Thursday, July 18, 2013

The 6 Baby Gear Items You Actually NEED



I'm the first out of my close friends to have a baby. Since then I've had several friends asking me for advice on gear, what babies really need, and how to save money (because we're all poor students or recent graduates still).

There is a minimum cost associated with a baby. There is the cost of actually having the baby. There are some costs that are essential. Then there is the gear. Gear can cost as much as you are willing to spend. People try to convince that you NEED a $200 diaper bag, a $100 bedding set, a magical trash can, and a million other little things that add up to eat all the money you are willing to throw at it.

All that stuff might really be convenient, adorable, amazing, time saving, possibly even life-changing. However, very little (if any) of it is life-giving, life-saving, or absolutely necessary. You might love it, but you don't need it.

Today I'm going to talk about the 6 things that I believe are absolutely necessary to fulfill the basic physical needs of most babies under normal circumstances. I've tried to think of ways to get by without, these are the only 6 I couldn't find a way around.

1. Carseat 

Car safety is so important. Most places won't let you take a baby home without proving that you have a carseat. Maybe you could live without one if you had your baby at home and then never took the child anywhere not within walking distance for the first few years of his life...

Options:
Infant carrier carseat, convertible carseat
Save money by:
Buying a carseat that is approved for both front and rear facing so they won't grow out of it as quickly. This might be a larger initial investment, but you won't have to buy a second carseat as soon. My little one outgrew her infant carseat at about 7 months.
DO NOT save money by:
Buying a used carseat or using an expired carseat (I had no idea befor my little one was born that those expire, but they do).

2. Safe place to sleep

The standard option is a crib. A friend of mine had her baby sleep in a laundry basket for the first few months. I'm guessing she padded it. I don't know how though. It was nice because she could move it from room to room and keep an eye on him while he slept. In Finland many newborns sleep in cardboard boxes.

Options:
Crib, bassinet, Moses basket, the floor in a very babyproofed very low traffic room, ...
Save money by:
Skipping the bassinet and just buying the crib.
Buying a crib that converts into a toddler bed. Look for one where the conversion kit is included so you don't have to go hunting and buying more parts later.

3. A way to feed the baby 

Babies need to eat. There is no way around that. Crazy huh? For some people feeding options are a heated subject. I have my own opinion that I might talk about in a later post, but not here. 

Options
Nursing, pumping, formula feeding, or a combination 
Save money by:
Nursing. You don't have to buy formula, your body makes it for you and it's always the right temperature and you don't have to worry about storing it. 
Off brand formula. I usually buy from Simply Right from Sam's Club. We haven't noticed a difference from when we bought the more expensive brands. 
Hoarding formula samples while your pregnant. There are usually samples at the doctors office. Take one at every appointment. Even when you're only 8 weeks along.
Try a manual pump if you only need to pump occasionally, are not sure if pumping is for you, or are willing to put forth a lot of effort to save money. (There is also the option of hand expressing.)

4. Diapers & Wipes 

It is important that excrements are properly contained and disposed of. I couldn't think of a way out of this one. Maybe let them live in the bathtub. In China babies wear split pants and no diapers so they can go whenever they want to. I do not consider that a valid option.

Options:
Disposable, cloth, or a combination.
Save money by:
Cloth diapering. It's a bigger initial investment, but if you get the one-size diapers they can be worn all the way till potty training.
Trying off brand disposables.
Shopping sales and couponing.

5. A way to keep them warm/cool

When you think about it, baby couldn't care less if he is styling or not. If the ambient temperature is right he'd be fine in just a diaper. (In fact, he'd probably be happy without a diaper too, but that would be bad for other reasons.) He might even be happier without clothes because he didn't have to go through the trauma of getting his little head and arms tucked through little holes in fabric.

I'm not arguing against clothes. In fact, I love baby clothes. They are so cute! They are also an important part of society and culture. I'm just saying they are extras. Awesome extras, but not essential for life. Just remembering that could help you save a lot of money.

Options:
Clothes, blankets, heating/air conditioning
Save money by: 
Shopping sales, clearance, and couponing.
Hand-me-down or consignment sale clothes and blankets. Babies grow so fast that a lot of these clothes are in great condition.
Fighting the urge to buy every adorable thing you see.

6. A way to wash the baby

My little one actually hated her infant bathtub. We used it only a handful of times over the months and she screamed the whole way through each time. She was a calm baby, so I would just shower with her. I'd clean myself and then my husband would hand me the baby. We have a shower bench, so I could sit with her on my lap. When she could sit supported she got squirmy and started to prefer the inflatable ducky tub.

Options:
Baby baths, sponge baths, showers
Savemoney by:
Using the sink Showering (carefully)

Hope this helps!

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