Justin and I were so lucky to receive A LOT from friends and family before Henry came. Justin's best friend and his sweet wife even gave us an AWESOME jogger and diaper genie. Between gifts and hand me downs there was very little we had to buy.
With that being said there are three pieces of advice I think I can give about all that baby STUFF.
Say Yes to Hand-Me-Downs
I have made it a policy to always say yes when people offer us old clothes, toys, and gear. We have been REALLY lucky to receive some awesome hand-me-downs from friends who probably could have sold their stuff and made a bit on it. To those friends, you know who you are, THANK YOU.
Even old clothes come in really handy. I have probably bought Henry a total of 4 pieces of clothing on my own. Between gifts, my mom and hand-me-downs he has more than enough.
Make sure your friends, family , and neighbors are aware that you are happy to accept hand-me-downs. If you have the storage start stocking up! We don't have a ton of storage, but we have been able to pack in quite a bit. Once Henry grows out of a size I make sure and trim down those clothes by about 1/2. I keep a special lookout for friends and neighbors who could use secondhanders and give them the clothes and toys I am not able to store. Sometimes it feels like Grand Central Station around here when I get a box or two of clothes and consequently start trimming down what we've already got, but I think it's a good system; we do use almost every item that comes our way at least once, then it's put to even more use by those families I've been watching out for.
|Hand Me Down shirt and gifted hat/jeans.|
I have even let people know that "Hey, I've got a list of people who could use stuff if I don't." I think that makes them feel even better about sending stuff my way.
Get the Big 3
While there's a lot of baby gear that's pretty much unnecessary , there are some high-cost items that you just plain need to have for baby.
1) A good car seat.
Car seats run anywhere from $40 to $250. I found our's secondhand from a "Buy and Sell" page. It had been used 1 year and originally ran for about a hundred, plus it went with my stroller. I paid $50. It's been a great car seat, I especially like the triangular handle which makes it so you can shift your grip when the thing starts giving you a dead arm.
There are two things that I think I might come to regret though. Firstly, after I bought the thing secondhand I happened upon a couple blogs and comments talking about how you were putting your baby at risk buying seconhand because if the car seat had been in an accident it could have invisible cracks in the plastic that would result in your baby being ejected through the vehicle in a burning inferno disaster with a sign saying "This mother doesn't care about her child." My Mom thinks that's super ridiculous and our car seat has worked just fine for us, but there is a less rational part of me that suffers from a fit of anxiety about it from time to time.
Secondly, it's just a plain old infant car seat. The law here in AZ is that babies have to be rear facing until they're two and Henry's definitely not going to make it that long in this car seat. I find myself wishing I had just bought the convertible ( which carries infants-2 then converts to a front facing for your 2-4 year old) and saved myself $50. However, I have been told that it's nice to start with the infant seat because you can carry the baby around in it where the convertible has to stay in the car.
2) A Stroller.
I LOVE our jogger. We only have one car so that thing has mobilized me in ways nothing else could. It motivated me to start getting back into shape and it's been fabulous for everyday use too. My advice is to get yourself a jogger and just use it as an everyday stroller. I mentioned earlier that we got ours as a gift so this may be an item you might think about putting on a registry. I registered for mine at Target. It's not one of those super expensive joggers, but I love it. For those interested it's the Babytrend.
3) A Breast Pump.
I had NO IDEA how much I would use a breast pump. It is absolutely essential for working mothers who plan to breastfeed, but even staying home I have used it quite a bit. It is so nice to have an electric, double pump too. The double pump takes you from being tied-up (haha see what I did there) for up to 40 minutes to being able to get quite a bit done in 10-15. I substitute teach so the quick pumping has been a BIG DEAL for me, but also you don't want to be stuck to a pump for very long when your chubster starts crawling TRUST ME. I use the Medela hospital grade pump. They sell it for around $220--and extra parts for it-- at Target.
Heads up if you have a pet, they like to chew on the plastic parts so keep it out of reach. If you find yourself buying extra parts like I do, check Goodwill first ( guys I promise that's not gross the plastic parts don't touch your breast or the milk so you're good). I got my extra part set at Target for like $26 on sale then saw the same thing at Goodwill for less than $2.
If you think you might end up applying for WIC while you've got a little one, hold off on saving up for that pump. You can rent a WIC pump for free for the first year if you qualify.
My final piece of advice for this post is not to get caught up thinking that you need every little thing for your baby. Some things are more important for different climates, some things depend on your personal situation, and some things are just plain unnecessary. Talk to other moms in your area and find out what things were important for them. As much as you want to plan ahead, a lot of the "stuff" you need will depend on your child. I went out and bought quite a few sets of pacifiers and Henry won't even look at them. Think about your current family dynamic and ask the people close to you what equipment will be important.
Next post I'll go over the less costly stuff you can pick up at yard sales, etc.