For serious planners (you know who you are), stocking up on newborn essentials can begin long before the pregnancy. For most first-time parents however, preparation for bringing home baby starts when they find out they’re expecting.
At best, that’s only 9 months to really get ready for your baby’s arrival. Unless you’re like my boyfriend, who gestated like a champ for ten months and gave his parents thirty extra days to get ready.
But no need to freak out yet; you’ll be doing plenty of that once the baby actually arrives (just kidding). Below, I’ve compiled a baby checklist with some potentially unexpected essentials every frugal first-time parent needs.
Baby On Board
One of the first things a parent should invest in is safe baby transportation like a car seat and stroller, because the most terrifying drive of your life will be the day you bring your infant home from the hospital. First-time parents can alleviate some of that stress by making sure to have all the gear that a baby on the go will need. These items include:
⸺ Convertible Car Seat – These may cost a little more up front, but they are worth the extra cash when you realize how much stuff is required to take your child on even the simplest of errands. A convertible car seat can easily be taken from the car and fitted to a stroller attachment, eliminating the need for the second stroller taking up room in your cargo space.
⸺ Rear-Facing Mirror – I have a friend who checks on her baby with the reverse-camera feature on her phone. Do not be my friend. Invest in an inexpensive rear-facing mirror that attaches to the back seat, so you can safely see what your little stinker is up to in the back seat.
Bonus Tip: Shop online when buying or borrowing gently-used baby items can be a cost-effective option when purchasing newborn essentials on your baby checklist.
You might think that making baby food from scratch is something only Gwyneth Paltrow has time for, but that is simply not true. Not only are you saving money by preparing meals at home, but you’re being eco-friendly as well! To make your own gourmet baby blends at home, you’ll need these items:
⸺ Reusable Plastic Containers – You know about the need for bottles, but what else? Those recycled deli meat containers you usually use for leftovers aren’t going to cut it for baby food storage. Stock up on quality dishwasher safe, BPA-free containers.
⸺ Blender – The nice thing about blenders is that you can use them to make your infant’s meals, and then make Mommy and Daddy margaritas after baby goes to sleep.
Bonus Tip: Add margarita mix to your newborn essentials checklist. You’re going to need it.
Diapers, Diapers, Diapers
If your family and friends threw you a diaper shower, and you’ve got a gajillion boxes of diapers at home, you may think you’re prepared for a newborn. Wrong. Take the number of diapers you already have, multiply that number by at least a thousand, and that’s how many diapers you’re going to need.
While they can be more time-consuming because you have to launder them, cloth diapers can really save first-time parents a lot of money. If you’re feeling EXTRA thrifty, and have a flair for DIY, you can even sew your own diapers! Whether you’re buying store brands or making your own cloth diapers, make sure to check these baby essentials off your shopping list:
⸺ More diapers – see point above about never having enough.
⸺ Wipes – these serve many purposes from diaper changes to cleaning sticky hands.
⸺ A diaper bag (or two) – you have to carry around a ton of diapers (and other baby essentials) everywhere you go but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be stylish doing it. Take the time to find a cute, comfortable and practical diaper bag!
Bonus Tip: Buy Off-Season
You probably know that you can save big by buying apparel in the off-season, but did you know that you can do the same for baby clothing? It can be a gamble, because sometimes you don’t know how much your child will grow; but baby clothes are often offered on mega-markdowns in the off-season. Rompers, sleepers and other items can be literally just a few dollars. You’ll save big bucks, and if they don’t end up wearing the things you bought, you can resell them and make a few extra bucks. Make sure to purchase these essential clothing items on your baby checklist:
⸺ Swaddlers and mittens for newborns so they don’t scratch themselves at night
⸺ Footed pants and pajamas – because socks NEVER stay on.
⸺ Basic white bodysuits – these are great for layering in colder months.
Being a first-time parent is hard; but making sure you’re stocked in advance with newborn essentials can reduce a little of the stress so you can focus on your little bundle of joy. In all the craziness of having a new baby at home, don’t forget to treat yourself too – check out our free and frugal gift ideas for new parents (and feel free to forward it to your friends and family!)