Save Money on Baby Shopping with These Seven Minimalist Tips
When it comes to having a baby, the world tells us that we need a lot of stuff. As small as they are, babies seem to require a ton of gear! From cribs to strollers to clothes, there is a seemingly endless number of things that a new baby needs, and that can often come with a jaw-dropping price tag.
But for some families, minimalism is a choice that leads to a much smaller shopping list for baby. A minimalist lifestyle is essentially one that focuses less on stuff. Minimalists tend to focus less on what things they want and more on enjoying and using what they already have.
Minimalism helps save money and leads to a more affordable lifestyle, which allows people to live more freely. Spending time with family and friends and enjoying experiences together are emphasized over acquiring and spending money on material possessions.
Some might feel it is absolutely essential that we have mountains of adorable baby clothes, fancy swings and bassinets, bouncers, the most advanced baby monitor, special pillows and seats and wearable blankets, the best stroller and baby carrier, and a perfectly coordinated nursery with matching furniture, bedding sets, and beautiful decorations.
But minimalists see things differently. One minimalist list of essentials for bringing a new baby home included only the following: 12 newborn onesies or sleepers, one newborn hat, six receiving blankets, two bottles (if not breastfeeding), diapers, and a car seat (only if you have a car). It’s easy to see the difference, and imagine the different costs, between these two lists!
Although I wouldn’t personally strip my shopping list down that small, it is eye-opening to look at it that way. The reality is, much of what we consider essentials are actually just conveniences that we don’t truly need. They can end up being a waste of our resources and space, and nobody wants that!
So how can we decide what we really need when shopping for a new baby?
- Start with basic needs.
Let’s think about the basic needs of every baby. Babies need to eat, sleep, be kept warm or cool depending on the weather, be held and talked to, be nurtured when they cry, be kept safe, and be cleaned when they poop and pee. A parent’s job is to lovingly take care of these needs. If you really think about it, meeting those needs doesn’t actually require all of the complicated gear we think it does. Clothing, diapers, baby wipes, and a car seat (if you have a car) may be all that you truly need, and this is a great place to start your shopping list.
- Add things that are truly important to you.
For the items that are not absolutely essential for meeting your baby’s basic needs, you can consider them and decide which are important to you. Instead of simply buying things that look cute or allowing yourself to be swept away by the allure of consumerism—that feeling of wanting more than you need—really consider carefully each item before you buy it. Will it add a lot of value to your life, in terms of convenience or happiness? It’s perfectly fine to buy things that you want, but it’s also a great thing to remember that everything in life doesn’t have to be—nor can it ever be—perfect. Contentment is a powerful skill to learn.
- Buy clothes at thrift stores.
Babies and kids grow out of clothes so very fast. If you have a good thrift store in your area, take advantage of that and buy as much of your child’s wardrobe there as you can. Most thrift stores sell clothes that are still in great condition, and kids’ clothing sometimes is barely even worn—because like I said, kids grow fast!
- Use a minimalist wardrobe.
Babies don’t need nearly as many outfits as they often have. Simple bodysuits that can be mixed and matched with pants, shorts, or skirts are great. Depending on how warm or cool you keep your house, your baby may not need dedicated pajamas either. Bodysuits once again are a very convenient and functional piece of baby clothing. As for socks, a few pairs should be adequate until baby starts walking. And while a hat or two can be a cute addition, they really aren’t a necessary clothing item.
- Skip buying things you probably won’t use.
Some items are simply unnecessary, such as changing tables, wipe warmers, bouncers, diaper pails, fancy infant tubs, and bibs. Other items may not be enjoyed by your particular baby, such as swings and pacifiers. And, there are several items that you might need to test out to see what your baby prefers before you invest in a whole lot of them, such as cloth diapers, bottles, and again, pacifiers. Even cribs aren’t necessary for many families!
For more details on each of these items, check out my more thorough explanations at the bottom of the post.
- Buy things second-hand when you can.
Strollers, swings, baby-carriers, cribs (if you’re not co-sleeping), and as I already mentioned, clothes, are all frequently available to purchase used. You can look on websites like Craigslist, Nextdoor, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and Mercari. The only thing I would avoid purchasing used is a car seat, as you can never be completely sure if the seat has been in a car accident or mishandled, which could cause internal damage and make it unsafe.
- Remember what truly matters.
Years down the road, your baby won’t remember or care about what his/her nursery looked like, or give a second thought to that awesome new baby gadget they didn’t have. They’ll just know that they were loved and cared for. And when you look back at their baby years, I don’t think you’ll be regretting that you didn’t spend as much money on baby stuff as you could have. Instead, you’ll look back and treasure the memories of holding, snuggling, feeding, and playing with your little baby, whether or not he/she was wearing designer jeans and clutching a trendy giraffe teething toy.
Stuff comes and goes, but love will last forever; that’s what kids need the most. Minimalism in all of its levels is just one way to remind ourselves about what really matters. Not stuff, but love.
More about those “think before you buy” items:
Changing baby on the floor or bed works just as well. You can use a receiving blanket or waterproof pad under the baby to keep the area clean.
While it may be a nice luxury to have warm wipes at diaper changes, it’s really not necessary. Many babies don’t like diaper changes, and having warm wipes isn’t going to change that.
They may keep some babies entertained for a few weeks or months of their lives, but quickly lose their appeal and are unsafe to use when babies can begin to sit up on their own around six months. Some babies never enjoy being in a bouncer.
Diapers can be thrown in your regular trash can, or taken directly to the outside trash if you prefer. A small trash can that you take out once a day or so can also be just as effective.
Fancy infant tubs:
Babies don’t need to be bathed all that often, especially when a few baby wipes can be just as effective. But when it is time to take a real bath in the tub (or sink), an infant tub can help make the process easier. (Although it’s still not truly necessary—a rinse in the shower or bath securely held by mom or dad also works, or bathing them in the sink). That being said, a simple tub or even a bath pad are just fine. A tub with a built-in thermometer, separate sections for clean and “dirty” water, and other fancy features is truly not necessary. Just remember to use warm water (not hot) and stay by your baby’s side at all times while they’re in the bath.
Some people use them, but I never did, despite having about two dozen. Babies don’t always like to wear them, and it can be great fun to pull them off for others. For messy mealtimes, try letting your baby eat in just a diaper and then wiping them down before redressing them.
These may be a godsend for some babies—like my son, who wouldn’t stay asleep unless he was in his swing—but others don’t care for them. Consider borrowing one to see how your baby likes it before investing in this fairly expensive item.
Breastfeeding babies should not be offered a pacifier until past six weeks, since they can cause nipple confusion. Pacifiers are also a controversial baby-care item in general, because some people worry they can cause orthodontic issues later in life, and that they can replace feedings leading to less than optimal weight gain. Advocates like that they allow babies to self-soothe, and some babies really do find them very comforting. Do your own research and make an informed decision—and if you do use them, start with just one or two until you find a brand that your baby likes.
Consider buying just a couple to begin with before you invest in an entire set. You may find that you dislike using cloth, or you prefer a different brand.
If you’re planning to bottle-feed, consider buying just a couple of bottles to begin with. Some babies prefer one brand or style over another, and you don’t want to be stuck with a bunch of rejected bottles. If you’re planning to breastfeed, you can simply skip bottles altogether. Although some families want other caregivers to be able to feed baby, there are other many other tasks that can be done instead to bond with baby. Using bottles while breastfeeding can also cause nipple confusion.
Don’t bother buying a crib if you plan on bedsharing with your baby. You might think you will use it for naps, but consider this; however you have chosen to make your bed safe for co-sleeping will still work for naptimes, and babies who are used to sleeping in a bed may not sleep as well for naps in a crib anyway. Another option, if you do want to use a crib only on occasion, is to buy a pack-n-play—a folding portable crib—which is a great option because it is easy to store and move around. Technically speaking, there’s no real reason that a pack-n-play can’t be your baby’s main sleeping area anyway. They’re very affordable and take up less space!