How to Save Money » Simple Living

Baby Stuff You Actually Need

Babies usually enter this world at a mere 6-9 pounds, and by the time they arrive, most parents have hundreds of pounds worth of baby stuff! Is it all truly necessary? Absolutely not. Having a baby changes a lot in your life – but the “stuff” should not completely clutter and take over your home. Plus, a lot of baby stuff out there is a waste of money.

There are so many ways to save money when having a baby. Among the biggest, are to try to buy used (most things), and to only buy the essentials.

Baby Stuff You Actually Need

Baby Stuff You Need

Car Seat

If you have a vehicle, or will ever take your child in a vehicle, a car seat is a must. Consider buying a convertible car seat that can be rear facing and front facing, growing with your child. This is one item I recommend you buy brand new.

If a car seat was ever in a car accident, it’s safety can be compromised. Also, try to stick to gender neutral patterns and colours so your car seat can be used for other siblings down the line.

Pack and Play

I love our pack and play (playpen), and truth be told, if I didn’t have a crib, I would be absolutely fine only using it full-time. Pack and Plays can be brought on vacation with you, to the park if it’s during nap time, the beach, or into your bedroom or another room if you have guests.

They’re so portable and perfectly comfy for wee ones to use all the time.

Baby Pack and Play

Breast Pump/Bottles/Formula

If your plan is to breast feed, a great breast pump is an essential item. These can be bought used for far less then half price. They are completely sterile – as you can buy the little kits that actually touch the milk separately. The machine is the expensive part, and there is no reason to buy new.

Formula and bottles will certainly be essential if you are formula feeding (breastfeeding mamas need bottles, too!). The good news is that you can find tons of coupons available for formula. There are lots of baby freebies, too.

Child Safety & Health Items

Baby gates and locks for cabinets and doors are essential for most households to keep baby safe. Buy a good quality gate that will stand the test of time, as it will likely see a lot of use.

Used is a great option here, too. For locking cabinets, do some research. There are many wonderful tips available – such as using elastic bands to “lock” cabinets.

A thermometer is essential – and can often be bought at the dollar store (they’re just as good!). Medicines for fevers and such are great to have on hand, and can be bought quite inexpensively with sales and coupons.


Take some time to research strollers. There are a million types! Consider what you will mainly be using it for: running, walks in the park, in the mall, on paved roads, etc. Also consider if you want to have more children, close together in age. If so, consider purchasing a double stroller right away.

This may seem a bit silly with only one baby, but can save you from having to purchase a second stroller a year or two down the road. This is something that can easily be bought used – for far less then half the cost of buying new. Remember to buy a gender neutral stroller to be used for further children.

Baby Stroller


This is certainly an essential baby item, but honestly, it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to buy them for your baby There are a ton of diaper coupons available for disposable diapers.

If you choose to do cloth diapering, I highly recommend buying used. It’s important that the diapers were properly cared for, but generally with an email or two, you can get a sense of how they were cleaned. I purchased a lot of cloth diapers – all I will ever need – from a friend for $150.

Soaps & Washes

Consider making your own to save oodles of cash. If you do purchase soaps, read the labels carefully so you know exactly what you are getting.

Also, watch for coupons and sales, and stock up when the time is right.

Some of my favourite DIY baby items: DIY Baby Lotion Bars and Homemade Baby Wipes.


This is something that a lot of mamas have trouble with, and overspend on. There are so many adorable, tiny clothes! But, the truth of the matter is – they are far from essentials (a ton of clothing, anyway!). You will likely be given a lot of little clothes from baby showers and as gifts. And if you’re still in need, buy used!

I have scored clothing that looks brand new (and very well could have been) for pennies – as these little people grow so quickly. Often, they outgrow clothing they haven’t even worn yet! Check Kijiji or Craigslist for parents in your area selling used baby clothing “lots”. It’s very common to get upwards of 100 pieces of clothing for $50.

Baby Clothing Sleeper

Having a baby doesn’t have to be crazy expensive. A very good friend of mine once told me that, “having a baby is not expensive – the lifestyle most people want with that baby, is”. Oh, so true!

The most important things to remember are to plan ahead (both by requesting items from loved ones for holidays, and by buying gender neutral things), buy used, and buy good quality items.

What baby stuff would you consider to be essential?


  1. Anna

    Good article but I would hesitate buying a thermometer from the dollar store. Even the cheaper ones I have bought at Walmart are not as accurate as my expensive ear one.

  2. Heather R

    Great list that will help many parents to be! For both my kids lots of bibs and burp cloths were a must where as they both had reflux and I went through many in a day. Thankfully I was able to purchase those at the dollar store and was given homemade ones as gifts. What was essential for my second baby was a baby carrier. It allowed my arms to be free to do things around the house and care for my toddler. It was also the only way my baby would sleep. We live in an area where there are no sidewalks so I never used a stroller. Just put my baby in the carrier for walks and whenever we would go out.

  3. SeriousSally

    OMGosh such cute baby photos! Yes, going gender neutral for the early months especially is definitely a must. Recently a co-worker was told by her doctor that her 3rd child would be a boy after having 2 girls. She went crazy with boy excitement a bought all new blue stuff. Guess what, baby girl number 3 popped out and now she gets really annoyed when everyone gives her congrats on her beautiful baby “boy”.

    Have to agree with Anna on the thermometer, my Braun ear thermometer has lasted me thru 3 kids and 10+ years. Still going strong with a battery change required every now and then and still accurate.

  4. Virginia

    I disagree with the pack and play. I never used mine because my kids slept in our bed when they were babies. But thats a matter of personal preference. I would add a high chair and baby swing to the list. The high chair doesn’t have to be a fancy expensive one, but I never had the co-ordination to hold a baby and eat at the same time. I would also put my babies in the high chair while I was making dinner. They would always get cranky and want my full attention at that time of day so I would put them in the high chair and they could see what I was doing. The baby swing was a life saver. My kids slept for hours in it. It allowed me to do things like take a shower and make phone calls and even clean things with out worrying about them waking up.

  5. Ashley

    I, too, disagree with the pack and play. We rarely use ours, so not worth the expense! I would add a swing/vibrating chair/baby seat to the list – your arms get sore and really need a spot to put baby when you have to do essential things, like shower! Also, I’d add a carrier of some sort. Invest in a good one, but buy used…like a used Ergo…it’ll last right through baby and little toddler age (up to 18m or so) and is a god send when shopping or travelling! I never go anywhere without mine! 🙂

  6. Andra

    This is a great bare bones list! I would add one disclaimer that you can never 100% guarantee that a used breast pump is sterile . I was willing to take that risk but every one should make that choice for themselves.

  7. Lei lei

    My list is: convertible crib, pack-n-play, stroller, car seat, feeding chair, bouncy-seat, clothes, diapers, soaps and knit blanket.
    For my first we were very poor and had no choice but to get these basics which were largely gifts from family. And ya know what, we realized we didn’t need all the extra frills at all!
    I suggest a convertable crib because once the get too big you can remove a side panel and drop the matress so it’s a toddler bed. Extending the use of that crib for 2 years depending how fast baby grows.
    A pack and play because it’s baby’s home away from home: some even have the attachable changing table. We used this a lot because we often took the baby to a family members house to watch.
    Stroller and car seats can come in huge bulky fancy cute bundles. You can go that way or go more minimal and get a car seat you’re happy with and get one of those car seat holding strollers. Those strollers are just a frame with wheels basically and save space like nobody’s biz.
    Get a low cost feeding chair you can attach to one of your own kitchen or spare chairs. Don’t splurge on the nigh high chairs. Our feeding chair was all plastic and a detachable cushion for baby which was super easy to take and clean.
    Allow yourself to have enough clothes to change baby at least twice a day. Save clothes by investing in plastic bibs! Easy to clean and disinfect. And using hand me downs even on your first baby is a smart option.
    Diapers…I relied on wholesale stores and their coupons to get me thru those few years. You’ll need a lot! Most of your money will undoubtedly go to this.
    Soaps are expensive. Sheesh. I strongly suggest to own sample or small sizes of bottles because baby may be allergic. One soap and lotion we swore by was the purple Johnson and Johnson sleepy time. Truly soothed the baby and smells awesome.
    A knit blanket because babies love to be swaddled and warm. We always had a few blankets but the one that always sent baby into full comfy zone was a blue knit blanket that provided the right amount of snuggle for baby.
    That’s it. Haha that’s all I’ve got.

  8. Christina

    I’d skip the pack n play- we used it less and less with each child. For me a bouncy chair to have a safe place to put baby down would be one item. Another is a good wrap/carrier as well as a bassinet or some version of it for room sharing.

  9. Cindy

    I purchased a top of the line ear thermometer and had nothing but problems. Everyone had a fever all the time. My $10 Walmart thermometer has never let me down.

  10. Brynn

    While this list means well, alot of these things aren’t really essential.. I have a 2.5 year old and a baby and even with travelling we have never used a pack and play. I breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months, and breastfed my first for 18 months and never used a pump or bottle. Heck, some people even do elimination communication which eliminates the need for diapers!

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