The Only 10 Items You Really Need for Baby

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Having a new baby can be a super exciting moment for parents, but as I’m sure you know? It can also be a terrifying time as well. The preparations that new parents have to make are stressful, worrisome and expensive things that you will ever make in your entire life. When my Emma was born, money was extremely tight and I can remember very vividly those nights spent lying away worrying over how I was going to manage everything. While I wanted the pretty baby items, the reality was that I simply couldn’t afford those pretty and trendy things that I wanted so bad. Instead of getting upset though? I sat down and made a list of the only things that my new baby would absolutely need. What I came up with was a list of 10…and the only 10 items that you really need for a baby.

Having a baby on a budget? Don't go on a shopping spree yet! These 10 Items are the ONLY ones that your baby truly needs!

I want to clarify something for a second though. I realize and understand how badly you might want something for your new baby. I remember that pink polka dot crib bedding set that I wanted my Emma to have. I also remember that it was $150 or so and that there was no way I could afford it. Sure, I could have bought it, but had I actually done that, I would have put our family in a real hurt at the time. So like it or not, I had to choose the smart choice over the “I want it now” choice. It wasn’t fun, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

The Only 10 Items You Really Need for Baby

It isn’t all bad though. Having a baby is a joyous occasion and no matter what your financial picture looks like, there are things you can do to prepare for the birth of your new baby to ease the stress. Part of that preparation is understanding which items you need and which you don’t. Like I mentioned earlier, it can be hard if you have to realize that you can’t buy all of the pretties, but in the end? If you prepare for your baby early on? You’ll end up on stable financial ground with the most beautiful “pretty” of them all. There are a ton of ways that you can manage the more expensive items that aren’t mentioned in this post too. You could save money by requesting over $1,000 in free baby samples or you could earn free gift cards so that you don’t have to pay cash for thoe items. Either way, don’t buy the if you can’t afford them.

Crib or Play Yard – Of course your baby needs someplace to sleep, but he doesn’t need a crib, bassinet, play yard and co-sleeper attachment to your bed. Instead, buy a crib that will grow with him as he gets bigger. You can buy them so that they go all of the way up to a full size bed as he grows. Another option, if you’re really strapped for cash is to buy a play yard. Graco makes a few really nice models that offer a removable bassinet and a mattress area that changes height as your baby grows. It isn’t a permanent fix but it would work in a pinch.

Car seat – You won’t be able to leave the hospital unless you have a car seat for your baby. For the best savings, look for a convertible car seat that your baby will be able to grow with. One quick word about car seats. Buying baby items used it absolutely okay, however, it is NEVER okay to buy a used car seat. Actually car seats are just one of a handful of things you should never buy used. You have no way of knowing if it has been in an accident and once a seat has been? It is considered no longer usable even if it looks perfectly fine.

Stroller – When you’ve got some place to go, you’re going to want some place to sit baby while you’re walking. Trust me on this. To get the best deal, try to combine it with something. Complete travel systems are a good buy if you’re looking for an infant seat as a car seat. Another thing, skip the cheaper umbrella stroller. They’re cheap, but they’re more trouble than what they’re worth. You’ll pay more money out of pocket replacing them than you will if you had just bought a quality stroller.

Highchair – You’ll also need some place to feed your new baby, especially once he or she gets older. To help make your money last, buy a high chair that has a reclining option and is adjustable so that it can grow right along with your baby. The reclining option will allow you to put your baby down when she’s too little to really sit up and of course, the other options will work when your baby is older.

Feeding equipment –  Baby has to eat right and that means buying the needed equipment to do that. Even if you’re breastfeeding, there are certain things you will need. Contrary to popular belief, breastfeeding isn’t free. It does have hidden costs. Make sure that you have the right breast pump, milk storage bags and everything else that you might need. If you’re formula feeding, work on building a formula stockpile, pick up bottles, nipples and all of that jazz.

Baby Bath –  While it’s true that you could bathe baby in the sink, it’s much easier on both of you if you have an actual baby bath tub. You’ll also need an infant insert for when he’s still too little to sit up. To make sure you don’t burn the baby with water that is too hot, either pick up a floating bath toy with hot water sensor or buy a tub that has one built in. I used the floating kind with Emma and it made regulating the water temperature very easy. The ones with the built in sensors or thermometers tend to be a lot more expensive.

Diapering items –  Whether you’re planning on using cloth diapers or disposables, diapers are a must. You can save on disposables by using coupons and building a diaper stockpile of “deals” throughout your pregnancy. If you’re still on the fence about which to use, you need to figure out whether or not cloth diapers will really save you money or not. For some people, the savings will be enough but for others, it wouldn’t.

Clothing – Infant clothing. Seriously, it drives me nuts. I’ve never understood why something that takes significantly less fabric, time to make and space to store is more expensive or just as much as my own jeans. When you’re buying your baby clothes, don’t spend your entire budget on one size. They grow so quickly that you will likely end up with a ton of clothing they never had the chance to wear. Luckily, there are plenty of places you can get great deals on them from online consignment stores. Schoola offers a $20.00 credit and has nice deals.. is another good option with prices starting at just $3.00. If you don’t want to shop consignment stores, companies like Carter’s, Kohl’s, The Children’s Place, Walmart and Gymboree are always having fantastic sales. Combine those shops with other great deals you can find, deals you pick up at yard sales and gifts and your baby will have a full wardrobe for cheap. Oh and once they’re outgrown? You can either send them back to the consignment stores to earn some of your cash back or put them in storage for your next child.

Blankets – Babies get cold easily so having plenty of blankets on hand is a good thing. You’ll need a good mix of receiving blankets and heavier blankets. Quilts aren’t a good idea though as they can be too heavy for your baby to remove from their face if the happen to get it covered up. This can lead to a very bad situation. As with clothes, getting them at a thrift store or consignment shop is a good idea. You’ll pay significantly less than what you would if you bought them new. My Emma wouldn’t use anything but specific blankets. They had to be knitted and since she was a “blanket baby” instead of a pacifier baby, I didn’t mind buying them for her. Know where I got them all? The local thrift store for $3.00 each. Well worth it and much cheaper than buying them new.

First aid/grooming kit – Your baby will need his or her fingers clipped, their nose suctioned if they get stuffy, gets a fever,  and more. Having an infant first aid and grooming kit on hand is a must for these situations. They’re cheap enough that you really don’t have much of an excuse for not having one. Trust me when I say that if you don’t pick one up, sooner or later you will wish you had,.



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Stacy Ott-Barr
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Stacy Ott-Barr

Stacy Ott-Barr is the face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family.By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome an alcohol addiction, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Stacy is passionate about homeless advocacy and addiction education.  Her first book, also called Six Dollar Family is available on Amazon.

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  1. Your blog is very helpful. Thank you so much for your tips. 😀

  2. I read a post where this couple did not buy a stroller but just two type of backpack/sling type carriers. They mainly did it because they hated the space a stroller takes. What do you say to that? Is that a viable option?

    • Stacy Barr says:

      Maria, a sling is a viable option if you prefer it over the stroller, but keep in mind that a stroller will be able to transport your child for years until age 4 or so while a sling will only work until the child is too heavy to wear. In the end though, it is always personal preference.

    • My husband and I decided to wait on buying a stroller until we felt it was needed. Our baby is 16 months old and I’m so glad we didn’t spend the money. We have never wished we had one! Someone gave us a cheapie umbrella stroller that we use when needed and we don’t have to lug a giant stroller around. We did invest in a nice carrier though and he still likes to ride in that. When they are really little and can’t sit up in an umbrella stroller they prefer being carried, and it is better for development too.

    • Rachel says:

      It’s a great option! We don’t own a stroller and don’t miss it at all. It’s so much easier to wear baby especially when you are shopping and pushing a cart. It keeps her way happier too.

  3. This post is so helpful! WE are on a teeny budget and really trying only to buy essential items! Its so easy to get caught up in all the things you WANT instead of just the things we NEED! Thanks for posting this!!!

  4. My OB asked at an appointment if we were ready. I said “I have diapers & some clothes & blankets (all gifted) and I’m planning to breastfeed, so yep all the essentials!” He was shocked we were so low maintenance with our first child! Now, I had much more than that, but I knew that’s all I really needed! Babies just need love, milk & diaper changes for the most part for a while!

  5. You You made made a mistake in the car seat section you put you should never buy new. I think think wanted to say .you should never buy used.I thought u would want to know so u can fix it its confusing to new ur site.

    • Stacy Barr says:

      Thank you for pointing that out Diane. You are correct. I meant to say never buy used. Fixing the issue now. 🙂

  6. DivaDivine says:

    Amen! That is all

  7. I love this list! So true that you can save money and stick to the essentials!

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