First Baby? Here are 4 Products Worth Splurging On

by Emily Guy Birken · 16 comments

save money on babies

The first time I walked into Babies”R”Us when pregnant with my first child, I felt overwhelmed almost to the point of hyperventilating. There were so many products out there — and it felt like every single purchase I made would determine my child’s fate.

Four years and another baby later, it’s clear to me now that baby gear manufacturers and retailers probably want you to be panicked. It’s much easier to sell unnecessary items to frightened and overwhelmed parents, since you’ll be happy to buy any product that will help you feel more in control.

But just like any other purchases, some baby gear is worth the investment, while some will clutter up the nursery until you have a yard sale a decade later.

Here are four baby products worth spending extra money on:

baby products to buy1. Any furniture that will be on display

Before our first was born, my husband and I drove two hours to Ikea to find various nursery necessities, including a changing table. Over a plate of Swedish meatballs, we agreed on the cheapest changing table at the store, and took it home to assemble it.

Even though that table is still in use and shows no sign of deterioration, I really wish we’d spent more on a nicer piece of furniture. That’s because we set up the changing table in the living room, where it would be used most often.

The table doesn’t have drawers, meaning baby clothes are always in piles on the shelves, and the finish is nothing like the rest of our furniture. Four years in the same spot, and it still looks temporary.

Babies certainly grow up quickly, but if you know some piece of baby gear — from a rocking chair to the changing table to the crib itself — will be in a common area of the house, go ahead and splurge on something that will look like it belongs. You’ll be looking at it for several years, so you might as well enjoy it.

2. The safety gear you’ll use most often

One of my pet peeves is how baby safety gear is marketed (more expensive doesn’t always mean safer). A $400 Britax car seat isn’t safer than the $60 Target brand seat; it’s simply easier to use. If you’re on a limited budget, you can rest assured your child is just as safe in a cheaper car seat.

However, if you have the extra money to spend, and you know that you’ll be shuttling Junior or Sis in the car every day, then it makes sense to get the car seat that will be easiest to install, strap the kid into, and clean.

If, on the other hand, you’re a city dweller, it probably makes more sense to spend the big money on an easy-to-use stroller or bike trailer, since it’s what you’ll be using day-to-day.

3. An electric double breast pump

If you’re planning on breastfeeding, a high-quality double breast pump can be a life-saver. You generally can’t buy these items used (although you can sometimes rent them from your local hospital or lactation consultant), so expect to spend around $200 for the best rated electric pumps.

Not only will this make your return to work much easier, it can also be helpful for new moms who are struggling with breastfeeding but are determined to make a go of it.

4. A well-designed diaper bag

Whether you buy a bag that’s specifically designed as a diaper bag (which often increases the price by 50%), or just get a well-made duffel bag or backpack, having something nice to carry your diapers in can make or break your outings with baby.

Basically, you want to find a bag with several compartments so you can easily find the gear you need when you need it. Also, look for a bag that evenly distributes weight, so you’re not crippled by carrying it (plus your munchkin). Finally, something that looks nice enough that you’re happy to carry it — but is also made of durable material that you can easily clean — is worth a little extra money.

Worth the investment

The Bottom Line

Getting ready for a new baby is exciting and scary. Don’t let the emotions make you lose your head and buy anything recommended by the salespeople at your local baby superstore. Think about which items you’ll use and see most often, and only plan on splurging on those.

Any other baby items you recommend splurging on?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Financial Pilgrimage says:

    One game changer for us was a sound machine that is voice activated. I highly recommend it if your baby is struggling to sleep through the night. Our baby would start crying and the sound machine would kick in and put him right back to sleep.

  • Myfinancekits says:

    In the diaper bag, it is not enough to have extra diapers, baby wipe should also be included.

  • Christina says:

    I would add a good stroller, u can never go wrong with that purchase. Great post and great advice!

  • Alex @ Credit Card XPO says:

    A good baby monitor with audio & night vision video is well worth the investment. I bought one 5 years ago and I still use it to keep an eye on my 5 and 2 years old when they are sleeping in their room.

    • David @ says:

      We actually bought a really crappy one that’s black and white for $20 used but it’s worked for us. We don’t use it anymore, which reminds me that I should sell it right back for $20 🙂

  • Nikki says:

    I purchased an older model stroller off EBay but new in box saving $250. It was the best thing I’ve bought and am now using it as a double. I walk everywhere so that was really important to me!

    • David @ says:

      Awesome. New for less, and you can probably sell it right back for a close to how much you bought it for!

  • Debi says:

    One thing to keep in mind about car seats – the baby will outgrow the first car seat fairly quickly, but will stay in the next one for quite a while – until big enough for a booster.

    We got an economical (but still well rated) Evenflo infant seat that could be removed from the base, along with a stroller that the base also fit into. (It was an inexpensive universal model that fit lots of different types of seats.) This worked great because I never had to disturb the baby when running errands – just pulled out the whole seat to pop on the stroller or on a shopping cart.

    When she outgrew the infant seat at around 18 months, we splurged on a well reviewed Britax, which she used until she was big enough for a booster.

    • David @ says:

      The modern infant car seat with the removable seat is SUCH a wonderful invention. The good old days must not have been so good if I had to wake up an infant EVERY TIME I have to get out of the car!

  • Shaun says:

    New dad here with a note about Breast pumps. The Affordable Care Act requires insurance to cover Breast pumps. Since here shortly, everyone should also be covered (another requirement of course) all mothers should get a breast pump that is already covered.

    You may have to go through your doctor to get it, but I find it unlikely that a doctor would encourage you not to purchase a breast pump if you are breast feeding your child.


    • David @ says:

      Thanks for sharing. This is a huge benefit that no one ever talks about. I wonder if moms readily know about this since breast pumps could be a multi-hundred dollar expense that’s pretty much mandatory.

  • Kansas Mom says:

    I’d say a nice looking highchair was important to me since it on display in your house. I didn’t want a cheesy looking one in our dining room. I also spent $45 on a chair that clips onto to the kitchen island so I can feed the baby breakfast in the kitchen and he has a place to hang while I unload the dishwasher or make coffee.

    • David @ says:

      A good highchair is a solid investment. And once you are done, you can easily sell it back for a good price, recouping some of the cost.

  • David @ says:

    I would opt to pay more for any easy to use baby items that are frequently used. Strollers, breast pumps, car seats all fit into this category.

    If I had to, I rather save money on furniture because looks don’t matter as much as my sanity, but that’s just me!

  • John @ Sprout Wealth says:

    These are all good ones and can be difficult to determine which one you should buy with all the marketing there is. Another one I’d add is a good stroller. You don’t need to go out and buy one that’s $500, but you want one that’s well built and will give your baby the support they need.

    • David @ says:

      Another way to avoid paying $500 for a stroller is to ask your friends if they have used baby stuff. Chances are good that they have some barely used baby gear that they can lend/give you. And when you are done with the baby gears, you can spread the wealth too.

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