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The Frugal Mom's Essential Baby Gear Guide

by Katlyn Joy | March 12, 2009 12:00 AM
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The Frugal Mom's Essential Baby Gear Guide

You have gone to the store to start your baby registry. The excitement and fun fizzles into confusion rather quickly, as all the equipment, options, and choices overwhelm you. What do you really need for your baby? What items are absolute must-haves? With the economy troubling everyone, the choices have become even more difficult for parents.

In general, the options for purchasing baby gear include buying new, buying used, or borrowing. When buying new, one thing to keep in mind is that if the item is lightly used by your family, you might recoup some of the cost of buying new, by selling it to a resale or consignment shop when you have finished using it. The price difference between buying new and used might be shrunk to practically nothing at that point. Do a little research at the resale shops to see what items they accept, and how much you can expect to earn on them. Another consideration for buying new would be if this will not be the last child in the family to use the item. If you want it to last for two or more children, buying new will often be the sensible purchase then.

If you buy used, make certain the item has met safety standards, and is not subject to any recall. Most consignment shops try to stay abreast of these things, but certainly you should not rely on them solely to determine safety issues. You might consider buying some items used to save a little money to put towards a bigger purchase, such as a new crib. Don't overlook yard or garage sales, but expect to do a little extra research on the safety issues then.

Borrowing is a great option if you have friends or relatives with children not too much older than yours. While using the family crib that has been passed down for years sounds special, often you will need to politely decline. Safety concerns change rapidly through the years, and almost certainly if the item is more than a few years old, you will need to be especially concerned if there are hazards associated with its use.

1. Crib. While you might be thinking of co-sleeping, a crib is still an essential item necessary for every nursery. If you are considering a hand-me-down, or a used crib, be sure to check to see if it meets safety standards. Other things to think about, do you want to invest more in this piece so that is will be used longer? For instance, a 3 in 1 crib will last for many years, going from crib, to toddler bed with rail, to daybed, possibly being used from infancy to the teen years.

2.Car seat. This is a purchase necessary to even bring baby home from the hospital. Do you want a complete travel system, that works together or to buy individual pieces? Look at safety, comfort, ease of use and how it will fit in your vehicle. Some people prefer to use a car seat that will can be used with wider range of ages, while others prefer to purchase different seats for different stages. Price the whole range, and determine which you think is most cost efficient over the long haul.

3. Stroller. Choices here include the lightweight strollers, jogging models, and regular strollers. To determine the best choice for you, consider where you will be using it the most. Just shopping trips, the occasional zoo outing? Then a lightweight might be all you need. Will you be putting the miles on it, packing up baby for your daily walk or jog? Then look for models meant to absorb shocks, and also one that is steady and sturdy.

4. High chair. This is a must have item, but one you will not be needing the first few months. Consider how much room it will take up, how easy it is to use, clean and how adaptable it is. Sometimes people think they need one that is portable to carry to Grandma's, but you might want to consider finding a less expensive model to just keep there, and get the highchair with the best features for your use at your home, and forget toting it at all.

5. Safety gates. Depending on your home, you might need none, or several of these. Look at how they fit into your floor plan, and how easily you can manage the gate. If you need a gate, don't try to skimp by using other items as barricades. Safety issues abound, as a child pretty quickly learns how to get around the most clever of obstacles.

6. Baby monitor. Depends on the layout and size of the home, whether you need one or not. Many parents insist they could not relax without a baby monitor. Some have more channels, for clearer reception, and some can be useful for even going into the garage or deck, perhaps the back yard.

7. Baby carrier. This is a must-have for some parents, but certainly not all. Choices here include front carriers, slings, and wraps. Be sure to give it a test run in the store before deciding. Borrowing a baby will give you a more realistic idea of how it works for you, too. Some slings and front carriers are best suited to younger and smaller infants, while certain carriers, especially wraps can help you carry a child into the toddler years, and depending on how the fabric is adjusted, will fit both parents so only one needs to be purchased even if mom is barely topping five feet, and Dad is a six-footer.

8. Swing. Again, some parents swear by theirs as a life-saver, while others never used one. Consider how it will fit in your home, the battery/or plug in capability, the speeds, and the quietness. Will you frequently be taking the swing to a relative or babysitter's home? Then consider one of the smaller, more portable models.

Katlyn Joy is a freelance writer, and just graduated with a Master's of Arts in Creative Writing. She is mom to seven children, and lives in Denver, Colorado.

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