Let's be honest, the most expensive part of becoming a new parent for many is the idea that you need every latest and greatest piece of equipment and gadget and that it's got to be brand spankin' new.
Before you buy anything, ask yourself three questions:
1. Do I need it?
2. Does my child like it?
3. Can I get it for less?
Hands down, the most important piece of baby gear you will buy—it's an investment in your child's safety. But don't be fooled into thinking more expensive means better. New guidelines suggest baby stay in a rear-facing infant seat until 20 pounds and 1 year of age. Find a seat with a high rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NOTE: It's never too early to think ahead. After your infant car seat days are done, look for a seat your child can grow with, one that is able to hold a child up to 60 or even 80 pounds, and can serve as a booster seat when it's time.
How they roll: Many first-time moms will buy a travel system that comes with the infant car seat and stroller but it may not be the best use of your money. While the stroller may match the seat and is able to carry the car seat when you're out and about, a lightweight metal frame like a Snap n Go is often a better buy. Not only is it considerably less money, it's easier to get in and out of the car and offers a lot more storage space below.
When your child is ready to move into a regular stroller, around 6 months old or so, you can then find a stroller that fits your lifestyle. Just avoid the trap that you need to spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars buying the latest trend in strollers—the right stroller is an extremely personal decision. Ramona, a Sacramento, California, mother of two, ended up with multiple strollers searching for the one that best fit her family's needs.
Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a Stroller
Do I need it to be lightweight and easy to travel with?
Does it need to hit the hiking trails with me?
Do I need room for another child in the stroller?
Cathy, a Massachusetts mother of twin preschoolers, says, "I had to have the $600 BOB Duallie jogging stroller which I only ended up using a few times because it was too bulky and wide for the mall."
You can spend a pretty penny on a chair that matches your home décor. But is that really practical? Liz, who lives in the Los Angeles area with her two boys, suggests skipping the traditional high chair altogether and go for a portable that attaches to an existing chair, saving money and space. Plus, it's easy to toss in the car for a trip to Grandma's.
Liz says to avoid the pricey bassinette. "Babies outgrow it too fast." If you have the room, go straight for the well-made, affordable crib.
Change It Up
Instead of dropping hard-earned money on a changing table you'll only use for a short time, buy a pad and cover to use directly on a dresser. Not only will you save money, but the pad and cover alone are much more portable, giving you flexibility to move it upstairs or downstairs, changing Baby on the floor, a bed, or even at Grandma's house.
Sure, crib bumpers and fancy quilts are cute. But they don't really protect Baby and are a major hazard to your little one, according to American Academy of Pediatrics.