Having a baby can be intimidating, especially to the budget! But it doesn't have to be that way. Often baby items thought of as "must haves" and "necessary" are expensive luxuries that many families live without. It's natural to be awed by all of the clothes, cutesy decorations, and hi-tech gear. But before you jump into the deep and murky water of those can't live without baby items, check out this list of five "necessary" baby items you really don't need and save some money.
Changing tables are nice if you have you have extra money and space. But changing tables aren't necessary and often go unused as parents find themselves changing baby wherever it seems most convenient at the time. If you must have a changing station set up in the baby's room, consider purchasing a small pad that mounts to the top of a dresser. Otherwise, a small changing pad (like the kind that comes with a diaper bag) or a washable changing pad will work just as well and can be transported easily from room to room.
High chairs are notoriously big and bulky and they often have a price tag to match. A much cheaper alternative is a portable chair that straps to your existing kitchen chair. The chairs are small, easy to clean, and are at least half the cost of its bulkier counterpart. Most of these small chairs fold up and have handles, too, which make them an ideal take along to Grandma's house. Not convinced? Then shop around at local thrift shops, garage sales, and consignment shops to find good deals on an often-expensive purchase.
Consider name brand diapers. Sure, your little tot will look adorable with all those licensed characters dancing across her belly and tush, but your baby won't know who these characters are and generic diapers can save you half and work just as well. Be careful, though, and don't go too cheap. Some of the bargain basement diapers aren't as absorbent and may end up costing you more as you wind up using twice as many.
Your baby's nursery will certainly look cute with that $200 comforter, bed skirt, bumper pad, and matching curtains and you should take a picture as soon as it's put up. When baby comes home, a lot of it will be taken down. Because of the risk of SIDS, it is not recommended that baby sleep with soft bedding like comforters, so you'll have to put it away immediately. Within a couple of months, when baby can roll over, that bumper pad will have to come down, too. The bedskirt, too, serves no real purpose. Save your money by purchasing plain sheets, and neutral (thus generally less expensive) bumper pads and curtains. They will not only be cheaper now, but will grow with your child, saving you money in the future, too.
Need a closet full of brand new, brand name outfits? Baby clothes are naturally tiny and cute making them difficult to pass by in the store. But consider this: those adorable, brand new little outfits will get spit on, pooped on, and otherwise messed. It won't take long for them to look just as used as those clothes available at garage sales and thrift shops. Buy one or two new outfits (on sale!) and then bargain shop the rest.
Having a baby doesn't have to break your budget. In fact, some of the most well known "must have" baby items on the registry are simply expensive conveniences that most parents can, and do, live without. Cutting out just one or two of the listed items can save you a bundle.
Christine Cooney is a freelance writer who lives in Ohio with her husband and two children.
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