It's incredible how few things you need with a baby. With my first baby, I thought you needed SO many things and with my second, I realized we needed next to nothing. In the US, having a baby is like a huge consumerism thing and there's a million things you're told you need. But really, there are just a small handful of baby essentials you need. And you'll also discover things along the way that your individual baby prefers and needs. So, I'm going over these 5 basic necessities (or rather, 5 categories of things) that you need for a baby during the first six months (on a budget).
I exclusively breastfed so the only thing I needed was my boob. I understand a lot of people need to get back to work and need a pump. If that's you, you'll need a pump, storage bags, bottles, etc. Which, by the way, pumps are expensive, but insurance typically will cover a pump. AND, if they don't, you probably know someone whose insurance did cover it, ask them to pass it down if they're done using it. I also HIGHLY recommend the Haakka for anyone breastfeeding. And if you're not, then you obviously will need to buy formula and bottles.
That's really all you need in terms of feeding. Some people say burp cloths are a must have. I say, they're super handy, but if you have a rag or two in your kitchen, that works just fine.
We do 80/20 cloth diapering vs disposables and I've shared a tonnnn of info on this topic if you're interested. Cloth diapers are very expensive so you can put them on your registry or get them off Facebook Marketplace (which is what we did).
But, whatever you decide to do, be prepared with some diapers right off the bat and then buy more from there. You might have an 11 pound baby or one that grows really fast and may not be in newborn diapers for too long. So, I try not to over buy so we aren't wasting a ton of diapers that they grow out of.
And then you'll need wipes too. Again, we do a mix of reusable and disposable. We have some reusable ones and with those, you just get them wet, use them, and throw them in the same bin as the cloth diapers.
Alright, so we co-sleep (if you do this, a mattress protector is a must have) and we do a montessori floor bed.
Do some research, decide what is going to work for you guys, and get supplies for that. Whether it's a snuggle me organic, sleep sack, a Snoo, bassinet, etc. But remember, you might not know until baby is here. My nephew loved the snuggle me organic, my girls hated it. Every baby is different.
One things I do really recommend is a sound machine. There's also an iPhone hack on this… You go settings > accessibility > Audio/Visuals > Background Sounds > ON. And there's several options for the sound you choose. Also, there are so many Spotify playlists that work great too. With both of these options, you have it with you all the time (as long as you have your phone, which I assume you do) and you can play it out loud or through headphones when you need to.
4. A place to put them
Your baby also needs to be contained. Whether it's while you're cooking, showering, cleaning, needing a break, etc.
You can use a swing or something similar, but my preference is somewhere that they have some freedom to move, roll, etc. I think it's better for physical development. I'm not anti-swing, my first loved the swing so we did use it, but I do prefer something with a little more freedom and space when we can.
We do have a cosleeper, which I could move from room to room which was super nice. But if you're on a budget, use their car seat, lay down a blanket, etc.
And something I absolutely LOVEEE, the California Beach Co. This is not cheap, but if you can swing it, it lasts forever and it is seriously incredible. (Plus the code HEYSHAYLA will get you a discount). It is great in the living room, outside, at the beach, as an alternative to a pack n play. I actually hated a pack n play. This thing is SO easy to set up and take down (I'll show you how incredible easy it is here), it's lightweight, and the babes love it.
They grow out of clothes SO fast, you don't need a ton. I say 5-7 outfits in each size. Yes, they spill, spit up, etc. but I have one really cute, “event” outfit in each size and a handful of everyday outfits and sleepers. You do have to do laundry pretty consistently, but you really don't need that many outfits.
This is something you'll likely get as gifts (even without asking for it), but clothes are also a fantastic hand me down thing and super easy to find and cheap on Marketplace. You can also probably get away with skipping some sizes. You can put your 6 month old in 12 month clothing and it'll be a little baggy for now, but it will last longer and they'll grow into it.
And shoes…I had someone on my podcast that was talking about the benefits of being barefoot and barefoot shoes. Those are expensive, but also, they can have that pair of shoes and wear them for the whole season. You don't need eight pairs of shoes. You're not a bad parent if you have a few pairs of shoes for them. Stuff is expensive. Just know you don't need all of those things. If you want them and can afford them, great. But if not, don't stress, they don't need nine pairs of shoes.
Tips & tricks to get these items for LESS
Okay, so first of all, one thing you will want to splurge on….a carseat. This is just a safety thing. I have a list of the best, non-toxic car seats, but do the research and find something you're comfortable with that you think is safe. And a stroller is another splurge. Some people buy a single that can turn into a double so they don't have to get another when they have a second baby. But, these are probably the two biggest splurges/expenses. See if you can pool money towards them. A lot of registries will let people put money toward items like this. Or, just take your 9 months of pregnancy to start saving up on these two things and find cheaper alternatives for the rest of it.
Everything else can be found for less. I've already mentioned some of these tips, but when it comes to baby essentials, take (and ask for hand me downs), go on Facebook Marketplace (this is a GOLD MINE), go to garage sales, find things (including toys) at Goodwill, be on the hunt for deals, etc. There are also baby groups on Facebook for moms in certain areas and people are often selling or givings things away on there as well.
Some pro tips:
For the Marketplace stuff, when you're messaging them for whatever it is that you're wanting to buy from them, say something like “I have a 3 month old, is there anything else you're looking to get rid of?”. Lots of times they are, and ususally, it's something you need.
Another tip, for baby clothes that are “used” (I say “used” because they're only used for a few months), if there's a baby poop stain on them, the sun is the magic ticket. Wash them and then lay them out in the sun to dry and it comes right out.
And, get creative. Like I said, you can dress your kid in clothes that are a little baggy and they'll grow into it. When it comes to toys, you can get a small handful or you can entertain them with household items. Red solo cups, balls, etc. All of these things still help support development, just take the time to do a little research. And share with people, your friend might have a 6 month old, borrow their 3 month stuff and then give it back and they can use it for their next kid and you can borrow them the toys your babe is sick of, etc.
I hope this was helpful. The moral of the story is we need WAY less stuff than we think (and are taught to believe) and can save so much money (and waste) by sharing, getting creative, and buying used.