They can only afford the must have items

Must-Have Baby Gear for the Frugal Family

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Must-Have Baby Gear for a Frugal Family

Hello! My husband and I are expecting our first child and I am in shock at the price of baby gear and at the number of items on the market. I'd love to hear from other frugal families as to what baby gear they felt was must-have when raising baby and what gear was an unnecessary expense. I am sure we'll be given at least a few baby showers but I would much rather have friends and family gift the necessities instead of over-priced gear we might not really need/use. So what do your readers recommend? Thanks a bunch!

Spread the News

Just let people know you don't mind gently used baby items. People love to share. I am a grandmother and frequently have my grands for "sleep-overs" and visits. Friends and neighbors have provided me with all I need when they visit, including a highchair, bouncy seat, baby swing, changing table, toys, and more. It has all come in handy. I am not picky, but the things I have been given are like new. I sanitized them upon receiving them and they have served me well. I am very thankful for all the money I did not have to spend and for how helpful each item has been.

A Good Stroller Is a Must

Congratulations! You will need a stroller that grows with your baby. There are many good ones on the market. Try a few out in store and read reviews before you settle. The one thing I don't recommend is a baby swing. They work great for a few months only, and then your little Einstein will learn to grab the legs on a pass and stop the swing. The best gear, of course, is your ever open arms. Enjoy your new baby as it is a wonderful season in your life.

Don't Waste Your Money

If you use disposable diapers, you do not need a diaper pail. You especially don't need a specialized diaper disposable device that requires proprietary (not frugal) refills. Wrap stinky diapers in reused produce and newspaper bags and then place in a lidded trash can. Choose a small trash can to force you to take out the trash frequently.
Elsie in North Texas

Baby on the Go

You must get a baby sling that is light and comfortable. Baby will be able to go with you everywhere!
Jackie (8 years being a mom)

Join an Online Mom Group

My son and daughter-in-law have a six month old (our first grandchild), and they are both professionals making large salaries but they are quite frugal. My smart daughter-in-law joined several mom groups online and she has purchased very few items new. She was able to get diapers (cloth), clothing, bedding, toys, books, a high chair, etc. for very little money. It turns out that these moms hang onto very few items. They buy and then sell as soon as the child outgrows every item. My daughter-in-law also nurses the baby, which is very frugal.
JD in St. Louis

Borrow What You Can

Borrow everything you can from friends, family, and co-workers. There are a lot of expensive new gadgets, and for that first year or so, anything that helps you and baby get some rest is well worth it! However, that baby stage goes by very fast and most parents are happy to share their baby clothes, toys, rockers, and other items their children have outgrown. For shower gifts or purchases, get a safe crib, car seat, stroller, diapers, and baby toiletries. A good baby monitor is worth it as well. Try to borrow clothing, blankets, toys (check they're safe), and other gadgets. Plus, every week or month you can breastfeed is better for mom, baby, and the budget.

Keep It Simple

The only gear you really need is a car seat appropriate for the size/age of your baby. Sometimes health departments, police stations, or fire departments offer these for free. You can use a used one if you do your research (look up recalled models) and especially if you know the previous owner, so they can verify it hasn't been in an accident.

Although I had a (used) crib, my son slept in a portable crib until he was two or three. They are smaller and usually less expensive. Again, you should do some research to make sure it meets current standards and hasn't been recalled.

Swings and/or bouncers are useful, but not essential. The same is true with baby tubs. An umbrella stroller (usually under $20) works just fine most of the time (unless you plan to jog with the baby, then you will need a jogging stroller). Eventually you will probably need a high chair or booster chair. Safety items like cupboard latches, corner bumpers, and outlet covers are relatively inexpensive. You can pick only what is needed for your situation.

Check out consignment stores, thrift shops, and rummage sales. Talk to friends who have toddlers or older children to see if they have items to sell. You don't have to buy unless you are sure the item is safe and appropriate for your child. Also, check if there is an Early Head Start program in your area. They often have baby gear to pass on. Most of all, you should just enjoy your baby!

It's Who You Know

The best source for baby gear will be people you know or have access to. If you have a church or any social group, put out the word that you are looking for baby gear. The second best source is a garage sale. The thing to remember is to check for safety recalls.

Have Your Car Seat Grow With Your Child

Of course, a car seat is a must-have. At first, I didn't realize how long a child must use a car seat and ended up buying three seats over the course of time. There are some seats on the market that start as rear-facing infant seats and then convert to forward facing seats that adjust to accommodate the child's growth. They cost more than any of the single-stage seats, but they are less than buying three separate seats!
Miss Ti

Depends on Preferences and Space

It really depends on your preferences and how much space you have. For example, a baby swing can take up a lot of space and is really not necessary, but some babies love them. I also never used a special diaper pail, but some moms swear by them. Also, some things are designed with dual-purposes like a playpen with a changing station on top to use while the baby is still an infant. (I loved mine!) We had an excellent high chair that we could strap the baby in and then it reclined so she could nap there safely and comfortably. It was one of my favorites. Lastly, check out consignment stores for things like snow suits because depending on where you live, you may only use once or twice. And one thing you can definitely skip is a wipe warmer.

Take the Next Step:

  • Give baby a good financial start on life: Compare savings and money market account rates and open an account for them today.
  • 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.
  • 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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