When you get pregnant with your first child, you are bombarded by fliers and magazines telling you about all of the things you must have to be prepared to welcome your little one. Truth be told most of these items, while sometimes very nice to have, are not absolutely necessary. Children will add some expense to your budget. However, you do not have to break the bank once you have children. People have been having children since the very beginning of time, and I guarantee you they made it just fine without a Babiesrus, Target, Toysrus, Baby Depot, Walmart, or whatever be your particular poison! That being said lets go through the items you WILL need!
Jessica in her second hand car seat that we lent to someone else and will be getting back for the new arrival!
1) A car seat is required by law if you want to take that precious baby home with you! You can get a used car seat as long as it has not been in a wreck and has not passed the don't use past date! On the bright side since very few people have 2-seater cars, you probably won't need a new car!
Yes, this is a photo of me breastfeeding Jessica last Christmas. You'd never know! Actually, I don't think Dad would have taken that picture if he had realized I was feeding Jessica.
2) One thing infants do a lot of in their first year is eat! Breastfeeding is the cheapest way to go, and most people can breastfeed exclusively if they so choose. It can also greatly reduce doctor's bills during the first year (especially if your child is cared for at home). The only items you truly need to breastfeed are nursing bras and nursing pads to accommodate all of the increased size and leakage associated with breastfeeding! I have heard you can make your own, but I haven't tried it. Boppy's are nice, but you can get by without them. Disposable nursing pads are nice the first couple weeks until your body figures out how much milk your baby needs! For sore nipples, I have found that clostrum (pre-breastmilk) and breastmilk help more than the creams.
First taste of homemade cereal mixed with breastmilk in her Bebe Pod. Note: If you make your own cereal, it would be a good idea of make sure your child is getting Poly Vi Sol vitamins as store bought cereal is fortified.
3) Once your baby starts eating food, the cheapest way to go is homemade baby food. All you need is to blend up some of your food before seasoning it and add a little water. Babies eat so little that I don't consider this to be an extra cost unless you get a new food blending tool. I personally recommend the Magic Bullet because it comes with some many attachments, if one is dirty you can just use the other one. However, you can make baby food without a fancy gadget. The best place to go for recipes and information on what to feed your baby when is wholesomebabyfood.com You can get by without sippy cups and baby silverware and dishes.
4) With lots of eating comes lots of diaper changes! Cloth diapers are the absolute cheapest way to diaper your baby. I wrote about how to diaper your baby in prefolds for a total investment of $25 in Cloth Diapering on a Dime. That being said, I do love our Bumgenius One Size pocket diapers! They are great for bedtime and when we go places because they do not leak, but they are definitely more expensive than prefolds! However, there are organizations on the internet that will lend qualifying families cloth diapers. As for wipes, the cheapest way to go is soft rags (like old t-shirts) or baby washrags. I would make sure you had at least one rag per cloth diaper. And that is pretty much all you need! You may at some point need some diaper rash cream or cornstarch, but I would just wait and see what your baby needs. One last thing, you do have to wash cloth diapers and cloth wipes. I run mine through a rinse cyle and then put the rest of our clothes on top of them to wash and have never had any trouble. You may also hear that you need a special baby detergent. You don't as long as whatever you use is fragrance free and gentle on the skin!
Jessica in the cradle David built for her. He hopes to build something specifically for each of our children.
5) The only other things babies do a lot of the first year is sleep! Although it can be a lot of fun to decorate a nursery for them, they do not have to have their own room, and they do not even have to have a crib. Before my parents were given a crib, they had planned to let me sleep in a dresser drawer! While they could sleep in the bed with you, there is always the chance that you will roll over and suffocate them, especially in the early months. Once they get big enough, they could be transitioned to a big bed. I have heard of people who have done this quite successfully; however, we enjoyed the crib option! If your child is not sleeping on the opposite end of the house then you do not need a baby monitor. If you do use a crib when they are newborn, you might roll up a towel next to them so that the crib will not seem so huge. Remember, they are used to rather cramped living quarters! Speaking of which, some infants find white noise rather soothing in the beginning, as they are used to being lulled to sleep by momma's heartbeat! Swaddling is also wonderful for helping infants sleep. Most receiving blankets are too small to be used for very long. Jessica enjoyed being swaddled for most of her first year! You can either make your own, buy some large, lightweight blankets, or use baby towels. They are large, lightweight, and stretchy enough to do the job just fine! You will also need some heavier blankets for colder months.
6) A baby that eats and poops also needs to be bathed from time to time! In the beginning I bathed Jessica in the bathroom sink with a handtowel in the bottom for traction and comfort. As she got bigger I moved her to the bathtub with me until she was sturdy enough to sit in there by herself. All you have to have is the washclothes and towels you already have on your list and baby soap. None of the other products are necessary. I still wash Jessica's hair with soap only now we use homemade soap. Baby soap does not burn their eyes so I would stick with that for the first year.
7) Overtime your baby will stay awake as many hours a day as he or she sleeps. Most parents find it helpful to find something (other than themselves) to occupy their child's time. Swings, high chairs, slings, strollers, bouncers, jumparoos, walkers, bumbo chairs, and activity centers are some of the favorite ways parents contain their children. If I had to choose one, I would choose the stroller because it is so versitile. You can use it when going places. You can use it as a high chair. You can use it when your child needs movement to lull him to sleep. You can use it to contain them inside the house, and you can use it to push your child around the house while you clean or whatever. However, that being said I absolutely loved my Ultimate Baby Wrap!!! It was the only way I could get Jessica to nap the first few months, and I was able to use it until she was independent enough that she wanted to crawl or walk on her own! We also enjoyed using our Bebe Pod (bumbo seat) as a travel high chair before she was sturdy enough to sit in a restaurant high chair (it also came with a cool toy she absolutely loved!).
8) As your child becomes more independent, he or she will need things to do or toys to play with. Each child finds different things interesting. The important point here is that you really don't need to buy a lot of toys. Often they are just as happy playing with boxes, pots and pans, tupperware, socks, empty containers, books, etc. The first year is all about exploration of their world. As they get older, they get more enjoyment out of toys.
The staples of Jessica's 2009 wardrobe. Obviously, we did not wear a lot of clothes this summer! (It was too hot!)
9) Now at some point you will leave your house, and when you do, you will most definitely need baby clothes for the baby (if not before)! You don't need an astronomical number or type of clothes. You need enough to be able to change his outfit a couple times a day (accidents do happen), and you will need clothes appropriate for the season he is currently in. Baby clothes make great gifts for first time parents because they outgrow them so quickly. Used to be people made all of their own baby clothes, and typically they wore little gowns and grew with them. However, those are really hard to strap a child into a carseat in, especially if the weather is cold! I prefer to wait until after the first year to start making children's clothes. I often get clothes used or on sale at outlets.
Jessica loved The Ultimate Baby Wrap! And as you can see, you don't need baby hats either....you can make a baby "doo rag" out of a onesie!
10) At some point you will probably travel with your baby. First-time parents usually pack lots of stuff they do not need to travel (probably because the extra space in the car is not taken up by other children)! All you have to take with you are the 10 items in bold above. Other things can be nice like a Bumbo seat or a bouncer seat, but you can get by without them. That being said, I have particularly enjoyed using my sling, travel high chair, and pack-n-play when we travel. I have already sung the praises of the Ultimate Baby Wrap up above. The pack-n-play is great for containing children while they sleep at places that may not be baby-friendly, and it makes a great location for time-out after the first year until they are able to follow instructions a little better! But, like I said none of it is truly necessary!
And there you have it! The 10 things you need for your first baby! How many you need of these items primarily depends on how often you do laundry! We were quite fortunate to have many family and friends who wished to help us prepare for Jessica's arrival so we ended up with many things that while they are not necessary can be very nice to have! Nothing makes me feel more cared for than having people either do or give you something practical to your current circumstances!