Bringing a tiny human into the world is stressful enough. If you’re about to do just that, your head might already be exploding with worries, to-do lists and new-parent concerns aplenty. The last thing you need is every megastore and mommy site seemingly shouting at you that there are no fewer than 48,374 sparkling new “baby must-buys” that you absolutely need to purchase for your soon-to-be kid — or else.
Guess what? You don’t.
The “newborn must-buy” list is basically the parenting equivalent of those lists college bros make of how many women they’ve slept with (that happens, right?): exaggerated, elongated and padded with every would-be name the desperate list-maker can think of. In reality, babies have been getting along just fine for centuries without owning play mats, splat mats or those god-awful little teepees that are supposed to prevent baby boys from peeing on the faces of their brave diaper-changers. Yes, babies need clothing and bottles and somewhere cozy to sleep — but you can find the vast majority of those actual necessities for dirt cheap or even free online. The key is simple: source them secondhand.
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Of course, you need to do your research to vet certain items; it’s tough to prove via the internet that a secondhand car seat was never involved in a crash, so maybe stick to sourcing that one from folks you know. But there are plenty of items your kid is going to treat like candy wrappers: colorful, shiny, but disposable. After all, a 3-month-old is 3 months old for… one month. Why shell out for dozens of 3-month-size outfits? Would you buy yourself an entire wardrobe of just “October clothes”? I hope not.
Below is a list of 10 newborn items you do not need to buy new (or at all), plus tips from the folks at OfferUp — experts in all things secondhand — on how to ensure these oldies are also goodies.
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Onesies: Talk about disposable. If your kid doesn’t outgrow all her newborn onesies in a week, the sheer quantities of bodily fluids those onesies absorb will make you wish she had. Plus, if she weighs more than 7 pounds at birth (a.k.a. entirely average), she’ll never even fit the “newborn” size at all. Ask around for hand-me-downs. Most parents are thrilled to lighten their closet’s onesie load.
- Bassinet: If you’re planning on using a bassinet or a Moses basket before transitioning kiddo to a crib, know that he’s going to be outta there by about 6 months old if not before. So find something secondhand — and pay it forward when you’re done.
- Shoes: Hey, guess what. If you’re not walking, you do not need shoes. I’m looking at you, newborns! “Babies grow out of shoes almost every week, and infants don’t even need them,” Angelillo adds. So opt for used if your tot’s toddling, and just let your 2-month-old hang out in socks or barefoot. I mean wouldn’t you want to hang out barefoot?
- Coats and hats: Not only do babies outgrow these at baffling speeds, newborns are also not going out sledding. Just wear the wee one in a carrier, and put your own coat on. Presto: instant baby bundle. Plus, winter itself is only temporary (at least until the imminent next Ice Age), so save the quality gear for next year — when she’s a toddler barreling headfirst into snowdrifts.
- Baby room furniture: For safety reasons, “it’s not recommended to buy a used crib,” Angelillo explains (oops — my son definitely got a hand-me-down). “But you can save on other items in the baby’s room, such as rocking chairs or gently used changing tables.”
- Bedding: Far too many baby bedding options come in “sets” that you absolutely do not need — and should actually avoid. “Find gently used crib sheets,” suggests Angelillo, “rather than dishing out for a full ‘set’ that includes quilts, comforters, a crib skirt, bumper pads, etc.” Those items can actually be dangerous for newborns.
- Toys: Does anybody else have a kid who is constantly more interested in the box the toy came in — or the ribbon or the wrapping — than the toy itself? Give my son a Tupperware, and he is joyous. Go ahead and try it with your own kids. Bonus dare: Don’t get your baby presents for her first birthday. I promise she has no idea what day it is. (This is likely the only year you can get away with this.)
- Books: It’s never too early to start reading to your baby, but chances are her ever-expanding intellect will outgrow those super-chunky board books and cloth versions sooner than you think. (My kid is only 1 and he’s already demanding that storytime include narrative. Kids these days.) Get some secondhand stories you can pass along when baby’s more into long-form picture books.
- High chairs: “Even though your baby will likely use a high chair for the first 1 to 2 years, there’s no reason to spend a fortune,” says Angelillo. If you get a hand-me-down or buy secondhand, you can even “use that well-saved money for a family vacation.” she adds. After all, traveling the world is priceless.
- Bathtub: A baby-sized bathtub is another item with the longevity of a dragonfly (that’s about four months, for you nonbiology-nerds). Plus, guess what a “baby bathtub” really is: a bucket. Masquerading as a “must-buy.” Get a plastic container from Home Depot or better yet, just bathe your kid in the sink. You know it worked fine for your grandma.
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