How can someone so tiny need so much stuff..?
Buying baby gear can be so much fun… and so expensive… and so time consuming…
It’s like the entrance fee to just about any baby store is some $1500!
You go in to buy a pacifier and come out with an infant car seat (the one you had turned out to be unsafe), a new baby bouncer (so good with one that can be rocked) and 10 other pieces of baby gear you didn’t even know existed (but that really, really are indispensable…).
This post will guide you towards choosing the right gear for your baby, depending on your situation and wallet. I go through the stuff that can take the most of your time and money to choose, such as strollers, car seats, crib, and so on.
These days, things have gotten a little bit better, because now you can do some of your baby gear shopping online.
For example, we bought our twin stroller online. We got it at a 35% discount compared to shopping in a store close to our home. We also got it in five days instead of 10 weeks!
So before you run off to a store close to home, investigate the online alternatives.
Or better still, go to the store to check out the baby gear, and then buy them online if that gives you a better price. (Most likely it does!)
If you just want to know what to buy first, and what can wait, find a list of essential newborn needs here.
Now to the baby gear guide!
Baby Gear Guide to Buy the Right Stuff From The Start!
- Infant Car Seat
- Baby Stroller
- Crib Or Cradle
- Baby Bouncer
- Baby Carrier
- Diaper Bag
- Changing Table
- Shopping Online
Infant Car Seat
Unless you are 100% sure that you will give birth to your baby at home, you will need a car seat after only a few days, to get your new baby back home from the hospital.
And who knows for sure how birth will turn out?
So, invest in a new, safe car seat for your baby!
This is one of the baby gear products that you should not compromise with. I wouldn’t even buy a used one. Who knows if the seat has been in a mild car crash for example or if it is older what the seller tells you or remember?
So, check out the latest safety reviews for car seats and get one well before your baby is planned to arrive.
Buying your baby’s first stroller is probably going to be your biggest baby gear investment. A good stroller with a bassinet can easily cost some $700 or more.
If you don’t want to spend all that money, you can, of course, buy a used one.
When buying a stroller (new or used), remember to check recent reviews. Even if most strollers are more or less safe, it is not all that rare that some strollers get criticized for having poor brakes or even a handlebar that can fall off.
These days, most strollers have adjustable front wheels (or one wheel). Depending on where you live, this can be very practical or actually somewhat dangerous. Only one front wheel or very small front wheels are difficult to maneuver in the snow, and the stroller might overturn in the snow.
In such a case, it is better to choose a stroller with two not too small fixed front wheels or at least front wheels that can be locked.
Crib Or Cradle
Even if you plan to co-sleep with your baby, you’ll need a cradle or a crib. Many babies sleep almost around the clock when newborn and you’ll need a safe and cozy place for your baby to rest when not in your arms.
Many babies sleep better in a cradle than in a crib in the beginning. This is probably because they feel safer in a small area than in a roomy crib.
But if you are short of cash or space, you can go for a crib only and make it cozier by reducing the size of your baby’s sleep area. Use pillows or rolled blankets, but make sure they can’t fall over your baby.
Another advantage with a cradle is of course that you can rock it. This may help your baby fall asleep at some other place than in your arms.
Choosing a mattress may seem real easy – just get one that fits into the crib or cradle!
Well, it is almost that simple!
However, one thing to think about is to buy a firm mattress. Even if this may seem uncomfortable, it helps to prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Why? Because your baby can’t bury his face into the mattress as easily.
Also, even if you buy a used bed, I would consider buying a new mattress. You can’t be sure that the mattress has not been used by for example a cat or that it has been used in a home where someone smokes.
There are also indications that SIDS is increased by babies sleeping on toxic mattresses, so it is definitely worth buying a new one.
When you choose bedding for your baby, don’t be tempted to buy fluffy blankets and pillows. I know, they are very pretty, but…
…your baby can either fall under them or, sooner than you know, pull a lightweight, fluffy blanket over his or her face. Therefore, this type of bedding is potentially dangerous for your baby. (SIDS again).
Actually, I’d recommend a very flat pillow (if any) and a sleeping bag, like this one. (Link to Amazon).
This way, your baby will be comfortable and safe at the same time.
You’ll also need to buy a few sheets – make sure they are made of cotton, preferably from organic cotton to minimize the amounts of toxic substances close to your baby.
You don’t really need to buy a special bathtub for your baby, but it is quite convenient to have one when your baby is small. And they are often one of the cheapest pieces of baby gear that you will buy. For a quality bathtub, that can be used for a long time, check out this one.
Also, even a toddler can enjoy bathing in a small tub, just because it is fun, so if you have room for it, go ahead and get one. What you don’t need is one of those specially designed bath seats. It is quite easy to learn how to hold a baby while bathing him, so save your money!
If you don’t want to buy a bathtub, you can either use a big bathtub or the sink to bathe your baby.
A baby bouncer is of course not a necessary piece of baby gear, but it is so convenient.
You can buy a very simple one or one that can be rocked, play music, includes a lot of toys, etc. It is all a matter of taste and price.
But, the main thing to think about is to buy one that you can position so that your baby is lying flat on his/her back.
This way, you can use the bouncer right from the beginning and your baby can sleep or look around close to where you are.
Check out some great baby bouncers here. (Link to Amazon)
A baby carrier or a baby sling is almost a necessary piece of baby gear, in my view.
Most new babies really want to be close to their parents as much as possible. This will keep you very busy, just holding your baby hour after hour.
With a baby carrier or sling, your baby will get all the close contact he needs, while you will get a chance to do something else than just sitting.
Also, many babies that suffer from tummy pain or colic seem to feel better by being carried around.
The choice of carrier or sling is, of course, a matter of both taste and price – I actually used both! The main thing is that you get one that supports your back well and that you find convenient to use. Slings can sometimes take a bit of time to put on, which is not great if your little one is the impatient type. In such a case, use a sling that is easy to hop into.
Here are my favorite carrier and sling:
- Babybjorn Baby Carrier Miracle has great back support. Their original carrier is great too and cheaper, but I needed a better one for my back (and a breastfed, chubby baby :-) )
- I’ve tried two different kinds of baby slings – elastic and regular. The elastic ones, like for example this one are very soft and comfortable. The regular ones, on the other hand, are better, in my view, for heavier and older children/toddlers. I could actually get my 2-year-old to sleep really quickly in my sling! He loved it (and otherwise hated naps!) Here is a good regular sling!
Diaper bags are expensive! I haven’t really figured out why – I mean they are just bags!
These days there are really neat, fashionable bags to buy – very tempting!
Whether or not you buy a bag designed for the purpose, you will need some sort of bag to carry all diapers, baby wipes, clothes, pacifier and you name it…
A changing table isn’t absolutely necessary; you can use the floor or your bed, for example. But in the end, this will hurt your back.
A changing table can be anything from very simple in plastic, to super-advanced, with wooden versions with drawers and even in combo with a crib.
When I change diapers, I want to be close to a sink, so the bed-changing table combinations are not perfect in my view (and expensive!) But a sturdy changing table, like this one, is very convenient to use.
Shopping Baby Gear Online
If you are at all interested in saving money or use your money elsewhere, consider buying some of your baby gear online. The savings can be quite massive; sometimes 50% or more.
It is still a good idea, of course, to visit a local baby store to check out the goods and compare prices.
Some great, reliable online stores for baby gear are:
That was it! I know it can be a lot to digest especially for your wallet! But remember that you can buy used items or borrow most baby gear – the ones I would definitely buy new are an infant car seat and a crib/cradle mattress.
Obviously, this guide doesn’t include everything – you do need diapers, clothes, and lots of other stuff too! But the ones on this list can really break your budget and I also found them most time-consuming to pick and choose.
Good luck with your baby gear shopping!
More Baby Gear Tips!
Paula Dennholt founded Easy Baby Life in 2006 and has been a passionate parenting and pregnancy writer since then. Her parenting approach and writing are based on studies in cognitive-behavioral models and therapy for children and her experience as a mother and stepmother. Life as a parent has convinced her of how crucial it is to put relationships before rules. She strongly believes in positive parenting and a science-based approach.
Paula cooperates with a team of pediatricians who assist in reviewing and writing articles.