I bragged about which baby products were a total waste of money, and which ones were at the top of my must-have list before becoming a mother. Now that I’m an official card-carrying member of the parenting club, I know what I really need. Here are the best baby deals and worst buys of my nascent parenting career.
My best baby buys
Breast pump: Without a doubt, my best buy was a $20 used Medela electric breast pump.
I hadn’t set out to buy a used pump, but while carting away a hot Craigslist find (a $75 Pottery Barn changing table that retails for $400 – part of my $260 nursery), the seller offered me a top-of-the-line pump for a bargain price (these amazing machines command price tags of $300 and up).
The pump was covered in dust and pine needles from sitting in the garage, but I had a hunch that it had major potential. I forked over a crisp twenty and scrubbed it before my husband got home. He’s not as keen on “vintage” as I am.
I also tossed out the tubing and plastic bottles and bought a $30 replacement kit online. My breast pump works perfectly, and with new tubing and bottles, is completely sanitary.
Crib: We scored a free crib – one of those recalled (and now illegal) drop-side cribs. But before cramming it into our trunk, we scoured the web in search of ways to remedy the defect that caused the recall. Now, thanks to my super duper handy husband, the side of the crib that used to drop is in a permanent fixed position.
Boppy pillow: I snagged a $3 Boppy pillow at a consignment sale. If you aren’t familiar with a Boppy pillow, it’s a horseshoe-shaped cushion that childless people ridicule. That is, until they have a baby and realize what genius it actually is.
New Boppys retail for $30, so $4 was a score. The pillow was dirty, but I have this really handy and effective thing called a washing machine. Note: if you’re selling your stuff, cleaning it beforehand can double the price.
Clothing: Used baby clothes are usually hardly used at all. For example, newborn sizes are worn for one to four weeks. Weeks! My little lady raced through her 0-3 month onesies in less than two months.
Also keep in mind that every distant cousin and random acquaintance will probably buy you baby clothing as a gift. They cannot help themselves–baby clothes are just too cute.
Used baby clothes, whether they are hand-me-downs or found in thrift shops, tend to be ridiculously cheap and in great condition, so take advantage.
Cloth diapers: I wrinkled my nose at old-fashioned cloth diapers, but they are essential for survival. Babies are unable to contain their bodily fluids (from both ends), which means they go through cloth diapers at a fast clip.
For example, we go through 30 a day, and we don’t even use them as diapers! Instead, we use them as burp cloths and changing table liners. They are also handy for catching any pees and poops while baby is enjoying nekked time.
The purchases that still haunt me.
Bassinet: The same Craigslist guy who sold me the used breast pump also sweet-talked me into a $20 Graco bassinet. To be fair, that’s a great price for a very nice baby bed. The problem is, I already had one at home.
I still have no idea how he convinced me (pregnancy brain?), but after months of regret I finally donated it to our local women’s homeless shelter.
Extra car seat base: My mother bought us a car seat and, at our request, two car seat bases for $64 each. I reasoned that we would be jetting around so frequently with the baby we’d need to snap her safely into both cars.
Ha! She may be little, but she travels slowly. That second car seat base was a waste.
Nursing pads: I totally overestimated how many Lansinoh nursing pads I would go through. You stick a pad into each bra cup to soak up leaking milk. It turns out, that’s not much of a problem for me. For some nursing mothers it is, but it’s impossible to predict.
I wished I had started with one box, instead of plunging into three. My buyer’s remorse was only aggravated the store refused to offer me a full refund.
Car seat mirror: I’m going to out my husband on this one. He really wanted the mirror you hang in the back of your car so you can peek at your rear-facing baby while motoring. So, now we have one, but nobody knows where it is.
Bibs: Bibs, bibs, glorious bibs. We have about 4-dozen of them and how many have we used? One, and that was when a slobbery baby came to visit.
Julia Scott founded the money saving blog BargainBabe.com.