Baby on a Budget – The Only 10 Items You Really Need for Baby

This post may contain affiliate or referral links that help keep this site running. For more information about this, please see our disclosure policy.

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 awake 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. Money was so tight that if I was going to succeed at having my baby, I had to find a way to have my baby on a budget. One of the first things I did was to sit down and make a list of the only things that my new baby would absolutely need. What I came up with was a list of 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 $100 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 my little family into a financial crisis at the time. So like it or not, because I had no choice, but to have my baby on a budget, 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.

Baby on a Budget – 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. These tips HERE are a great place to start. Part of preparing to have a baby on a budget 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 – your beautiful baby.

If you’re absolutely set on having one or two of those “pretty” baby items; that’s okay too. You can indulge a couple of times and still have a baby on a budget. You simply need to find a way to save money and a different way to pay for it. When you shop for your baby gear, remember to shop through Ebates. Ebates is a cash back shopping site that will pay you a portion of your order back every time you shop with them! Plus, when you sign up for an Ebates account using THIS link, they’ll give you $10.00 totally free when you make your first purchase of $25 or more. You could save money by requesting over $1,000 in free baby samples that are found listed HERE. To find a new way to pay for something that you desperately want, you could learn how to earn FREE gift cards online right HERE so you don’t have to pay cash for those items.

When you do go to shop for baby items though; remember; if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it. Don’t buy what you can’t afford. That, above any tip I could give you,  is the only true way to have a baby on a budget.

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. Because you’re trying to have a baby on a budget, buying used baby items is 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 both 4 oz baby bottles and 8 oz baby 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 bathtub sling  like this one HERE 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. If you do decide to use cloth diapers, make sure to pick up plenty of cloth diaper inserts, wet pants like these HERE and a diaper pail like this one HERE to keep your dirty diapers in until you wash them. If you decide to go with disposable, you’ll want to stock up on plenty of disposable diapers and disposable baby wipes.

If you’re going to use disposable diapers, make sure you’re signed up for Amazon Family HERE. Doing so can save you significantly on diapers and wipes.

Clothing – 

Buying used is a must when you’re trying to have a baby on a budget and since babies grow so quickly, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to buy an entire wardrobe new.  Instead, buy a couple of new outfits and the rest can be good quality used items. Also, don’t spend your entire budget on one size. They grow so quickly that you will likely end up with a closet full 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.

The major stores you shop daily almost always have great clearance deals happening. Combine those shops with other great deals you can find, cash back you receive through Ebatesdeals 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 sell your baby clothes to make extra money 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. It was well worth it for me, allowed me to still have my baby on a budget and was much cheaper than buying them new or having them made for her.

First aid/grooming kit –

 Your baby will need his or her fingers clipped, her nose suctioned if they get stuffy, help when she 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. If you’re really strapped for cash and ideas on how to have a baby on a budget, you can further cut down on your cost by making baby items such as a homemade diaper rash cream like this one HERE instead of buying it. Not only will you have what you need on hand, but your baby will be healthier as well.


One other thing about having a baby on a budget or rather having kids; make sure you invest in your kids future from the start. Places like my favorite micro-investing app Stash make it incredibly easy to do with the auto save program that invests in an FDIC insured account. Plus, if you sign up for Stash using THIS link, you’ll score a year of free Stash or $5.00 free.

Follow Me

Stacy Williams

Stacy Williams is a 37-year old wife to a USAF Gulf War Veteran, mother of two teen girls and fur-mamma to a rescued pit bull. The face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family, she also owns and manages Long Haul Wife, Republic Preparedness, The Genealogy Queen and a handful of others sites. By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome a drinking problem, 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.

Learn how to earn a full-time income from home by learning how to start a blog just like this one! Click HERE to check out Stacy's step-by-step tutorial.
Follow Me

Latest posts by Stacy Williams (see all)


  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.

    • 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. Amen! That is all

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

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.