If you’re reading this, you are probably going to have, or have already had, a baby. Congratulations!! I’m honestly so thrilled for you. Being a mother is so much better than I could have ever anticipated.
I distinctly remember the wave of emotions I felt when I found out that I was pregnant a year ago. First came the excitement and joy about actually being pregnant, quickly followed by a load of anxiety because the pregnancy was unplanned and we weren’t financially prepared for all of the upcoming expenses. We were completely overwhelmed when we thought about everything we needed to get for our little baby coupled with all of the medical expenses.
I immediately started the research process because I wanted to know exactly what we needed for our baby and how much it would cost. To narrow down my list of what I felt like were baby necessities, I read a lot of blog posts and talked to quite a few friends. There is SOOOO much baby stuff out there that you could buy that you don’t actually need and I was determined to only buy the bare necessities.
This meant that we weren’t going to buy the wipe warmer, fancy bottles, expensive video monitor, MamaRoo, Ollie swaddle, or the DockATot. (All things I was convinced at one point that we needed.) Instead, we decided to WAIT and see what our baby needed. If our Rock n’ Play wasn’t enough and our baby was a terrible sleeper, well then we would consider getting something like the MamaRoo. If she screamed every time we changed her diaper, then maybe we would think about buying a diaper warmer. (etc. etc. etc.)
The result? Well, we saved a lot of money and also avoided a lot of waste because we would never have used those things.
Addy still loves diaper changes even with cold wipes, she won’t take a bottle, she sleeps great without any fancy sleep props, and she absolutely hates being swaddled. I’m happy to report that the only thing we added to our necessities list was a bouncer.
So here it is- the list of things that we deem baby necessities (minus the obvious stuff like diapers and wipes) for your baby’s first 3 months of life PLUS tips on how to save $$$ on each item.
I think it is important to note that I included the 0-3 month range because your baby’s needs will obviously change as they grow and you will have plenty of time in the future to buy the highchair, Bumbo, and teething toys.
Your bank account will thank you if you don’t go out and buy everything your baby will need for their first year of life before your child is even born. Buying baby items “as needed” really is the best way to save money and prevent buying baby items that go unused.
*Our little girl is just starting the next 3-6 month phase so I will be sure to have a follow up post as we learn what things we do and don’t need for this upcoming phase.
The Fabulous Five
1. Rock n Play
Oh how I love this little bed! It’s easy to move, easy to clean, and fits perfectly right next to my bed. Adelyn loves it because the incline helps her reflux and she feels cozy in it. I’m convinced this is what has helped her be such a fabulous sleeper.
The most basic version does not rock on its own (it can be rocked manually) but it does have a vibration mode that Addy seems to really like. Sometimes I wish we had the one that rocked on it’s own but it was quite a bit more expensive. We also heard the automatic rocking is really slow and I’m not sure that would be enough for our little girl who seems to like the bouncing/rocking fast and jolty.
$$$ Saving Tip: We ended up buying the most basic version secondhand (Facebook marketplace) for about $20. Everything in it is easy to wash in the washing machine so I felt fine getting it secondhand as long as it was only lightly used. You can get the basic version brand new for about $50 on Amazon and it’s worth every penny in my opinion.
Fisher Price also has a bassinet version of this that we just bought to help transition her to her crib. The bassinet has them lying flat, folds up nicely so it’s extremely portable like the Rock n’ Play, and can be manually rocked. It’s also only $60 which is a great price point for a bassinet. It’s big enough that I expect it to last us until she is 6 or 7 months old.
2. A Good Travel System
I use our car seat/ stroller combo ALL THE TIME. While we are out, the car ride will usually lull Addy to sleep and and I love that we can seamlessly move her from the car to the stroller without waking her up! When we go on walks we use the car seat and just click it into the stroller because it’s just cozier for her, protects her from the elements, and I can keep an eye on her because she is facing me.
$$$ Saving Tip: We definitely got one of the cheapest travel systems out there but we like it. Overall I’d give ours 3.5 stars. I didn’t know exactly what mattered to me or what I was looking for in a travel system so I will buy differently next time. You don’t need to buy the nicest/most expensive one out there- just make sure yours has features that are important to you and pertinent to your lifestyle.
Basic things to consider about your travel system:
– How light is it? (both the stroller and car seat)
-How easy does the stroller to open and close?
-Can the straps of the car seat adjust easily?
-Does the stroller have a large storage compartment, cup holders, large canopy, etc?
-Do you need to be able to adjust the length of the handlebar (if you are really short or really tall)? If so, can you?
-Is the carseat well padded or does it feel flimsy?
-Can the seat of the stroller recline?
-Are the stroller wheels plastic or rubber (rubber is best if you like to get out a lot because it can handle different surfaces with greater ease).
3. Owlet Monitor
Before our little girl was even born I knew that I NEEDED this little device and I’m not sure what I would do without it! Definitely a necessity! I have really struggled with postpartum anxiety and the Owlet gives me much-needed peace of mind! It was especially helpful in the beginning because our little girl had some difficulties keeping her oxygen levels up, so this alerted us when she was having a “blue spell” and needed our attention.
Now that those issues are resolved, we still put it on her foot before she goes to bed every night and I trust that I’ll be alerted if anything is wrong. I know the risk of SIDS is really low if you practice safe sleeping habits, but I just like knowing it is there as a safety measure for the scary “what if” scenarios.
$$$ Saving Tip: Unfortunately the Owlet is one of the more expensive baby items and there isn’t really a way around it or a cheaper device I would recommend. You can buy these lightly used online (there are usually lots for sale) but be cautious and make sure you really take a look at it and make sure it is in perfect working condition before buying. Owlet also offers a no-interest payment plan option if that is something that could help you.
4. Baby Carrier
Baby wearing really is just as great as people claim if you have a good carrier! Newborns are usually happiest when they are held and cuddled and baby carriers help make it possible to have a happy baby and a productive mother. I love to use it while cooking or cleaning and usually wear it on walks or when we got to the park or store and I don’t feel like hauling her stroller around.
I tried a lot of different types of carriers and the Ergo Baby Carrier or Solly Baby Wrap are my favorites! The Ergo isn’t as cute and takes up more space but it feels a little more secure. I prefer it for anything active that requires moving around a lot or needs both of my hands.
I truly feel hands free when I am wearing her in my Ergo because it does such a great job supporting baby’s head and neck. This carrier will also last me longer as it can hold up to 35 pounds and you can carry your baby different ways as they grow up.
The Solly is cute, comfortable and compact but it can be intimidating learning how to tie it properly. Also, until Adelyn was about 3 months old, I felt like I needed to always keep her head secure with one hand. Note: You can tuck your babies head into the fabric of the Solly to keep it steady but once my baby was a few weeks old she really hated being confined like that- some babies absolutely love it.
$$$ Saving Tip: These are both rather expensive baby items. If you aren’t picky (or I should say if your BABY isn’t picky) you could get away with having a cheaper baby carrier and be perfectly happy. To save money, I put my Ergo carrier on my baby registry and was given it as a gift. I bought my Solly secondhand on the Facebook Marketplace for about half the original price.
5. Baby Monitor
Another self explanatory item but definitely a must.
$$$ Saving Tip: We didn’t want to drop a hundred dollars on a video monitor and opted for a sound monitor instead.
Well, I’m SO glad we didn’t buy an expensive video monitor because we have recently learned about the WYZE CAM and holy cow is it a game changer. It really does everything you need (two-way audio, sound and motion notifications, night vision, etc) and it’s only THIRTY DOLLARS.
I love how portable the Wyze Cam is because it attaches to a command-strip like magnet that you can put anywhere, or it can even stand on its own. When we aren’t using it for the baby, we move it to a different spot in our house so that we can set it up as a security camera and use it to check on our dogs when we are gone.
THE BASIC TEN
1.Baby Bouncer or Exercise Ball: Don’t want to spend the money to get a fancy rocking chair or glider? No problem! When we first brought Addy home, I was shocked that she didn’t like being rocked in our rocking chair. It didn’t/doesn’t soothe her at all.
She LOVES being bounced, though! During her first month at home we spent hours holding her while bouncing on a regular exercise ball because it was really the only thing that would soothe her to sleep. Eventually we bought an actual bouncer and it seems to work just as well, which is fabulous because it’s WAY less exhausting and makes multi-tasking easier. I’m literally bouncing her with my foot as I type this 🙃
$$$ Saving Tip: Purchasing either of these instead of a rocking chair will save you lots! I have linked the best ball and bouncer for lowest cost as well. You can just buy one at first to see how your baby likes the bouncing motion before purchasing the other to reduce the chance of waste.
2. Diaper Changing Station
We don’t have an actual changing table- we just put a changing pad on top of our dresser along with a diaper carrier to keep everything organized. This system works great for us especially since the rooms in our house are tiny and this doesn’t take up any extra space!
It also saved us money because changing tables are usually 100-200 dollars. Our changing station has made life with a newborn a lot easier. It’s just a little inconvenient (and painful when you are recovering from labor) to be up and down changing your babe multiple times a day.
$$$ Saving Tip: As mentioned before, you can slap a changing pad on top of a dresser instead of buying an actual changing table. If you DO want to buy a changing station- THIS ONE is only $67, has great reviews, and it has wheels so it’s easy to move around which sounds really convenient.
I also have found that changing pads don’t need those cute (and expensive) covers. I can’t understand why anyone would put a cloth cover on a changing pad anyways because you will just have to constantly wash it. We use a basic, cheap waterproof pad to cover our pad. It might not be as soft or cute but it’s way more practical. You can get 3 pads for $10 and I like to keep one in my diaper bag and one in the car for back up.
3. Defining Gel by Itworks
I’m not an ItWorks distributor anymore so I don’t benefit at all from saying this, but I LOVE their Defining Gel. Addy has had a lot of skin issues including terrible baby acne, eczema, and random rashes. Because the Defining Gel is gentle and natural, I have been using it since she was a month old and it has worked wonders.
It has honestly cleared up any skin ailment she has had within a couple of days. I’ve tried other baby creams and ointments and even have hydrocortisone prescribed for her eczema but nothing worked. If you have a baby with skin issues, I would highly recommend this! (After it healed her baby acne in a couple days, I started using it on my own face and it’s even helped my acne! So if you have postpartum acne like me, this can help mom and baby 😉)
But if you are wondering- no this product is not actually made to help baby skin ailments. It is made for other purposes but I have found that while I didn’t see it do much for cellulite, it works WONDERS on dry skin and eczema, sunburns, rashes, baby acne, scar appearance, etc.
$$$ Saving Tip: You get a big price discount for being a “Loyal Customer” so talk to your ItWorks friend (we all have at least one of them on Facebook) and ask her about this! Spoiler alert: it really is worth the 3 month autoshipment. I am not a distributor anymore but I would be happy to answer any questions for you.4. Sleep ‘n Play Outfits
I bought A LOT of onesies for our little girl before she was born because that’s what babies wear, right? Well 90% of those onesies were never used because in the beginning I just always had her in zip up sleep ‘n play outfits.
Little babies have sensitive stomachs and I felt like Addy was a lot happier and comfier in these rather than wearing pants that put pressure on her tummy. I also found the many diaper changes easier in these.
Another main reason I kept Addy in zip-up pajamas is because they kept her feet warm and I didn’t have to mess with baby socks that would just fall off. I also loved that the newborn-sized outfits had hand covers too which we loved because without them Addy was always scratching her face- even if we kept her nails trimmed!
$$$ Saving Tip: Don’t over-buy!! You will only need 5 – 7 of these if you do laundry semi-regularly. If you want to save money in the long run, I would suggest buying gender-neutral outfits so you can re-use on any future kids. Also, I think it goes without saying that I have found Amazon to have the best deals for these because you can usually get packs or 2 or 4. Target is my other go-to when it comes to inexpensive sleep ‘n plays. They usually have cute 3-packs for about $15.
5. Nosa Frida
I’m not sure if there is a grosser baby item out there but when your baby gets their first cold, you’ll do ANYTHING to manage the congestion and help them breathe. It really is a lifesaver. I like to use the Nosa Frida hand in hand with saline drops.
I put them in her nose first to help loosen everything up and then use the Nosa Frida to clear out the congestion. The nurses in the hospital taught us to do this because suctioning them out can cause swelling and irritation that actually makes it worse but the drops make the whole process more gentle.
$$$ Saving Tip: This is a good one to put on your baby registry! Do not buy this secondhand😂. Also, don’t waste your money on buying suction bulbs if you purchase this.
6. Stain Remover
Your baby will poop a lot and blowouts will happen frequently. That’s just life with an infant! Unfortunately, baby poop does NOT care how much you spent on that baby outfit- it’s going to leave a huge yellow stain on it no matter what. This stain remover has been a big life saver, though! After a blow out, I’ll wash out the outfit out in the sink with warm water and then rub this in before washing. The outfit comes out clean EVERY TIME.
$$$ Saving Tip: Try this first and if you like it, start buying it in bulk or get it with Amazon’s subscription program. I also haven’t had to throw away a single baby outfit so that has inadvertently saved me money.
7. Baby Mirror for the Car
The first couple weeks after having Adelyn I was too afraid to drive anywhere without someone in the back seat watching her to make sure she wasn’t back there choking on her spit up or something like that. Matt was our constant chauffeur and it was a struggle to get errands and other to-do items accomplished.
Our solution to this was buying a baby mirror. It really helped calm my anxiety because I was able to keep my eye on her without stopping the car every few miles to make sure she was okay. The mirror was absolutely key in helping me get back to my normal, everyday activities.
$$$ Saving Tip: This item is not very expensive. This best selling mirror on Amazon is only $13 and has great reviews! We bought our as Target for about $20. This would be a good item to put on your baby registry or you could get it secondhand.
Sonilove Baby Car Mirror
8. Diaper Genie
I feel like this one is pretty self explanatory. You are going to change a lot of diapers with your newborn and it’s really handy to have a place for those diapers to go. I have a feeling we will love this even more in the coming months as Adelyn starts eating other foods and we say goodbye to the days of poopy diapers that don’t stink.
$$$ Saving Tip: We have been able to cut costs with this because we buy the cheaper Target brand bag refills and they work just as great! Buying the bag refills in bulk (Costco has some!) will also save you money in the long run.
Playtex Diaper Genie Complete Assembled Diaper Pail with Odor Lock Technology & 1 Full Size Refill, White
9. Cover for car seat/ nursing cover
These covers are amazing! They have so many different uses so I would suggest having more than one.
I love having one to cover the car seat and get the germs and also having one in my diaper bag that stays clean for breastfeeding. Having at least one extra for when you need to do laundry is really handy as well.
$$$ Saving Tip: These can easily cost you between $30-$50 each but they don’t have to! If you aren’t too picky about what pattern you get, there are some for sale in the $10-$15 price range that work just as well. I personally have this one (cheaper) and this one and absolutely love them!
10. Baby Bathtub
When it comes to baby bathtubs, the Blooming Bath has some of the best ratings! We do not actually have this but I really wish we did! We bought a basic plastic baby bathtub and we hate it. By the time I found out about these bathtubs, Adelyn was 4 months and the recommended use is until 6 months so I don’t feel like we could get enough use out of it. This is an item we will definitely have for our next baby, though.
Most parents love the Blooming Bath because it keeps the baby comfortable and upright and eliminates the slipping and sliding around. That way you have both hands for bathing instead of using one hand to wash the the other to keep the baby steady. It is also easy to wash and dry for reuse.
$$$ Saving Tip: This is not an item that I would suggest trying to find secondhand but it is a great one to put on your baby registry! If you are looking to buy this while you are pregnant than it gives you time to price-check a few stores and keep an eye out for any sales, ensuring that you get the cheapest price. I would also suggest buying this in a gender-neutral color so that you can reuse it for each child.
So there you have it- my favorite 15 baby items! Follow my recommendations in this post and you could save hundreds of dollars while prepping for baby, just like us! If you have any questions, don’t be shy and leave me a comment. I LOVE reading and responding to comments!