Frugal Guide to Baby’s First 6 Months

I have wanted to write this blog for months, and every time I go to start, the topic overwhelms me and I give up.  Well not this time, I refuse.  Mostly, because I wish someone would have written something like this for me.  I remember searching through the endless pages on the Babies-R-Us registry wondering what of their ten thousand “must haves” I actually, truly needed.  We are frugal, limited on space, and want our baby gear to last us through multiple babies, so I had to do a lot of research to find what worked best for our family.

I feel like I need to note that even though I link to all the products I have owned that I like, I am nowhere near being paid for any of this, (though if you would like to pay me, feel free to contact me), so all opinions are unbiased.  I also want to caveat that when I say, “many moms I know” I am actually talking about quite a few moms.  I am on many mommy blogs and websites and sometimes there are hundreds of moms I “know” weighing in on a topic.

So here you go, the frugal guide to surviving the first 6 months of babyhood.

Before Buying Anything…..

Be Thrifty:  You don’t need to buy all of your baby things new.  Really, it is kind of useless because babies grow so fast that most of their items are used for a very short amount of time, or not at all!  Baby consignment stores are a wonderful place to look, especially for big items.  They are often hardly used, in great shape, and a fraction of the price.  Also, thrift stores, garage sales, Facebook groups, and Craig’s lists are all great places to find used big ticket items.  We bought Torey’s dresser, two night stands, and a huge bookshelf for $200 off Craig’s list, and I painted and wallpapered them to my liking.  You can read about that here.  Also, you may be able to find hand-me-downs from friends and family, so don’t be shy asking around to people you know with children.  If you know me in real life, feel free to ask me if I have anything I am not using anymore, I am more than happy to let you try something out, borrow it, or if I am done I’ll even give it to you!

Think About The Future:  We want all of our items out last through all of our future children.  Don’t get sucked into the “this is a girl, the item must be pink,” mind warp.  Having a child has really opened my eyes to the gender biased toys out there.  Why is the only toy broom in the store pink?  Why does the only tool set say, “Big Boys,” on it?  Even though I don’t mind dressing my boy in a pink swaddle blanket going to bed because really, who cares, I still wanted to keep as many of our items, especially big ticket items, “gender neutral” in color and design.  Which, sadly, means you have to buy the “boy” version of everything.  Since we live in a small apartment, multi-functioning items were a must for us.  You will see that many of our big items are transitional through the stages so we got biggest bang for our buck.

Register:  Some people say making a registry is tacky because it is like expecting gifts.  I have been to enough birthdays and showers of all kinds to know that it is social convention to bring a gift, so you might as well tell me what you want!  First, you need to find out where you want to register.  I looked into Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby, Target, and Walmart.  For me, it was a no brainer that I wanted a one stop shop.  Even though I am a huge Target fan, their baby supplies are limited.  I chose Babies R Us for a few reasons.  1. They have a great selection, especially online, 2. Their prices are always some of the lowest, 3. The parents get 10% back on all registry purchases (this meant we got store credit for $200something dollars!), and 4. At the end they give you a coupon for a discounted rate to “buy out your registry” and get all those things that no one bought.  Also, make sure your registry is detailed so people actually know what you need, otherwise you will get a thousand of the same thing you don’t want.  But with that being said, be open to the gifts you get that are “off” your registry.  As you will see, many of the most useful items we ended up needing were gifts I thought I didn’t need (or didn’t know existed at all!).  Don’t be afraid to return things either.  Most stores will return gifts without the receipt and will give you store credit, just be clear it was a gift otherwise they might accidentally refund the credit card used for purchase, and that could get embarrassing (yes, I know from experience)!

Newborn Photos:  No way were we going to spend thousands of dollars for a professional weirdly staged picture of our baby.  I thought about doing it myself, but I lost track of time and before I blinked she had turned a month old.  I really regret not taking my own pictures.  It would have been pretty easy.  Lay them on a pretty blanket and snap away.  The hospital had a “professional” come around claiming “free photo shoot,” then once it was over said that if we actually wanted the pictures from this photo shoot we had to pay hundreds of dollars.  And the pictures weren’t even that good.  No thanks.  The picture below may or may not have had the water marks removed thanks to free photoshop.

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The only “nice” newborn picture we have.

Transportation:

Infant Car Seat:  Really, unless you live in a place where cars do not exist (which probably means you also cannot read this in the first place), there is no going around a car seat.  Many convertible car seats (aka for toddlers) say they can go down to 5ish pounds, but they are really bulky and overwhelming and this is one of the times I say it is good to spend the extra money for an infant car seat.  Most infant seats say they are safety rated up to 20-30 pounds (depending on the seat), or until the baby’s head is an inch below the top of the seat.  This usually happens around 1 year old (give or take a few months depending on baby and seat).  Another point for the infant car seat is you don’t have to wake your baby to remove them from the car.  A HUGE plus (just trust me).  The infant car seat I bought was the type that can snap into my stroller.  There are a lot of varieties out there, but I went for cheapest price without sacrificing safety.  For us, that was the Graco Modes Click Connect Travel System.  It is also nice to have some type of blanket or cover to cover your car seat when your baby is sleeping.  I used a regular baby blanket for months until we got a free car seat cover.

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Torey sitting in her car seat.

Stroller:  You could potentially live without a stroller, it really depends on your personal mobility.  If you walk a lot for transportation, or want to go walking for exercise, a stroller is needed.  And yes, you could babywear the entire time, but after 5 hours of walking around Target (other people do that, right?), your baby will probably start to get heavy or will get tired and want to take a nap, which at least for my babe was easier to accomplish in the stroller.  Let me just get this out there, there are a lot of fancy-ass strollers out there.  Many worth more than my car.  Trust me, I know, I live among The Real Housewives of the OC.  There is really, truly, no need for a 10 thousand dollar stroller except to have the “cool” name.  And really, I have compared in real life, my stroller has more cargo room (because, duh, babies need ten times more crap than we do), cup holders (this one I don’t understand, where in the world are they going to put their Pumpkin Spice Lattes?), plus if you see me out of the corner of your eye my stroller just might pass for one of those fancy ones because it is pretty sleek.  To save price, you also ideally want one that is multi-functional.  My stroller has the infant seat attachment, and then once the babe is big enough you can attach the toddler seat.  There are jogging strollers out there, but they are harder to use for every day use and there is no way I am buying two strollers.  There are also strollers for multiple children, but in my naive first time mom brain I figure I will either babywear the littlest child or make the bigger child walk.  I’ll let you know if this plan blows up.  Graco has many different colors for their Click Connect Travel System, but I chose the grey because I thought it was sophisticated looking (you know, to counterbalance my 5 day old sweats I am rocking), plus any gendered baby can be seen in it without being scarred for life.

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My first walk alone with just me and the three hooligans.

Babywear:  You could probably get away without getting some type of babywearing device, just like you could potentially get away without a stroller, but it does make life easier and in my opinion, worth the cost.  Of course, there will be those people who swear up and down that the fancier models are the best, but I use my carrier daily and I like it.  Baby carriers are very much about preference.  To me, the sling looked uncomfortable and we wanted ours to be used for hikes, so we wanted something with structure.  Also, I wanted my husband to like the purchase, because he uses it often too.  We opted for the Infantino Flip Carrier, because it can be used inward facing, outward facing, and like a backpack, so it really grows with the child.  With a few easy adjustments it can fit both me and my husband comfortably.  Plus, Torey LOVES to be in it.  As a newborn, some babies need to be constantly held, so if those moms want to get anything done, they have to babywear.  Obviously, you won’t know your babies temperament until they are born, and even then, sometimes it changes.

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Swing/Bouncer/Rocker:

I spent an an exorbitant amount of time researching swings/bouncers/rockers.  Each one promises to be better than the others.  For months during my pregnancy, I was convinced we didn’t need one.  I will hold my child or we can put her in her car seat.  HA.  I was so dumb.  During the first three months of her life, the swing was our #1 most favorite item.  That we have ever purchased.  Like really, ever.  Some swing side to side, some back and forth, some bounce with or without your assistance, some rock, some vibrate, and some do a combination.  I really, really hate saying we spent over $200 on a stupid baby swing.  This was the least frugal purchase we made.  Would I do it again?  A thousand times over.  We decided to purchase the 4moms mamaRoo for a few reasons.  1. It is a lot more compact than other swings, and since we are on borrowed space as it is, that was huge.  2. It does more than a traditional swing, it has five different motions with five different speeds that claim to mimic natural human movement.  3.  It has a noise machine and you can plug your mp3 into it (which we never did).  Torey LOVED her mamaRoo.  It was the only place she would nap, and sometimes in those early weeks the only place she would sleep.  It gave us a small break, even if it was just to go pee.  I don’t know if she would have liked a swing for half the price just as much, but I like to think not just so I can continue to justify the price to myself.  In my Mommy and Me class the instructor said a lot of babies actually dislike the mamaRoo, so I guess we were lucky.  You can find mamaRoos at consignment stores or maybe you can borrow a friend’s for a few days to see if your babe likes it.  Really, whatever you choose, I highly recommend some type of swingy-mabob device.

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She did NOT enjoy her very first ride in her swing.

Sleeping:

Infant Bed:  There are a lot of places your babe can sleep during the first few months of life.  Unfortunately, where they want to sleep is a completely different story.  Also, if you haven’t found out yet, sleeping arrangements are one of the most controversial topics in the baby world.  I recommend researching what type of sleeping you feel is best, whether it is co-sleeping or not.  If you choose to co-sleep, congratulations!  You can stop reading this section.  Most parents agree that they like having their child close to them in the first few months because, you know, a squirrel can open the window so a hawk can swoop in and take your baby.  Or whatever.  Trust me, your imagine will take over with better stories than that one.  You can, however, go straight to the crib if your baby will sleep there and you don’t need to purchase any alternate bed.  If we had a big enough bed room I would have set the crib up in our room, but we couldn’t do that.  I chose to buy the Simmons Deluxe Gliding Bassinet and placed it right next to our bed.  It worked really well for us.  It had a rocking feature (manual) that really helped soothe her back to sleep.  She also really liked looking up at the teddy bears and sometimes that would let us squeeze a few extra minutes of sleep while she looked up at them.  I found out after the fact, but a lot of moms swear by the Fisher-Price Rock n Play.  It is cheaper than my bassinet, so if I could do it all over again I might have given it a try instead.         

Crib:  No matter where your baby sleeps during the first few months, you will eventually need a crib.  This is also a non-negotiable item.  I decided to get a convertible crib, where even though it is more expensive, you can use the frame and mattress of the crib for a toddler bed, and then it expands to a full sized bed (with a different mattress, of course).  I chose the Million Dollar Baby Classic Ashbury 4 in 1.  I was hoping she would stay in her bassinet for at least six months, but unfortunately she got too big for it at around five months so we switched her to her crib then.

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Her first nap in her crib.

Crib Mattress:  Because a crib is nothing without a mattress.  This was another slight splurge.  I figured, if I sleep better on a nicer mattress, why wouldn’t my daughter?  We ended up going with the Sealy 2 Stage where it was firmer on one side for the crib, and then softer on the other side for the toddler bed.  In my mind, it was really buying two mattresses in one.  Plus, all future children will use it, so I know this one will last.

Swaddle Blankets:  99.9% of babies NEED to be swaddled in the early days/weeks/months in order to sleep.  It is like a big warm hug and reminds them of being in the womb.  I chose Summer Infant SwaddleMe because they have velco, and lord knows my husband wouldn’t be able to figure out the whole origami method.  Unless the baby spits up on them or has a diaper leak, you can re-use these blankets multiple wears, so you really only need a few, I think I had four.  I recommend only getting the small size of whatever you buy to make sure your baby likes it and wants to continue to be swaddled.  Torey outgrew swaddling pretty young, by at latest two months (mommy brain is a bit fuzzy), but some babies need it until they can start rolling at 4-6 months or even beyond.

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She would always wiggle her right arm out of her swaddle.

White Noise Machine:  Some people swear by them, some people don’t.  To be honest, we didn’t have one until after 6 months because I wanted to be louder while she was napping.  But once this child is asleep, she really can sleep through most things.  A lot of babies are not like that, however, so many need some type of noise machine.  Many swings and even bassinets come with one, so you can try those out before you buy a separate machine.  Also, there are many free apps out there so you can forgo your phone or tablet for a few days before deciding if it is worth it.

Feeding:  Ahh, THE most controversial topic in the baby world.  To breastfeed or not to breastfeed.  Most mothers agree that they want to breastfeed, but unfortunately breastfeeding isn’t always rainbows and unicorns.  Actually, for most moms there are huge struggles and difficulties that come with breastfeeding.  I personally struggled with breastfeeding, which you can read about here, so I am kind of an expert now when it comes to both breast and bottle feeding.  Generally, you need the same supplies regardless of which method you choose (or nature chooses for you).

Breast Pump:  Even if you choose not to breast feed at all, your body will still create milk and you may need to pump to relieve the pressure so you do not get mastitis.  If you breast feed, even for a short while, it is nice to use the breast pump for a lot of reasons.  Some mothers have an over supply and pump to save milk for when they are away from their baby, or they even donate their milk to needy babies.  Others use the breast pump to help stimulate the glands to produce more milk if your supply is low.  It can also come in handy if, for example, you are away from  your baby for too long and you start to get engorged, or if you have mastitis and need to clear a blockage.  I was too frugal and bought a hand pump and hand pumped for two whole months before I ordered an electric pump through insurance.  They are free now thanks to The Affordable Care Act, so don’t be stupid like me, get your electric pump BEFORE the baby comes.  Hand pumps are handy though if you travel, so since your electric pump is free you can pay the $20 for a hand pump too if you think you will be traveling often (though many electric pumps come with a car converter as well).  I have the Medela Pump in Style and liked it a lot, but then again, anything is better than hand pumping.

Bottles:  Even breast fed babies will most likely get a bottle some time in their life, even if it is filled with pumped breast milk.  It is hard for a mother to exclusively nurse 24/7 for the first year (or more).  Bottles are definitely a preference thing, but Torey loves Avent Natural Bottles.  She also didn’t mind the Tommee Tippee bottles, but I preferred the Avent.  They always say try a few to see what they like, but we were lucky to get a free Avent and Tommee Tippee in one of those starter packages they send to parents.  I guess they work though because we stuck with Avent!  Dr. Bob and Mam are also popular.  I have survived exclusively formula feeding only using three bottles at a time.  Yes, that means I wash them every day (she eats four times a day) but it is survivable.  Speaking of bottles, I personally feel bottle warmers are a waste of time and money.  Torey was born in the summer, so for the first few months she was happy with cold out of the fridge milk.  Once the temperature cooled, she liked her bottles semi-luke warm, which was easy to achieve by filling a bowl with hot tap water and letting the bottle sit in it, or using already lukewarm filtered water.  Speaking of water, my pediatrician says “Nursery Water” is the biggest scam.  All it is is filtered/distilled water.  If you have normal tap water (not well water), then it is safe to drink.  We have a CamelBak Relay and use that both for us adults and for bottles.

Formula:  “But I am exclusively breast feeding!  I don’t want to give poison to my baby!!”  Yes, even if you swear up and down (like I did) that formula will never ever pass your child’s lips, life happens.  Things don’t work out.  Supplies get suppressed.  Emergencies happen.  My Mommy and Me instructor always says that it is worth the peace of mind to have a container of formula in your house just in case something happens.  Luckily, Similac and Enfamil both sent me many containers of formula FREE because somehow I got on their mailing list.  If/when you decide to give your child formula, you will obviously need more of it.  Luckily for us, Torey was just dandy on regular Similac and Enfamil, but I know a lot of babies need sensitive or other specialty formulas for many different reasons.  I personally liked Enfamil better because I think it dissolved better than Similac.  They are both generally the same price and will send you cashiers checks for formula in the mail if you get added to their mailing list.  I have heard of people signing up grandparents and other family to get many coupons (shhhh).  Also, every time I buy Enfamil, Target would give me a store coupon for more Enfamil.  On top of that, Target often has buy 3 get a $5 gift card on all formula.  Eventually we switched to the Target brand formula Up & Up because it is half the price of name brands.  All formula has to meet the same nutritional standards so really they are pretty much the same exact thing.  I have also heard Costco and Sam’s Club also have their own brands of formula that is cheaper than name brands, but I have not tried either.  I am a very loyal Targetee.

Nursing Supplies:  If you are nursing, some type if pillow is really needed.  Many people I know can use a normal couch pillow and it works really well for them.  I got a Boppy because I know a lot of people who swear by them, but it failed miserably for me.  I think my problem was it was too long on the sides (left a huge hole between me and the pillow that Torey would fall in) and not high enough (I had to put three blankets under the pillow to get her high enough to reach).  It ended up being very claustrophobic for me.  Really,  the Boppy got the most use from my dog, who thought we bought him a new bed.  I tried to use it to help support Torey when she was doing tummy time and learning to sit up, but it didn’t really work for us.  My fabulous lactation consultant and a lot of moms I met swear by the My Breast Friend, so if I had to do it all over again I might have invested in that pillow.  Other breastfeeding tools you will need are nursing pads (I got the reusable kind), nipple ointment, a nursing bra (or two), and possibly a nipple shield or milk boosting supplements if needed.

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Frank’s new “bed.”

Toys/Activities:  The great thing about the first few months (and I use the word “great” semi sarcastically) is that, in the words of my husband, newborns are useless.  They sleep, eat, and go potty, and that is about it.  Oh and cry.  A lot.  You really don’t need a whole bunch of toys or activities for them.

Pacifier:  Wait, since when has a pacifier become a toy?  Since the invention of the Wubbanub.  Really, it is an overpriced small stuffed animal tied to a pacifier.  I thought, why spend $15 on one of these when I can make my own!  So I did.  I was given a few free pacifiers from my baby shower, and I had a small stuffed animal given to me by one of my students, and I used a small ribbon and tied the two together.  Free Wubbanub!  Plus, the beauty of your own is you can use whatever pacifier your child likes (it does need some type of small hole for the ribbon to go through) and you can use whatever type of stuffed animal you want!  When it is time to wash, I untie the paci, throw the ribbon and the monkey in the washing machine, and then hand wash the paci.

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Her free paci toy.  Notice the muslin blanket at the bottom, will mention those later.

Books:  They say it is never too early to start reading to your child.  And technically, they are right.  But to be honest, if you don’t read to your child the first few months because all you are doing is trying to survive (which by itself is a full time job), then I promise your child will still go to college and won’t have any long lasting harm.  Torey started actually getting into reading maybe around 5ish months old (around Christmas, when I started reading her books from our Christmas Advent Calendar).  And by getting into them, she tries to rip them out of my hands and eat them.  So yeah.  Books are great as hand-me-downs because they are usually pretty sturdy and can hold up a lot of use.

Soft Toys/Teethers:  A few soft toys go a long way.  They are a good first toy because they can’t hurt themselves with them, and they usually have fun colors, textures, and patterns.  Her top 5 favorites were the Infantino Discover and Play Soft Blocks, Infantino Spiral Activity Toy (which can be wrapped around the car seat handle for a good travel toy), Bright Starts Teether Book, the Oball, and a water bottle filled with beads and tape around the cap.  Seriously.  As for teethers, I refused to buy Sophie the Giraffe because in my mind, she is a glorified $25 dog toy.  Torey by far loved her Nuby Bug-A-Loop Teether and I know a few moms who swear by it too.

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Playing with her blocks and spiral toys.
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Playing with her teether book.

Jumper:  There is some controversy around jumpers and activity centers.  Some swear they are bad for their hips and teach them bad walking habits.  Eh, I’ll take my risks.  She LOVES her jumper, like she would be happy as a clam if I left her in there the entire day.  She just jumps and jumps and laughs and plays and chews on all the toys.  I love it just as much as she does, because, I am not going to lie, I sometimes (ok, always) use it as a babysitter.  I put her in it to make dinner, do the dishes, and fold her laundry.  Yes, I am in the same room (in a small apartment, every room is the same room), but it is awesome to get stuff done knowing my babe is occupied.  After a lot of research and price comparisons, we got the Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo.  I have zero complains about it.

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Seat:  You could live without a seat.  A lot of people swear by the Fisher Price Sit Me Up, but to me it seemed like a very short lived toy for a pretty big price tag.  Instead, I got the Bumbo Multi Seat, again, because I love me my multi-functional items.  As soon as she could sit up assisted, I started using it as a floor chair and attached suction toys like her favorite, the Sassy Wonder Wheel.  She LOVES that thing.  Then once we started feeding her solids we used it as a highchair.  Eventually, it will be used as a booster seat.  One and done.

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Activity Mat:  You can live without this toy too.  I didn’t register for a floor mat because I thought they were a little pointless, but we got one as a gift and decided to use it.  Torey really loved batting at the animals hanging down and it really helped keep her occupied for a few minutes when she was awake.  She only really enjoyed it for about two months before she outgrew it, but during those two months it was a nice distraction for her.  A larger mat may buy you a little more time before your baby outgrows it, but generally at about that time they are rolling and/or crawling and are kind of over it.  A lot of people I know swear by the Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano Gym, and if we had bought out own mat I probably would have bought that one, but we got the Infantino Explore and Store and it did its job well, and it was easy to put away because we lack space.

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Her puppies always close by to keep her safe.

Bath Time:

Bathtub:  There are tubs you put in your sink, your bathtub, or they are an independent tub.  We didn’t have room for an independent tub, and though bathing a baby in the sink sounds nice at first, I was sure she would outgrow that quickly, so once again we wanted to get something that would last us through the entire tub needing process until she was strong enough to sit independently.  In walked the Angelcare Bath Support Bather.  This tub sits in your normal tub.  Some think filling up your big tub for a small baby is a waste of water, but we only gave her a bath about twice a week and only needed to fill it up about half full, so for us it wasn’t a big deal.  The tub cradled her nicely when she was an infant and she still uses this tub. I know a few others with this tub and we always talk about how much we love it.

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Her first submerged bath!  Notice the turtle thermometer to the bottom left.

Bath Accessories:  We got an Aquatopia Safety Bath Thermometer for our baby shower, and though I did not register for one because I thought we would do the old elbow trick, I really like it and it is easy to check the water temp (especially since bath time is daddy time and you know men!).  Obviously baby wash clothes and towels are a must, we really like the hooded towels because it makes her look like a cross between ET and The Sith.  We only have five towels and it is more than plenty for our twice a week bath schedule.  We got a few bath toys but honestly, she could not care less about them from 0-6 months, so if you have to pinch pennies I would do so here.  Plus, if you think your babe is ready, a lot of regular toys or regular household objects can easily become bath toys.

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Diapers and Changing:

Diapers:  After what felt like months of research, we decided to go with cloth diapers.  I know what you are thinking.  But cloth has come a long way.  It isn’t the safety pin a towel-like fabric around your baby anymore.  I have to warn you though, the cloth world is intense.  There are a lot of different options out there and they all really come down to preference.  Flats, prefolds, fitteds, pockets, shells, wools, they honestly speak a whole different language.  The biggest reason we went with cloth is because there is a big up front cost, in the long run you save hundreds to thousands of dollars not buying disposable diapers.  Plus, we can use these diapers again for our next child, making diapering that child cost zero dollars (well, besides the cost of detergent).  There are a lot of websites out there that do a great cost comparison, so I won’t go into it.  Here, and here, are good places to start.  Also, diapers are crazy bad for the environment.  Think of all that plastic sitting in landfills!  We decided to go with Rumparooz One Size Pocket Diaper by Kanga Care for a few reasons. 1. They have great reviews, 2. They are so stinking cute, 3. We could buy them at Babies R Us, so we could put them on our registry so we didn’t have to buy them all, though I have bought many off their own website because they have more styles available, 4. They claim to be one size, so they fit her when she was a newborn and will hopefully last through potty training.  I currently have 25 of them, but we could survive with less, I just fall in love with the pretty patterns and they turn into my Pokemon, gotta catch them all.  So far 6 months in we love them.  No complains, hardly any leaking (and when we do, it is operator error), no poopy blow outs. Rumparooz aren’t the cheapest cloth out there, but we thought it was worth the extra money because they are one size (many you need to buy at least two or three different sizes, so that is 25 small, 25 medium, 25 large, for example), plus they are really good quality and will hopefully last us for future children.  You can pinch your pennies by buying cloth diapers used on different websites and facebook groups online.  If you want to use disposables, there are a ton of websites out there that tell you what stores are the cheapest (I’ve heard drug stores) and you can stock pile and buy them when they are discounted.

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Yes, that adorable floral print under her dress is her diaper!!

Changing Pad:  These are pretty standard, but you need one.  I know some people who change on the couch or the floor or the bed, so I guess you could live without one if you really needed to.  We use ours every single change though, so for us it was a definite need.  Changing tables are useless though, in my opinion.  I just got a dresser off Craig’s List that was about waist height and we have her pad sitting on the dresser.  We have two changing pad covers and we rotate between them every week or so, or when they get dirty.

Wipes:  Again, I found that cloth wipes save you a ton of money in the long run.  I got a wipes warmer for our baby shower, I don’t use the warming part, but I put flannel wipes into the container (a Tupperware would also work for this), add some water and a dash of bottom cleaner for good measure, and bam, homemade wipes.  I did get quite a few disposable wipes as gifts so I keep them in my diaper bag.

Clothes and Cloth Accessories: 

Clothes:  Honestly, don’t register for clothes and don’t go out and buy yourself clothes either.  Or at least I didn’t have to.  People love buying baby clothes.  I got a ton of cute outfits and onesies during my baby shower, and then I had many friends donate their old clothes to me.  Some people are weird about taking used baby clothes, which in my opinion is a little silly.  Babies outgrow their clothes lightning fast.  We had so many dang onesies sized 0-3m that she wore each one twice.  Twice!  And then they were too small.  Also, weather is very important when it comes to buying clothes.  Torey was 0-3m from July through September, so she only wore onesies.  We had a ton of pants and sweaters, but they got used zero times.  If you want to be a complete minimalist, I’d say you could live with about 5-7 outfits and pajamas in each size.  That gives you enough to last you almost the week with a few extra for emergencies.  The first few months are a great time to find what brand your baby fits into the best.  It is a bit frustrating how you can hold up a 0-3m onesie from 5 different brands and they are vastly different.  For my daughter, she is long and thin so Carter’s works the best for her.  The great thing about Carter’s is you can find them at Target, Walmart, Costco, and at Carter’s stores and online on their website.  They are always having sales so they are a pretty cheap but decent quality brand.  I like to buy clothes for the next size up in advance so I am ready when the time comes, but also don’t buy too far out because babies grow at all different speeds.  With Torey, she moved on to the next size up about a month before the tag said she would.  She also outgrew everything in the crotch/arms/legs first.  Helpful Hint:  Baby sizes are confusing!  If a tag says 3-6 months, this means that generally your baby “should” fit that garment during that age.  However, a lot of clothes say 6 months.  This means that your baby will fit into that outfit UP TO 6 months, not start at 6 months.  Also, brands vary greatly so I go based on size a lot more than I do what the tag says.

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Torey rocking her Carter’s Clothes at 6 months.

Shoes:  I am sorry, baby shoes are cute but they are absolutely pointless.  $50 for some name brand shoes the baby will hate and kick off in 0.5 seconds and will outgrow in 2 days?  No thank you!  If it is cold, socks or footed pants are the only thing your baby needs.  Shoes are not really needed until they can learn to walk around 9-12 months, and really only for walking outside, they say your baby should walk barefoot as much as possible to strengthen their muscles.

Burp Cloths/Bibs:  Burp clothes are a must, especially since spitting up is one of the few things infants know how to do well.  A friend of mine got us technically Diaper Flats but said they used them as a burp cloth and they worked wonderfully for us.  We didn’t start using a bib until we started solids, but I know some moms that have babies who spit up more than usual and their baby constantly wears bibs.

Muslin Blankets:  This is another thing I did not register for but glad I got them as gifts.  Muslin blankets are very light weight and good for so many different purposes.  We used them to cover her car seat when she was sleeping, to pad her swing when she was still too small to sit comfortably, to swaddle her or as a blanket (like in the car), in a pinch I have also used them to lay her down on when I changed her diaper in public, even as a burp cloth when I forgot one!  They are very useful.  I always keep one in my diaper bag.

Medicine Cabinet:

Medicine:  Again, one of the most useful gifts we didn’t know we needed.  The same friend who gave me the burp cloths gave me this Little Remedies New Parents Survival Kit and that is exactly what it is.  Especially during the first weeks, you have no idea why your baby is crying and sometimes it very well could be medically related.  We used the gas drops in this kit within the first few weeks and it really helped Torey.  It was a lifesaver to have a small amount of everything so we didn’t have to run out to the store at 3am and stare blankly at the medicine shelves like the new parents we were.

Thermometer:  Nothing gives a new parent better peace of mind than taking a baby’s temperature.  Trust me on this one.  At least for me and all the moms I know, if our baby is crying and we don’t know why, the first place we run is to the thermometer.  This was one of the items we decided we wanted to splurge on and got the Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer.  We love it, but I have heard a few moms that say they can’t get a good reading with it.

Grooming Kit:  Ok, I registered for one of these and we got it, and to be honest I don’t use much in it.  You definitely need baby nail trimmers because those talons grow amazingly fast and are razor sharp.  Some people use baby nail files for the first few weeks because they are scared to use the nail trimmers and nick a finger.  I tried the files and it didn’t work for us.  I would always trim her nails while she was asleep on me and I would push back on the skin under her nail to get it out of the way and we (knock on wood) have had no problems.  We used the nose sucker thing once, and it was mostly just to test it out.  So far Torey hasn’t gotten a cold (again, knock on wood), so I am not sure if we would use it then.  A lot of moms I know swear by the Nosefrida, and though I don’t get grossed out easily, this thing gives me the willies.  I also use the little hair brush that came with ours, not because her three little hairs actually need to be brushed, but because I think it is fun.

Mommy’s (and Daddy’s) Mental Health:  Wait now, you can’t register for this item.  It isn’t even a tangible item, really.  But it is one of the most important things you need, especially during the first 6 months.  With the whirlwind of birth and becoming a new parent, it is easy to get lost in the Groundhog’s Day that will become your new life.  Throw in postpartum depression and/or postpartum anxiety and you have a really dangerous situation on your hands.  I am here to tell you that it is ok to want to stay with your baby and hold them and love them and not let them go during the first 6 months (and beyond).  But it is also ok, actually, it is needed, to get out and do some things that you love and make you the person you know is deep down inside.  For me, that was going for walks and hikes and eventually runs (with or without the baby), and being creative and crafty (when baby goes to sleep is a good time to whip out the sewing machine).  For my husband, that was going mountain biking, to the rock climbing gym, and working on his engineering projects.  For some of my friends, that is having a monthly date night where someone they know and trust babysits (grandparent’s favorite job), or getting their hair or nails done, or getting a massage.  So many mommies I talk to say they started feeling better and more themselves once they started doing little things they used to love again.  For many of us, it took a solid 6 months to get there, so don’t feel bad if you are only a couple months out and are still living in a fog.  If you are worried though and think it could be postpartum depression/anxiety, please talk to your OB right away.  And yes, daddies can get their own version of ppd/a, so keep an eye on them too.

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Going on a hike while daddy rode his bike!

Welp, I believe that is it.  What we needed to survive the first 6 months, as frugally as possible.

Did I leave anything out?  Want to share something that worked for you?  Leave a comment below!!

Did you survive the first 6 months?  Ready for the next 6?  Check out my list for surviving 6-12 months.

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3 thoughts on “Frugal Guide to Baby’s First 6 Months

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