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Where to Start When Budgeting for Baby

Where to Start When Budgeting for Baby

There are a lot of things to plan for when you’ve got a baby on the way: baby-proofing the house, deciding on daycare, picking out baby names, and…budgeting. Unfortunately, especially if you’re a first time parent, it can be hard to figure out what exactly to budget FOR. What are the must-haves? What kinds of things can you do without? How much will everything cost?

The first step in budgeting for a baby is to realize that there’s very little that you absolutely must have for the health and comfort of a baby. For instance, you don’t need an SUV or a Kate Spade diaper bag. You don’t even need a house. Babies do just fine in apartments. They can share rooms, or sleep in the living room if need be. In fact, my husband and his twin brother slept in a drawer when they were first born. Start with the bare minimum (shelter, food, & love) and go from there.

Here are the things that I thought I needed when my son was first born, along with how we actually used them:

Crib (borrowed, but met safety standards)
Changing table (used for a couple of months, then I switched to using the floor)
Diaper pail
Diaper stacker
Diaper bag
Growth chart
Baby book
Baby bath (gave up and used the sink, then the regular tub)
Baby thermometer
Various lotions & powders
Baby towels (they were cute but I could have used a regular towel)
Baby washcloths (ditto)
Baby monitor
Sheets (should have gotten a lot more of these)
Rubber mattress cover
Blankets (had too many)
Onesies (should have gotten a lot more of these)
Booties (several were lost)
Dress clothes (I shouldn’t have bought ANY of these, we got so many as gifts)
Play clothes (ditto)
Special baby detergent
Infant car seat/Carrier
Full size car seat
Safety plugs & latches (actually we had these previously, to keep our pets out of the cupboards)
Playpen (my son hated this and so we used it for storage instead)
Plastic bottle liners
Bottle brush
Swing (great for a little while, while he was an infant, but that’s it)
Stroller (another item my son hated, and so we didn’t use)
Snugli or backpack type carrier (both my son & I wound up hating this)

See Also

As you can see, we didn’t need nearly as many of the things I thought we did. (And actually, we could have gotten along just fine without a lot of the things that we did use. If our budget hadn’t covered it, we wouldn’t have been any the worse for wear.) My biggest piece of advice is to hold off on buying things until you find that you actually do need or want them. It’s more important to have worked out how you will care for the baby than to get caught up in the baby-gear business. Avoid the marketing hype. Put formula/breastfeeding supplies, diapers, and daycare (whether it’s you doing it or someone else) at the top of the list, and buy the rest out of the remaining amount you’ve allotted — if you don’t get the items as gifts first.

View Comments (2)
  • Thank you for this post, I think I have way more things on my baby registry than are truely needed. After my shower I’m going to prioritize what we still need to buy. It’s easy to forget that we don’t have to have every item right when our twins arrive. And of course everything is so cute it’s hard for a mother to pass up!

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