Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Poor Man's Guide to Baby

If you're a regular reader here, you know that T plays minor league baseball and we move around. 

A lot.

We've lived in 11 different cities in 4 years and we've moved AT LEAST twice that amount. Without spending time to count, I'd guess that we've packed up our car and moved 30 times in 4 years. If I'm not exactly right, I'm really darn close.

So when we found out that we were having a baby, I knew that we needed to stick to the essentials for two reasons: A) We only travel with the things we can fit in our car and B) I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom for now and so we'd need to clamp down on our budget.

I thought I'd share with you some of the (affordable) baby items that I deemed absolutely necessary. To pass this test, it had to meet 4 requirements:

1) It had to fit within a smaller budget
2) It had to be something I used on a daily basis
3) It had to make my life a lot easier OR
4) Benefit Cali - in either development or health

What I've learned through this experience is that there is a huge difference between needs and wants. There are a lot of baby items that people will tell you that you "need" when really, you don't. Trust me. The fact that I didn't have a rocking chair drove some people crazy (I'm looking at you, Mom). Sure, if your budget (and space) allows it, go all out. You only have your first baby once so if you are able to get everything you could ever possibly want, by all means do it.

I'm just here to help those of you who are looking for the bare necessities. I've put the average price in parenthesis next to the name so you can get a quick idea of how much it'll cost you. So whether you have a small budget, a small space, or both, hopefully this list will help. 

One thing I would suggest if you're on a tight budget is to ask around to people you know that might have baby items they're willing to give away or sell for cheap. Just make sure if it's a crib or car seat that it meets the current safety standards and hasn't expired. Also, for things like baby carriers and clothes, check out Ebay or Craigslist. You'd be surprised how much money can be saved by buying things gently used!

Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap Baby-Mild ($15)

You can use this stuff for anything. Dilute it with water for baby body wash, shampoo, clothes detergent, or to wash your bottles. The initial price is a bit of a shock but the bottle is huge and it lasts forever. I'm only half way through the bottle I bought when Cali was born and like I said, I use it for everything.

Gerber 5 pack Onesies ($10)

No joke, Cali wears these almost every day. They come in different designs but I just bought the plain white and let my cousin tie-dye them. They match everything and I happen to love tie-dye.

Baby K'Tan ($35)

I have sung the praises of the K'Tan before but it never hurts to do it again. WE. LOVE THIS. I could've never gone grocery shopping, cooked, or gotten much of anything done had it not been for this carrier. I knew I didn't want to lug an awkward carseat around everywhere and this freed up my hands. Plus, you can use it up into todderhood (is that a word?). Cali still loves this.

Bouncy Seat ($40+)

These can actually range from $25-$200 but Cali managed perfectly fine in her basic one. I probably would've never showered had we not had this, especially with T being gone on road trips all of the time. I also took it outside so we could enjoy some picnics together and this gave her a non-grassy place to sit.

Car Seat ($40+)

This and a crib mattress were the two things that T and I decided we didn't want to skimp on. I consider myself a carseat freak so it was something that I deemed worthy of spending money on but if your budget is super tight, you can get a carseat for as low as $45. All carseats that are sold in stores have passed inspection and are safe for your baby to ride in. However if you have some wiggle room in this area, I'd suggest the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio (pictured). We absolutely love this carseat and it got the highest safety rating possible by Consumer Report.

Crib ($150+)

I would suggest getting a convertible crib so that you can use it for years to come. This Graco convertible crib is super cute and only $150. 

Crib Mattress ($30+)

Again, this is something that T and I didn't want to go cheap on but this Dream on Me mattress is only $30! And you can use it once the crib transitions to a toddler bed as well. We have the Colgate Classica and have really been impressed with it.

Diapers ($15+)

I chose to go the cloth diaper route. For an initial investment of about $200 (I used gift cards I got at my baby shower) these can last you until you potty train your child. My favorite are FuzziBunz. They have adjustable legs so they fit tiny newborns well. But if you're not the cloth diapering kind, a cheap disposable are Luvs. When we're traveling we use these and we've never had any problems. 

Touch Thermometer ($20)

You'll probably want a good thermometer. You can get them for much cheaper than $20 but a touch thermometer will make your life easier.

Activity Mat ($20+)

You can really spend as much or as little on this as you want. I (personally) wouldn't suggest spending too much because they outgrow it very quickly but I wanted Cali to have something to look at during tummy time. She enjoyed looking at the toys hanging over her head or the colors on the mat. If you're crafty, you can even make one like the one pictured that I'm slightly obsessed with. Here's the tutorial.

Total: $375

So there you have it. These are the things that I would consider the bare minimum basics. Sure you can have a changing table, rocking chair, etc. but I managed just fine without them. To be fair, I didn't have a nursery because, well, we didn't really have a home but it just proves that it is possible to have a baby and not spend a ton of money if you don't have it. 

Also, this doesn't include things like bottles and formula if you can't or don't want to breastfeed. You can get bottles for cheap (like this 12 pack for $10) and formula will be a monthly expense but I would think you'd want at least a month's worth stored up, so that will run you more. I really don't know anything about formula like how much it is or how long it lasts but if you do, leave your tip in the comments!

Also, if you're expecting a baby, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

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