Stop Wasting Money on Baby Sh*t: A New Mama’s Guide to Practical Purchases

I’ll be honest: I had no clue what I was doing when I registered for Baby #1. I didn’t know that wipe warmers are really just bacteria swamps (and completely unnecessary) or that the Boppy is just a glorified pillow. I also didn’t know that some bigger ticket items, like a solid baby carrier, are worth splurging on to give your arms a little break. I love you all too much to watch you drop a mortgage payment on a stroller, so here’s what I wish I knew the first go ’round.

Where you can, buy used: Buying new baby furniture is like setting your money on fire Chances are, you have a friend who is happy to part with her well-used and cared for crib, or changing table, or rocking chair (etc).  If not, check out Craigslist. So, it doesn’t go with your Pinterest-inspired woodlands themed nursery? You’ll live. Better yet, tell hubby to get to painting.

We got incredibly lucky and were gifted a beautiful hand-me-down crib, rocker, and changing table (which we painted a cheery color) from a family friend. Boom, over $1,000 right into the college fund. Or family vacay fund. Or mom-needs-new-shoes fund. I am fairly crafty, so it was easy to transition Finn’s boyish nursery into a fun, boho inspired oasis of turquoise with minimal changes.

Small exception to the rule: If you can, buy a new crib mattress. With all the fluids that come out of babies, it’s best to start fresh.

Unless It Does Your Taxes or Pours Your Wine, You Don’t Need a $1500 Stroller: We just bought a brand new City Select Mini Double GT (for those of you who speak baby gear, this is a pretty rocking stroller!) for $208. How, you ask? If you head to Babies R Us or Buy Buy Baby, ask to purchase the floor model. (Obviously, check for damage and any broken parts). Because there was a small, almost undetectable tear in a non-essential part of the stroller, we got a $580 stroller for less than half the retail price. I danced out of the store.

Join the Hand-Me-Down Club: I nearly sobbed when the sweet Ralph Lauren layette I bought Finn didn’t fit at 2 weeks old. Why? Because babies grow. That’s literally what they spend all their energy doing. Find a mom-friend with similar taste and share in the baby-fashion love. I have given boxes full of cute clothes to friends, and the universe has rewarded me with people who are willing to do the same for #2. This means, when I want to spend a little extra on a special occasion outfit for Baby Girl, I can afford to do so since I’ve saved hundreds by reusing clothes.

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Stupid Purchase #128: Those anti-scratch mitts came off Finn’s hands within minutes.

Join a Re-sale Group and Check Out ThredUpI am more than a little obsessed with Freshly Picked Moccasins. Unfortunately, they retail for $50-60, and my frugal, sane husband will murder me if I pay full price, so I joined a resale group on Facebook and have bought a couple, gently used, pairs of Moccs for my growing brood. Plus, when they grow out of them, back for sale they go!

ThredUp is also a great resource for kids and baby (and even adult / maternity) consignment, and I often score brands like Janie and Jack and Baby Boden for pennies on the dollar. If you use my referral link by clicking here you’ll get an immediate $10 to spend. You’re welcome!

Things You Totally Need: Now that I’ve totally destroyed your excitement about new baby gear (I know, I know, but think of the money you’ll save!) let me introduce you to some worthwhile purchases. 

Fool-proof Footies: Almost everything you buy in newborn and 0-3 month sizes should have attached cuffs and be super easy to take on and off. These are a splurge (they retail at $20-ish, but you can find them in stores for less, if you shop off-season) but the Magnificent Magnetic Baby Onesies are the best thing since sliced white bread. No snaps or buttons, just magnets that make 3 a.m. diaper changes less miserable.

This Magical Baby RockerI kick myself all the time for not having bought one of these. We had something similar, to keep at my parents house for visits with them, but nothing beats the Fisher Price Deluxe Newborn Rock N Play when trying to get a fussy baby to let you put him down so you can do the dishes, dammit. 

Nursing Accessories: If you plan on nursing, set yourself up with a nursing station and invest in nursing clothes and bras that make feeding baby a bit easier. If you’re more modest, a breathable nursing cover is a must. I tried to use a nursing scarf or blanket, and Finn acted like I was trying to suffocate him by throwing a tantrum. This left me in an awkward position: Whip my boob out in front of my aunts and uncles at a family function, or remove myself from conversations and spend an hour in isolation while he nursed.

Score a Registry Completion Discount: Even if you don’t plan on sharing your registry with anyone, you should still register. Add diapers, wipes, anything you will see yourself buying anyway. Why? Many registries give you a “completion discount,” where you can purchase any and all items on your registry for less. Here’s what I’m eyeing for #2. Happy shopping!


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