First time parents don’t know what to expect. They know they want to give their son or daughter the very best they can provide, and often that means loading up with every bit of baby gear they can find. It’s no wonder first time parents often have sticker shock. Figuring out what to buy before your baby arrives is a live and learn thing, because by the time baby number two makes an appearance the list is much, much smaller.
It’s possible to gear up for your baby without spending a fortune. The secret is knowing which “must have” items are needed, and which are just hype. Nothing is too good for your baby, and it is natural to want to prove that. But if you want to give your baby a better head start, try putting that money in a college fund instead. Follow our advice from our years of experience, and skip the following items.
1. Bedding Sets
Preparing the crib is a special point of pride for any parent-to-be, but the expensive bedding sets with comforters, bumpers, and extra blankets are actually dangerous for your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no soft or loose bedding at all in your baby’s bed to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
2. Bubble Bath
Images of a happy baby splashing in a bubble bath makes parents want to rush out and buy lots of baby toiletries. The truth is that babies don’t really need to be scrubbed very much. A washrag and a little mild baby soap is all your baby will need at birth, and even then, sparingly. Bubble bath that isn’t rinsed properly from the bath can cause a urinary tract infection for babies.
3. Changing Table
It might make parents-to-be feel more prepared for the arrival of their baby if they have a changing table ready and stocked with diapers, wipes, creams, etc. Changing tables can be very expensive, and most parents quickly learn that a changing pad or thick blanket not only works just as well, but is portable. Most diapers will be changed on the fly, not in the controlled and calm environment of your nursery.
4. Diaper Disposal Systems
A diaper disposal system is a special garbage can that automatically wraps diapers individually in plastic so they don’t make the house smell as bad. Diaper disposal systems can be very expensive and can require you to continually buy plastic to “refill” them. A used diaper disposal system might be a better way to go, but the ongoing purchases make it a budget buster. Especially considering tying diapers in plastic shopping bags is a free way to get the same effect.
5. Baby Laundry Detergent
Advertising for special baby laundry detergents will have you believe that it is absolutely necessary to wash everything that touches your baby’s skin in a separate load, with a special “gentle” laundry detergent. The truth is, most babies will be perfectly fine with your regular laundry soap. If your baby seems to have a reaction to it, you can buy the special laundry soap at that moment. It’s not something that you have to be prepared for in advance.
6. Newborn shoes
Newborn shoes are one of the most adorable things in the known universe. But if you decide to purchase a pair or two for your baby, you need to understand that you are purchasing a memento. Not only do newborns have no need for shoes whatsoever, they will grow out of them incredibly fast. Newborn shoes are just souvenirs.
7. Diaper Bag
Babies require you to carry around a lot of things. Parents of a newborn have to carry diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, a burp cloth, and sometimes bottles and formula, everywhere they go. A diaper bag is helpful to carry all of this stuff, but so is a backpack, messenger bag, or purse. You can easily use what you already have, or purchase something new that you’ll be able to use even after your baby has been potty trained.
8. Wipe Warmer
A cold wet wipe to an unsuspecting baby’s bottom isn’t a fun thing, and many first time parents keep their wipes in a warming tray so babies have a nicer diaper-change experience. But bacteria grow in warm, wet places, which makes these gadgets a bad idea. Diaper wipes also seem to dry out really fast with wipe warmers, which is a pain compared to cold wipes. On particularly chilly days, hold the wipe in your hand a moment to take the chill off. Other than that, your baby will be just fine.
9. Infant Education
It’s not unreasonable to want to give your child the best head start possible, including their academics. There are lots of product out there that claim to make your baby a genius, and they are mostly ridiculous. Infants and toddlers don’t need to be bothered with learning to read because learning to read at an early age has no correlation with intelligence later in life. Babies can be soothed by music, but any music will do. You don’t have to splurge on the complete work of Bach.
10. Expensive Clothes
Garage sales are a new parent’s best friend. Many people shy away from dressing their child in used clothing, but the fact is that infants grow at an almost alarming rate. There is no article of clothing in your child’s whole first year wardrobe that will be worn more than a couple of months. That can mean that brand new baby clothes are worn a handful of times and then sold for a fraction of the price at a yard sale.
11. Used Car Seats
Being financially smart means knowing how to save money and when to invest your money, and when it comes to car seats, saving money is not a good idea. It is never a good idea to buy a used car seat. It can be impossible to tell whether or not a car seat has been in a car accident, which means the seat is no longer safe. Buying a new product also gives you a chance to register the car seat, which gives you the comfort of knowing that if the car seat ever gets recalled, the company will contact you.
Project CRediT sources data from Wealthy Genius including net worth, earnings, and various wealth statistics.