By Wendy Mihm | Tuesday January 4, 2011
Choosing baby gear for your first baby can be a daunting task. How are you supposed to know what items you really need if you’ve never cared for an actual baby? It’s tricky, and the companies who sell baby gear would have you believe that you need it all. The truth is, there is a lot that you can do without.
FinancialRx has some strategies to help you figure out what you really need, and what you can skip. This is key, because it can save you both money and space. The space thing may not seem like a big deal if you live in a large house or apartment. However, you’ll be shocked at how quickly you amass endless piles of stuff for this child, and how fast all that space disappears.
Here’s the FinancialRx strategic approach to choosing baby gear.
Tour a Fellow Mom’s House Before You Set Up Your Baby Registry
Set up a date with a friend who has ventured into motherhood before you – preferably one with a baby who is 6 to 12 months old. She will have fresh knowledge of everything you need, but won’t be so new as to still be sleep-deprived and ovewhelmed.
Bring a notebook and ask to tour each room that has changed since the baby arrived. This will likely include the baby’s room, the kitchen and possibly a bathroom and/or a playroom. Some people go all-out and baby-proof their whole house while others are less gung-ho. But you can get a good sense of what they found necessary and what got relegated to the closet, just by listening and observing their home.
I did this and not only was it incredibly valuable, but it was fun for both my New-Mom-Friend and for me. She was so excited to share her knowledge (and to speak to another adult human after months at home with an infant) that she made me tea and lunch and we spent a wonderful afternoon together. Since then, I have done the same thing for three other friends – and I enjoyed it all three times.
Consider Your Lifestyle Before Setting Up Your Baby Registry
Companies that sell baby items, like BabiesRUs, Giggle, The Right Start, etc. all have generic baby registries. But that’s the thing: they’re generic. And the companies are hoping that you will just blindly click on everything and have people buy you a bunch of things you don’t need. But then you’re stuck storing a bunch of things you’ll use once or twice, and then give away. That is not money well spent. As you consider your lifestyle, ask yourself questions like these:
Are you hoping to breastfeed and are you planning to go back to work soon? You may need a breast pump and a milk storage system.
Do you drive a lot? Consider the weight and collapse-ability of your stroller-of-choice.
Do you take public transportation or live in a dense city? Consider the width of your stroller and it’s maneuverability. Also take note of the size and accessibility of the basket underneath if you plan to run errands and store shopping bags with your stroller. (Hint: you will!)
What sort of climate do you live in? Do you need rain or snow attachments for your stroller?
Do you plan to travel a bunch? You will get plenty of use out of a pack-and-play so your baby has a safe and cozy place to sleep while on the road.
Will you be traveling by airplane? A canvas car seat bag may be very useful.
Are you planning to “wear” your baby? Start reading up on baby carriers. But if you get one, leave the tags on and test it with your child after he or she arrives to make sure it’s a fit for both of you—some babies love these, others absolutely do not!.
Every Mom needs a diaper bag, but you should test out a few before you buy. Remember, fashion is nice, but function is everything. And I’ll give you two key things to consider: pockets and spills.
Planning to swaddle your baby? Those swaddling blankets with the velcro or zippers make it a lot tougher for those little buggers to bust out in the middle of the night…
Remember, you can’t drive home from the hospital without an infant car seat.
Think ahead: many infant car seats are only useful until your baby reaches 20 pounds, which occurs roughly around the year mark (but this can vary a lot). You may wish to register for the next level car seat, which typically faces forward in the car.
Limit the Baby Registry to Big Ticket Items
It’s tempting to add cute clothes and toys to your baby registry as you are choosing baby gear, but you’ll get these anyway. To get the most bang for your buck, focus in on the big-ticket items that you learned you really need when you toured your friend’s house and considered your lifestyle. That way your friends and family’s dollars will go the longest way toward getting you the items that will get the most use. Because the toys and clothes are so irresistible to buy, I guarantee you will get those anyway.
Putting some effort now into strategically choosing baby gear can help your baby registry dollars go farther. And as you start to realize just how expensive child rearing really is, you’ll see that money saved today can be money well spent tomorrow.
Like what you've read? We pack some of our best insider know-how and savviest strategies into our free weekly emails.
Subscribe today and let us help you live a healthy, happy financial life.