Registering for or purchasing baby supplies may be one of the most intimidating jobs for a parent-to-be. There’s a seemingly endless array of brands and styles, and a quick search on Pinterest or Etsy can leave anyone feeling overwhelmed.
When shopping online and reading reviews, you may find strong opinions among parents and caregivers who are convinced that a certain brand or product is the only acceptable one. Of course, as soon as you’ve read one review, the next one may sway you in the complete opposite direction. However, once you do decide what to buy, you’ve got to decide when to buy.
What You Should Wait to Buy for Your Newborn
While many new parents want to have absolutely everything purchased and set up long before the little one arrives, this isn’t always the best option. In fact, a number of items are perhaps better bought after the baby’s arrival.
Delaying purchase of some baby supplies has a number of potential benefits:
- Alleviating the sticker shock and financial burden that often come with buying everything at once
- Enabling you to shop around, wait for sales, scour second-hand stores and websites, and spend more time comparing brands and prices
- Streamlining your baby registry so you have a better chance of receiving what you truly need right away
- Helping you determine which items you really need and which you can do without
Here are some of the items that you might want to hold off on purchasing until after your baby is born.
1. Jogging Strollers
Jogging strollers can be very useful, but you should not jog with a baby until he or she has reached a certain age. When an infant is pushed in a stroller at faster than walking pace, the child’s immature neck and spine muscles may be more susceptible to injury than an older baby’s.
B.O.B. Gear, maker of the popular Revolution stroller, explicitly states in its manual that babies should be eight months old before being brought along on runs. Dr. Ani Brown, coauthor of Baby 411, advises waiting even longer, until the baby’s first birthday.
The good news is that you can still walk with your baby in any stroller fitted with an infant car seat attachment as soon as you want. The recommendation to wait until later for a jogging stroller gives you extra time to look for a good deal.
2. Swings and Bouncers
In a perfect world, parents would each have more than two hands so they could hold a baby while simultaneously vacuuming, cooking dinner, and sending emails. In the real world, parents need to put their babies down somewhere safe and comfortable so they can get things done. Swings and bouncers are often a great option, but they aren’t cheap. As of summer 2015, Babies ‘R Us lists 39 different swings and 69 different bouncers – half of the bouncers cost $75 or more, and the vast majority of their swings cost at least $100.
Swings and bouncers offer a wide variety of motion patterns and cushioning levels, and your baby may exhibit a strong preference for one style over another. Rather than spending $100 and crossing your fingers that you’ve selected the right one for your baby, it’s advisable to test out a few options first. Some stores have display models that can be tested; or, you could ask to take a friend’s bouncer or swing for a test run.
3. Anything That Makes Noise
Silence is golden when you have children. Unfortunately, many toys that are on the market are built to be as noisy as possible. While noise stimulation can help engage children and even assist with language and cognitive development, many toys have the potential to drive you bananas.
To be on the safe side, start with quiet toys. You can always rely on other elements to create a more desirable sound environment for you and your baby, such as the following:
- Radio. No need to listen only to kids’ stations. Take the opportunity to introduce your child to the kind of music you like.
- Your Own Singing Voice. Your baby doesn’t care how badly you sing. The sound of your voice is comforting.
- Your Favorite CDs. Your once-cherished CD collection is full of material that your child may veto during family car trips in years to come. Now is when you can get away with playing it.
- Household Items. Instruments are great, but babies don’t know the difference between a toy drum set and a cooking pot with a wooden spoon. Simply the sound of crinkling paper can command a baby’s attention.
It’s worth noting that many newborn babies are calmed by persistent rhythmic noise, such as that of a white noise machine. Additionally, you could look into an album such as the Happiest Baby on the Block, which contains tracks featuring various baby-friendly noises like a whooshing hair dryer and vacuum cleaner. As with nearly everything else, your baby may have strong preferences, so you may want to wait and see how the noises in your home are responded to.
4. Clothes Intended for Older Babies
If your baby’s due date is in January, you might be tempted to stock up on summer clothes in six-month-old sizes. In truth, baby clothing sizes are simply guidelines, and bear little relevance to what size your child may be at any given age. It’s not uncommon for larger babies to wear 24-month clothes at just one year old.
In addition, sizes vary wildly by brand. For example, many parents insist that Carter’s brand clothes work best for babies who are tall and slender, while Circo brand works better for babies who are more stout.
Your best strategy is to limit clothes buying too far in advance. If you find a sale, buy basics that can be layered and work across multiple seasons, such as onesies and light zip-up jackets. Resist the temptation to buy too many items in one size, because your baby might only spend a few weeks – or days – in that size. If your baby does spend a long time in a particular size, you can always visit a used clothing store and stock up. Or, invest in high-quality new clothing that will last as long as you need and hold up for any future additions to the family as well. These super-soft sleeping bags from Woolino come in multiple sizes and colors, for instance.
As for that adorable holiday outfit that you are dying to purchase, hold off as long as you can. Otherwise, your baby might be wearing reindeer pajamas in June. I’m speaking from experience.
5. Newborn-Sized Clothes
Some parents stock up on newborn outfits, only to find out that their child is born larger than average and never even fits in newborn clothes. While it’s true that babies soil their clothes frequently, you may still be able to get away with four to five changes of clothes at first.
Keep in mind that excessively loose clothing can pose a danger to babies, especially during sleep. And according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, loose-fitting sleepwear can catch fire more easily than snug-fitting clothing.
In addition, The Baby Sleep Site advises that loose sleepwear – along with loose bedding of any kind – can contribute to the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It states that while you want your baby’s pajamas to fit snugly, they shouldn’t be so tight that they cut off circulation.
While babies also move through diapers at unpredictable rates, diapers aren’t restricted by seasonality, so you can stock up when you see a deal – just don’t go crazy. Your baby might blow through one size in a matter of weeks or days while spending months in another size. You may want to consider using cloth diapers.
7. Educational Toys
As a parent, you want to give your baby every possible advantage in life. Education is incredibly important for children of all ages, yet studies show that flashcards and other educational devices are no more critical to the development of cognitive and motor skills than regular interaction, communication, and standard play. Frankly, you can limit the number of toys your newborn has. Babies enjoy looking at a variety of colors and textures, and an object doesn’t need to be a baby toy in order to offer stimulation.
Perhaps a scarf or article of your clothing has strong contrasting colors, or the throw blanket on your sofa has a nice texture. You could also show your baby the difference between the soft feeling of the blanket and the hard feeling of a hardcover book. Your baby can practice grabbing at various household objects, provided they aren’t dangerous in any way.
With the arguable exception of books being read aloud – which studies frequently show are essential to helping newborns develop language skills – your newborn could essentially get away without a single traditional toy. Babies learn by communicating with you and exploring the world around them.
8. Many of One Type of Bottle or Pacifier
While it’s tempting to stock up on bottles and pacifiers in advance of your baby’s birth, be advised that babies often exhibit strong preferences for a certain bottle shape or nipple style. It’s best to purchase a couple of different options and find out what works best for your little girl or guy, and then stock up.
9. A Library’s Worth of Parenting Books
It’s not a bad idea to do some research – but don’t forget that you are the expert on your newborn. No parenting book could ever tell you about the specific preferences that your baby may exhibit for feeding, sleeping, and interacting. The only way to find out is to dive in and experience your child.
It’s important to know about potential safety hazards, first aid, infant CPR, and basic guidelines for nutrition, hygiene, and sleep. If you know of a fellow parent whose lifestyle you admire and who swears by a particular book or author, consider adding it to your reading list. Just keep in mind that you could spend every waking second scouring the thousands of parenting books out there and still not learn as much as you can by spending a few days with your precious newborn.
Babies are expensive, even for the frugally inclined. BabyCenter conducted a survey of thousands of moms, and found that you can expect to spend almost $10,000 in the baby’s first year alone – and that doesn’t include contributions to a college fund. However, by simply holding off on purchasing a few items, you can make more informed choices and give yourself more time to shop around. You may also realize that many of the items you thought you wouldn’t be able to live without – such as the bottle warmer or sterilizer – aren’t really all that necessary.
What’s your number-one must-have baby item that others might not think of?