Raising an Infant on a Budget: Baby Gear

posted by Andrea | 04/17/2012

In the months since Nora was born, I’ve received a crazy number of emails asking what items I would suggest for soon-to-be-moms looking to stay clutter-free and stick to a tight budget. While I definitely don’t have ALL the answers; after almost 5 months, I can at least share the items we regularly used for the newborn/infant stage.

All week long, I’ll be sharing my “must-have” items for infants.

Monday = Nursery Items

Tuesday = Baby Gear

Wednesday = Food, Medicine, Toiletries

Thursday = Clothing

Friday = Items for the New Mom

Saturday = Recap, a few more tips, and a FREE Printable!

I’m sure there are tons of different opinions on what you do and don’t need; so I just want to stress that these are the things that worked for us. They might not work for everyone!

My Must-Have Baby Gear Items for Infants

These days, there is practically an unlimited number of items new parents are told we NEED to have for our new babies — and while many of these products might make life a little easier, most of them really aren’t necessities!

Here are some of the items we use regularly.


We actually got an amazing deal on 2 car seats, 2 car seat bases, and a double stroller from a friend. And yes, I would recommend purchasing a double stroller right away if you’re planning to have multiple children. We also found a small umbrella stroller for $5 that we can use if we don’t want to lug the double stroller around.

I know there are lots of opinions on purchasing a USED car seat, so I just thought I should mention that you can have used car seats properly inspected by your local fire department to make sure they are safe (which both of ours are). We saved a ridiculous amount of money and have a “back-up” car seat just in case!


I know there is some debate about using a pacifier, but we used one from the very first day Nora was born and it has saved our sanity time and time again!


I didn’t register for any burp cloths because Dave’s mom made a bunch for us. We also ended up getting several more from other friends and family members. I would say you want at least 15 burp cloths (I ended up with 40!)


I didn’t register for any blankets either because I knew people would make them for us. We ended up getting close to 10 blankets — which was MORE than enough. I think you probably only need 3 or 4.

Nora didn’t like to be swaddled, but if you want to swaddle your baby, then you might want a couple swaddle blankets as well.


These are pretty pricey if you buy them new, but of course, I found one for $10 on Craigslist (with 2 covers). I love that they are completely washable… and can be used through the entire infant stage. When she was teeny-tiny, we used the Boppy for nursing and to prop her up while laying on the ground. As she got older, we used it to strengthen her neck for “tummy time” and now we’re using it to help her sit up!


There are probably 100 different types of baby carriers out there, but I didn’t BUY any of them. After Nora was born, I borrowed a couple different types to see which one we liked best. So far, we really like the Moby wrap and I was fortunate enough to borrow one from a friend at church. We don’t use it a ton, but it’s still nice to have.

Eventually, we will probably invest in some type of “baby back-pack” that we can use to carry her around when a stroller wouldn’t be convenient.


Nora LOVES her swing and bouncy seat… but again, all babies are different. As a newborn, we used the swing all day long, and now that she’s getting a bit older, we’re using the bouncy seat all day long! I really wanted the Baby Bjorn bouncy seat because it’s completely washable and it folds totally flat, but they are super expensive. Thankfully, I found one on Craigslist for a fraction of the price!

Also, I should mention that we borrowed these items from friends before we actually purchased them (via Craigslist). We wanted to make sure Nora would actually use them before spending any money.


Nora really loves flashing lights and music so we try to “stimulate” her by playing baby CD’s and musical toys.


I don’t have a “real” diaper bag, but instead, just use this bag I got from my cousin as a gift.

It seems that different babies prefer different types and amounts of “gear”, so it’s nice to have a few different items on hand… at least for the first few weeks and months.

What were/are your must-have baby gear items?


Filed under: LifeOrganizingKids StuffFrugal Living

Leave a comment


  1. shelia


    my daughter is now 14 months old. but as an infant, we definitely had our “couldn’t live withouts”! 🙂 definitely the A&A swaddled blankets (while she liked to be swaddled). those were gifted to us, thankfully. and burp clothes, oh my. for baby carriers, we started out using a wrap similar to the Moby. loved it! but my daughter got too heavy real quick (she’s been in the 99th percentile since 2 months!). i’d say THE BEST investment we made personally was our Ergo carrier. i got it for half price on babysteals.com. I used it from the time she was 3 weeks old. it’s comfortable and durable. not to mention that it promotes healthy hip development unlike the front facing/”crotch dangler” type carriers. I recommend it to all moms 🙂


  2. The Diaper Diaries


    I think a car seat is a worthwhile investment. I wouldn’t buy anything but a Britax, not just because of its safety ratings but because of the ease of transferring between cars and getting my kids in and out. With one that might not be a big concern but when you are lugging mutiple kids out it is worth it. And I want one that I can pass down between all my kids. Car seats expire after about 5-6 years so buying one used doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

    I just wanted to put in a plug for A&A swaddle blankets. They are pricier than most but they do an amazing swaddle. They are the only blankets that would hold the swaddle tightly through the night and I seriously credit them for the kick butt sleepers that were my kids 🙂


  3. Heart and Haven


    I have minimal baby gear, but everything I have bought I keep in neutral colors…this way it lasts through multiple babies regardless of whether it’s a boy or girl. I’m now using the same carseat, stroller, swing, pack n’ play, etc. with my 5 week old newborn that I used with my other 2 (who are now 3 and 5)


  4. Beth A


    The Boppy pillow was our must have for both my boys. We ended up having two Boppys – one for upstairs and one for down because we were always going up or down the stairs to grab it! And we did the same thing as you – used it first for feeding, then tummy time, then sitting. My older son loved the swing and it was a lifesaver. He had a lot of ear infections so he slept in it at nap time quite a bit because it elevated his head. My second son didn’t care about the swing, but loved the Baby Bjorn. He constantly wanted to be with me (still does!) so without the Baby Bjorn I never would have gotten anything done!


  5. Leigh


    Car Seat: borrow the infant seat (from friends, who knew it had not been in an accident) and bought an on sale convertible since we will use it for the full lifespan (they expire after about 6 years)
    Stroller: splurged on an Uppa Baby Vista with #1 and added a second seat and roll board for #2. I also have a $10 consignment store high end jogger.
    Pacifier: both kids are NUK heads, so I stock up when I find a great price. Worth every penny.
    Blankets; Swaddle blankets were my daughter’s off switch for 9 months. I got A&As for $5 each used. I made similar sized flannel ones from the clearance section of the fabric store.
    Boppy: loved my used one (free with the crib) with #1, barely used with #2
    Carriers. My weekness. I have a variety, many bought used. I loved the Moby with a newborn and a Baby Hawk OhSnp now (similar to, but better than an Ergo) that I got as a floor model.
    Sit and Happy Toys: Bouncer, Bobby, Saucer, borrowed, free for pick up or $10 used. We all loved them.

    Basically the long term, use it till it dies stuff (for use the stroller, we are car free) we invested in. The rest is sort term and is easy to find pre loved in good condition. Just make sure to check for recalls. And when you are done, store it in someone else’s house ( or sell for a profit)


  6. jerilyn


    #1 & 2 LOVED the swing. #3 doesn’t 🙁

    The best thing we’ve ever owned is a bouncy seat- the old fashioned kind. The one we use is the one I used as a baby. No kid fusses in this thing 🙂

    Car seat obviously. We skipped the tradition stroller and went with a jogger that decline it’s seat. I love it- much more versatile! When our second came along we got a tandem stroller- all used, except for the carseat. It was a gift and even if we paid 80 bucks, we’ve used it for all 3 kids.

    baby carrier- I have a maya wrap and made my own moby (got 3 for $15!)

    also, a pack n play. we got the one with the bassinet and changing table attachment- perfect for changing diapers post partum, having baby near us (kids rooms are upstairs so we keep baby close) and traveling!


  7. susie


    I have tried a swing for each one of my 6 babys and just one like it! I have used my stroller the most, so I finally got a burly and love it.


  8. Sue


    My ‘can’t live without’ is the Fisher Price Newborn Rock ‘n Sleeper. It cradles the baby in a perfect incline. With a touch of the toe you can gently rock your baby if she stirs. And it folds flat so it doesn’t take up much room and is completely portable.



  9. Michelle


    Oh and that bag is totally cute!

    And just a note about the burp cloths, later when your kid(s) are eating solid foods they do double duty to help clean ups, instead of having to use an already goopy bib or paper towels. We have bought a 12 pack of birdseye flat fold cloth diapers from Target for each kid and they do a great job.


  10. Michelle


    I cannot imagine having a double stroller all the way through. Maybe one that converts (Phil and Teds, etc.) but I haven’t even bought a double stroller and I have two kids now! Maybe if it was incredible deal.

    My must-have was the Moby for sure! Especially when #2 was a newborn. Lugging around the Snugride while holding my 2.5 year old’s hand was not my idea of fun so the Moby made it 110% easier. We ditched the Snugride at about 4 months and went to the convertible carseat. Now I use a Babyhawk Mei Tai. I went through a zillion different carriers with #1 (Ergo, Beco, Podaegi, etc.) but I have pared it down to the Mei Tai with #2 and couldn’t be happier with it.

    I am curious about the inspection of used carseats. I would take/buy one from someone I trusted but I would be leery of buying one off of CL. Can people inspecting them see hairline cracks and the like? I sold the bases to my Graco but not the seat itself, that is going in the garbage (it is almost expired anyway).


  11. Leslie


    I have two little boys that are 18 months apart. I never liked the Baby Bjorn or any of the front carriers. I had to have something “hands-free” so that I could chase my older child and not leave the baby!! I found a Kokopax backpack one day on Zulily.com and ordered it. My husband complained at first because he said we did not need another thing to carry a baby in (this was after having a ton of different strollers sitting in the garage) However, after about a week he said it was the best investment we made. We even used it to take the baby on a cross-country airplane trip. Highly recommended because it is easy to use and comfortable. I am a small person and I could carry my rather large baby for a long time!!!