Motherhood

What You Really Need For a Baby: The Bare Essentials

What You Really Need For a Baby The Prudent Homemaker

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When I was pregnant with my first baby, money was super tight. I wondered what I really needed for the baby, and everyone would tell me the same thing, “You need everything.” 

“But what about __________?” I would ask.

“Oh, yes, you have to have that,” they would say.

It didn’t seem possible to me that I had to have all of these many things for a baby, but no one could guide me to what a baby really needed, and what I could skip spending money on.

Eight babies later, I’ve found that a lot of those things people said I had to have (and that I thought I probably didn’t) are things I didn’t have to have, and even a lot of the things I thought I would need are things I have either done without or gotten rid of (because we rarely or never used them!)

I have received a lot of emails over the years from readers asking what items they have to have and what they can do without, because they have a small budget for their baby.

If you have a small budget and want to make sure you have the essentials, here’s my list of what you really need–and remember, you can get almost all of these items used via yard sales, hand-me-downs, children’s resale shops, thrift stores, Craig’s List, and local Facebook garage sale pages.

1. A car seat

It needs to be rear-facing and up-to-date (not expired).  

In the U.S., you must have this in order to take your baby home from the hospital. Even if your children are all born at home, like mine have been, you still need a car seat. You’ll also need an infant insert to hold a newborn’s head.

Sleeping Baby The Prudent Homemaker

2. A place for the baby to sleep

More than likely, you’ll need a crib of some kind. It can be a small crib, it can be a used crib (try Craig’s List, garage sales, Facebook garage sales, and children’s resale shops). You’ll also need a crib mattress and bedding. For bedding, you need 2 bottom sheets, 2 mattress pads, and 2 blankets. I personally also like waterproof crib pads that go in between the waterproof mattress pad and the sheets; they save you from having to take off the mattress pad every time your child spits up or has a leaky diaper while sleeping.

What you don’t need:

A bassinet, a cradle, or a matching bedding set with a quilt. The baby will quickly outgrow the first two, and the big fluffy quilts that come in the sets are too large and too thick. A crib bumper is no longer recommended in the U.S. (as it is considered a suffocation hazard) and is also difficult to tie on and off every time you change the sheets.

Gender-specific crib sheets. If you opt for neutral colors, you can feel good about using the same sheets for each baby (of course you can use pink sheets for a boy, but many people would prefer not to. If you start with a neutral color, you won’t have to feel obligated to buy different sheets if you have a baby of the opposite sex later).

Note that many places recommend not using blankets but using sleeping sacks instead. Despite this recommendation, I have never known anyone who didn’t use blankets with their baby at some point, whether in the crib, while sleeping elsewhere, while being held, while swaddled, to cover the car seat when the sun in shining in the baby’s eyes, or to lay down on the floor for the baby to play on. Chances are good that you won’t need to buy any baby blankets; they are a gift that everyone loves to give. I’ve received over 80 baby blankets with my 8 children!

Receiving blankets are too tiny to be of much use. Many parents prefer a larger muslin blanket like this.

3. A place for the crib

This can be in your room or in another room. 

What you don’t need:

A decorated nursery. Yes, it’s pretty. Your baby will still be just fine without it. Your baby will notice your love and affection more than anything on the walls, a mobile, a rug, or coordinating decorations.

4. A place to feed the baby

A chair with arms is the most comfortable option. A place to put your feet up is a bonus but not required. I’ve nursed most of my children at the computer sitting in the computer chair, because it has arms. This website was started while I fed my 5th baby!

What you don’t need:

A glider rocker with matching gliding ottoman.

I really wanted one of these with my first baby. We had 7 chairs at our house when my first was born–4 metal folding chairs that we used as kitchen chairs, 2 computer chairs without arms, and one broken recliner with wood arms. I used the rather uncomfortable recliner with my first two babies, until we bought a computer chair with arms when I had my third. Some type of chair with arms is helpful for nursing or bottle feeding.

5. A way to feed the baby

If you nurse your baby, you’ll need at least 2 to 3 nursing bras. I cannot recommend getting fitted for a nursing bra enough! Department stores have women trained to fit you for a bra, and even if you’ve been fitted for a regular bra, your size will change when you are nursing. A comfortable nursing bra is important, and a properly fitting bra will be much more comfortable than one that rides up or pinches you.

Nursing pads are essential to keep you from leaking milk through your shirt. I like these disposable ones and these washable ones.

A nursing cover is wonderful for discreetly nursing (and fastening your nursing bra and shirt after you’re done nursing). I’ve used blankets before, but the cover doesn’t slip when I’m buttoning my shirt or the baby decides to flail his arms. 

If you’re formula feeding, you’ll need formula (of course), bottles, nipples with different numbers of holes depending on the baby’s age, and a bottle brush.

If you’re planning on pumping your own milk, you’ll also need those items (minus the formula). You’ll need a breast pump. This may be covered by your health insurance.

If you don’t know what brand of formula you want to use, you can sign up before your baby is born on different companies’ websites, and they’ll send you free samples and coupons.

Burp cloths. Babies spit up. Some babies barely spit up, and some babies spit up a lot. Prefold cloth diapers work as great burp cloths, or you can purchase or make some.

What you don’t need: 

Special nursing clothing. A regular t-shirt and/or button-front shirts work fine. If you like to wear a dress, a button front bodice or a criss-crossing bodice (such as in a wrap or faux wrap dress) will work for nursing.

A nursing pillow. If you really want a pillow, try using a pillow you already have.

A bottle sterilizer. You can wash bottles in the dishwasher, and if you don’t have one, you can dip them in boiling water in a pot on the stove–or simply wash them well.

Nursery water. As long as you have clean, safe drinking water where you live, you don’t need to mix your formula with bottled water.

6. Diapers and Wipes

Cloth or disposable, you’ll need something. Baby wipes (cloth or disposable) are also needed. You’ll want a place to dispose of the diapers (if disposable) or a bucket to put cloth diapers and wipes in until you’re ready to wash them. You’ll also want something to put them in until you’re ready to use them (a basket, a drawer, etc.) 

Both cloth and disposable diapers can be done on a low budget. I have done both and prefer disposable. I buy the Target brand diapers when they have sale and gift card offers. I use the Costco wipes (a box is $20 but it also goes on sale for $16 a few times a year). I find that one box of wipes lasts me 9 months. I usually spend around $250 a year for disposable diapers and wipes.

You’ll likely also want to use a diaper rash ointment and some baby powder.

What you don’t need:

A diaper pail. This is one of those items that we registered for, received as a gift, used for the first two children, and then we decided we didn’t need it. We had a diaper pail that took regular trash bags. Starting with my third, the babies have all been changed in my room. We found it easy enough to put the diapers in the bathroom trash can (under the sink in a cabinet) and to empty that trash can every day. Emptying it every day is the best way to not have a stinky nursery. If you are changing a baby in a nursery, you may find a trash can with a lid (that you can line with plastic grocery sacks) to be the easiest option.

7. A place to change the baby

Somewhere to change diapers is important. If you have a two-story house, you’ll want somewhere to change diapers on each level. 

This can be as simple as a waterproof pad. I use a waterproof crib pad with two cloth prefold diapers on top. If the baby spits up on the top or the diaper leaks while changing a diaper, I can replace that cloth diaper with another for the next time. You can also opt for changing the baby on a bath towel folded in half. Both of these options will can be done on a bed or on the floor; I change my babies at the foot of my bed.

A portable diaper changing pad is useful when you leave the house–and you can use in to change the baby on at home, too!

What you don’t need:

A changing table. They’re an expense that wasn’t in our budget with our first, and we made it work without one. It worked fine, and so, 8 babies later, I’ve never used one. Are they nice? Sure! But if one isn’t in your budget, you can put down a waterproof crib pad on your bed or on the floor and change a diaper there (and if you have a two-story home, you might not always change the baby in his room!) Don’t stress over having one if it isn’t in your budget. I did–but we made it work without, and once I realized we were fine without one, we never bought one, even when we had the money to do so.

8. A place to wash the baby

I had a baby bathtub that I used with each of my eight babies, and I gave it away after our eighth. I won’t be getting another one for my ninth.

I only used the baby bathtub on occasion, when my babies were younger than four months. After that age, you can sit up (while you hold the child) a baby in the kitchen sink for a bath. 

Most of the time, however, we bathed the baby by having dad hold the baby in the shower while I washed the baby (standing right outside the shower). This was the simplest way for us and why we rarely used the baby bathtub.

Used baby bathtubs are usually free for the asking; people can’t seem to give them away. If you want one, ask around, and the chances are pretty good that you can find one for a song or even for free.

You’ll want some baby soap. I highly recommend smelling the different brands if you can before you commit to a brand; you may find that you like the scent of some and hate the scent of others. This is a gift that you may receive in a baby shower, too, giving you the chance to try out a couple of different brands in small bottles.

A couple of small, soft baby washcloths are nice, but you can also use a regular washcloth.

What you don’t need:

Baby towels; they are rather small and thin. They never kept my babies warm when taking them from the bath (even when it’s 78ºF in my house half the year) and my babies outgrew them in the first few months. A regular towel will do just fine, be large enough, and be thick enough to keep your baby warm between the bath and getting dressed (and not be too wet to dry your baby like the thin, tiny baby towels).

8. Clothes for the baby (and a place to put them)

There is a reason so many people say that their baby outgrew clothing before it was already worn. If you have more baby clothes than you need, this can easily be a problem.

If you have a baby shower and people know what sex the baby is, you will most likely receive a lot of clothing, and it will quite possibly all be in the 0-3 month size. Don’t be afraid to exchange clothing for a larger size.

A new baby spends most of his time sleeping. When your baby is less than 3 months old, you can easily have the baby wear pajamas all day long.

How many clothes you need in each size depends on a couple of things: how often your baby spits up, how often your baby has a leaky diaper, how many times you want to change the baby’s clothing, and how often you do laundry. How many layers you need will depend on the season, the climate you live in, how warm you keep your house, whether or not you keep your baby swaddled in a blanket, and if you take the baby outdoors often or keep the baby inside.

Baby clothes are often freely handed down; you can quickly end up with more than you will use. They are also a great buy at garage sales.

Any dresser will do for your baby; if your baby is in your room, one designated drawer will keep all of your baby clothes handy. Baby hangers are very helpful for hanging clothes in a baby’s room (or in your own closet, if the baby is in your room) and you’ll use the fo years until your children need adult-sized hangers.

What you don’t need:

Baby shoes. Babies won’t need shoes until they are walking, and even then, they will do best barefoot most of the time. My babies have almost all walked early (at 9 months) and I don’t purchase shoes until they have been walking for a few months. 

12 of everything. 6-8 of most items of clothing per size is more than sufficient if you do laundry every couple of days. A couple of hats (or even just one) when your baby is brand-new to the world are useful, but you’ll quickly no longer need them (and your baby will quickly outgrow them).

Special baby detergent. Babies clothing can be washed with your regular clothing. You will want stain removers.

9. A few hygiene items

Baby nail clippers are one of the best things ever.

A small comb with fine teeth works well for combing fine baby hair–but it doesn’t have to be a special baby comb. 

A nasal aspirator (referred to as a “booger sucker” at my house) is extremely helpful in unclogging a stuffy baby’s nose. The larger the aspirator, the better; tiny ones are not worth your money.

What you don’t need:

Baby brushes. These usually come packaged with a baby comb and sometimes with nail clippers. If your baby has fine hair, a comb is more useful than a brush. 

Special wipes for the baby’s nose.

10. Baby medicine

When your baby is fussy, crying, and won’t sleep, it can be overwhelming. It’s helpful to have a few items in the medicine cabinet before your baby is born.

Gas drops. The store brand of these works just fine, as this tiny bottle can be expensive. I always find I need these in the middle of the night the first couple of weeks after my babies are born, when they won’t stop crying and arching their backs from stomach pain.

Baby acetaminophen. Babies can only have acetaminophen during the first six months to reduce fevers. You can add infant ibuprofen to your medicine cabinet after that.

Garlic Ear Drops. These are amazing. Everyone I’ve told about these (and loaned my bottle to) has ended up keeping the bottle and buying me a new one, because they loved the product so much! If your baby (or child, or YOU) has an earache, these drops get rid of it very quickly (only 4 times have I ever needed to administer a second round of drops), and save you a trip to the doctor for an earache (and ten days of antibiotics)!

Oral Relief Tablets. I found these easier to administer and more effective than teething ointment.

11.  A stroller

I thought I needed a large stroller that my car seat could clip into, with a big basket underneath and a place for me to put a drink.

By the time my third baby was born, I had used that stroller less than 10 times with my first 2.

When I went shopping, I would put the baby’s carseat into the shopping cart. Once the baby was bigger, I would put the baby right in the child seat in the cart. Most places I shopped (grocery stores and big box stores) had carts, so this worked fine.

When we went places, I usually found it easiest to just carry the baby. I rarely needed the stroller.

Eventually, I bought a smaller umbrella stroller at a garage sale for $7 (after my 5th was born). We were going a few more places and I found the lightweight stroller to be so much easier to use. I sold the big stroller at a garage sale.

Whether or not you need a stroller (and what kind) really depends on your lifestyle. Realize, too, that you may decide to stay home more once you have a baby.

Ivory Baby Toys The Prudent Homemaker

12. A few baby toys

Babies are curious about new things. Once they’ve learned all about something, they often tire of it and want to learn about something new. Once they can crawl and walk, they no longer want baby toys–they want to play with everything else in the house (including everything in your kitchen cabinets).

Before our eighth was born, I narrowed down the baby toys to the toys my young babies liked the most, and I donated everything else. What we kept for our eighth baby included the following: Sophie the Giraffe, Oball shaker, and Links

What you don’t need:

A bouncer, a swing, playmats, and large baby toys that take up huge amounts of space. 

None of these made my babies happy. The baby would constantly slide sideways in the bouncer and preferred just to be held, and once the baby was 4 months old, all of my babies preferred time on a blanket on the floor instead. The swing had similar issues, and once I had a couple of children, the swing became something that the toddler just want to push really high and really fast! Every mom told me these were necessary items, but we found that they weren’t something we had to have at all.

13. A diaper bag–or something to carry your baby supplies in when you leave the house

You don’t have to have an actual diaper bag with pockets for bottles inside. If you bottle feed, they are certainly helpful, but any bag will work to transport diapers, wipes, a baby blanket, a nursing cover, bottles and formula, burp cloths, a diaper changing pad,  and a change of baby clothing. You can use a large purse, a backpack, or a tote bag.

I found it heavy to carry around a large number of supplies in a diaper bag while also carrying a baby (or a sleeping baby in the carseat!). To make my life easier (and to relief the back pain) I started keeping a large container of wipes, several diapers, and an infant bodysuit in the car. In my bag I have 2 to 3 diapers and a small container of wipes (and when I am nursing, I have a nursing cover, 2 burp cloths, and a change of clothing for the baby). With a one-year-old currently in diapers, I can fit a couple of diapers and a small package of wipes in my vintage 1950’s handbag, and I don’t have to carry a large bag.

What you don’t need:

A designer diaper bag.

14. A high chair and baby feeding supplies

You won’t need this until your baby is able to sit up and eat food. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting babies on solids at 6 months or slightly later.

Baby bibs are important for feeding to keep your baby from staining his clothes. The larger the bib, the more of the baby’s clothing that is protected. I use homemade bibs in dark colors (so that I don’t need to use stain remover) that are large enough to cover their entire outfit. In the beginning, at 6 months, I’ll use a slightly smaller bib that covers their entire torso.

Two baby spoons is more than enough for a baby; you can quickly wash them by hand and have them ready to use.

You can mash up what you’re having; steamed fruits and vegetables are easy items to give to your baby. A blender can be used to puree your food and you can freeze food in ice cube trays to use later to feed your baby if you’re making a bunch at once.

What you don’t need:

Baby cereal, individual baby food containers, teething cookies, Cheerios, veggie straws, and toddler food. These can quickly add up and make your grocery budget double, with half the budget going towards baby food!

Not convinced you can do without baby food? French Kids Eat Everything is a book I highly recommend getting from the library and reading at least once! I watched the truthfulness of this when a French friend of mine came to visit and gave his 8-month-old steamed broccoli from his own plate at dinner at our house. The baby loved it!

Every mother is different, and every mother has her own personal favorites that she has to have. You’ll find favorite brands of baby products, favorite kinds of baby blankets, and favorite products. You may find you can’t live without some of the items that I mentioned as not being needs, and that’s okay! In the end, you are the parent, and you get to choose what you want for your babies.

Ivory Blessing Day The Prudent Homemaker

 You may also enjoy reading: Our Baby Naming Day Tradition

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97 Comments

  1. After 8 babies, you certainly qualify as an expert! I agree, you can get by on a lot less equipment than you think you need with babies. I didn’t care for high chairs–we preferred a booster seat with a tray attachment. It fit into our small home better and allowed the baby to sit closer to us. I used a changing pad on top of a dresser (with curved sides) to change my babies and I got very good at stabilizing baby with one hand to prevent slide-offs. Again, with a small house, space was at a premium. Not sure my back would have held up with changing a baby on the floor all the time, so I mention that as an alternative. And, like you, I ended up preferring my garage-sale umbrella stroller to the big, bulky one we got as a shower gift.

    We also received tons of baby blankets and 0-3 month clothing as gifts. I’m not sure it occurred to me to return the clothing for a larger size–I guess my mommy-brain didn’t think that one through!

    Our first baby was a non-sleeper and a swing was the only way to guarantee a little bit of sleep with him–each baby is different; our second one didn’t care for the swing.

    I am beyond the baby stage now but you brought back fun memories!

  2. When I was pregnant for my first child my husband and I were driving my grandmother home after Sunday dinner at my parent’s house. My grandmother LOVED yard sales. She lived through the Depression and rarely bought anything new, but she could do some major shopping at a yard sale. She saw one in the small town we had to drive through to take her home and of course she wanted to stop. Being late Sunday afternoon they were about to close. When the man who was having the sale noticed I was pregnant he insisted on giving us all of the baby items that were left. He had a crib, changing table, wind-up swing, lots of blankets and baby clothes, and infant carrier (not a car seat, just a carrier) and lots of other little odds and ends. We used all of this stuff along with the items from our shower for all of our children! Along with other hand-me-downs and gifts we were able to basically buy nothing new until they started school.

  3. When I joined my military husband in Germany many years ago as a new, nursing mother, I brought everything for 15 months for the baby and me in a foot locker, including all my cloth diapers. Our tiny baby first slept in that padded foot locker until we found a crib. The one thing I could not live without there, though, was a good stroller. It was the first thing we bought. We did not have a car there, so that stroller was a workhorse, carrying the baby as well as groceries and laundry for the laundromat. We walked everywhere, and the Germans always helped me get a stroller on a bus if needed. (In Germany, they have a stand area in the back of buses for parents and strollers.) A crib, a stroller, cloth diapers, and basic clothing and linens was all we had, and our son thrived with love from us, of course!

  4. After 7 babies, I must agree with the nasal aspirator thing—the small ones are good for nothing.
    However, I have found two things very, very useful for nursing. I really prefer having a nursing pillow over trying to get another pillow (or more) positioned just right. Also, after baby 6(I think), I discovered nursing tanks. I love these even more than my nursing bras because it keeps the belly covered while I nurse in public– no nursing cover needed. And glad for that I am because none of my babies tolerated having a nursing cover. That is the only nursing clothing I would recommend other than regular bras; all the other nursing clothes I bought were a waste of money.

    Not a necessity but nice is a baby carrier of some type. I think each Mama has to find the one that works for her; try borrowing ones from friends to see if you like it before you buy it.

  5. That’s why I say every mother has her favorites! A nursing pillow was never high enough for me (perhaps they don’t work well for small-busted women? I’m small enough that it’s almost impossible to find nursing bras in my size; even most regular bra brands don’t make my size pre-nursing; I had one department store tell me they carried nothing that small and another tell me they had only ONE brand in the one department that size; nursing bras start a cup size larger than that). Thankfully mine was a hand-me-down, so no outlay of money there. I tried to make it work with my first three, but I still had to lift the baby higher or bend way down to reach the baby, which is NOT a comfortable way to nurse.

    Likewise, I tried a baby carrier, but I felt like it was very difficult to use, and the baby was always in my way. A friend of mine manages to cook with his baby in a front carrier (I watched hi do it at my house) but I am terrified to have the baby’s feet get burned! And I found the baby was in the way to do dishes, so a carrier never worked for me.

    Everyone has a different lifestyle and preferences, but I think it’s good to know that you don’t HAVE to buy everything and even if you feel pressure to do so (I know I sure did with my first) you might just end up hating something–or only use it for 1 to 2 months before your baby is no longer interested in it.

    My eldest lived in onesies, because that’s what we could afford. She had one dress in each size for church, bought on clearance or received as a gift. While it wasn’t my favorite thing to put her in onesies, it worked just fine (especially in our hot climate), and when I had my second little girl (baby #4) I had a bit of money to buy dresses, so I bought several used dresses on ebay. Dresses were definitely a want and not a need. The next three girls got a lot of wear from those!

  6. Thank you so much for this article, Brandy! I’ve been eagerly looking forward to it and will refer back to it when I am ready for a little one. I am not in a financially good position right now but people have been encouraging me to have a child anyways (my church is having baby fever!)

    One of the pastors at my church had told me that when his wife gave birth to their first daughter, they were at their poorest – the only breast pump they could afford was a manual one! But he said the first six months, he didn’t have to buy diapers as church members were extremely generous and occasionally gave a box of disposables out of the goodness of their hearts. Similarly, a woman just last week dropped off two giant bags of new, never worn baby girl dresses for the taking!

    My friend doesn’t have a high chair but she has a booster seat so baby can be plopped at any chair for a meal, which is really handy when eating out.

  7. I did not have a lot of things with my first baby and we did fine. I exchanged a lot of 0-3 clothes so that we had clothes for quite awhile. I was a nanny in High School and college, then had my own two, then went back to Nannying while my husband was getting his Master’s. One situation was for boy-girl twins. He loved to eat and she hated it. The only way I could get her to take any formula was to put her in the bouncy seat. Now I have been caring for a grandson since his mother went back to school when he was 2.

    The earliest children were cloth diapered. One nice thing with disposable diapers was needing fewer changes a day! I remember walking to the laundromat with load of clothes, baby, and cloth diapers. It did not work well because my boys were sensitive to powder detergents left in the washers.

    I sewed a lot of my children’s clothes, but we had no thrift stores in the remote area where we lived.

  8. I love this post! I have 6 kids and have always fallen into buying matching crib sets, until my last. She is adopted and was 11 months old when we got her. A mesh bumper, crib sheet, and thin blanket were all we needed. I have always (even as a teen) been in love with everything baby and loved buying those items. Your post makes me realize how much money I could have saved with just buying the needs, not all of the wants!

  9. As a mom of girls born with thick curly hair a baby brush is definitely used daily.
    We did not use a car seat carrier for any of the 4. We preferred car seats that stay in the car and to hand carry our babies why add the extra weight the car seat when carrying your baby. Yes even sleeping babies.
    Nordstrom and Nordstrom rack will convert any regular bar they sell into a nursing bra (in the past 2 yrs ago this was a free service could have changed by now) you can find very inexpensive bras at tbe rack around ten dollars. Maybe worth a try for hard to find sizes.
    I also strongly recommend a boppy pillow! Mine was used continuously for nursing and for the baby to lay and sit in. I see them at the thrift store quite often and find covers for them in with the linens.
    I never used a crib…because I am a softy but do love a pack and play not only bc they are small and can be placed next to my bed and or moved to other rooms but they also are a safe place to place baby when you need to run to the ladies room or are doing a chore like cooking/cleaning. For me I find babies are happier when they can see you. This is not a need but I prefer not to have a screaming baby so we have used a back pack carrier (in the house) to carry baby around while cooking, folding laundry, washing dishes…ect. Keeps baby happy and entertained while we get tgings down with peace in the home.

  10. My “changing table” for my daycare was an antique sideboard that I placed a pad on top of. I used the bathroom counter for when we needed to change ours in the upper level.
    I LOVED receiving blankets to use as burp rags – I had some heavy spit uppers and it covered a lot more area and I had to change clothes for baby and myself less often.
    Swings take up a huge amount of space but were a godsend when I took care of colicky infants.
    Also, a baby backpack was a necessity for me. I used it while shopping, cooking dinner (anything where I needed 2 hands), going on outtings like to the zoo (they can’t see much from a stroller) and it allowed me to hold 2 little ones at once. Mine also had a small bag attached to it so I didn’t need an extra diaper bag. My son was a rather attached baby who always had to be in on what was going on – he HATED the front packs so by about 3 weeks old, he was in the backpack (he could hold his head pretty steady at birth) unless he was nursing because I had my daycare baby to care for as well as 3 other toddlers. Once he was moving on his own (he was crawling by 5 months and standing by 6 months), we didn’t need to use it as much.
    And the baby toys – UG some of them take up a huge floor area – oh and the stuffed toys…..most of those went away real quick. Babies love textures to chew on since they do a lot of learning by mouthing things so the baby toys I kept around were mostly items with varied textures and easy grips. Board books were also important to us and can be picked up at garage sales for pennies.
    One other tip – make a list of items you need or want and when people ask you’ll have a ready answer – and diapers and formula (or nursing supplies) are not bad things to ask for!

  11. By the time I had my 3rd boy, I had realized that I did not need any of the big things, bouncers, etc. They loved to lay on a blanket on the floor and just look around a couple toys to grab were all they needed and hand me down clothes worked great!

    With my first I had received a lot of clothes as you said in the smallest size. I exchanged them all for larger sizes there were just too many clothes! I didn’t have to buy anything till my oldest was almost 2 as I had been able to exchange things for larger sizes!

  12. I’m finished with the child bearing days, but have joyfully moved to the grandparent stage in life. I babysit our grandson 2-3 days a week, and we still use our crib and changing table we had when our kids were babies. May be a little scuffed, but still works great! I got all my toys, swing and baby bouncer at a local Habitat for Humanity ReStore store that has a $5 bag sale. He has sooooo many toys that I put out only so many each time so I alternate to keep him from getting bored. Of course I washed and sterilized everything first, but he was stocked and ready to go for under $25 ! I also scored a FREE walker that was sitting by curb at one of my neighbors house. Nothing wrong, just missing giraffes that were supposed to be on it. Called company and those 2 giraffes were going to be almost $25 to replace. So being my frugal self, we improvised and put tennis balls over notches so he wouldn’t poke eyes. Works like a charm! Only problem we have is our dogs try to play with them after grandson leaves LOL

  13. Colleen, I have never heard of a store converting regular bras into nursing bras! That is very interesting. Nordstrom sells ONE brand (of regular bra)that comes in my size; everything else is bigger. Macy’s doesn’t even sell anything my size and told me to go to Nordstrom’s. Walmart sells smaller cup sizes (of regular bras; no nursing bras) but they are ALL push-up bras with about 4 inches of padding. (Talk about false advertising, ha! To me it says, “You’re not good enough if you aren’t a C cup, so we have to add enough padding to make you that size.” ) I think that’s why the Boppy pillow never worked for me.

    And at a lot of stores, the nursing bras only seem to be in stock in cup size G. I need new ones this time and I have been looking!

    I think there is a Nordstrom rack in town. $10 would be an amazing price if I could find my size and have it converted.

    I had luck at Dillard’s 16 years ago, but now our store is just a clearance outlet—great for regular clothing, but not good when you need to purchase something so specific.

  14. We are considering baby #3. With our first two, an electric swing was my best friend! They took their naps during the day in it. However it takes up a lot of space and we sold it for $20. If we have a third, I can totally see my toddler swinging one like crazy so I’m glad to hear your support that it isn’t necessary.
    I bought an entire stash of clothes diapers because I had Kohls cash and couldn’t find anything else to buy. I never used them much. Like you, I buy from target during sales and spend about $250/year. Its hard to beat that price and not having to do more laundry! I work Tuesdays and Fridays and my mil was not going to use cloth diapers. She buys diapers for her house so I might only spend $200/year.
    Since we live on gravel roads a good big stroller is a must for walks. It folds nicely into my trunk.
    I can’t believe how much I bought into those “needs” with my first. I researched all the baby formulas and after 9 weeks my first was using formula. My second I breastfed for 9 months. With a third, I would try for 12 months. I can’t believe the crap in some baby formulas. I wish I had read more about the benefits of breastfeeding. With type 1 diabetes in my family, I had no idea breastfeeding lowers the risk of developing it! Now, I’m so much more knowledgeable about what’s the healthiest for myself and my baby.
    I loved this post! You totally inspire me that I can handle another child!

  15. I had a similar experience to above when I was pregnant with my first everyone gave me everything . I bought one item for them to wear home from the hospital one package of baby wipes and one package of diapers. I borrowed the car seat from the lending closet on base for the first car seat and then I bought the larger one from USAA. We used the things that were given to us or we did without. I didn’t even have everything that was on Brandy’s list of must haves and yet my children grew up and we all did fine.

  16. We also used onsies a lot with our eldest. It was easier not having to put shirts over her head (99% in size). The zippered onsies worked for 9 months.
    We have gotten rid of boxes of toys because our girls never even played with them. Now we only keep 1 bbo. I tried telling family to stop buying plastic junk but we still get tons of it. I prefer the wooden puzzles and books. Or cookie cutters or at least something that doesn’t just sit there for them to look at. Oh well, that’s the struggle of trying to raise kids the way YOU think they should be and not the pressure of society and commercials.

  17. I love books–especially children’s books. Libraries are a great resource if you can’t afford books (including board books). I feel very strongly about books (we have a library!) and have found many great books at garage sales for $0.25 each.

    Our pediatrician’s office has a call-in nurse service. These are becoming more common. You can have a virtual visit with a nurse and she can tell you if you really need to bring in the child or not. They can also diagnose you online and send a prescription to the pharmacy for you without you having to come in. There are also many great resources online.

  18. Colleen, I agree that a pack and play can be really handy. Our families were out of town when we had babies, so travel was a must, and having a ready-made bed for baby was helpful (1 sheet for it is plenty–and my pack and play came with a bassinet which we used for baby #2 the first 2 months).

    Brandy, yes, I think Boppy pillows are great for larger breasted women, and I can see where they wouldn’t otherwise work. I definitely needed one. I can assure you that trying to find a decent nursing bra when you are on the other end of the bra cup size spectrum is also very challenging. I never found one I loved with either child. I think manufacturers cater to 80% of the population and the rest of us on either end have few, if any, good options. The frustration continues for me with finding swimming suits that fit–I am not overweight, just large-chested, and finding something that supports and covers me which doesn’t cost $200 is close to impossible. Apparently I need to be 3 sizes larger than I am to find something to fit my chest. We live near lots of lakes so going to the beach is a frequent activity in the summer for us. Sorry for the segue in this conversation–this is just an ongoing source of frustration for me!

  19. We didn’t have an actual high chair until baby #4! We had a kind that clipped onto the table. It wore out and that’s when we were able to buy a high chair.

    We don’t eat out as a family (my husband and I have rare dates out when we have a gift card), but when I went with my parents for two graveside services for my grandmothers in 2016 in another state, the hotel and all places where we ate had high chairs. My baby wasn’t eating solid food yet (he was 4 months old) but he sat up well and we put him in the high chairs the restaurants and hotel had.

    I have used an Avent manual breast pump (which is highly rated) with my babies. But now insurance companies in the U.S. cover breast pumps and also pump rentals.

  20. Brandy- as good of a seamstress as you are you should try making some bras. I have not made any completely, but I am hard-to-fit so I buy a size larger than I really need then customize! I have never found one as good as I can improvise. However I have seen good seamstresses make some really nice ones…

    In my last post I forgot to mention that the man gave us a large playpen. It was the old-fashioned type that was actually large enough for the baby to play. The pack-n-plays they sell now are so small.

  21. Having raised 6 of my own and providing child care for 4 of someone else’s, I have found that some of what you need depends on the baby. Some of mine could not get enough of a baby swing and wouldn’t nap anywhere else, other’s wanted no part of one. I could not have survived without a big stroller, but used an umbrella stroller alot, (read “wore a few out”) as well. I absolutely loved the baby towels that had the “hood” on the corner. My children used these until that were 3 years old. Mine were big enough for them to still wrap themselves up in them. I agree that somethings, clothes, blankets, etc., you do not need the volume of that we often get. You might borrow some of the bigger items like a swing, to try out with your baby before you purchase one. I can’t recommend a stroller that your car seat fits into enough. There is nothing worse than having to take a sleeping baby out of their car seat or car the car seat around with the baby in it. I agree with Brandy that a lot depends on your lifestyle and the child involved.

  22. Just want to second the manual breast pump. I found it much more comfortable than an electric pump, and for those times when I was too full and Needed. To. Pump. Right. This. Minute, it was really handy. Plus easier to take with you when you’re out and about or on vacation. I tried the electric pump with my oldest, and every time I turned it on, he started to cry; could not stand the sound!

  23. You have had a lot more children than me; so I am not going to say you are wrong; but it seems to me just 2 bottom crib sheets is just too few. I would have at least 4. I know when my children were babies it was often a bottle would be spit up after a meal on a sheet and less than an hour later the large BM diaper would explode out the side on this jammies and the sheet. I have changed his crib 3 times a night several time and the baby was not ill.

  24. Every baby is different! I’ve never needed three sheets in a day myself. I have nursed and bottle fed my babies; my bottle fed baby spit up a lot more often than my nursing babies, and I went through more burp cloths in a day with him than I did with the others. My bottle-fed baby got more to eat in one sitting, and it seems to me having more in a baby’s tummy seems to lead to more spit-up incidents. I also don’t make a large amount of breastmilk; some mothers make wonderful, creamy milk (mine is more like skim!) and large quantities of it and have lovely chubby babies.

    If you have the ability to do laundry more often (not everyone has a washer in their home) you can often cut down the number of all items (clothing, burp cloths, sheets, etc.) On my current baby (he’s one) I usually just change his sheet once a week; I wash it and put the same sheet back on. He’s getting big now, but as an infant, I rarely had to change his sheet due to spit up or leaky diapers. It definitely depends on the baby! Someone could always start out with two sheets and if they really need them, buy more.

  25. Great article, I agree with everything you wrote, except the crib. My babies wouldn’t sleep in a crib and, in fact, never spent a night in a crib. Since it’s often a big expense, I recommend waiting on getting a crib and instead having something like a bassinet, playpen, or Rock-n-Play on hand, if you can get one free (from FreeCycle or Buy Nothing) or as a hand-me-down.

  26. Can you believe that when my first son was born we didn’t have, nor was it required, a car seat to bring him home? (I can hear the collective gasps). I don’t know if it was just in MI where we lived at the time (1985) or if that was the norm everywhere (“mandatory” seat belts weren’t even a thing for a few years after, either). My how times have changed.
    I occasionally find myself walking past baby things and am amazed at all the newfangled (might as well make myself sound really old by using words like that, lol!) baby things. I was very basic with my first two, mostly out of necessity, but also because I found I didn’t really need all that much (I mean WWTPHD? *what would the pioneers have done 😉 )
    I had three and never had: a fancy stroller (umbrella ones only), nursing bras (and I did nurse but used bras that opened in the front and used a reusable, washable plastic thingy, or cotton pads that covered the nipples to catch “let down”, a breast pump, nursing pillow and many other items that were “the latest” at the time. Heck, my babies were even too small for the coming home outfit (ONE…for all THREE. It was all white, plain white socks, and the little shoes were a soft mint green that my boys and girl wore home {*cough*swam in*cough} from the hospital) so that was more of a tradition/formality. I’m sure there are many more things I decided to forego at the time but 30+ years have taken their toll on my memory. (What I didn’t forego was those big billowy maternity tops that were “in” at the time, but those were secondhand).

    But the “snot sucker” *gagggggggg* (ahhh…memories. The gagging is as fresh in my memory as if it were…a minute ago.)…YES, I agree, a must across the decades, lol!

    Thanks for the stroll down memory lane Miss Brandy! And to all the new and expecting mommies: try not to sweat the small stuff (ohhhh, all the cringe worthy mistakes I made, especially with my first born. In my defense there was no Google or Youtube back then, my mama was miles away and long distance phone rates were REAL.), do what’s best for your individual situation, and don’t succumb to other peoples pressures (I can still remember my good friend saying, “doesn’t it bother you that you don’t have a nursery for the baby?” (I was living in an apartment at the time, but moved soon after she was born and I
    did, indeed, have a nursery/bedroom for her. Honestly, I preferred my newborns sleeping in the same room with me at first anyway.) Uhhh, well it didn’t, until you planted that seed in my mind. [i]THANKS for that.[/i] ) it all works out! ~ TJ

  27. My friend had triplet boys who all slept in the same crib at first-she had a folded receiving blanket under their head in case of spit ups and she didn’t have to change the fitted sheet so often!

  28. I remember my mother bringing home my baby brother and holding him the car in her lap. The law has changed now, but a car seat doesn’t have to be brand-new (just not expired). We have been gifted many hand-me-down car seats for our babies (one of my readers who lives close by just gave me one her child just outgrew!) and they have been a blessing.

    When I was an infant, my mother was driving down the road in winter (snow and ice where we lived then) when a truck coming the other direction ran her off the road into a ditch. I was in a car set (in the front seat!) and she reached out to protect me as she crashed. She broke her nose on the rear view mirror in that accident, but otherwise, we were both okay. I have to admit that I am grateful that I was in a car seat!

    A front opening bra MIGHT be an option for me this time–if I can just find one in my size! Most brands don’t make cup sizes smaller than a C 🙁 I definitely am going to have to find something in the next couple of months. I’ve looked online, too, but a bra is like a pair of jeans–it has to be tried on!

  29. I agree that one doesn’t HAVE to use a crib–there are other options. I have seen used cribs for $75 and under at yard sales.

    I wanted a beautiful new crib with my first, but there was no way I could afford one at $550! My parents saved my crib from when I was a baby for me to use, and though it wasn’t what I would have chosen, it was a style that was still be manufactured when my first was born (and met current safety standards at the time; now it wouldn’t because the sides drop down, but we have used it for 8 babies and will use it for the ninth!)

    I tried a pack and play ($10 at a yard sale) and ended up not using it, but it is definitely less money, especially when purchased used! Another option is a small crib, which is even smaller than a pack and play (more like the size of a vintage crib from the 40’s, in fact). I never saw those with my first but I have seen them in Babies R Us and at Walmart since then. They are much less money and still plenty large enough, and if you’re using it in your bedroom, the small size is extra nice!

  30. I didn’t want to buy maternity clothes so I bought about 5 xl ribbed tanks at target, took up the long straps so the neck fit and then wore those under draping cardigans while pregnant and under tee shirts and blouses after. My three fought covers while nursing and I found I could pull the tee up, the tank down and be a little more covered in case they pulled off the cover and also not have to buy expensive clothes. We also bought a lot of things second hand and still do. We bought a two child stroller at a yard sale for $20 to help transport my middle child who is autistic and is a flight risk. It’s been wonderful. We loved our swing, it was the super basic collapsable model and it was the only thing that would soothe my eldest. We also bought a small foldable rocker/bassinet which worked as a bassinet by the bed and I could rock it with one foot while I cooked. We tried cloth and disposables, I found cloth did not work well for my boys, but just fine for my daughter. I use disposables now. I love this site and have read everything on it and been reading for years now. I wish I had found it back in 2008 when I was newly married with a $100 dollar monthly budget for food. I now use the knowledge to feed 5 people for $250 a month, including a family member with multiple allergies, (nuts, peanuts, carrots, celery, watermelon, squash, spinach) and three young and sometimes picky children.

  31. I donated my maternity clothes after baby #8, but then I lost weight and I would have needed a new size anyway. I’ve been making due this pregnancy with a few pairs of maternity pants that I found at thrift stores and two long-sleeved shirts and one short-sleeved shirt I found at thrift stores (plus one new maternity t-shirt), as well as two maternity dresses I bought used (one thrift store and one on ebay). The weather has turned cold again and I’ve been able to get away with some sweaters (not maternity) that I bought at the thrift store last year in my new size. I don’t know if I’ll have them all stretched out afterwards, though!

  32. Hi Brandy, I don’t want you to take this question the wrong way, but since you lost weight before this pregnancy have you noticed it being easier? My first two pregnancies I was overweight and still have a sire back 2 years later. I’m wondering if losing 15 lbs would make pregnancy easier? I’m only slightly overweight. What have been your experiences with weight during pregnancy?

  33. After having three babies and using the big nasal aspirator a lot with my poor sick babies, a friend gave me the NoseFrieda which she said was the most disgusting an useful thing ever. Well she was right. My sixth baby is 5 months old now and I wouldn’t want to be without the NoseFrieda. I am super minimal with what I have for my babies and I would always want to have this thing especially for when babies are trying to nurse. Seriously it is the best thing ever and grosses me out but works wonderfully.

  34. Not a problem, Kim!

    I started my eighth pregnancy at the ending weight of my first pregnancy. I ended my eighth pregnancy at my heaviest ever. I dropped all of that weight plus the weight I had gained previously (53.4 pounds including the baby), and I started this pregnancy half a pound lighter than when I became pregnant with my first.

    There are other factors at play, though–I’m 41, almost 42, and not 25 this time! I broke my tailbone during the beginning of my eighth pregnancy, which was extremely painful. It will always give me pain, but it hurts more during pregnancy and has been giving me more difficulty now than it has for months. Sitting is painful, and driving in the car is very uncomfortable. (Being up and doing is less painful!)

    I have another difference this time as well. I normally carry my babies in my back due to a tilted uterus. My last pregnancy and this pregnancy something has changed and I am carrying my babies in front. This time is even more different–my baby is VERY low. I have 42-44 week pregnancies, and my babies don’t drop this low until week 42-43. It’s been that way for months. I hope this means a shorter labor! It’s been physically very difficult this last month, and people keep asking me if I’m due any day, even though I have 2-3 months to go still.

    So, I think in theory it would be easier (it’s always physically easier to carry around less weight) but it also depends on what other health factors you are dealing with.

    If you’re planning on having another baby, don’t let that stop you from losing weight now! You’ll be happier and feel better overall, both physically and mentally. And you’ll have less to lose after the birth of your next baby!

  35. As a licensed care provider (by the state of TX) we can not put anything under a sleeping baby that is loose (like a receiving blanket) It would be considered a SERIOUS violation because of SIDS. Just saying it is not a safe thing to do. There should be nothing loose under the baby.

  36. I prefer “real” nursing clothes, too. A sister-in-law gave me a nursing T-shirt for Christmas, and I found myself wearing it for DAYS on end because I liked it so much better than the nursing tank tops/button down shirt combination. For the first three months of baby’s life I just wore regular clothes. When someone showed up at the door unexpectedly, I had to yank baby off the breast and pull my shirt down. So annoying! With the nursing shirts, people can hardly tell you’re nursing and they barely see any skin at all. This is good for being at home, but especially for outside the house, travel, etc.

    I ended up buying two more of the nursing Ts, and most days I’m wearing one of the three. I wish I had more. 🙂

  37. I had a “designer” diaper bag – a sturdy red canvas Eddie Bauer that was a gift from my mother when my first child was on the way. That bag saw us through both babies, and was still being used as my favorite carry-on-size suitcase when the “babies” were teenagers. It never tore or came apart, it came out of every wash looking like new, and if it hadn’t been lost in a move, I feel certain I’d still be using it. I actually miss it!

  38. My diaper bag was an Eddie Bauer one (about $35). It was sturdy, but it quickly became too heavy as I carried so much in its large size. It was definitely made to last, though! (I ended up passing it on and using a smaller bag). Petunia Pickle Bottom ones cost anywhere from $95 to $195. They are beautiful–but definitely in the “want” category.

  39. My oldest baby is 44 so it has been a while since I needed clothing while pregnant. However I was very frugal and hated the idea of buying special pants etc. to wear for a few months…I got two pairs of sweat pants with the draw string. I wore those 99% of the time. I wore a lot of button down shirts left open over a t-shirt. I did make a couple of dresses. My husband was a Marine officer and I had to attend the Marine Ball. Clothing was not really difficult, except for bras. I am and always have been a D cup. Find nursing bras in that cup size was hard. I did manage to make myself 2. I will say they were ugly…but they worked.

  40. I am not a big advocate for credit cards, but if Nordstrom’s doesn’t do it for free, if you have their card, they give you a $100 credit for alterations every year (either at Nordstroms or the Rack). It might be worth getting a card (and keeping no balance) for this purpose alone. Just a thought.

  41. My list of must haves are similar to yours. There are a couple of things that are different.
    I used a stroller a lot, but prefer a nicer umbrella type stroller like this (https://www.target.com/p/chicco-lite-way-stroller/-/A-46772806) that I registered for and received as a group gift. I also like a baby backpack for hiking with our family.
    I too liked to have baby in sleepers for the first three months or so. For the first two weeks though, it was a kimono type long sleeved shirt with a diaper and a blanket or swaddling sleep sack. It made diaper changes so much easier when they were needing more frequent diaper changes. And in a colder climate the swaddling sleep sacks like the Halo brand are amazing.
    If you have a baby at a hospital, often, they will send you home with some things that you didn’t know about. We received a swaddling sleep sack and a diaper bag. We also got the nasal aspirator and some samples of soap etc that they used right after birth. Ask other women who have had babies at the same hospital or birthing center what you can expect to take home with you. There might be items you don’t even need to purchase.

  42. Brandy,
    I and one of my daughters have just the opposite problem — too big! I was able to get her a nursing bra at the hospital shop. This was available at two hospitals where she had babies. They had the best selection and it was the only place we could find her size. You might call and see what’s available in your area.

  43. I was considering mentioning that some hospitals will give you a diaper bag! I didn’t know about the other items, however; I think it’s wise to ask ahead of time at the hospital where you are planning to give birth.

    As my own children have been born at home, I am responsible for purchasing a birth kit, which includes many things, but also a sterile nasal aspirator and a sponge with Hibiclens on it (also sterile and sealed). So I’ve bought a new nasal aspirator for each child 🙂 since it needs to be sterile to use immediately after they are born.

    I like hearing how the sleep sack is helpful in a colder climate. Having lived in a warm climate most of my life, I hadn’t thought about the extra warmth. Most of my babies have been born when it is warm here, and lots of layers aren’t needed when the house is already 78º! Thanks so much for your comment!

  44. I used cloth diapers as a burp cloth, my daughters all used Kitchen towels. No breast pump, used a bowl and my hand. Changed the baby on the furniture or floor with a towel. Carried a cloth sack that Dad made when he came out of the Navy to carry his clothes in. No stroller, bath but did have a crib but several of our friends lined deep dresser drawers and used that instead.No high chair , just a lap or books stacked and covered with a towel when they got older

  45. Kim, I appreciate your sentiments on breast feeding, but sometimes it doesn’t work out for everyone. My milk never came in, and my daughter was not getting the nutrition she needed. So I quickly switched to bottle feeding for her benefit. At least 2 of my cousins told me they also had a problem. I am quite aware of the benefits of breast feeding, and the financial benefits too. But for those women who are not able to breast feed, they shouldn’t be made to feel guilty or scared that their children are not getting a healthy suppliment with formula. After all, many of us were raised on formula and we turned out just fine!

  46. I totally agree with you. I just wish I had been more educated about the benefits of bf. I was raised on formula and am healthy so I can’t complain. But in regards to type 1 diabetes I would have tried even harder and fought through mastitis if I thought I could lower my babies risk of getting type 1 since it is in my family. Being a new mother is very challenging and I just wish I had more support for bf than I received.
    I’m not trying to bash formula or the moms that choose it. I realize there can be a lot of things to overcome to successfully bf and some mother’s choose not to.

  47. Thanks for replying! I’m definitely trying to lose 10 more lbs in the next 10 weeks before getting pregnant with a third baby. Since I still have back pain 2 years after having #2 so I’m willing to do anything to make this a better experience than my first two pregnancies.
    Congrats on your pregnancy! If I could convince hubby to have more than 3 I totally would! I’m barely getting him onboard with 3. He is an only child and not used to having chaos around him. I had three sisters and we fought and played like cats and dogs.

  48. I used a non-slip fuzzy bathroom rug on top of a dresser for a changing table. A shelf above held diapers and the dresser held clothing, bedding, blankets, etc.. I taped pictures on the bottom of the shelf to entertain baby while being changed.

    I found a play pen very helpful for the times when I needed to leave the room. It was a safe place for baby while I went to bathroom or to the basement to put in a load of laundry or when I was using the pressure canner and wanted baby safely out of range. It was also useful to confine baby outside when I was gardening. As we all know babies and toddlers tend to self-destruct so I appreciated a safe place for them while I had my attention elsewhere.

  49. I fondly remember making maternity dresses that I used for both children. I managed to secure a hand-me-down crib that ended up being used mostly for stuffed animals. I was amazed at how many people gave us stuffed animals! Turned out that our babies slept in a swinging cradle (that was used for me) that I kept next to the bed. It was handed down along with a wicker bassinet that had handles and could be carried. So useful and beautiful after I repainted it. It made moving the sleeping baby so easy. My father rebuilt the stand, so it was a fine place for the baby (and cat) to nap.

    For our baby shower, I asked for cloth diapers and we used them for both children before giving them to my sister for her daughter. I made a christening gown based on the one Teddy Roosevelt had using lace from my wedding gown.

    I was fortunate to have a wonderful mother-in-law that was kind and considerate enough to ask what we wanted. I wanted all natural and wood. As she bought things, we saved them for the future grandchildren. It has been a true gift to know that these things will be there for the next generation.

    We had a house fire, and the hand-me-down items are gone, but the wooden furniture passed on are still available for future generations. I’ve started to replace some of the lost items when I find them at garage sales or thrift shops. Thus far, I have a new-to-us rocking horse, hobby horse, little red puddle jumping boots, and some favorite children’s books. I’m hoping to find a wicker bassinet and rocking cradle in the next couple years.

    The only other item I would consider essential is a baby food maker. It allowed me to grind our table food without depending on electricity.

    One side note…our parametric friend insisted that we not use built in car seats available in some vehicles. He said it was better to be able to cut a car seat out without moving a baby if there were to be an accident. Fortunately, we never had an accident, but I always followed his advice.

  50. I love this article. Very resourceful.

    My must have baby items were nail clippers, face washers for spit ups and muslin cloths, zipper onesies, a bassinet on wheels so baby could sleep wherever I was in the house, disposable diapers and wet ones, bibs, 2 plastic spoons, singlets, baby shampoo/soap, a good quality nappy bag with multiple storage spots/pockets for organisation (I would go out for 11+ hours so needed space for multiple meals, clothes changes, diapers etc), a compact stroller that my nappy bag could clip onto, hat and sunglasses, swim diapers (that I always dry out and reuse if no poo in them), nappy rash cream, chest rub, board books, dr suess books, rings, a baby ball & 2 Lamaze teddies. That’s it!

  51. TJ…I laughed out loud at your “newfangled” comment! Well, Kid, my five were born before onesies (gasp) and disposable diapers were flat rectangles that looked like five or so sheets of tissue paper. I recall tissue liners that where great though. There were diaper services but I never used one. I used a bassinet with pillow cases for sheets and found a playpen the most useful thing. But I want to add that my firstborn was born in a small Texas town, and breast feeding was not favored. I felt like the nurses considered me poor white trash for wanting to breast feed. How times have changed! Guess I was ahead of my time (lol).

  52. I worked outside of the home when my daughter wan an infant and I fiund that I preferred good nursing tanks that were supportuve better than nursing bras because if you but in a reusable pad, you can toss on a cardigan and be in attire appropriate for the office (and be able to pump easily).
    If you go cloth, I feel like the best option is to buy 3-4 covers from different brands and about 2 dozen prefolds. This lets you test out how each brand fits your baby, since each baby is different. Then you can swap or resell the ones you don’t care for to fund more of the type you like. You can also sell the old size prefolds to buy up. We kept the old size for spit ups and sold the ones two sizes down. If you learn to sew, you can buy old diapers super cheap and replace the elastics yourself.
    One last thing: you might look into getting a baby carrier. We used ours way more than a stroller. Babywearing International has chapters in most states where you can go and try on a whole bunch of different types to know what works for you. You can then look for used versions to save money. These were a life saver because my baby wanted to be held all the time, but it allowed me to keep my hands free for chores or cooking.

  53. That is how I accidentally scarred a poor 18 year old for life. He was a door-to-door salesmans and interrupted a nursing sessions. I was still in that new baby haze and managed to overlook putting my breast back into my shift (tank with a low neckline). I stood there obliviously dripping milk for nearly 5 minutes. Realized my error after I shut the door.

  54. I hope you don’t mind me hopping on to your comments. I was (and still am) very overweight with my pregnancy. I had back problems because I manufactured too much relaxin and several ribs and muscles were pulled out of place. I went to physical therapy and while it took awhile, it really helped. Not saying you need the same thing I did, but all we did in pt was learn how to properly do exercises to build your core. As my core strengthed, things went back into place and I have absolutely no back trouble 2 years later. It might be worth trying some basic core strengthening exercises.

  55. So funny! I wear a G cup and have had an awful time finding anything in my size (nursing or otherwise) especially without spending a fortune!

  56. I’m due with number 8 in 4 weeks and one thing I’m doing this time is converting a few hand-me-down tank tops to nursing tanks. Because I’m large chested I can’t find nursing tanks that aren’t constricting so I’ll make these to keep my tummy covered as I nurse since all of my babies have fought a cover.

  57. Thank you! My children are 24 and 19 and I still laugh at the things I “had to have” and never even used. When my first grandson was born, my daughter in law and her mother insisted on paying to have a custom made crib set made so it would be “unique and different”. He never even slept one night in that beautifully decorated crib. When the second one came along, she didn’t even bother putting the crib up. He slept in a hammock type bed until his little feet literally hung over the end of it. That bed and his swing were the only two things she needed for the second child. He actually cried the day they took the swing down and sold it. (He could crawl in and out of it himself and his feet could almost touch the floor lol.) Babies don’t need as much as we think they do. Custom made diaper bags? Nah, we bought each grandson a simple backpack that they have used since birth and now that they are 3 and 4, they use them for preschool. Pull ups and night time “underwear” for toilet training? No thanks. They went straight to the thick training underpants and never looked back. It’s a matter of having to do a little extra work sometimes because it’s not necessarily convienent but it’s worth it.

  58. I could not have done without the changing table. I ended up with a C-section because my daughter was so big and couldn’t drop into the birth canal. I could not bend over to change her at all so our bed was not an option. I’m short and the changing table was a bit tall so it helped keep the strain off my incision. A mid sized dresser would have worked too, but I happened to find a used one cheap.

  59. This brought back so many fond memories of when my children were babies! Now they are 34 and 32. When my first child came we had a crib in another room set up as a nursery and at first I was scared to not have her in the same room as me. We put her in a large dresser drawer with towels in it and set it on top of our cedar chest. The crib was passed down from my parents as I had a 4 year old sister at the time. I agree totally with everything you said, you definitely can get by with a lot less than most people think.

  60. This sure does bring back memories — mine are 35 and 32. I breast fed the first one exclusively, but had to go back to work with the second one when my husband was out of work, so she started on formula at around 4 months. I used cloth diapers, but the day care wouldn’t allow them so my second one wore disposable during the day (and the daycare had to deal with them as trash) and put her in cloth as soon as we got home. The oldest used cloth only. My mom bought me a dozen diapers, I bought a dozen (unfolded) and my sister and a cousin-in-law gave me a couple dozen from their babies who were no longer in diapers. We used coated nylon diaper covers that Sears used to sell in their catalogs.
    No changing table. My sister gave me flannel-covered rubber pads that I put down wherever I happened to be changing baby. The oldest loved the baby swing we were gifted; the youngest hated it, and I ended up selling it. We used a cradle loaned to us at first, then a bassinet loaned to us, then a crib given to us, so bedding was pretty cheap! We lived in a very small single-wide trailer, so toys were kept to a minimum, but books were always welcomed, and a frequent gift. The nursery was a 7ft. by 9 ft. bedroom, all paneled in pecan paneling, with built-in dresser and 4 ft. by 2 ft. closet, so the floor space was actually 5-1/2 ft. by 7 ft. . There wasn’t room for a lot of unnecessary stuff, so we didn’t have it. Both kids were fine and grew up without any issues from being “deprived.”
    Brandy, I hear you about finding nursing bras for smaller women (or larger busted women). They are only made for “average” sizes, as are most bras and swimsuits. What a pain that was!

  61. I have a nearly three-month-old at home, and there are a few things that helped us keep costs down. Before giving birth, we made two weeks’ worth of fully-prepared meals and stashed them. It wouldn’t have been enough for us to have lots of ingredients on hand–we were so tired we couldn’t think, so having all those heat-and-eat, healthy meals was GREAT. We also asked the hospital to combine all of our bills into one and paid it all off at once, earning a 5% discount on the total. (If I hadn’t asked, I would still be waiting on a $450 bill for my baby’s care, which wouldn’t be high enough to qualify for the discount.) And we didn’t bother setting up a separate bedroom, as apparently it’s safer for babies to sleep in their parents’ room anyway. Best of luck to all our fellow new parents out there~

  62. Actually, I haven’t seen studies that bf prevents type1. The only conclusions from properly put together scientific studies is decrease in number of diarrhea cases and colds for world 1 countries. Scepticalob.com has been debunking those false beliefs for years now but they still linger

  63. Thank you so much for this article with a seemingly complete list!!! I will give birth in about a month and am so excited. I can´t wait for it anymore. I stopped reading now when I read about the bottle brushes and thought: Oh my god, how could I forget that!!! I will study the whole list and will make a final shopping trip. I thought I would have thought on everything. I even bought the best formula from europe, just in case my milk won´t come in (for all mothers, who do not know – you can buy european formula with higher standars than everywehre else on https://myorganicformula.com/.. I couldn´t believe this, when I found this side!). Now I am curious, what else I forgot. So thank you for your work, writing down all this!

    Monica

  64. I saw a news story on The Baby Box Company, an entity that gives states sweet little sleeping boxes for your newborn that are researched and designed to dramatically lower the SIDS risk. In our state (and most others) you watch a couple of short videos and take a super easy quiz and you get this box for free and many very high quality samples. Even if you have a crib, this little box is great for traveling to grandmas or in a spare room. It has a cushion on the bottom and is decorated. I would highly recommend it especially since it is completely free in many states and could be used as the sole sleeping area for baby.

  65. What a great post! This really took me back. My first baby is now 20 years old, but boy let me tell you, we were SO POOR when he was born! New babies really don’t need much. Gowns, even for my boy, were my go-to clothing. They make diaper changing very easy and are comfortable for the baby. All of my babies most liked first toy was handmade. I tied several canning rings together with a strip of cloth. The metal was cool on teething gums and the rings made a pleasant sound when clanging together. In our first home (a 400 sqft rental) we had one bathroom with a single stall shower. Once my son outgrew the kitchen sink for bathing, we used a plastic storage tote in the shower for a makeshift bathtub. It worked great! Although we are much more financially sound today, I look back on those early years with great fondness. We were a happy young couple making our start in the world. Our children grew up healthy, happy, and loved. I wouldn’t change a thing.

  66. When my first grandchild was on the way, I continued the “tradition” and bought my daughter an Eddie Bauer bag. Like you, she found that it easily become very heavy, and chose a smaller one. But yes, there’s no question the Eddie Bauers are fairly reasonably priced, and made to last! (I googled Petunia Pickle Bottom – quite beautiful, but at those prices NOT a necessity!)

  67. While shopping at yard sales, or even regular stores, and accepting hand-me-down’s for my then-baby son, I figured out how to keep track of the sizes he needed. Baby clothing sizing is notoriously inconsistent across brands.
    As the clothes (probably) get too small first in the body, keep track by measuring a onesie or sleeper that fits, from neck to crotch.
    I would do this with “hand” measurements. First, the shirts were one of my hands tall from fingertips to wrist. Then they were two hands, fingers sideways. Then they were one hand long, plus a few width fingers.
    I realize that might be confusing to read, but my point is that if you know how big something is by your hand measurement, you always have your hand with you to check it out!

    My favorite extra baby items were a series of umbrella strollers, never a big one, and we found handle extenders that made them about a foot taller, much easier to push. And onesie extenders, small fabric squares with various kinds of snaps on them that would snap onto the onesie flaps so they could work for another size. Best wishes to all the new moms and dads and families out there!

  68. As a new mom (baby is almost 3 months old) it feels like beeing let into a secret society with all the sharing and rotating of things that goes on here in my city: maternity clothes, baby clothes, cribs, buggies, toys, furniture, bottles, pumps, you name it and wait a few hours and a stranger on Facebook will have something for you. I even managed to get a birth pool and everything I needed for a homebirth this way!
    I figured if I had somewhere for baby to sleep, something for baby to wear, a package of newborn diapers and a few nursing bras for me, then we could get through the first days and all other needs would be adressed as we discovered them.
    I did buy a special towel/blanket for wrapping around baby right after birth and one nice soft wool/silk onesie for babys first outfit, but they were really more a way for me to feel ready, than a true need for baby.
    All I really spend a good amount of money on was a nice pram, lightweight, as I will drag it around and in and out of busses and trains for years, and warm, since baby will sleep in it outside in all weather and all seasons (it’s the norm here).

  69. Oh, what a pleasant walk down memory lane. I wish this blog had been available when I was having my babies. The information here is invaluable and I have shared this site with many young women. There is always something new to learn.

    Jeannie @ GetMeToTheCountry.blogspot.com

  70. I enjoyed your article about items NEEDED for a new baby very much. I love your style of writing, and your pictures are beyond reproach. After reading this and remembering way back to 1972, I found that I did almost everything on your list. I was blessed to have two baby showers — one at my place of employment at the time (a bank) and another one given by a friend for friends and relatives to attend. I received gender-neutral baby clothes (this is before we could find out if it was a boy or girl) and one little pink one-piece pajama; two feeding dishes (one electric and one that you poured warm water under in a receptacle); my baby book (or I most likely would not have had one); receiving blankets, shawls, and one patchwork baby quilt (pink, baby blue, yellow squares); baby silverware, a diaper stacker (again, I probably would not have had one otherwise), etc. I collected S&H Green Stamps then; and one Saturday, my mother and I redeemed them for a baby bathtub, an infant seat, a nursery lamp, a bottle sterilizer, and glass baby bottles. We bought a new crib & mattress (on lay-a-way), and my one extravagance was a round rug about 48″ in diameter with a baby blue elephant on it. (I always felt that I was having a boy; I never chose a girl’s name.) My son was born in September, and we brought him home in a little outfit, socks, and blanket, all of which we received as gifts. His bed was soon ready for him with clean sheets, and we changed him into a little one-piece outfit (sheets & outfit were gifts, too). I did not have a bassinet; I only had one baby towel and washcloth; I did not have a changing table; I did not have a stroller until he was several months old, and our neighbor gifted theirs that had lasted through their 3 children’s babyhoods. Disposable diapers were still a new thing, and I remember that the hospital gave us a complimentary pack of about 6 Pampers; I remember that they still fastened with diaper pins! Fast forward to 1999 — my “baby” and his wife were expecting their first baby! And, oh my goodness, had the list of NEEDED items grown!! I was so happy that baby wipes had been invented by then — never mind that they had a warmer! No cool wipe should touch a baby’s delicate hiney! My daughter-in-love and son received so many baby items — it was amazing! I was so thankful that they received so many beautiful and useful items. But I couldn’t help but think back to 1972, and his little room, mainly furnished with love. My aunt (who raised me) donated a little chest of drawers and a little desk (adult size, but small). Those two items along with his new bed furnished his room, with the little blue elephant rug by his bed. That was definitely having a baby on a shoestring budget. Thanks for the memories, Brandy!.

  71. Both of our sons had colic, I borrowed a swing & it helped so much. Used receiving blankets to swaddle our boys too, helped sleep better when newborn. Make sure your used crib is up to baby code (safe). The need love the most & lots of holding.

  72. I was blessed in that I pretty much got everything I ‘needed’ at my baby showers. That’s the best thing about coming from a large family. My mother purchased the infant seat/stroller combo, crib & mattress, dresser and changing pad for me. Everything else was received as gifts from guests at my baby shower. I didn’t have to buy my son any clothes for the first year of his life. Didn’t have to buy diapers for a good 4 months.

    I do agree that a diaper pail/genie is useless. I registered for one but the thing was a pain to use. I’d also say bassinettes are useless as newborn babies could actually sleep in a dresser drawer if need be.

    I chose a nursery ‘theme’ that could be unisex for a future child if it were a girl, Blue Jean Teddy…sadly there were no more kids for me after baby #1, who turns 14 two months from today. I kept every handmade item people made for him. Every blanket and hat that was knit, crocheted or quilted with love is saved so I can give it to his children someday.

    I got him some things at a consignment store in our area called Once Upon a Child. I don’t think it’s open anymore but it came in great hand when I wanted to buy him some nicer clothing without spending the money. Kids grow like weeds! lol

  73. When you have larger breasts as I do, there is NO nursing bra that will fit properly. I went to Motherhood Maternity and bought one that was supposed to be my size and it was the most uncomfortable thing. I ended up just wearing my regular bras from Lane Bryant. I am a DDDD cup. And surprisingly, even though I breastfed, my breasts didn’t get bigger. I even had weight loss surgery 5 years after my son was born and they didn’t get smaller with the weight loss. Funny how we are all different. I used the Boppy pillow for him to sit in…not for feeding.

  74. Kris, you should look up the Lands End catalog on line. They sell hundreds of suits, one piece, 2 piece, mix and match, even mastectomy suits. That is where we (women) get our swim suits as we can get very modest type swimwear. Since you buy the pieces separate you could have a small size for the bottom half and then a larger size for the top.

  75. When my oldest was born in 62, she slept in a dresser drawer at my in-laws house when we visited–she was about 3 months old but only started out at 6#, so still fit just fine!

  76. I have three children and I agree with much of your list. I’ve found it necessary for me to have some sort of seat/ play pen/ swing, really just a safe place to put baby when I need my hands and I need baby to be safe. I need to contain baby when I do laundry in our three story house or take a shower. This will vary based on house layout, etc, but the crib isn’t enough for me.

  77. It has been very interesting reading all these baby posts. Mine are grown, yet as my mother said the other day, we’ve got babies coming out our ears. What with the two little granddaughters Dora and Anna Joy and our nephew Henry there is always someone around. Nephew Caleb (my husband’s business partner) and wife Katie Anna are expecting twins and so is our daughter Eliana and husband Theo. Twins run in the families both sides…I am a twin, so is my husband. At church there have been two births recently and an adoption so the nurseries are busy busy.

    Our church has a clothing exchange 2 times a year so that on a Thursday night you bring in whatever you don’t want, lay it out or hang up in the age appropriate areas and then Friday night and Saturday morning you can come back and “shop”. There are also lots of hand me downs going around too.

    We had a very old crib that my oldest girl has now. Years ago my husband stripped and refinished it so we didn’t have to worry about lead paint. The sides don’t drop so when that became cautioned against it was fine. The spindles are good, too, and my husband reinforced all joints and hardware. It has been well used. The highchair we have, also at my daughter’s, is the one my parent’s used for us. It is maple and also been refinished. If there were straps on it they long ago wore out so we had bought a quilted cover thing that slips over the back and seat and then goes around and ties around the waist. When that one wore out I made a new one using that as the pattern. We use a clip on highchair here when needed.

    We didn’t use a lot of the baby stuff either, though we got a lot of use out of our baby bath. I used it for all the children and we always took it camping with us as it was a good way to do baths and cleanups while traveling, even when the children were toddlers. I’ve still used it for the new generation as needed. It also works nice to use as a small pool in hot weather…just enough for the youngster to sit and splash in without dragging out the larger pool.

    We did weekend and longer camping trips often and we never had an RV. These are some of the things we found useful. I was given a Snugli carrier as a baby present with the first and used those from newborn up until about 6 months…they adjust so that at first the baby is all inside and enclosed then as they get bigger their head and feet and stick out. Then we had a baby backpack that we bought at an outdoors store that we use for when they were about 6 months and up. We had a very sturdy stroller. We first had one of those umbrella ones we received but the wheels wore out in a month. I took it back to the Sears and they looked amazed. They asked what were we doing with it and I said well using them for walks. They said those are really only meant to be used indoors like at malls and the gravel roads and dirt roads we were using them on were too much for the wheels. So we traded it in for a real stroller. We also had a foldable clip on seat that we could attach to picnic tables….it held in place with the weight of the child. We still have that and that is what we use for the grandchildren.

    For baby food I had a little hand grinder than I could just put the regular table food into and puree it as long as wasn’t something with items they weren’t supposed to eat in it. That wore out after 5. My daughter has some other similar item. I nursed them all exclusively and had a hand pump. I did like the boxes of baby cereal as they were handy to use when camping. Our middle girl went on her first camping trip when she was just 3 days old. Oh. We had/have a portable crib with mesh sides and a mesh top you can put over for keeping out bugs. We used that more outside then in. It’s kind of like a play pen but only have as wide…rectangle rather than square.

    I always found it easiest when packing clothes for the children to roll each days items up into a bundle…socks, underwear, top and bottom. Kept from searching. I can’t think of anything else at the moment but I did offer these last ideas as they were different from what Brandy listed as they do not, I think, go camping often as a whole family.

  78. A tip an experienced mom gave me when I was expected my first was to cut some wipes in half (store them in a separate container or a ziploc bag). Tiny messes — a boogie, a wet (not dirty) diaper, a smudge here or there — only need a half wipe, not a full one. I did this with both of my kids and it was really helpful.

  79. Another tip: As a new, first-time mom I was in misery nursing, even after a month. It was agony. My friend loaned me her nursing pillow: My Brest Friend. Stupid name, kind of goofy looking, but it’s a miracle product. The pain stopped immediately because for the first time I was able to position him correctly. I just wasn’t getting there on my own, even with help from friends and books and the use of pillows and armchairs. And it left my hands a bit more free for working on the computer, reading, eating, etc. I bought my own pillow for my second baby 4 years later, and I don’t regret my purchase one bit.

  80. I’m surprised you listed baby nail clippers as a necessity. I used them with both of my kids but every time I pulled them out, I thought to myself “Why did I buy these? They’re no different than regular nail clippers!” Are they really that different and maybe mine just stink!? Haha!

  81. I have found it is easy to borrow these items, like you say. Not only do babies have opinions (!) but they go through the ages and stages so quickly! I never would have dreamed of using a Bumbo seat with my older children, but then I had a baby with low tone and we wanted to try it. We only needed it for about a month before his core strengthened enough that he could sit on his own. What a waste of $40 that would have been!

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