As a parent-to-be, it’s difficult to feel sure about what you’re doing, and you want to do what’s best for your child. The result of the desire to do what’s best for your new baby is, too often, buying a pile of things that aren’t actually needed.
According to the USDA, the average cost to raise a child to the age of 18 is $245,000. This includes costs like housing, transportation, child care, and food. And, of course, the spending often starts before baby even arrives. Many babies arrive home to carefully outfitted nurseries and plenty of toys. There is an entire industry devoted to convincing you that your home won’t be safe without specific items and that your child “needs” any number of slings, special chairs, and monitors.
Many of the items considered “must haves” by today’s standards didn’t even exist 12 years ago when my own son was born. When you consider that, it seems almost incredible that my own parents managed 35 years ago.
But what do you really need for your baby? The good news is that there is no reason to buy into the “baby needs this” mentality. Yes, it would be nice to own certain items, and many things sold as “requirements” do make life more convenient. But don’t get caught up a spending spree that will break the bank.
What Does Your Baby REALLY Need?
When you are just starting out, there are only a few essentials that your baby truly needs. Here are some of the items to make sure you have on hand when you are getting ready to welcome the latest addition to your family:
– A good car seat: This is one of the items that you don’t want to skimp on. Purchase a new seat that you know hasn’t been in an accident, and that it approved for infants. Make sure it is installed correctly well before baby is born. Many fire departments and hospitals will verify the proper installation for free.
– Safe place to sleep: Whether it’s a pack-n-play, a bassinet, or a crib, provide a safe place for your baby to sleep. Make sure the surface is firm and the temperature in the room is appropriate.
– Diapering supplies: Diapers are more expensive than you might expect. Whether you choose disposable or cloth diapers, make sure you have the appropriate supplies and sizes. This includes wipes and rash ointment as well.
– Feeding supplies: Whether you breastfeed or not, make sure you have the right supplies. From a pump (and a sanitary place to use it) to formula to bottles, make sure you have what you need. It can help to purchase an inexpensive bottle brush for easier cleaning.
– Appropriate clothing: You don’t need a lot of clothing, although it helps to have a few extra outfits on hand. Onesies and sleepers are usually sufficient for most babies. Cute outfits are fun, but not completely necessary. Let others buy the outfits as gifts and save your money.
– Bathing accessories: Your baby needs a safe place to be kept clean. A small bathing tub can usually be purchased inexpensively. Purchase gentle cleaning supplies, and remember that you don’t need to bathe a newborn every day.
– First-aid items: Small bandages, clippers, disinfectant, and other First-aid items appropriate for babies should be on hand.
Almost everything else is extra. While items like special high chairs, sensitive baby monitors, and expensive strollers can be convenient, they are hardly required for your baby’s existence and health. Make sure to cover the necessities before you spend money on the luxuries.
Remember, too, that the most important thing your baby needs can’t be bought at a store. Your baby needs your love more than anything else.
By Miranda Marquit, Staff Writer