Congrats! You’re going to be parents! After having two of my own, let me offer you some advice (because unsolicited advice is every new parent’s favorite thing, right?). Humor me. Whatever you do, put down the debit or credit card, lock it in a vault or bury it in the backyard until that first overwhelming urge to buy your baby the world and everything in it so that “Baby gets a fair chance at life” passes.
What you want to buy your baby and what you need to buy your baby are two very different things. This article will discuss both.
Once that initial panic of parenthood settles, the commercial world of all things “baby” will pounce. Flyers from Pottery Barn will somehow find their way into your mailbox. “I’ve never shopped at Pottery Barn”, you think to yourself.
Before you know it, you’re on page five trying to justify how badly you need to buy your baby that crystal chandelier for the nursery or the eight-point-turn baby swing that sings “Imagine” by John Lennon in six languages while imitating the vibrating sensation of a driving down a sunset boulevard.
We haven’t even begun to talk about the social pressure placed on you by friends and family. Often, they’re not trying to place that pressure on you. It’s simply built in, and it’s up to you what you’re going to do about it.
Sure, save up money and buy your kid some new stuff. Enjoy this season of life. But now that I’m slightly beyond wearing the “brand new parent” badge, I’d like to share some myths with you about what you need to buy your baby. And what you don’t.
Every parent is different, but if you’re trying to get out of debt, build an emergency fund from scratch, or simply want to save money on all…these…new…expenses, then have a look at some ways to do just that.
5 Myths About What You Need to Buy Your Baby
MYTH #1: Babies “need” professional labor & delivery, newborn, 3 month, 6 month, Christmas, and 1st birthday photo shoots.
If your newborn doesn’t show up on your friends’ Facebook newsfeed curled up in a rustic basket wearing a knitted cap and ironically propping her sleeping head up on her tiny fists within the first four weeks of her life, you’re failing at parenthood.
Wrong. Professional photos are beautiful and last a lifetime, but double and triple booking several hundred dollar sessions just to continue a social norm is not a necessity. Do it if you wish, but call it a want, not a need.
HOW TO BUST THIS MYTH: Choose one photo shoot that would be really meaningful to have professionally done and start putting away money for it. Then, relax about keeping up with the Facebook and Instagram Joneses. Do you know someone personally who can give you a discount? Or take a look at Pinterest for some DIY ideas. I did, and although I wouldn’t launch my own photography business because of it, I like how they captured my daughter at that phase in her life.
MYTH #2: Babies “need” lots of newborn clothes and diapers.
My child will be a newborn; therefore, newborn clothes and diapers will fit him until he’s three months old.
Wrong. We received the shock of our life when 5’1″ Twiggy-Framed Me gave birth to a 9-pound 14-ounce boy. The doctor said I birthed a linebacker. Not one single article of newborn clothing fit my son on the day of his birth. Newborn diapers were laughable.
HOW TO BUST THIS MYTH: You’ll probably receive a number of newborn diapers and clothes at your baby shower. For all you know, you could have a small baby and those clothes will be needed for months. Typically, however, babies grow out of newborn sizes before they’re three months old. You can always exchange diapers and outfits, but go ahead and have some size 1 diapers and size 3-month outfits on hand in case your baby takes growth spurts as seriously as mine did.
MYTH #3: Babies “need” shoes.
Babies have feet, so, obviously, they need shoes every time we leave the house.
Wrong. If you want to dress your baby in tiny Nikes or miniature designer hiking boots or ballet slippers, that’s perfectly fine. But again, I’m simply addressing that this is a want, not usually a need. When your little one starts walking, then shoes become more useful.
HOW TO BUST THIS MYTH: Lots of baby socks have shoe designs on them and eliminate the need for shoes. If you like the idea of your baby wearing shoes, check out consignment or garage sales to save money on used shoes. Remember, they’re baby shoes, so how used can they be?
If I don’t buy my child new equipment, clothes, and toys, she won’t be safe or happy.
Wrong – for the most part, safety wise. As you conduct research, you’ll discover that there are some items that should be purchased new versus used. We opted for a new car seat since they have an expiration date and we’d use the item a lot. We also bought a new crib and pack n’ play for similar reasons. I purchased a brand new electronic Medela breast pump to ensure that I could effectively pump enough breastmilk for my child when I returned to work. That surely saved us hundreds on the formula we didn’t have to buy as a result.
However, it was so tempting to get swept away in the “my kid deserves nice things” tidal wave if we lost focus or got trapped in scare tactics like, “Don’t buy a used swing or your kid will fall out and land on his head.” Um. Nah.
HOW TO BUST THIS MYTH: Ask your parent friends what they bought new versus used. Do the research and make an informed decision. Don’t dump common sense. Your parents didn’t have Google when you were a baby. Garage sales and consignment sales are gold mines for gently used children’s clothing.
MYTH #5: Babies “need” a bigger house.
My baby needs enough space or he won’t thrive.
Wrong. Our parents advised us to buy a house during my first pregnancy. But we were broke, saving for Baby, working hard to become debt-free before my due date, and renting a 700-square-foot apartment. We had a chunk of wedding gift money that could either cover closing costs on a house that we couldn’t afford or eliminate the last of my husband’s student loans. We chose to pay off our debts. Our daughter’s nursery shared a room with our office, which isn’t very Pottery Barn of us. But we were debt-free. Turns out our baby didn’t mind one bit that she lived in an apartment for the first nine months of her life.
HOW TO BUST THIS MYTH: Buy a house when you can afford the monthly payments. Don’t add more stress by assuming that what you need to buy your baby is the perfect living space. That can come eventually when you are financially ready. Renting isn’t evil if it serves a strategic purpose in your family’s financial plan.
Are there any myths about what you need to buy your baby that you’d like to bust? Share in the comments below.
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.