Baby Basics on a Budget

woman working at home with baby

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

Becoming a new parent is exciting, a bit scary and definitely overwhelming. There are many products to choose from, and frankly a product for things you did not even know you would need — a contraption to warm wipes, a swing that can swing your baby 360 degrees, 3 million types of bottles… How do you choose the basics and stay on a budget?

Here are the items I found to be essential for baby's first year:

For sleeping

    • Rock and Play or a Pack and Play 
    • Monitor: I love our video monitor. It is a splurge item, but something about being able to check on our baby and see she is safe and sound brings a lot of comfort in those first few weeks at home. We have also used the free smartphone application Baby Monitor, which is an app that allows you to use one iPhone to "listen" for the baby and if there is any noise, it calls a phone of your choosing. 
    • Swaddles: I preferred zippered swaddles (I never perfected the baby-burrito wrap) but these lightweight swaddle blankets come in handy too (we continue to use them with my almost-two-year-old to keep her little legs out of the sun on walks). Keep your eye out for these at discount stores like ROSS, Marshalls or TJ Maxx.

For play:

Shop secondhand for swings, bouncers, seats and play mats. You can often find these in great condition since babies tend to use them for a short amount of time; my daughter used her swing for about 4 months and then lost interest.

A comfort item, also known as a lovey (something like this). My sister suggested we pick one soft comforting toy and hold it close to our daughter while she was nursing (this will also work during bottle feeding), then your baby begins to associate that toy with nourishment and comfort. Our daughter loves her bear and I am thankful that I was able to find two more to purchase for safekeeping. I dread the day we lose it!

Diapering essentials:

Order diapers and wipes in bulk. Compare the price per item (for example, diaper A is .09 cents per diaper when ordering 148, but .18 cents when ordering 32) and pick the cheapest. I purchase my diapers and wipes from Amazon (you never run out when they are delivered once a month), but Costco and are two other reasonably priced sources.


    • Changing table. Buy a changing pad and use the top of a dresser or the floor (trust me, you will end up changing most diapers on the floor anyway).
    • Highchair. You will not need this for a while anyway, but I found we used our travel chair (like this one, but bought secondhand) more often than our traditional highchair. My daughter likes that it makes her feel like she is sitting with us at the table (and a bonus is she cannot kick away from the table). If you must have a highchair, I recommend this one.

Briana knows all about moving. This Navy spouse has helped her husband relocate to four different naval air stations in the last three years. A former USAA employee, Briana writes at Being Briana, a blog focused on the joys military life can bring.

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