Truthfully, babies only require a few items (beyond you and your partner initially) but as they grow so do the number of accessories you’ll end up acquiring. We checked in with parents who have been there and came up with this curated list of what to splurge on – and where you might want to save.
Car Seat – Splurge
The most nervous you’ll be in those first few days is when you deposit your bundle of joy into their state-of-the-art car seat, so investing in the best safety rated option on the market is worth it. Many parents choose to have the seat professionally installed too, for added peace of mind. No need to splurge on specially patterned fabrics unless it’s important to your automobile aesthetic, but when it comes to big purchases worth their money, a top-rated car seat ranks above everything else.
Fold Up Stroller – Splurge
Likely the first introduction into how you’ll be spending all your disposable income for at least the next eighteen years will be felt while researching your stroller, with their jaw-dropping price tags. Take it from parents who know, buying a more portable, fold-up stroller that takes seconds to collapse and can easily fit into a car, boat, subway vs lugging the larger and more cumbersome version you normally use will be a lifesaver.
Baby Swings / Bouncers – Splurge
Prices can vary on either of these essentials, so do your research, but having a place to pop your baby onto after you’ve cuddled, fed and played with them, will be a big help. It may help to wait and try out options at friend’s homes once your babe has arrived as some kids can be fussy in swings, but not in a bouncer and vice versa. Better to buy the item you know will soothe them, vs keep them screaming . It’s also important to consider how much space a swing or bouncer can take up if you are living in a tight condo or smaller house.
Baby Carrier – Splurge
It’s true that the simplicity of this mode of transport (not to mention the bonding ) just can’t be beat. When it comes to options on the market, there are less expensive versions which ignore ergonomic elements that can be useful for anyone with a bad back or intending to carry their child for extended periods of time. Look for the style that resonates with you / your partner: front carriers, slings, wraps, and if you are breast feeding, consider the functionality of that element in whatever you choose, too.
Baby Monitor – Splurge
Tradition has it in that in years past (‘a long, long time ago’) parents put infants to bed and only checked on them the next morning, after a restful sleep by all parties. We’re somewhat skeptical of this infant-rearing retelling by past generations, but thankfully we have the benefit of modern technology to allow us to be aware of our babies no matter where we are: at home, at work, at play (which, granted, can have its drawbacks too.) Purchasing a baby monitor system that allows you to have as much – or as little – information as you need, is a smart way to spend carefully budgeted dollars on baby goods.
Help – Splurge
Take our advice and know when to ask for a little assistance, if you are feeling overwhelmed between recovering from child birth, and tending to your baby’s every need. If you can make it work budget-wise, hire a house cleaner if you don’t already have one, consider a night nurse (especially if you are the parent of multiples), invest in some sessions with an understanding postpartum doula, make friends with your mother-in-law and move her in – short term – or fly your overseas sister in for a week. It takes a village sometimes, and you’ll feel better having the extra hands.
Wipe Warmer – Save
Regardless of how your babe arrived into this world, they were tough enough to survive the trip from the womb to your welcoming arms, so it seems unnecessary to coddle them to the point where they need a wipe warmed for them prior to a diaper change. We all want to bring up tough, adaptable independent kids. Maybe those first life lessons in resilience really do start from the bottom up.
Bottle Warmer – Save
There are certain luxuries in life; cashmere sheets and personal chefs for starters, and while bottle warmers may not rank up near the top, they should be considered a nice-to-have versus a must in your arsenal of baby wants. Bottles can be warmed – for free- in a bowl of warm or hot water anywhere. Granted it make take a little more time this option won’t require an outlet or need to be packed up, keeping your baby feeding accessories to a minimum on the go.
Clothing – Save
Kids clothing – especially little kids clothing – is irresistible. From a budget perspective, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole and start spending significant dollars on attire your infant will either only wear once – or grow out of it before you remember it’s in their closet stuffed to the limit. Save your cute clothing budget (you’ll be gifted clothing more often than you think, anyway) for when they get a little older, newborns only need basics like onesies and not much else.
The Extras – Save
All the basics in life have an upgrade option, and baby accessories are no exception. Instead of using a regular pillow to help rest your babe on while in the nursing position, there are dozens of pricey ‘nursing pillows’ on the market and you can purchase a high chair from Ikea, or order a highly-designed version hand-crafted in Switzerland. The sky is the limit on what you can spend – the challenge will be for you to determine whether the more expensive option is an enhancement on the original…or a marketing success story.
All this adult decision making shouldn’t take away the fun in planning for the arrival the newest member of your family. Having to make smart decisions while carefully considering your budget options, is a great primer for what’s ahead as you bring up baby.
More from the Mom Without a Manual Series:
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.