Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Living With Less: Baby Stuff

giraffe toy

My sweet sister-in-law who is pregnant with her first baby requested that I write this post some time ago, but I'm just getting around to it now.  Sorry Lisa!  Hopefully this will still be helpful even though baby Calvin will be here so soon!

Disclaimer #1:  For whatever reason, people are really really opinionated about baby products.  I have no explanation for this other than the fact that I think we all love our kids and want to do what's best for them.  So if you wholeheartedly disagree with what I have to say, that's just fine.  We're all entitled to our own opinions.  And I think your baby will grow up to be a great person no matter which kind of diaper cream you use.  (Though I personally have no opinions on diaper cream and therefore will not be talking about it anymore.  So don't get your hopes up.)


Disclaimer #2:  I am not endorsing or condemning any of the specific products shown here.  These pictures are just meant to be general examples.

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Baby stuff.  Have you noticed that there is a lot of it?  I personally think it's a little malicious the way manufacturers seem to prey on women who probably aren't fully in their right mind (hello, pregnancy) who are facing a huge and scary experience (hello, childbirth), and will soon have a new human being that they have no idea how to take care of.  At least that's how I felt when I was pregnant with Olivia.  I had never had a child before!  How was I supposed to know how to pick out a car seat?  

But hopefully you've also noticed this about baby stuff: a lot of it is pure junk and a huge waste of money and precious space in your home.

I of course won't be able to cover (let alone even have an opinion) on every baby item out there, so I'll just touch on the things that I think will be the most helpful for you.


pack 'n play -- crib

Buy a Pack n' Play, Not a Crib
In my opinion, they are a complete waste of money.  Even a crib bought on Craigslist can cost $100 and up.   I personally believe that the only reason cribs are still around is because they are picturesque.  The moment you find out you're expecting you get this dreamy picture of a cozy little nursery all ready for baby.  And right smack dab in the middle of that fantasy is a big, beautiful crib.

Picturesque, maybe, but not practical.  Newborns can't even move on their own and therefore really don't need to be in a big crib.  And once your child is big enough to move, you have to disassemble at least part of the crib to move the mattress height down.  And if you happen to have a climber, a crib is already that much higher off the ground.  And when you're baby's not a baby anymore, that crib is going to be a big piece of furniture to store.  Have fun taking out all those screws and then putting it together again for the next one!

As you can tell, I'm not a big fan of cribs.  My suggestion for your budget, storage space, and sanity is to buy a Pack 'n Play.


We originally bought a crib (hello, picturesque image floating around in my pregnant head), but Olivia was such a tiny girl that, by the time she was big enough to move around a little, her legs were still so small that she'd get them stuck in between the bars on her crib and just cry.  Obviously that got old quick.  I brainstormed remedies and figured that the best way to solve the problem would be to rig up some sort of netting around the inside of the crib.  But, hello, that's what a Pack n' Play is.  So we sold the crib for $100 and bought a Pack 'n Play (brand new) for $50.

Side Note: I don't know how long they'll carry them, but Costco has a great deal right now on a Pack 'n Play that's brown and teal (classier colors, but gender neutral), it comes with the newborn bassinet attachment (also convenient for changing newborn diapers), and it's only $50.  We bought one this past summer (we sold our other one when we moved and needed a new one when we got here) and I love it.  When we were at Costco last week I saw that they still have them there for the same price.  Awesome!

I have two more nice things to say about Pack 'n Plays and then I'm moving on to talk about something else. First, they are so much easier to store.  Second, they are great for taking on a trip to Grandma's house.  The end.

Take-home message: Pack 'n Plays are cheaper, more versatile, and take up less space than a crib.



bouncer -- exersaucer

Borrow Bouncers, Swings, and Other Big Stuff
For the first three years of our marriage (and throughout all of Olivia's baby phases) we lived in a 550 square foot apartment.  Space was extremely limited.  Despite my crazy pregnant baby buying craze, by the time Olivia was born, the only big baby item we had was a bouncer that somebody gave us.  It was great.  We used it all the time.  I cannot say enough nice things about that bouncer.

And then when Olivia grew out of it, we gave it away.

It's hard to get rid of big stuff, right?  Because you never know when you'll need it again and, especially with baby stuff, it's a toss up trying to figure out whether it's better to keep things for the next kid.

But here's what I've discovered about bulky baby items like bouncers, swings, exercausers, and the like: people are always trying to get rid of them.  Of course they are!  They're big!  Nothing cleans out the garage faster than getting rid of bulky baby stuff.  Which is why Craigslist and Freecycle will forever be full of bulky baby items.  People are dying to get rid of them, especially if they can pass them on to someone who will get some more use out it.

So my advice is to own only one or two of these items at a time.  (And I'm using the term "own" very loosely here to mean "have it in your house.")  In other words, don't own big, bulky baby items that your baby isn't using at that moment.  It's not worth the space.  Especially since you can always always always find them free or cheap.

Take-home message: If possible, try to borrow and trade bigger baby items with other moms since you only need one or two of these bigger items at a time.


onesie

Baby Clothes
Okay hoarder moms, try not to cringe, but... we got rid of Olivia's baby clothes when we moved.  And you know what?  It's okay.  A piece of my soul did not die.  We kept a gallon size Ziplock bag with a few special things and sold or gave away the rest.

We were given so many nice hand-me-downs and brand new baby clothes for Olivia that she literally could not even wear them all.  By the time we moved and had our (many many) yard sales, we still had brand new baby clothes with the tags still on them.  It was just too much!

And by the time she was a year old we had garbage bags full of "favorite" baby clothes.  In order to keep them and not be crowded out by them, we were paying $3/ month to keep them in a storage locker in the apartment complex.  Now you may think that $3 is a great deal, but not when you think of it as $3/month for having to keep extra junk.  Because that's what was in there.  If it's stuff you don't need that you're not using, it's junk.  At least to you it is.

When I was trying to decide what to do about all the baby clothes, I had a conversation with Anna, my sister-in-law, that really helped.  She was in the process of moving too and she told me, "Everybody's always trying to get rid of baby clothes.  I'll just get rid of ours and then the next time we have a baby, I'll take someone up on their offer!"

So.  True.  Right?  Anybody who's ever had a baby knows what Anna is talking about.

I took Anna's advice to heart and did just that.  We sold all the clothes that Olivia had outgrown and we have been enjoying the extra space ever since.  Next time we have a baby I'll either make baby clothes, buy them on sale or from the thrift store, or--more likely--get them for free from someone else who's getting rid of theirs.

Take-home message: Every single piece of your child's clothing is not a special keepsake.  Keep a few truly special items.  If you plan to have more kids, save the good quality items for later.  Get rid of the stuff that's worn out or that you know you won't be using anymore.



convertible car seat -- infant car seat

Buy a Convertable Car Seat, Not an Infant Car Seat
Alright, I know I'm in the minority here, but I hate infant car seats.  There, I said it.  Why you would carry around a big bulky car seat that adds 20-30 extra pounds to your load when you could carry around your sweet tiny baby instead is totally beyond me.

Yes, infant car seats do occasionally provide convenience.  I can remember one (literally, one) time when I really wished I had bought an infant car seat instead.  I was at the doctor for one of my post delivery check-ups.  I was by myself there with tiny baby Olivia and I knew I wasn't going to be able to hold her while they checked me.  But you know what?  The nurse held her.  So the one time I really wanted an infant car seat?  Totally not making me feel like I actually needed one.

Let me tell you why I'm such a big fan of plain old convertible car seats.
  1. They are cheap.  You can get a good convertible car seat for around $50.
  2. It will last your child from newborn stage through toddlerhood.  This means that, rather than spending $100+ on an infant carseat and then $50+ on a front-facing car seat, you can just spend $50 once and be done.
  3. Convertible car seats are skinnier.  Infant car seats are really bulky.  And while you can definitely buy posh convertible car seats too, the kind I'm promoting here are the really basic plain old convertible car seats.  Even in small cars, you can fit three car seats along the back row, whereas infant car seats are much less forgiving.

To those out there who would worry, "but the basic car seats aren't as safe as the big puffy expensive car seats!" I will tell you what my sister told me when I was pregnant and worrying over car seats: All American car seats have to pass basic safety standards.  If it wasn't safe for your child, it wouldn't be available.

For anyone curious, Olivia's convertible car seat is Cosco brand.  We bought it from ShopKo for (I think) $47.  They sell them for around the same price at Wal-Mart too, but we bought ours at ShopKo because I liked the colors better.  (Olivia's is bright green and black.  The ones at Wal-Mart are usually either super girly and pink or an ugly combination of boy colors.)

Take-home message: A convertible car seat will last your child from newborn-toddler and only costs around $50.  Overall, this can save you hundreds of dollars.  It also saves you from lugging around a 20 pound car seat.  Hold that cute baby instead.



blue stroller -- pink stroller

Go Gender Neutral When You Can
I'm not going to go in-depth on other baby items.  So much of what's out there is really just up to you to decide if you like it or not.  (Or, as the case may be, whether or not your baby likes it.)  But I do want to take a minute before I finish to talk about the value of buying things that are gender-neutral.

When Olivia was little she didn't have a lot of hair.  And while I never thought I'd be one of those moms who cared that people know she was a girl, it turns out I did care.  Of course I wanted people to know my baby girl was a baby girl.  So despite my years of tomboyishness, I doused her in pink in hopes that people would get it straight.  This is all by way of saying that I'm all for dressing your child according to their gender.

What I'm talking about here is buying bigger items in gender-neutral colors.  Because, believe it or not, you are not going to want your stroller forever.  Or the diaper bag.  Or the Pack 'n Play.  Or the bouncer or swing or other things that are so stage-specific.  And if you can sell them when you're done with them, all the better.

Re-selling your used baby items that are still in good condition at yard sales or on Craigslist helps provide good quality items to people that wouldn't be able to afford them at full price and it helps you make up the cost of paying for all the loot in the first place.  It also, of course, helps recycle a little.  And that's something we can all feel good about.

But here's the thing.  It's a lot easier to sell baby items that are gender-neutral.  If you buy a stroller that's bright pink and then list it on Craigslist when you're done with it, only 50% of the people looking are going to be interested.  Whereas if you buy a stroller with attractive, gender-neutral colors, you've just opened up your selling audience by another 50%.

I'd also add that basic boy colors are more likely to re-sell than basic girl colors.  For the obvious reason that moms with girls are more likely to buy blue and green and grey than moms with boys are to buy pink and purple.  It's just a culture thing.

Take-home message: When it comes to items you know you won't keep forever, buy the gender-neutral color scheme.  It makes those items much easier to re-sell later on.


What do you think?
Agree?  Disagree?


Either way, best wishes in keeping the baby stuff at bay!


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Love Living With Less?  Check out the entire Living With Less page in the Series section.  Happy de-junking!


22 comments:

Polly @ Helping Little Hands said...

I pretty much agree...although we have liked having a crib. We had our kids sleep in a pack-and-play in our room when they were really little, but as they were older the crib fit them for quite a while. Our crib has storage that goes along with it (underneath and along the side), but we also go it for free, so we didn't have to put out money for it...and we're at a stage in our lives where space isn't at quite such a premium. There are definitely situations, where it's better to have a pack-and-play...like the months that our youngest slept in a mini-pack-and-play in our tiny master 1/2 bath in our last house.

Callie J said...

This all sounds nice, but i have to just point out that it is super nice to be able to just clip maggie's infant carseat in and out of the car while she stays warm and dry rather than getting her unnecessarily wet or cold or sitting with my backside out in the rain or cold while I try to get her strapped in.

Julie Rosenhan said...

i agree with you about the convertible car seat. I have never regretted not having an infant seat; every time I thought about regretting it (3 hour hockey games where I had to continually hold Karl) someone else would want to hold him and I'd get a break. I'm a little worried about the next kid in a convertible car seat because Karl will only be 2 when Baby 2 is born and might want to be carried, and carrying two kids at once might get tricky.

Thanks for this series, Katie!

The Bluemel Family said...

Love this post! I mostly agree on all of this. We have used cribs, only when given to us. They have their place, but the only baby items I have bought have been the pack-n-play(garage sale) and the convertable car seat(Shopko). We borrow infant car seats for the first couple months when they are smallest, but I could live without if I couldn't find one. Our car seat we bought has its 3rd kid in it. All other items we use if given to us or borrow for the short time necessary. I do recommend a baby carrier of some sort(especially if you have other kids) and eventually a very simple highchair/booster seat with a seatbelt in it.

Cheryl @ a pretty cool life. said...

I mostly agree with you...but I would never go without a infant carseat. First of all, there is no way on God's green Earth I would ever wake a sleeping baby...especially to run into the grocery store or some other quick trip. Pick up the carrier, bring the baby with you, and baby never knows what happened! Also, maybe you never needed one with your first child, but I now have my third baby. Not so practical to only have one free arm to wrangle two other toddlers. I'm all for baby wearing, but I can't sacrifice the safety of my other children.

Also, I'm with you on the crib...not necessary for quite some time. BUT, a pack n play is a essentially a piece of cardboard with a foam on top of it. That is not a mattress. I wouldn't sleep on it, and I wouldn't make my child. Also, my 3 yr old was able to escape the PNP, but not his crib.

I'd also add stuffed animals and toys to the list. Everyone wants to buy them, but the majority of them are never even touched.

Gabe said...

As a mom of seven I would have given just about the same advice! We used a crib for years and are now switching over to a pack 'n play. I save only one bin of clothes per size, that seems to be enough with gifts and garage sale/thrift store finds filling in the holes. I always make sure that we purchase gender neutral for the larger items.

Where I differ...We have used the bouncy seat that we own for every child. It breaks down to small enough parts that it is very easy to store. It has been going strong for 11 years, I'm so glad we own it! I always use an infant car seat, but never carry it around. They come in handy when we are going somewhere that I'll need to hold or give more attention to another child and baby would be content in the seat (out to eat, a friend's house, church pot luck). Since we tend to have a baby every 2 years our infant seats get plenty of use before they expire (6 years I believe).

I fully agree with holding the baby instead; and usually do. A sling for a newborn and then Ergo for infants are such a blessing. They allow you to snuggle and hold your baby but let you have your hands free when you need them!

Kristie said...

I like this post. It gives basic information, that everyone can (usually) agree on. And each person has some little thing that they insist on using.
I use an infant carseat, mainly because I already have 2 kids, and if the youngest is asleep, we just load up the cart and go. We also use a crib. But my babies are always in their own rooms, I think it helps with their sleeping habits in the long term.
To each their own. But I do have to say, you hit the nail on the head. Borrow, craigslist, anyway to get it cheap. :)

Bnestor said...

Great article Katie! I would add that what you need changes when you have multiples. Getting infant car seats with a snap and go stroller was essential for me. I wanted to get the convertible car seats, but when I found out I was having twins I knew it wouldn't work. I am so happy my friends let me borrow everything from a boppy to a play mat! The only other thing I would mention is that the crib is safer than the pack and play for SIDS.

Rach said...

if I could turn back time.
I bought for my first kid new everything.
My friend took me yard sale shopping and that is when it open my eyes to how over priced everything is for kids. Fun post love it!!!

Fernando said...

I believe I understand where you're coming from...you don't want to spend a lot of money on a baby. That makes sense since it's difficult for a lot of people to manage the costs. However, this comes at a price.

First, a PNP is ugly. Hideous in my opinion. Yes, cribs are expensive, but so is nice furniture. If you're smart about it, you can get a crib that can be re-assembled relatively quickly.

Borrowing a bouncer if a great idea, if you can find one. Most of them are ugly for that matter...

As for baby clothes..sorry, most of the world dresses their babies in ugly clothing. 99% of the "free" clothing my wife and I get is so ugly that we refuse to let our babies wear it. Instead, it goes to goodwill or some other schmuck that sadly thinks it's cute.

As for the convertible car seat, I'm totally with you on that one. Love it! Although, the Cosco one you linked is $90 and not $50 like your post mentions. Also, I don't think that one is small enough to fit three in the back. Combi sells the Coccoro (love them), but they're also $200+.

Same goes for the stroller. I happen to have a gender neutral twin stroller and I love it. Cost a fortune, but well worth it since it'll last for years and years. As for umbrella strollers, I'm not sold on those because they don't last through all of one's children (unless you only have one--maybe two...)

At the end of the day, there are a lot of worthless baby products out there and nearly all of them are grossly overpriced. Let's be honest here...all of these babies items are for the parents and not the babies (OK, maybe the crib mattress is for the babies).

Lisa Lou said...

I really appreciate all of this! We did end of getting the Pack n' Play from Costco and I'm really happy with it. Granted there is no baby yet, but it looks good in our room! I think knowing that we will be moving in a couple years and then again a couple years after that has really helped with not getting to attached to any items. We have a bouncer (given to us by family) enough clothes that we could have had triplets (also from family) and an infant car seat. That was my biggest dilema. After doing product research on Consumer Reports and government sites, we decided to go with an infant carrier car seat. HOWEVER, a week before it came in the mail, our 4-door vehicle was an in accident and totalled. Unfortunately, the car seat does not fit in our 2-door vehicle. Super sad and ironic. Oh well. We'll still be using it and I'll be sitting in the back instead of the passanger seat when we have family outings.
Here's my question about diaper bags: necessary? Can I just use an old bag I have? What is good/junk about diaper bags?

beck said...

ha ha! funny right away to me cause i think pack n plays are a complete waste of money. (and i totally just posted something about baby stuff and useless stuff on my blog a couple weeks ago)my kids sleep in a crib till the next one comes along. so i have had a crib up and used for 6 years and another kid on the way in a couple mnths. my mom gave me a pack n play to use and i never used it. thought it was pointless. i agree on borrowing things. but clothes, those things are expensive. and if you plan on having more kids then it is so worth it to keep clothes than to buy. i lived in a tiny apt and had 3 girls while there. i had bins of clothes stacked everywhere and that was way cheaper than buying new with every kid. i am having a boy now and clearance clothes add up. even with starting up with the basics and freebies. it is still not a whole wardrobe. and car seats. if you are having 1 kid then do what you say, but i have a car seat in every size right now and i need them all. my infant has always been used. and i HATE carrying it out of the car. i am like you and carry my baby. nothing makes me cringe more than a mom toting in a huge infant car seat to church or where ever and then taking the baby out. just leave the stinkin car seat in the car. or worse, strapping the car seat into a stroller and trying to cart it down the isles at church and hitting every seat on the way down. seriously? and then every old lady holds your baby anyways. what is the point? especially when they are old enough to walk. wow! i may be a tad opinionated too. you asked what we thought right? so this is the opinion of someone who pops out a kid every couple years which is what most mormons do and who i think read your blog a lot. the end.

beck said...

and lisa lou: i just did a whole post on how pointless diaper bags are. just use any bag. unless you are planning on bottle feeding, then make sure you get a bag that can hold a bottle upright. unless you have a good bottle that won't leak. then use any bag. i always use my same purse and it is normal size and works fine. people cram way too much stuff in their diaper bags that never get touched.

alee said...

Hahaha...I guess I'll add my two cents in here.

Our issue with the pack n play is that it isn't as big as a crib and we somehow ended up with a giant. He slept in one for awhile and does when we visit grandma and such, but for everyday sleeping he has way more room in his crib. Either way, I think they both have their place.

I totally agree about borrowing/sharing/etc big items like bouncy seats and such. We had many people trying to unload some on us and you really only use them for a couple months max.

I'm probably a clothes snob, but my main goal in dressing Leo is not to make sure he has clothes on...I like to pick things out that are cute and such so I definitely kept a bunch of things. Things that were stained or I could buy any day at Target I threw out or gave away.

Ah, carseats. I found the infant seat super convenient since I was out running errands and such a lot- I agree that you shouldn't wake a sleeping baby! Plus we found it great because we could hurry and buckle him in any car and go- you don't have to install a base- instead of convertible car seats that are a bit more involved to install. This helped me go with friends or family instead of insisting to drive my own car.

Agree with the gender neutral thing...for sure.

One last thing on diaper bags- I don't think you need to have an official diaper bag as long as the bag you are going to use has enough pockets for everything and your partner doesn't mind carrying it too.

There are as many ways to parent as there are people and I don't think you really ever know what your preferences will be until you get there. I think my main advice would be to not buy too much too soon and see if it is really something you want. No matter what you do there are things you are going to wish you hadn't done or had done sooner! :)

Bridget said...

AGREED. Well said and attractively presented.

Alison K. said...

My Mom calls the infant seats baby suitcases.... especially at church, when you have several uninterrupted hours to snuggle a sweet baby. And it seems like often times when the seat gets taken into church it becomes a scripture carrier while one of the parents is holding the baby.

I think there is a time and place to keep the baby in them, like when they are tiny and you are at the grocery store, but once the child is big enough to sit up on their own, it seems silly to cart them around in the extra poundage, even when wrangling my older ones.

Megan said...

You definitely gave me some things to consider getting rid of! Like some of those clothes that are packed away and will probably never be worn again...
Although I have to say that when Jack was really little, I loved having an infant car seat carrier. It really was only useful until he was about 3 months old, and then he didn't want to stay in it for any length of time, but it was definitely nice for going to the grocery store and such those first few months.
And I absolutely agree on gender neutral items, but not just for resale. I did our entire nursery gender neutral, and our stroller and carseat too. Which means it doesn't matter if the next baby is a boy or girl, I don't have to replace anything yet (especially since they're all still in good condition).

sheppy-04 said...

I agree with it all! The only problem I ran into with the pack and play was that 18 months ago my oldest (4 1/2) tried to help mommy out by getting his baby brother out (1 1/2). He found a knife (the not sharp kitchen kind that I call butter knives and my mom always tells me that's not what it is) and cut the netting so baby brother could crawl out!!! It was a sweet gesture but mommy was not ready for him to switch to a big boy bed so fast!

Danielle Bartran said...

Thank you for bringing this up. You are dead on that people do have lots of opinions about baby junk.

I completely agree with you: Borrow as much as you can. Definitely go gender neutral--ESPECIALLY if you have a girl the first time around-most guys will not appreciate the pink (both the dad/baby!)

If space is your issue, I think you bring up good points about the pack n play, but if you have the room and the budget, a crib is a good transitional piece of furniture. {As in, some day baby will sleep through the night, or take long naps, and maybe they will be a little cozier in the crib and you will enjoy those extra minutes of baby sleep!} I also warn: don't go crazy and spend a fortune...on any baby item, but especially not a crib. Almost every baby I know ends up going through a beaver stage: you know, when they chew the entire rim of the crib...and it stinks, but not as much as it would stink if I spent a ton of money on the crib. {And if you do invest a lot of money in a crib, buy guard rails or sew covers to pad the wood!!}

Again, if space isn't an issue: I'd say get both types of car seats...if money isn't an issue, get a car seat for each car...I have two kids, 4 car seats. It might sound excessive, but it makes life so much easier to NOT have to move a convertible car seat(s) every time we take a different car...

I am completely a baby clothes hoarder. I received hand me downs from my friend who had to boys and received many hand me downs for her sons...I try to lend them (especially the newborn/tiny sizes) whenever possible. My sister-in-law has them now for my nephew, she just told me she counted 84 {yes, eighty FOUR!} pairs of 12-18 month pants. Needless to say, I'm really trying to thin out the collection.

Thank you for reminding me that I do not have to save EVERY SINGLE THING. I have this-- what if we have more kids hang up, so I want to hold onto everything so I don't have to buy/get it all again down the road...and I probably need to let that go (along with a ton of baby clothes!)

marciw60 said...

I just found this blog and have been reading this article. It is interesting. I think to each his own, but one thing I have not seen addressed is the safety issue. When you borrow or buy at a garage sale (which I am all for), just be careful and check online for the safety rating and if there have been any recalls. Babies are just too precious to not be extra careful with those things.
I feel pack and plays are great ( I am a grandma of soon to be 5) and I have one at my house, but I think for mom and dad's house, there should be a crib. Those pack and plays have such thin little mattresses and let's face it, a mattress is important to overall health, let alone their growing bones and muscles.
I also found interesting how many didn't like the infant carseat at church and such. I think they are great, especially if baby is sleeping an dmom needs her hands free because she has callings etc. Also, do you really want everyone holding your little one in the middle of flu season, rsv? Church is where a lot of things are passed around, a car seat keeps them safe when you want them to be.
Anyway, that is my 2 cents, take it or leave it! ha! ...but I surely did enjoy the opinions of others!

Lily said...

Love this post! I mostly agree on all of this. We have used cribs, only when given to us. They have their place, but the only baby items I have bought have been the pack-n-play(garage sale) and the convertable car seat(Shopko). We borrow infant car seats for the first couple months when they are smallest, but I could live without if I couldn't find one. Our car seat we bought has its 3rd kid in it. All other items we use if given to us or borrow for the short time necessary. I do recommend a baby carrier of some sort(especially if you have other kids) and eventually a very simple highchair/booster seat with a seatbelt in it.

single wardrobe

Ashlie said...

I kindly disagree with almost all of this! A pack & play isn't a bed! It's for short term use & on the go purposes! A mattress is a lot better for your babies body. I would agree not to buy a bassinet and just use the pack & play features :)

A convertible car seat is NOT safe for a newborn baby!! They sit upright and they can't even support their own head yet! Yikes!!

I do agree on gender neutral! Saves a lot of money if you have all pink and then have a boy.

I save my clothes because I'm picky. And why not when you save money on the following child.

It's nice to borrow big items but I like to know where my stuff was used & take care of it all! We got all new on the first child and plan to have 4. Divide that cost up and it's no longer very much :)