Having a baby soon? Here’s what to buy new, what to buy used & what you really don’t need at all


So you’re going to have a baby! Welcome to the world of parenthood. I can tell you from my experience, having raised two amazing kids, that there is no greater joy. It truly is the toughest job you will ever love.

But there’s one big reality that is easy to overlook when you are focused on bringing a new baby into the world. HAVING A BABY COSTS MONEY— and lots of it. However, something I learned pretty much by necessity—it doesn’t have to be this way.

Read more: The cost of raising a child from birth to age 17

How to reduce the costs that come with a new baby

I have always been a frugal shopper, even since I was a kid myself. Having my own children is what first motivated me to host a children’s consignment event with other moms in my home. We sold the stuff we didn’t need (or hadn’t used much—if at all) and recouped some of the investment. At the same time, we bought what we DID need for our kids—and saved a BUNCH of cash. That was 20 years ago, and ever since then, I shopped resale for most of my kids’ young lives.

I have learned much since then and reached out to my fellow bargain-shopping moms to compile some key lists to help you as you prepare for your baby.

I found that when it comes down to it, some things you can buy used, some things you can buy new, and honestly, some stuff you don’t need at all (though you may think it sounds like a good idea at the time). Take note because this could save you a BUNCH of money, too.

Read more: Price comparison of disposable and cloth diapers

What you can buy used

  1. Baby Equipment – Strollers, swings, high chairs, pack and plays, play mats and more. Many of these items are not used for more than a year or two and have much life left in them.
  2. Clothing – There is no shortage of cute clothes for babies. But the fact is, most babies wear those new clothes once – if at all. You can find so many cute outfits and pieces, often new, at resale shops.
  3. Costumes/Holiday Wear – Halloween costumes are one thing you should rarely – if ever – buy new for babies and young kids. You can find them at resale or consignment shops. And that pretty Christmas dress you’re dying to get for your baby girl? She will wear it once. Once. You will find many, many options shopping secondhand and chances are they have been worn once—for maybe two hours.
  4. Toys – Blocks, Legos, cars, dolls – you name it, you will find it shopping resale.
  5. Books and games – These are two of the top items you can find at consignment and resale events.
  6. Shoes – Again little ones rarely wear shoes so they are often in great condition at resale shops and events.
  7. Video monitors – The beauty of buying these used is you can get an extra monitor so you can have one in the kitchen or living room as well as your bedroom.

Here’s a list of things you should always buy used!

What to buy new

  1. Underwear – No explanation needed.
  2. Baby Bottles and related equipment – It’s just safest this way.
  3. Breast pumps – Same as above.
  4. Nose Frida – Ahem. (i.e. – nasal aspirator – or device to clean out your kiddo’s nose)
  5. Car Seats – Because it is buyer beware, if a car seat has not been in a crash, buying new is a good idea. Exception: If you have complete faith you can trust the person you are buying from and the car seat is less than five years old (unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer) buying used is okay. Also, you often can find additional car seat bases at resale shops/sales which will help you save time by not having to move the base from car to car.
  6. Cribs – Regulations on cribs changed in June, 2011 and you cannot legally buy or sell a crib manufactured before that date. Exception: If you can find a crib that has documentation that it was built after June 2011, then it is safe to buy a “gently used” crib.
  7. Special “firsts” – Whether it is the outfit for baby’s first photo or for his or her homecoming from the hospital, many parents want this to be a “one-of-a-kind” outfit.

What you really don’t need

Beware of the fluff items. There are tons of them — like crib bumpers. They’re cute—and completely useless.

  1. Crib Bedding and Bumpers – You will rarely use it and bumpers can be a safety hazard.
  2. Fancy Diaper Bags – A nice, sturdy used bag or backpack will take you much further.
  3. Wipe Warmers – It sounds great, but honestly all the moms I polled tell me it’s more hassle than it’s worth.
  4. Bathtub Thermometers – Use your elbow to test the water, just like your mom used to do!
  5. Diaper Disposal “Contraptions” – Most of the moms said they rarely if ever used them.

Safety First!

When you are shopping resale, safety should be the top priority. Here are some safety tips from Kami Snowbarger, JBF’s product & recall specialist who trains with the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Make sure items you are purchasing have all of the parts and are in good, working condition.
  • If you are unsure about an item, you can easily check it out with the recall app found at www.wemakeitsafer.com.
  • It’s so important to shop sales and stores that put safety first. Ask owners and workers about their policy for checking for recalled items to make sure they keep yours and baby’s best interests in mind.

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