Updated: Mar 12, 2019
It’s the ultimate checklist of what you need versus what you would like to have as well as what you should buy new and what you shouldn't.
Let’s be real, babies are a crazy expensive investment. If you got every single thing out there made to make babies' life a breeze,I feel most of us would be in a mound of debt.
Good news though! You don’t have to take out a loan to have a baby! There’s some sneaky ways you can give your baby exactly what they need without the obnoxious price tag, but that includes some tough decision making as well.
Below I’ll give you the ultimate checklist of what your baby will need as well as what you may want to buy for your precious bundle (notice the highlighted words of need vs. want) and where you can get those budget friendly items.
But first, the hard part. The tough questions. The harsh reality that you have to keep in the back of your mind and consider as you continue with this article.
Do we really NEED this in order for my baby to survive and be comfortable?
Can we afford this WANT?
Got that out of the way, let’s move on to the fun stuff.
I’ve broken this list down into categories and then into sub categories of need vs. want and then added comments to the want section, justifying why they would be considered a want (because I feel that would be needed).
Lets get started!
Nursing + Feeding
Bottles: There’s pros + cons to every bottle out there, and it really depends on what works best for your baby. With that, I have heard great things about these Dr. Brown’s bottles because it reduces the amount of air that baby takes in while nursing.
Breast Pump: Again, pros + cons for every make and model, you just have to find what works best for you. I personally went with a Madela Double Electric pump. Madela tends to be a spendier option compared to other pumps out there, but based on reviews it was very durable and dependable. There’s also a rising trend in new forms of breast pumps that promote hands free and more discreet pumping. Freemie. If I didn’t already have a pump, I’d probably give it a try. So someone try this and tell me how it is!
Milk Storage Bags
Sippy Cups: These Munchkin Miracle Sippy Cups are a great way to start teaching your little one how to drink out of a regular glass.
Nursing Pillow / Boppy: They’re nice and ergonomic, but one of your bed pillows will also work.
Burp Clothes: Make your own! (or find someone who can). Use scrap fabrics or old towels.
High Chair: Borrow this if you can! You’re bound to know someone who isn’t using theirs for the time period you will need it. Or search those garage sales or Facebook Marketplace. If all else fails, there’s cheaper options than your typical full-size high chair, like this one from Amazon that straps to most any chair.
Bibs: Remember the burp clothes? Yeah. Make your own. Or if you are not the crafty type, old kid’s t-shirts from a friend will also work!
Baby specific foodmaker: They have these cutesy food processors out there that are sold specifically for making baby food. I may just blow your mind, but they are food processors in disguise. One of those smoothie making ninja bullets or the big ole food processor you never use sitting in your cupboard will do the job just fine.
Drying rack: They have some great drying racks that are made for holding up bottles and bottle tops and some are not super expensive, but you could probably get away with using what you may already have next to your kitchen sink.
Breast Pump: Ah. You noticed this item is on both the Need and Wants list. You smartie pants you. This was not an error. It is purely for the fact that some mamas out there may not see this as a necessity because they may be exclusively breastfeeding. So however you choose to do it, you may or may not need this item.
Bottle warmer: They’re convenient, quick and easy. Technically not a necessity. Warm water does the same thing. I’ve even seen people use a mini crockpot filled with a little water as a bottle warmer.
Food storage tupperware: Now, if you plan on making your own baby food you may argue this saying it would be necessary. Hear me out. Like the baby food processor, don’t get sucked into buying “baby food storage containers”. They’re the ones with the cute colors and smiley faces on them. Instead get the generically categorized “freezer storage containers” find small ones, silicone ones if you can because the food will slide right out.
Snack cups: I love the little snack cups with the slit tops that prevents too much of the snack from falling out, and they’re really not terribly expensive, but i guess they’re technically not necessary.
Blankets: 1 or 2 warmer blankets and 1 or 2 lighter muslin blankets. If you register for at least 1 or 2 of each, you’ll end up getting about 6, people love buying cute, soft blankets. I personally like the cute and affordable Aden + Anais brand from either Target or Amazon. I also got their flannel blankets from Target along with their muslin blanket set they’re a great quality for a slimmer price tag than some of the other brands out there.
Crib or Pack n’ Play: notice the “OR”
Sleep sack or Swaddle ( 1 or 2 will do and some sleep sacks range in sizes 0 - 9M). I got a couple sleep sacks like this sleep sack from Amazon, but really, my baby slept in the one we got from the hospital for a long while.
More Blankets: You really don’t need an exorbitant amount of blankets as cute as they may be. Chances are you could return a couple and use the funds to buy another need or want on your list.
More Sleep Sacks and Swaddles: see the above about blankets
Night Light/ Noise Machine: Your perspective may vary on this depending on how well of a sleeper your baby is, but this is definitely something you could borrow or find at a garage sale.
Monitor: A wise mother friend deterred me from getting a conventional baby monitor saying “If they throw the word baby on it, it’ll likely double in price”. There’s quite a few options of just regular surveillance or “nanny cams” out there they will work just as well. This one from Amazon connects with wifi so you can view it from your phone whether your home or not, and you don’t have to carry around a monitor that runs out of battery life shortly after putting the baby down.
Diapers + Wipes: Do you know about Amazon Prime or Target’s subscription service yet?
Clothes: Borrow these! Hand-me-downs! Garage Sale! Babies grow so fast, and they’re clothes cost just as much as adult clothes.
Nail care set
Thermometer: I prefer the forehead method of taking a temp, especially when you have a fussy wiggly baby. This thermometer from Amazon gives you the best of both worlds.
Baby soap, lotion, sunscreen
Nasal Aspirators - I love this Frida Baby line of baby care, it’s affordably priced and they have nearly everything baby would need
Diaper cream: I’ve heard great things about the effectiveness of boudreaux's butt paste.
Pacifiers: ah. Insert controversial mothering debate here
Diaper Bag with portable changing pad: It doesn’t have to be a conventional diaper bag. A big purse with pockets will do! But i do recommend a portable changing pad like this one for those on the go changings.
Clothes: I get it, those clothes can be too cute to resist.
Humidifier: This kind of depends where you live, but it’s definitely something you could borrow or garage sale find.
Space Heater: see above about the humidifier
Baby specific towels + washcloths
Pacifiers: I’m guessing you’ll want to need these, but I know there are mothers out there that forgo the pacifier
Changing pad/table: From the wise words of my grandmother “We just used a towel on the bed to change our babies” (and she had six babies )
Diaper trash bags: They have these portable rolls of trash bags, pretty nifty.
Diaper Genie: The magical high-maintenance trash can that disguises the smell of diapers.
Extra car seat base: Because why hassle with transferring them from one car to another
Organization: Even with a limited list of things because of budget, you’re going to want to invest in some way to keep it together so it’s not spread about the home.
Books + Toys: Ever heard of the Manhattan Toy Co.? I cannot say enough good about their toys. It is great quality, durable materials and a great price. Can’t get any better than that! Also, get on board with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, a book a month til baby is 5.
Car mirror + sun shade: some may see this as a must, that’s up to you, target always has some frugal options
Stroller: I know...you technically don’t need a stroller if you and the hubby are okay taking turns carrying babes
Car seat canopy: remember all those blankets you got?
Stroller organizer: convenient yes.
Car seat head support: If it was completely necessary, the car seat would come with it.
Hangers: Unless you spend obscene amounts of money on high end baby clothes or buy the fancy suits and poofy dresses, most clothes are fine going into a bin.
Toys: Don’t go overboard,a lot of babies toys will be gifted as well.
Baby Swing: I know it’s nice to have a place to park baby so you can be hands free, I’d say invest in one piece of equipment for this, whether its a swing, and rock n’ play, a bouncer, what have you, no need to clutter your home with them.
Baby Carrier: See stroller
So there you have it. The somewhat comprehensive list of things you need and the things you want. I'll be real with you, whether it was gifted to us or we went and bought it, we have a lot of the items classified as a "want" for the sake of convenience. The most important thing you’ll need is to just love on that baby and enjoy the precious gift they are. Feel free to give your take on products or throw out anything I may have missed.
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