Baby stuff adds up… fast
When I first found out I was pregnant, I immediately ran over to Amazon to start a baby registry. I consider myself a wannabe minimalist, and even sticking to the BASICS added up to well over $1000.
In a perfect world, everything will be checked off that list by well-wishers and baby shower attendees. We didn’t expect everything to come to us for free, and let’s be real – we knew we would add a lot of things to the list AFTER the baby was born. You never know exactly what you’ll need for those unique little snowflakes.
Some things are better off CHEAP, but others deserve a dedicated fraction of your baby fund.
Secondhand goods have their place
I love a good deal, and being the sole breadwinner definitely weighed in when I was budgeting for baby. So when a co-worker offered up just about everything that her 18 month old daughter was done using, I jumped up so fast you would’ve thought my swollen pregnant feet were moon shoes.
Now I have been known to get a little grossed out by used products. But the ick-factor usually depends on where it’s coming from. Luckily, I was the recipient a huge stockpile of baby clothes, toys, games, and gear from my friend (& godsent baby-shopping angel).
These sorts of opportunities seem to come up for all pregnant women and I’ll tell you why: moms need to get rid of it as easily as possible! Trading things in can be exhausting, and carting it all to the closest donation spot usually ends with a months-old stash of stuff in your car’s trunk.
I was happy to take it off her hands, and she was happy to pawn it off.
Secondhand baby equipment is amazing because it helps BOTH families with the purge/receive trade-off, and it frees up your money to spend elsewhere.
So when I saved $150 on an Exersaucer, it was easier to justify purchasing an Ergobaby360.
Some things need to be new
Although I hit the mother load of free goodies, she didn’t cover me on everything. But nobody’s complaining! Free stuff is free stuff.
We used what we could, and passed along what we couldn’t. But it turns out, certain items really shouldn’t have more than one owner. And of course, the more expensive investments are often held onto for future babies or close relations.
Anyway, here we go…
My favorites run about $30 per PJ – worth it
I have never been a huge pajama-wearer myself (a giant t-shirt will do) but I remember being a kid and HATING the awful flame-retardant fabric with uncomfortable elastic through the wrists, neck, waist and UGH kids should have to sleep like that! I swore I would never make my babe go through that.
It isn’t the biggest deal or the biggest expense, but it is definitely a splurge worthy one. And since it’s one of my newborn essentials, maybe you understand why: kids practically LIVE in them!
In a perfect world, babies are always heading into or coming out of a nap, amirite? Not that I want her sleeping instead of squawking, but they grow when they’re asleep. :):
Having said that, purchasing pajamas should be done in person, not online. At least at first. Definitely take the time to feel out the fabric and get a good vibe for a brand before you buy online.
My absolute favorite pajamas ever are from Silkberry Baby (I have serious heart-eyes for these guys). I found them at a baby boutique
These broad stripes aren’t by Silkberry baby, but they ARE magnetic! And velour! No funny little buttons so they’re perfect for middle-of-the-night changes & cooler temps.
My favorite thing about Silkberry baby is the fabric. They’re made of bamboo (???) which would weird me about, since it’s a plant, but whatever they’re doing with it is so right. They don’t lose their texture with a bunch of washes either.
A Car Seat!
The car seat is critical. Your baby’s safety is a stake, and that, my friends, is priceless. Not only is it worth splurging on, but it should never ever be bought secondhand.
Believe it or not, car seats have an expiration date (typically 6 years after manufacturing), so buying it used is a huge risk. Although you can usually determine the age of the chair from the label, if the label is missing then RUN.
If the risk of outdated safety features isn’t bad enough, if a car seat has been in an accident then it’s compromised entirely. Car insurers will replace your car seat after an accident because it’s THAT important.
But then you have these seemingly decent car seats that have been replaced and find their way into a thrift store… Get what I’m saying? If you can’t verify whether or not it’s been in a car accident, it’s out.
details I adore
When it comes to a splurge worthy car seat, there are a few things I’m looking for:
- safety ratings/reviews
- materials used
- cleaning accessibility!
Because of all of these, I went with the Chicco KeyFit 30 infant car seat, and eventually we upgraded to the Chicco NextFit convertible car seat
At $200 and $350 respectively, these things are not the budget varieties. However, they have been at the top of the safety rankings for a few years now. This article is scary, but it’s just another reason why I love Chicco and trust them with my babe.
The material used for the seat is GREAT for us. Living in Florida, cheap material is best avoided because it feels even cheaper when you’re hot & sweaty (and we’re almost always hot & sweaty). This stuff wicks moisture away, is almost cool to the touch, and just doesn’t feel like plastic. That was a big one for me.
In terms of adaptability, what am I talking about? I was looking for something that would be easy to transfer from car to house to stroller. Convertible car seats are intended to stay where they are, but infant car seats are awesome because you can carry it around with the baby sleeping/contained/chillin’. The Chicco base is an amazing click-in base with a “set it and forget it” vibe. You don’t have to make sure it’s level every time you get in the car.
What’s more is that it has the same click-in feature for their stroller! But more on that in a minute….
To top it off, these things are soooo easy to clean. This is a huge selling point because you will need to clean your car seat at some point in time and putting these things back together can tempt you to just buy a new one. It can be tough, and Chicco knows this – so they made it easy peasy.
The best infant and convertible car seats:
- Chicco NextFit ($350)
- Uppa Baby Mesa ($300)
- Maxi Cosi Pria 85 ($230)
- Britax Boulevard ($250)
- Graco 4ever (#1 best seller at $240)
I told you I’d come back to strollers 🙂 these are definitely splurge worthy. In my case, I knew I wanted one that would work with my infant car seat choice. But I’ll be honest, a lot of my “choice” came down to stroller compatibility!
Carrying those infant car seats is tough work. I knew that I needed a good, sturdy, smooth stroller that I could safely and easily place my car seat on.
So I did my research, and went to Babies R Us (RIP) for a test drive. These days, I guess I would have to go to Target or Wal-Mart?
As soon as I rolled around the Chicco Bravo, I knew we had a winner. In comparison to the others at the store, this thing was the least clunky, the easiest to push, and man that thing runs smooth. We still call it the Cadillac of strollers. There might be better ones out there, but this guy checked every box on my list.
details I adore
- easily collapsible/expandable
- car seat compatibility
- reliable wheels
After a successful test drive, I opted for the Chicco Bravo Trio which gets you the stroller + carseat for $300-$380 (depending on color???) so it was an easy choice. And a frugal one, despite the “splurge-y” intentions.
2+ years later, I still use and love this thing. And in the beginning, I was able to whip it out of my car’s trunk and open it WITH ONE HAND. Call it mom-ability, but I think this stroller deserves the credit.
Baby shoes are unnecessary, for a time. But once it’s time to throw some miniature sneakers on those sweet feet, high quality shoes can come with a surprising price tag.
And it makes sense. Proper foot development professionals (aka podiatrists) recommend you keep your babe barefoot or in the most flexible shoes possible. They even mention that shoes should not be used secondhand. They need to mold to your child’s foot.
My all-time favorite baby shoes are Freshly Picked Moccasins. The standard style will run you about $60 a pair, but they are worth every penny. They are super soft leathery goodness and perfect for those mushy little pads.
Another favorite of mine is Stride Rite. They might not be quite as cute or trendy as Freshly Picked, but they have a long standing reputation of feet-friendliness.
This is probably the best roundup of baby shoe brands with those little feet in mind.
Car seats are heavy and even the strongest arms suffer from muscle failure eventually. Having a baby carrier is an enormous advantage in a packed crowd or the grocery store.
Baby carriers are fine to buy used, but you shouldn’t go cheap. With any baby product, you’d be wise to do a little research before diving head first.
With baby carriers, the most important thing to watch out for is safety. After that, it’s ergonomics or body-friendliness.
This chart struck a nerve with me and helped me understand why I should spend $100+ on something so simple.
We’re so cautious with the food they eat, the amount of tv they watch, and the schools they go to – of course we should watch out for potentially life-altering and avoidable health problems like hip dysplasia.
Most baby carriers are hip to this these days, but it’s worth consulting Dr. Google. It’s reasons like this that make me want to buy things new.
When you get a new product, it will come with that funny little prepaid slip to drop in the mail with your information on it. This is what companies use to register you & let you know if there is a recall of any sort. If they find out something is wrong/dangerous/harmful – they’ll let you know.
- LILLEbaby Ring Sling ($97)
- LILLEbaby 360 Baby & Child Carrier ($140)
- Ergobaby 360 Baby Carrier ($159)* <–my choice!
- BabyBjorn Baby Carrier ($80)
Not all free things were made equally
As much as I love a good deal (& it doesn’t get much better than FREE), some stuff is just worth the money. When baby’s health & comfort is involved, I would argue that it’s worth every penny. Being frugal doesn’t mean you can’t teach an appreciation for the finer things at an early age.
You might just benefit from them too!
What’s your favorite baby item you don’t regret splurging on???
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