Save money and space with products that multi-task

Bogged Down by Baby Gear?

by Katie Bayless

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In a perfect world, every newborn would come with a manual, a mute button and a key to a storage unit. Having a baby seems to cause the gadgets, gear and gizmos in our house to multiply exponentially, along with our credit card bill. How can you find a way to clear out the clutter and save money? By buying products with multiple functions that grow with the child.

Instead of: a changing table

Try: a bookcase or dresser with a changing pad on top

Changing tables seem to be a staple of the newborn nursery. Often they contain a place to hold the changing pad as well as additional shelves for diapers, wipes, etc. The problem with changing tables is that many kids frequently outgrow them before their first birthday, and once a child is out of diapers, the structure holds no further purpose. Instead of the classic changing table, use a bookcase or dresser as a changing station. Thick changing pads, such as the Contoured Changing Pad by Basic Comfort (available at, can be secured on top of the furniture with a frame or a non-stick mat. The benefit of this solution is that when the child is no longer in need of the changing station, the pad can be removed and you are left with a useable and useful piece of furniture that can grow with the child.

Instead of: a backwards-facing infant car seat, a forward-facing child car seat, and a toddler booster seat

Try: a do-it-all car seat

Car seats are not a cheap purchase, and if you're not careful, you can find yourself having to purchase three different car seats during your child's first years. The way to save money and space? Buy a car seat that converts from a backwards-facing infant seat all the way into a booster seat. A variety of companies make these multi-function seats, such as the Eddie Bauer 3-in-1 Deluxe and the Alpha Omega Elite Car Seat. They may be slightly more expensive, but remember you're really getting three car seats in one.

Instead of: a plastic monstrosity of a high chair

Try: a travel high chair

Portable or travel high chairs are frequently used for (yep, you guessed it) travel, but they are also convenient for every day use at home. Many high chairs these days looks like plastic thrones, complete with cup holders, armrests, footrests, snack dispensers and toy clips. They cannot only be unsightly, but can eat up space in your home and money in your wallet. Instead invest in a portable high chair. It will save space and money, and in addition, you'll have a portable high chair that can easily travel with you to your favorite restaurant or family gathering. My personal favorite is the Me Too portable high chair. It's simple, sleek and folds flat for easy traveling.

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Instead of: toys, toys and more toys!

Try: wooden spoons, plastic tubs, measuring cups

Once you have a kid, toys seem to seep out of every nook and cranny in the house. Instead of constantly buying new toys that will soon be lost, broken, deemed boring or cluttering your floor, find interesting (but safe) items around the house to amuse your little one. Parents have long told the story of the expensive gift purchased for their child only to the have the wee one more interested in the box or bow than the gift itself. Take this lesson to heart and forego the new toys in exchange for spatulas, spoons, boxes and baskets. Just be sure that the household items are safe to play with. There should be no small pieces, and it should not be breakable or sharp, etc.

Katie Bayless has a strict "no clutter" policy for her infant son and works as a freelance writer in Ventura, CA.

Take the Next Step:

  • Consider which items you can live without.
  • Babies are little. The costs to raise them can be too! Visit the The Dollar Stretcher Guide to Raising Baby on a Budget for more baby savings.
  • Give baby a good financial start on life: Compare savings and money market account rates and open an account for them today.
  • It's tough raising kids today! You need every time and money saving idea you can find. That's why you'll want to get our free weekly Dollar Stretcher for Parents newsletter. You'll find great ideas designed just for parents that will help your family 'live better...for less'! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.

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