Frugal New Parents – What to Buy For a New Baby

essential baby itemsProspective and new parents often rush out to buy everything that a baby could possibly want or need even though this isn’t practical if you’re on a budget. Even if this isn’t the case for you, things that you buy still may not ever be used and can turn out to be a big waste of money. Note that I won’t be listing absolutely every item that you could feasibly need/want – think of it more as a list for those who want their new baby to be fully kitted out without going overboard on the spending front.

Sleeping Essentials

  • Crib/Moses bed/Travel cot. The baby will obviously need somewhere to sleep but new parents often disagree on the form that the sleeping arrangements should take. This one is probably a matter of personal choice.
  • Bedding. Whatever type of bed you choose, you’ll need blankets and sheets for bedding. A waterproof mattress is also advisable.
  • Baby monitor. It’s not realistic to be with your baby every second of the day so you’ll need a baby monitor to be able to keep tabs while you’re in another room.

Changing Essentials

  • Changing mat. Technically speaking this isn’t strictly an absolute essential. Many new parents just use the floor instead but a changing mat can be useful to prevent you from having to keep bending down to the floor every time a baby needs changing. To protect your back, you may consider this to be a necessary item.
  • Diapers/Diaper bags/Diaper ointment. These are self-explanatory so I won’t go into details on this one!


  • Stroller. This one is pretty self-explanatory for when you’re traveling on foot. Until your baby is old enough to support its head by itself, you’ll need a stroller that reclines. This can be one of the most expensive purchases you’ll make for a new baby.
  • Car seat. If you’ve got a car and are planning to take the baby out and about in it, a car seat is a must. This is one area not to be skimped on – you don’t want to put your baby’s safety at risk. Ideally, look for one with top-notch safety reviews for piece of mind.
  • Baby sling. Even if you’ve got a car, there might be situations when you don’t want to travel this way and a baby sling can be an ideal way to transport a small baby on foot if a stroller would be too much hassle to set up and maneuver.

Feeding Essentials

  • Sterilizer/Feeding bottles/Bottle brush. This comes down to whether you’re going to be breastfeeding or using formula milk. If it’s the latter, you’ll need feeding bottles and a sterilizer.
  • Nursing bras/Nursing pads/Nipple cream. If you’re going to be breastfeeding, these items can make it easier. Baby/parenting websites often advise having at least six nursing bras.


Most new parents receive a lot of baby outfits from friends and family so you may be able to get away with buying predominantly essentials like:

  • Babygros (somewhere between six and eight is recommended)
  • Bodysuits (again, six to eight is recommended)
  • Vests
  • Hat
  • Coat
  • Booties/Socks
  • Mittens

If you’re not lucky enough to be helped out in the clothing department, you’ll also need:

  • One-piece outfits
  • One-piece pajamas
  • Fleece outfits for winter

Optional Items

If you can borrow these items from friends, do so as chances are that your baby won’t need them for too long. For this reason, you probably won’t want to buy most of them brand new, especially if money is already tight.

  • Moses basket
  • Newborn clothing
  • Baby bath
  • Baby bouncer

Buying Tips

If money isn’t plentiful, you may not be in a position to buy brand new items. You can get some absolute second-hand bargains if you want to go down this route. I would never buy things like car seats second-hand because of the safety aspect, but you can buy a lot of the items mentioned in this post second-hand if needs be. Shopping online is another alternative, because you can shop around and maybe find discounts.
What are your suggestions for preparing for a new baby if you’re on a budget?

(photo credit: jessicafm)

16 thoughts on “Frugal New Parents – What to Buy For a New Baby

  1. Evan

    The Wife and I just went to pick up furniture and register HOLY JEBUS! The amount of crap that is out there is NUTS. We registered for a lot of stuff that we wouldn’t buy ourselves. The furniture end we didn’t skimp at all I couldn’t believe how much everything was

    1. Money Funk

      LOL. The thing is… if a mother is registering, it is of the utmost to register for the hotest (considered most useful) items. For every car seat, there is the ‘ultimate’ car seat. And with all those darn safety features… ya, we all get sucked up into it (I definitely did). Especially if they are tres chic/cute.

      How did our parents every raise us/survive with such simplistic childrearing practices?? ;)~


  2. Car Coach

    We’re almost 3 months into this new world and our best expenditure….a diaper genie! We have two, one for each floor. Not sure what we’d do without it. Also, we have tons of bibs! Use ’em like toilet paper.

    Oh, and garage sales are great for a lot of the items that don’t need to be in “prisitine” conditions or have safety risks like a car seat.

    1. Money Funk

      LOL. Those Genies really are nice to have. Keeps your house smelling good (as long as you take them out daily). LOL. And bibs, definitely.
      Children consignment shops are also great places. When I shop at thrift stores, I am always surprised by the amount of Carter’s I find still with the tags on (those kids grow too quick!).

      Congratulations, too! Make sure to take lots of pictures (a camera was one of the best gifts my mom ever bought me when I had my son).

  3. Barb Friedberg

    When I had a newborn in the last millenium, we were in the camp of “GOING OVERBOARD.” Flash forward, a few years, and my 21 year old baby is holding a garage sale to make some cash off of her old kids stuff. WOW, we bought waaaaay too much. I hope she can cash in NOW and recoup some of our Investment(?).

    1. Money Funk

      You know… my friend and I sold our childhood Star Wars toys for quite a pretty penny. It might be a good thing you bought way too much. LOL.

  4. Jenna

    Yahoo it works! Great list, definitely will need to dig post out again if I ever get preggo. Good stuff to register for too!

    1. Money Funk

      Glad you enjoyed it! A girlfriend of mine is having her 3rd baby (congrats to her). I forgot how much stuff ‘babies need’! But there really are some baby items out their that make childrearing that much easier.

      1. Jenna

        Yeah, I’m still in the buying cute outfits for friends who are having babies phase. Which is satisfying enough for me for now.

  5. Moneyedup

    Baby clothes can be quite expensive, and babies grow out of them so quickly. Hand-me-downs from relatives or friends can be a blessing. The cost of baby toys can be quite high as well, so I would go for toys that are educational and help babies explore their motor skills rather than toys that are just flashy or cute.

    1. Money Funk

      The funny things is… its always the close friends and family members that buy those really noisy toys with all the lights, bells, and gadgets. Gotta love them!

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  7. Nicole

    In the end we unexpectedly ended up never getting a crib. Never using the crib bedding we bought. We used the baby bath once and found it too tricky– much easier to shower with the baby or bathe directly in the tub.

    The monitor also ended up not being used, even after we jury rigged it to work in a pack n play (which also ended up not being used except as a changing table after the first couple of weeks). Heck, we only used the stroller literally 3 times.

    The sling got a LOT of use. Our kid didn’t care for being strapped into anything that wasn’t attached to a human.

    We bought very little clothing… once people found out we had a child we got mondo handmedowns on top of new gifts from relatives.

    We also know people who went diaper free. We weren’t that organized.

    My list would be:
    nursing supplies
    wipes (though I know people who made their own reusable wipes) and some kind of diaper/pottying system
    a few onsies of various sizes just in case
    diaper bag
    one of those play mats with fancy dangly things and a pretty pattern for tummy time
    outlet covers and furniture straps and door locks– your kid will be mobile before you know it
    cloth diapers (the cheap kind for burping and cleaning up messes… there will be a lot of messes)

    It is amazing how much stuff you really don’t need. Putting off shopping worked out really well for us.

    1. Money Funk

      Clothing…completely understand about not needing to buy because of the hand me downs. Which is great because they only fit in the stuff for a very short time. And I LOVE the sling! I don’t even remember who bought me one, it was a Dr. Sears Bably Sling and I used that sucker til my son was 3 years old and my daughter was 1. We cleaned house and it made grocery shopping so much easier with the kid at the hip. And for anyone that does try a sling… try it out for at least two weeks before you decide you don’t like it.

      Great order, there. 🙂

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  9. Cynthiatay

    The first two things which baby need are clothes and furniture. And choosing these, especially baby furniture is a tiring and challenging task. You have to be very careful about the quality and safety of the products you purchase. There are certain standards set for baby furniture. So before any purchase, check to see that the baby store of your choice meets all the safety criteria. Also, look for customer reviews and business accreditation like BBB before you approach a store. Your research has to be extensive in this case. ABaby, for example, meets all the criteria and has good customer rating. I was really impressed by their credentials and their customer service.

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