy to move around. As it’s on the thinner side, if you’re not using it on carpet, you might want to add a blanket or towel underneath.

As there are both black and white and color patterns, the baby’s senses can be stimulated right away. If your baby’s like mine, she’ll love kicking the poles and making the toys on top move!

 

Sensory Toys

Having a toys that you can clip into a stroller or a car seat when you’re out of the house is great when your baby is fussy. There are so many toys that you could bring out with you.

I love the Lamaze toys. They’re soft toy animals with appealing features for a baby including a crinkly part, a teether, vibrant colours and different textures.

They’re also non-electronic so they’re less obnoxious for public places when you don’t want to make too much noise.

I have three Lamaze toys that I put on her stroller, car seat and activity mat. The one she likes the most is this one. Lamaze has so many different animals if you have an animal theme or preference for your baby.

 

Bouncer chair

This Fisher-Price chair is good value for its lifespan. It’s average price for bouncer chairs and you can use it immediately up until the baby is 40 lbs. This one is both a rocker and a stationary chair (immovable with a kickstand).

I like how the toys hang low enough for a baby to touch and that the toybar is easily removable for naps.

There is a vibration feature, but our baby didn’t like that feature so we never used it.

The chair is portable. We kept ours in the bathroom because we wanted to have a place in the bathroom where we could safely put the baby down. I honestly don’t know how I would have been able to brush my teeth or take a shower without this chair!

 

Nursery

Baby Monitor

I’m not an expert on this topic, but I have heard that video/wifi monitors give off more radiation than audio monitors.

With that reason coupled with the fact that video/wifi monitors are usually more expensive, we decided on an audio monitor.

We were lucky enough to get gifted this VTech model. So far it’s done the job. When my daughter is napping, I can bring the monitor around the house with me while I do chores.

 

Crib sheets and Mattress cover protectors

We got this mattress cover protector for our mattress and so far it’s protected the mattress from accidents.

To save time, one tip I received is to put 2 of these protectors on the mattress all the time with crib sheets layered on top. You would put the cover on first, then a sheet on top, then another cover on and then another sheet.

 

Change table pad

My sister-in-law gifted us this Ikea Gulliver Change Table, which we love. If you have a dresser you can use in the baby’s room, it’s cheaper to just buy a change table pad that would stay on it.

This Summer infant contoured changing pad is waterproof and there’s a strap to attach it to furniture.

 

Change pad liners

I initially got these Koala changing pad liners, but they started falling apart after one wash.

I ended up getting these Pottery Barn change pad covers. They’re soft, easy to wash stains out of, and maintain their form after each wash.

 

Crib

I got the Sundvik crib from Ikea. It’s simple, easy to install, and sturdy.

 

Crib Mattress

I got this Safety 1st Heavenly Dreams mattress for the crib. It fit perfectly.

 

Health and Safety

 

Nasal Aspirator

I am a first time mom who is always paranoid about my baby being able to breathe. The Nose Frida gave me peace of mind as it worked great for the occasional cold!

I did have to use it combined with a chopstick to pick out dry snot. The Nose frida would move the snot to the edge of her nose and then I would use a dull chopstick to take it out. I still have not needed the replacement filters so I don’t recommend getting those.

 

Thermometer

In my baby’s 8 months, I’ve only used this Braun thermometer a handful of times to check if my baby has had a fever.

It’s fast and easy to use. It’s not invasive and I can even use it on my baby when she’s sleeping. I like how it can be used on adults as well. It’s helpful that the unit has replacement filters.

 

Nail clippers

I tried to use my own nail file, but noticed that she still continued to get scratches on her face and ears from her nails. I bought an all-in-one nail clipper/scissors/file/tweezers set and I’m so glad I did.

The clippers are dull so there’s no possibility of cutting her. The baby nail file is the perfect size to be able to round out those small edges.

 

Humidifier

We had a winter baby. Having this Vicks filter free humidifier running every night for the first few months helped her not get sick once.

When she eventually got sick at seven months, we put on the humidifier that night and noticed that she could immediately breathe easier.

 

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For mom

 

Postpartum underwear

With postpartum bleeding, I highly recommend not getting adult diapers with the sticky tabs in front. Instead get the pull-on Depends underwear. You can easily slip it on while you’re on the toilet and it’s comfortable.

When you’re looking at the sizing, go with one size up from your pre-preganancy size. For example, I’m usually a size S and I went with the size S/M.

Everyone will require different quantities. I ended up purchasing 3 packs of postpartum underwear. I thought one pack would be enough, but I ended up bleeding up until I was 2-3 months postpartum.

 

Water bottle

Having a good water bottle is important to stay hydrated throughout your postpartum term.

I just used this Voss water bottle that I’ve been reusing for a few years now. It’s extra large and made of glass so there’s no unwanted flavoring from the package.

I have friends that love this Lifefactory water bottle. It’s also made of glass, but has this silicone sleeve for easier gripping. It has an opening that’s large enough to put ice cubes easily in if you overheat and just need to chomp on cubes.

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Meals

When you’re breastfeeding, you are hungry. All. The. Time. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard from moms how they only have time to prepare a meal and not eat it.

This is something I highly recommend preparing for before you give birth. Have freezer meals and easy-to-access snacks ready. Or work out a system with your partner to cook meals for you.

You’re fragile in the first few months and healing. You need to conserve your strength so you can take care of the baby.

 

Household Chores

The same thing applies to chores.

Ask family to help you with this in advance. Lower your expectations for getting household chores done in the first few months. What’s most important is that you get better first so you can take care of your child.

 

What I didn’t use

  • Baby bandana drool bibs – Whenever the baby spit up, I just used a muslin blanket or replaced her onesie with a new one.
  • Head huggers, plush straps – My baby was born in winter so we thought we had to have these to keep her warm. When I read the car seat manual, I realized these types of accessories are not recommended for my particular car seat.
  • Baby shampoo and soap – We just used water, which does the job. It has no additives!
  • Bottles, sterilizer, warmer, nipples – I made the mistake of buying bottles too early. I didn’t intend for our baby to be exclusively breastfed. I just found breastfeeding so convenient that I never needed bottles.
  • Lansinoh nursing pads – I never used them. In hindsight, I could have easily brought a few baby wash cloths and put them in place of the breast pads just to see if I leaked enough to require breast pads.
  • Lansinoh cream – When my nipples were sore and cracked, I just used saliva, which worked well.
  • Belly Bandit – I was all set to wear it. Then when I went to our baby’s first doctor’s appointment, my doctor said she doesn’t recommend it. Depending on your situation, you might want to check with your doctor before getting one.
  • Mamaroo – We bought this used and what I mistake that was. The “obstruction” warning came on. We googled this issue and found out that these technical issues are usually just the start of the wear down.
  • Books – I bought What to expect the first year and Baby 411. Whenever we had an issue, it was faster to just google the recommendation, ask my doctor or a friend.
  • Pacifiers – My baby never needed them. When she was teething, she just used her fingers.
  • Onesies specifically for the umbilical cord – I had heard that these might be necessary, but we never needed them.

 

A lot of moms mention that you should buy the bare basics and then add on as you see a need.

We actually bought almost everything before the baby was born. This was done to minimize the amount of times we would have to go to the store in the first few months for a few reasons:

 

  • I might not be the most clear-headed or strong enough to go shopping in the initial postpartum months.
  • We wanted to spend the time enjoying our baby. As first-time parents, there’s a huge learning curve in the first few months. We wanted to take our time with it. And not miss any of the special moments.
  • We wanted to get the best prices. If we bought last minute, we knew we would pay top dollar. At the same time, we bought some items fairly close to her birth because we wanted to be able to return things if we never used them. FYI there are a few items that are not easily refundable such as car seats.

 

In the end, it’s to each their own. You need to do what’s best for you and your family.

If you’re pregnant, congrats! You’re in for an amazing adventure.

P.S. If you are interested in an excel sheet for this list, email me at mommoneymap@gmail.com. I’m an excel nerd and love organizing data with tables and color coding. I just wasn’t sure if anyone would want it.

Being a mom is so rewarding. Take care and all the best!

 

In case you missed it above, to help with managing costs, don’t forget to sign up for an Amazon Baby Registry! You can get almost every product from Amazon. Amazon provides you with a one-time 10% discount on select items from your registry, 60 days before your child’s arrival date. There are also free 90 day returns on baby store purchases.

If you are an Amazon Prime member, the one-time discount is 15%! Amazon Prime also comes with 20% off diapers and baby food when you have more than 5 subscriptions.

The best part about this membership: 2 day FREE shipping and FREE access to movies, TV shows, music and books. You no longer have to worry about last minute items. You can cancel your other movie, music and book subscription services!

Get the Amazon Prime 30 day FREE trial here, which you can cancel at anytime. No questions asked.

 

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0-3 and 3-6 Month Baby Essentials for Frugal Parents

0-3 and 3-6 Month Baby Essentials for Frugal Parents

0-3 and 3-6 Month Baby Essentials for Frugal Parents

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