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When Baby’s on the Way

What to Borrow, What to Buy

Baby items are a hot topic in my house right now. Our attic is stocked with products we used with our two current little ones, and it’s a good thing. Reusing and recycling baby items is more important than ever for our family, as now we have twins on the way! There’s no doubt you need lots of new stuff as you prepare to welcome a bundle, or in my case bundles, of joy into your home, but just because the stuff is new to you, doesn’t mean it actually has to be new.

When I was pregnant for the first time with my son, I’m sure I was like other moms-to-be. Excited, and armed with a registry gun, I was a scanning maniac. Nothing but the best for my new baby boy. I must have beeped hundreds of items, many of which my generous family and friends were happy to gift to my growing family.

Once my son was born, and after having a second child, my daughter, I have really been able to see how many of those items that one, I may not have actually needed, and two, could have probably picked up for much cheaper, or borrowed. You quickly realize how fast kids ruin or just grow out of all that baby stuff.

In addition to clothing and baby items, I am now always happy to share advice when I learn that my friends or coworkers are about to be first-time parents. Advice I’m revisiting myself. That said, here’s what I think you really need to buy new and what you could consider accepting as a hand-me-down from a friend or family member, or picking up at a consignment shop or yard sale.

1603_RealMom_1Don’t skimp on car seats, cribs, and strollers.

As safety technology is enhanced each year, car seats actually have expiration dates. You want your little one to be as safe as possible, so buying a new car seat is a must. Plus, there are lots of different options – different handles, different weights, and you want to be sure you get the right fit for you. Same with strollers. While they don’t expire the way car seats do, there are so many models on the market that every parent should find what fits their lifestyle best. Are they a jogger? Are they going to have to push a stroller on gravel? What about the crib? Do you want something that will grow with your child? Though it can be a big investment, car seats, cribs, and strollers are among the items you’ll get the most use out of for the longest with your children, so try not to skimp on those three purchases.

Buy a video baby monitor. 

I also recommend that you buy a video monitor, which usually ranges in price from under $100 to a few hundred bucks. Mine has offered me so much peace of mind over the years. We actually bought a second camera that hooks into the same monitor, so I am able to keep an eye on both my sweeties. It’s one thing to hear your child, but it’s a whole added level of comfort to be able to see him sleeping soundly. Mine allows you to talk to the child, which can be helpful as well. Without actually getting up, sometimes a “there, there,” or “you’re okay, keep sleeping, my angel” said through the monitor will do the trick if they are just a bit unsettled. Perfect for new, tired parents.

1603_RealMom_2Accept any and all clothing donations. 

I can’t stress this tip enough. I can honestly say that I’ve probably bought fewer than a dozen clothing items for each of my children at full price. Even if you don’t register for them, you will definitely get lots of new clothes at baby showers, or from the grandparents-to-be. People are drawn to adorable clothes because they are so cute and hard to pass up in the store. So, I know it’s difficult, but try to wait to see what you get before you drop any of the new baby budget on clothes. I’ve also been fortunate to have three amazing friends who each have boys and girls a few years older than my two. We reap the benefits of their hand-me-downs. It’s wonderful. Kids grow so fast. I have put outfits on my daughter that haven’t fit even two weeks later. If you have friends or family who offer hand-me-downs, please consider taking them. Confirm with the friend that you can pass along the items after you use them, and whatever you don’t use, you can donate.

One exception to this rule is shoes. If shoes are too worn out, they might hurt your child’s feet, so you may want to buy those outright. If you don’t have the benefit of hand-me-downs, pick up clothing at consignment shops or yard sales. A good run through the washing machine, and your child will be ready to enjoy them – for what will probably end up being a super-short period of time.

1603_RealMom_3Try before you buy those bouncy seats and swings. 

Some kids like to rock. Some kids like to sway. Some kids like to bounce. Some don’t care as long as they are moving. Your child really needs to be in the world before you figure out what puts them at ease. These types of items can set you back anywhere from fifty to several hundred dollars depending upon the bells and whistles. I’ve had friends who have bought high-end swings complete with a sound machine that their babies used once or twice. If you have the option of borrowing a few of these items from family or friends whose kids have outgrown them, I highly recommend it. They may be happy to let you hang on to it permanently, or you can at least identify what works best for your baby before you make the investment. My kids love the fabric bouncy seat but could take or leave the swing. We’ve since passed that along to friends for their baby to enjoy.

Bottom line… 

Baby items can be expensive. If you can take help on a few items that you really don’t need to buy new, do it. Your wallet will be happier, and your tiny tike will never know the difference.

Sunni Brown
“Real Mom” Sunni Brown lives in Henrico with her husband, Travis, and their four children: Bonnar, Gigi, and twins, Cooper and Sully. Sunni is the director of media and PR at the University of Richmond.
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