Bringing your first baby home is an overwhelming and exciting time. It is easy to get dragged down into thinking you need to buy ALL the things, and the new baby essentials you have been told to get end up filling your entire nursery.
Not only does this cost a fortune, but you also end up with things that you will end up getting rid of down the line because you later realize how much you didn’t need them.
So, what are the things you really need when bringing baby home for the first time? Let’s jump right in to new baby essentials on a budget
New Baby Essentials on a Budget – Printable Guide for money conscious expecting mothers!
Becoming a first time parent is SUPER expensive, or at least it can be. By narrowing down what you actually need to some first month baby essentials will help you have more room in your budget for the “want’s” later down the line.
The bare 6 baby necessities on a budget for that super wonderful, busy, and exciting first month with your sweet babe are as follows. Remember, babies sleep almost constantly in those first few weeks! They don’t need toys, fancy gadgets etc. All they need is you Mamma!
1. A safe sleep space
Every parent has their own preferences when it comes to baby sleep. Bottom line is a safe sleeping space is an absolute baby essential on any budget. The rest of those details are really dependent upon house space, budget, and needs. Here are some recommendations
- The versatile sleeping space: A playpen (AKA Pack n Play) is a great versatile sleep space for newborns as they can be up at eye level right beside your bed in your room in the upper bassinet portion (not the inclined bassinet).
We have an Ingenuity pack n play, much like this one. We’ve found it to be great quality for the price point!
- The ultra portable small sleeping space: A portable bassinet is a great option for the space conscious parents that still want a portable sleeping area. These bassinets are great because they are portable, small, and still provide a safe sleeping space that can be moved around the house or out and about. Then they also don’t take up much room in storage when you do not need them anymore.
I absolutely love my Chicco LullaGo bassinet, super compact to store and take from location to location. It was an essential when we had less storage space for outgrown baby supplies in our old home.
- The most common option: Many parents will also have a full-size crib in the babies nursery. Some parents will wait a couple of months before buying a crib for the nursery to help spread out those massive amounts of first costs buying everything else babies need. Make sure you have a nice firm mattress, and several mattress protectors!
- The ultra affordable option: Baby Box. These boxes are designed to be placed on the floor of your bedroom. I used a baby box for my first baby, but ditched it for a ‘higher’ option when I had my second. Because my oldest wanted to try and climb in the box with baby. Not good 😛
So for us it was worthwhile to get a portable bassinet when we were considering essentials for our new baby on a budget.
2. Blankets, Swaddles and Receiving Blankets
- Blankets: Some people like to swaddle with simple muslin swaddle blankets. These are great, but can be tricky to figure out at first! Still is nice to have some thin breathable blankets on hand for summer babies to keep baby warm during your first walks and outings
- Swaddles: The hard truth here is every baby has a preference for what types of swaddles they like.
Swaddle Sack Top Pick: The original arms up swaddles – SWADDLE UP by Love to Dream. Bonus – in the larger sizes they have ‘zip off arms’ to make them dual purpose as an arms free sleep sack as well!
My 3 babies all loved the arms up swaddle style right from birth as then they were able to self soothe but still felt safe and secure. I noticed instant sleep improvements with switching to these.
However, some babies really like to be tightly swaddled arms down. So best advice is to start with swaddling arms down tightly with a muslin blanket or with just a type of swaddle sack. Then re-evaluate the situation once you have met baby and see what their swaddling preference is. Then you can get a few more swaddles in the right style for those inevitable laundry disasters.
- Burping and Mess Cleanups: Receiving blankets can go by many names and purposes. Some people use them as burp cloths, others as actual blankets, etc. Either way. It’s a great idea to have something on hand for burping purposes.
Personally I loved these Aden & Anais Burpy Bib’s because they are the perfect shape for putting over your shoulder, or around baby’s neck. While also being adorable, SUPER soft and extremely absorpant and easy to wash. Literally anything from Aden and Anais is great quality, really adorable and will last! I have been using the same Burpy Bib’s almost constantly for the past 3 years!
3. Baby Hygiene Supplies
- Nail clippers or electric nail file (this one is wonderful for those flimsy, soft newborn nails)
- Baby Soap: shampoo/body wash/lotion in your brand of choice
- Soft wash cloths
- Bath towel
- Scent free laundry detergent/ and stain remover
- Vit D: very essential!
- Diaper cream: there are barrier creams and treatment type creams. Some mom’s actually mistakenly do more harm than good to their soft baby’s bums by applying creams at every diaper change.
- Slippery creams (vaseline etc) are great when baby is still passing meconium because it makes cleanup easier. But applying creams EVERY diaper change time can actually trap more moisture and cause more skin breakdown. The better way to prevent rashes is just regular diaper changes and good drying time before putting diaper back on.
- Barrier creams such as: are thick, and act as a barrier between acidic urine and the skin. These should NOT be applied when baby’s skin is still wet from wiping. Make sure the skin is dry first otherwise you are trapping extra moisture under the barrier cream
- Pro tip: A 10gram tub of Sudocrem is the PERFECT size to keep in your diaper bag at all times!
- Ointments: are typically more breathable and can help soothe. Some can encourage healing of rashes with skin nourishing essential oils and ingredients
- Thermometer: a simple digital thermometer is fine at first. As it’s actually recommended to take temperatures of newborns in the armpit rather than the ear.
4. Infant Car Seat
This is a given as the hospital literally will not let you leave without one.
We will not dive into carseats as it is a whole new topic in itself. But my only advice is this. Do your research, then do your research again. Seriously. There are SO many out there.
Consider expiry dates, compatibility with strollers, weight limits, weight of the carseat itself, and safety features. If you want to have lots of little ones – be advised there are certain seats with 7 or 8 year expiration windows. That’s a big money saver.
We opted for splurging a bit more on a carseat, I will have a full review coming for that soon, (Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Nido). Buying the most expensive carseat out there is not necessary when your planning out new baby essentials on a budget – but for our family it proved to be a really good decision to splurge on this particular important item.
1 or 2 newborn size (NB) sleepers (preferably with dual zippers) and 5+ white (0-3M) (gender neutral) long sleeve and short sleeve onesies with built in mittens.
- Don’t Do’s of Baby Clothing
- DO NOT buy a ton of Newborn sized clothing. PLEASE. As a mom of three (girls) I can assure you babies come in SO many shapes and sizes and spending a ton of money on lots of itty bitty NB sized clothing is not a grand idea. Opt for a sleeper in each gender (if you are waiting to find out gender) Or 2-3 (at most) NB sleepers if you know the gender.
- Also be advised every brand fits differently . Again another new topic. But long story short: George (Walmart) tends to fit larger than Carter’s brand in my experience so far.
- Should Do’s of New Baby Clothing on a Budget
- Get several articles of 0-3 month sized sleepers and clothing.
- If you can – opt for sleepers now feature dual zippers: SO handy for late night diaper changes so you’re zipping UP not DOWN making them colder. Buttons are HARD for wriggly newborns in the dark of night. Just saying.
- Likely you will be given clothing as gifts, so that helps you get a good start that you can round out into full wardrobes as things go on sale etc.
- I have delivered in 3 different hospitals and all have provided enough diapers for the duration of the hospital stay. HOWEVER it’s still always a good idea to check before hand if you are expected to bring your own. With the state of hospitals right now, it’s more than likely they offer disposable diapers to cut down on sanitation of cloth diapers during this time.
If you are doing disposable diapers have enough on hand for roughly
NB: 2–3 weeks x 6-10 diapers a day.
Size 1: 1+ months
- Once again with disposable wipes it is nice to have a few packages on hand. Bring one with you to the hospital as sometimes they only provide disposable towels and those are TERRIBLE for getting meconium off with.
- For at home: Don’t buy too many right away. Some babies are sensitive to certain brands so it’s better to try out a kind first before stocking up on them.
- Also your little bundle of joy is going to grow quick and start having diaper explosions in sizes that are too small before you know it!
First time Mom essentials for having a baby on a budget
Now what does Mom need? Remember, you have to take care of yourself as well. Your body is going to go through some big hormones shifts and having the right tools on hand to make your physical transitions easier will be really helpful. So…
Another thing I wish I would have just bought the first time I was pregnant. Finally caved and bought one for my third baby. It was bomb! Loved it. Seriously 100 times better than the crappy peri bottle you get at the hospital.
So everyone tells you to make padsicles in the event you need some tender care after delivery…but honestly the first time I used one after my first baby it just made me feel like I was wearing a soggy diaper. So I did not care for them. I think witch hazel infused pads could feel nicer as they wouldn’t melt per say. But I never actually used them. Still – consider having a few depends on hand for nighttime use…they’re handy. Super attractive and wonderful. Just saying.
If you are planning on nursing you of course need a nursing bra. But even if you don’t nurse you will still experience a little bit of tenderness so having some comfy sports bra’s for the first bit is also great. It’s best to start with a few of the sleep style nursing bra’s that are ultra stretchy to accommodate for engorement. Then once things settle down you can get more bras or even cute under-wire nursing bras (not recommended during those first 6 weeks for risk of clogged ducts)
4. Comfy post-delivery clothes
Joggers, leggings, long loose fitting t-shirts and button downs.
5. A breast pump
Once again, another one with so many options and scenarios that will depend largely upon personal preference. If you do lean toward getting a pump and plan on mostly breast-feeding (not exclusively pumping) then a manual pump can be a great to add to your first baby essentials on a budget checklist.
However, my favourite way to collect milk without any extra effort for freezing or (Dad to feed baby at night) in those first few days is a Haaka.
Or the budget friendly option like this one here that I have and loved! The Nature Bond! With 17K ratings…you know it’s good!
6. Nursing pillow
Some people swear by nursing pillows. TO be honest I never used mine for actual nursing. But they’re great to have for tummy time and helping baby sit in the future! But either way my favourite nursing pillow is just a regular old Boppy like this.
7. Nursing pads/nipple cream
The truth is, some women don’t actually experience much breastmilk ‘leaking’ even during the early engorgement phase. I did and liked having nursing pads on hand.
- But my advice is to just start with a normal sized box and then stock up later if you find you are the type to need them. Or start with some washable bamboo ones for a eco-friendly option.
- For the nipple cream side of things: another thing I thought I HAD to have, and ended up never using. So play it by ear for that one.
- Another factor is I found some nursing pads to be hot and itchy. Which is why I say, don’t buy 500 the first time you’re trying a brand out! LOL. My favourite brand were these
- Medela Safe and Dry ultra thin – 30 count box
What are some baby things that are ‘nice’ too have but not essential when you are on a budget?
In no particular order, some other baby essentials on a budget that aren’t 110% necessary in those first few weeks but are nice to have. When shopping for a baby on a budget it’s best to wait till you can use your completion discount to grab these bigger ticket items, or watch sales closely! Also it’s nice to see if you receive any gifts in these items as well.
1. Swing or bouncer
For the space/buget conscious mamma – consider getting a swing that doubles as a portable bouncer. YES they are a thing. YES I didn’t know it with my first baby but got one for the second and third ones! Although they can cost more upfront, they are technically two different items.
My particular swing is also Graco but a slightly different version than this great option
2. Baby Carrier or wrap
Babies really like to be carried in those first days. Having mom close by feels wonderful, and also allows mom to get more done! There are so many different options out there it’s utterly overwhelming. Do some research to see what type appeals to your lifestyle best
3. Change pad
Yes you can technically change diapers on the floor on your laundry room counter on an old towel/blanket. But a change pad is nice to have in your nursery if you have the space. Keep in mind many playpen’s also come with a change pad area. This purchase will definitely depend on if you consider this to be essential for your baby on your budget.
It is going to be impossible to know what type of soother your baby will take before they arrive. Or if they will even take one. My first did not, my other two took the same brand (Avent). Don’t go crazy stocking up on soothers before hand. Buy one or one from two different brands if you want another option handy, and get more down the road as needed.
Another one that it’s not wise to stock up on before you know what your baby likes and dislikes. Almost everyone you talk too will tell you a different baby bottle brand they swear by. Chances are if baby is having a hard time feeding, or you chose to do formula they can help you in the hospital before you leave and typically have a bottle you can try out. Bottles are expensive (especially when your buying just one at a time) if your baby ends up hating them. So it can really add up.
6. White noise machine
At first having a portable version is really handy as you can typically hang them off the side of the playpen/bassinet at first. While also having the option to take on the go for walks or car rides. Mom tip: be really noisy when baby sleeps. You will thank me for that when they are older and are able to sleep through anything 😉
We love our Myla the Monkey! Portable, several different soundtracks. Nightlight. Timer. Great long lasting battery. Myla is adorable and functional!
7. Night light
Ahh, this nightlight is the best baby item I have ever purchased that I didn’t know I needed with my first kiddo. In my opinion this is absolutely a baby essential on a budget – big or small! Bought it before my second was born and kicked myself for not having one sooner. Read my full review on this incredible light
8. Baby Bath Tub
There are so many kinds of baby tubs out there.
Stokke Flexi Bath: Great reviews, perfect for those low on bathroom storage space as it collapses completely flat when not in use.
The BOON SOAK 3 Stage Bathtub: My least recommended one (meaning I have it, and don’t love it) – . Just not great to store, awkward for babies once they start to want to sit up more. Not my best new mom purchase.
9. Baby monitor
Again, not super imperative to have BEFORE baby is born if you plan on sleeping in the same room as baby. But some parents like to have it all figured out before hand. If so, some ideas based off my experiences.
KODAK CHERISH: most recommended to me – my best friend has this monitor and loves it. It is also her second monitor so she has some experience with what features are great for moms! I can’t wait to get one and give it a good review for myself too!
SUMMER INFANT SIDE BY SIDE 2.0: My least favourite – I have this monitor and sadly have nothing but complaints about it. Definitely can not recommend it.
I also had a Levana brand monitor, but I was not a able to get a second camera for it once we had our second baby, which is when I got the summer infant one. The Levana was a great monitor as well, and we are actually back to using it in the nursery right now!
9. Diaper Pail
I would say the top two contenders I see people talking about most often are the UBBI vs the Diaper Genie by Playtex. I happen to have both of these (an older version of the diaper genie without the carbon filter insert) and I am actually undecided what one I like the most!
I have the Ubbi in the nursery (baby diapers), and the Genie in my laundry room (for toddler diapers). In short some basics on both
- Can use any garbage bags: don’t need special diaper bag inserts
- Steel canister: steel doesn’t absorb odors
- Ability to use cloth bag (purchase separately) for use with cloth diapering
- Very good holding capacity
- Locking mechanism to prevent curious toddlers from digging.
- Diaper access lid SLIDES open, which creates less stinky air disturbance.
- Difficult for a kid to open the entire lid itself + another bonus with multiples
- Lot’s and lot’s of colors to suit any nursery style
- No ‘double closing’ system to keep doors down inside when you open the lid to put a new diaper in – which the Diaper Genie does have.
- Have to use diaper bag inserts
- Has a double closing mechanism to help keep smells inside
- Foot pedal for hand’s free opening and closing
- Place to insert carbon filter’s for smell filtering
- You don’t have to use Diaper Genie brand refills – I use these Mama Bear refills in my Diaper Genie – they are cheaper, and still nice and strong. Also available in Amazon Subscribe and Save which helps me even more!
Checklist for bringing baby home
Now that was a lot of information – if you made it this far that’s great! I know this is super overwhelming and difficult to remember everything. So make sure to grab the printable checklist to keep you on track when shopping for everything!
Just to recap the products that I have had great experience with and recommend getting (if the budget and timing is right!)
First Weeks Essentials
Things that are nice to have eventually
Action Steps – How to get all your baby essentials on a budget
- Enter your email address to get the checklist sent to your inbox. Download and print off the baby essentials on a budget checklist
- Use the general checklist to help you get started
- Use the ‘recommendations’ checklist for an easy list of all the tried and tested brands I talked about using
- Use the ‘fill in the blanks’ checklist to help keep track of your favourite brands when you do your own research
- Make a registry at a place you feel comfortable with!
- Do your research first to make sure they have a completion discount to help save more money
- Make sure to buy only the ESSENTIALS that you need to make it through the first 6 weeks, and worry about the rest later once you know what you have received for gifts, and have your registry completion discount!
I hope you enjoyed this article to help you get prepared and get the absolute essentials on a budget for a new baby! As a Mom of 3 myself, I really enjoy being able to share my experiences (what works, what doesn’t) with other new mamma’s! I only recommend things I love myself, keeping in mind that everyone has their own preferences, likes and dislikes. But any reviews I can offer and be off assistance with is what I am here for!
Please reach out if you have any other questions. From one mamma to another. Best wishes on your little one!
Till next time,