A first time mom on a budget has many decisions to make about what baby gear
is necessary and what is not. One trip to the nearest Babies R Us is all that it will take to make her dizzy with dollar signs and choices. There are so many items that babies "need". They make something for just about everything and you truly could spend a fortune if you fall for every proposed baby need. The truth is that there are many items worth paying a pretty penny for and many that you can easily do without and "make do" in a less expensive or free way. The following are categories of items that should not be compromised without or settled upon for the cheapest. They are what mainly effect the safety of the child such as a good car seat and baby-proofing your house. A few other high dollar items should be invested in as sometimes the cheaper items break and it will end up costing more to replace them.
When purchasing a car seat, it is important to read crash test ratings and reviews. Britax is a pricey but top of the line seat when it comes to safety. Firefighters recommend a Britax as they are tested in Europe at higher speeds in crash tests and have true side impact protection. Regardless which brand you choose, make sure it is installed properly and securely as well. Choosing a convertible car seat for your infant that will have room for a child up to 65 pounds will also save money over purchasing an infant seat that will be outgrown in a few months.
A lightweight umbrella stroller is a better investment than one of those giant travel systems that come with infant seats. The infant seat will be soon outgrown and the stroller is so wide and bulky you will not want to put it in the car, travel with it and use it for trips to the mall. Choosing a high quality umbrella stroller is key though. They are not all created equal! One with back support for your child that still executes an umbrella fold is far superior to the flimsy fabric ones that provide no support and that do not recline for stroller naps and diaper changing. The Maclaren Quest is a pricey but excellent option and is worth every extra penny. The strong frame is not flimsy and is super sturdy and the extendable leg rest allows for your baby's feet to not hang on the ground. The five point harness also ensures safety and security for your little wiggle worm. This stroller will work for your infant as well if you add an infant body support into it such as the JJ Cole Body Support. Cheap umbrella strollers are more prone to breaking with heavy use, so investing in a good one for long term use is worth it.
Do not skimp as well when baby proofing your house. You DO need outlet covers and gates to create safe, baby proof spaces. Even if you cannot ensure perfect safety everywhere, it is a must to create a space that is fully baby proofed that your baby is enclosed into. Put up a baby gate at one room with no TV's and wires and and that has a rug or carpet. Make this the go-to safe play spot that you feel comfortable walking away from to change your load of laundry etc. If you do not have a safe spot in your house you need to have a play pen (pack and play) to place your child to keep them safe. It only takes an instant for your child to endanger their life. Babies can drown in less than one inch of water including toilets and empty flower pots that have a bit of rain water at the bottom. If you have a pool it is absolutely imperative to have a safety gate. You do not have control of every situation that will arise and if another person where to let your child out of the house it only takes seconds for them to drown.
A breast pump is a divided issue as some women go back to work and pump every day for their child. Others are home and usually just breast feed. So your need for a good quality breast pump will depend on how often you use it. If you plan on pumping every day, multiple times per day you will be more successful in continuing to breast feed by investing in a good electric double-sided pump that makes pumping quick ad easy and will not break. The cheaper single, hand-held pumps take longer and break easier but work fine for the woman who only pumps on the rare occasion that a babysitter will be giving one bottle.