Babywoods in a dress I wore as a wee tot
Babywoods in a dress I wore as a wee tot

Exactly what do babies need? A reader, who is expecting baby #1, recently posed this question to me and I’m so glad he did because it got me thinking!

As Mr. Frugalwoods and I prepared for the arrival of Babywoods, I frequently came across two diametrically opposed adages: 1) babies don’t need anything, and 2) babies need a million products in order to survive/be happy little humans. Hmmm, thought I, clearly there is a middle group here, which Mr. FW and I endeavored to stake out.

Even if you’re not about to have a kid, I wager you’ll be invited to a baby shower at some point in your life. And so, here’s a list of stuff the parents-to-be will actually use.

The Middle Ground Of Baby Stuff

As previously confessed, I’m not an uber minimalist. Actually, my minimalist friends would assert that I’m not a minimalist at all (but it’s an aspiration of mine! which I totally fail at!). At any rate, while it’s certainly possible to raise baby with nothing more than diapers and a blanket, we decided that wasn’t the route for us. However, we also didn’t want to fall victim to the preposterous marketing intended to terrify expectant parents into buying bunches of baby contraptions and accouterments (for more on this topic, check out Fighting Back Against The Baby Industrial Complex).

Something I didn’t fully appreciate before having Babywoods is that the early months (well, probably the next 18 years too) are all about two things: eating and sleeping.

These two facets of life dominate nearly every decision we make in our parenting. Because when baby eats and sleeps well, the whole family eats and sleeps well. It’s all about the zzz’s and the yums. Everything else is tertiary at best. To that end, the vast majority of products we’ve found indispensable are in service of those two preeminent goals.

Before we venture any farther down this rosy little path, let’s have a disclaimer: every baby is different, every family is different, and never has it ever been more important to hoe your own row and do what works for you than it is with parenting. To say there’s no one right way to bring up baby is the understatement of a lifetime. So I in no way prescribe or dispense parenting advice. Rather, I’m here to share how our little family navigated infant-hood quite frugally indeed.

Baby Goal #1: Eating!

Babywoods at the grocery store
Babywoods at the grocery store

Oh yes, we all gotta eat and babies eat basically non-stop (ok not really, but sometimes it feels like it). Our experience has only been with breastfeeding, so I can’t speak to the intricacies of formula feeding. We were extremely fortunate that Babywoods was a champion breastfeeder from the start, despite her rather traumatic birth and subsequent weeklong stay in the NICU. I’m tremendously grateful for the lactation assistance I received in the hospital as that early support was crucial in getting us off to a great start with breastfeeding.

For us, breastfeeding was a major aspiration both for the health benefits (for baby and mom) as well as the savings (formula can get quite pricey). If you want to breastfeed, I strongly encourage you to give it a shot and to seek out advice from certified lactation consultants.

The initial weeks of life with baby are rough. I’m not gonna sugar coat it for you. Everyone is hungry and sleep-deprived and totally unsure of their surroundings. Suddenly there’s a tiny human in your home who demands, like, A LOT of attention. And you’re feeding them from your body! Bizarre! But also amazing!

I found that after about a month, our breastfeeding routine became significantly easier and now at 15 weeks out, it’s second nature. We nurse anywhere (in Home Depot, on a hike in the woods, while out walking Frugal Hound, etc) with no problem, which is something I couldn’t even imagine in those first few days of trying to get the hang of it. In the beginning, it took both me and Mr. FW to get Babywoods into position to nurse and was a whole huge production lasting almost an hour.

Fast forward to last week when I nursed Babywoods in her carrier while on a walk with a friend and Frugal Hound on the busy streets of Cambridge and… not a single person noticed. I share this because it took me many, many weeks to gain confidence and comfort with breastfeeding. It’s a learning process for both mom and baby, and it’ll take you both some time to adjust. Thus, don’t be hard on yourself if it doesn’t work out immediately. And for some folks, breastfeeding isn’t possible, which is why there are so many good formula options out there. Either way, your kid is going to eat and be just fine.

Here are the supplies I’ve found immensely useful in feeding Babywoods:

  • Babywoods: a very good eater (just like mom and dad)
    Babywoods: a very good eater (just like mom and dad)

    My Brest Friend” breastfeeding pillow (yes, that is its actual name and yes, I can’t believe someone was that clever… it’s a level we should all aspire to). This handy contraption straps around my waist and allows me to breastfeed (almost) hands-free, which is awesome since baby usually wants to eat when we eat :). It’s also a convenient shelf for Babywoods to nap on while nestled up against me (bonus: I can get work done while she snoozes… such as writing this post!). Huge thanks to my sister for passing hers down to me!

  • Nursing bras or nursing tank tops. These things are essential in my opinion. Makes life more comfortable for mom and more convenient for everyone. I’m partial to my hand-me-down nursing tank tops, which I wear layered under another shirt or cardigan. This assembly allows me to breastfeed anywhere with relative ease since I don’t have to undress in order to feed her–barely an inch of skin shows, which is superb in cold weather!
  • Par for the course when trying to take a photo: get all dressed up and... wail!
    Par for the course when trying to take a photo: get all dressed up and… wail!

    A breast pump. As far as I know, all health insurances are required to supply breast pumps for free. I needed a prescription from my OB, but then the pump itself was free. And, to have a back-up, I got a second pump as a hand-me-down for free. Have no fear about getting a used pump since you can wash and disinfect all of the parts that touch skin or milk. The pump itself is simply a little motor.

  • Milk storage bottles or bags. You need some way to store and freeze extra breast milk. I’ve been using little breastmilk bags that my friend L (mother of an adorable boy) handed down to me, but you could also freeze in bottles (although that takes up more freezer space).
  • Bottles. Although Babywoods eats only breastmilk, we give her one bottle of pumped milk per day so that she’s accustomed to eating in that way. This allows me the freedom to be away from her for several hours and gives Mr. FW the opportunity to feed her. Yes, we got our slow flow bottles as hand-me-downs and have no qualms about it at all (pop ’em in the dishwasher and, voila! they’re sanitized).
  • Lanolin. I found lanolin cream very soothing especially at the beginning of our breastfeeding journey. Thankfully, the hospital provided quite a few little sample sized tubes and my wise sister, mother of three, sent me several tubes as a gift. I’m partial to lanolin as it doesn’t have to be washed off before baby eats.
  • Vitamin D drops. My pediatrician advised that since Babywoods is exclusively breastfed, we should give her a drop of Vitamin D every day and so, we do! Protip: drop the Vitamin D on your nipple right before nursing–trying to administer directly into a baby’s mouth is hilarious but completely ineffectual.
  • Books and resources I found helpful: The Womanly Art Of BreastfeedingMayo Clinic Guide to Your Baby’s First Year: From Doctors Who Are Parents, Too!, Kelly Mom: Parenting and Breastfeeding

Baby Goal #2: Sleeping!

Never in my life have I devoted so much time and energy to thinking about sleep! Rest is imperative for babies and parents and it feels so elusive in those nascent newborn weeks. Mr. FW and I are tremendously grateful that we’ve settled into a really nice sleeping routine with Babywoods (though I imagine it’ll continue to evolve as she develops and changes). As with all things baby-related, flexibility is key!

We started out with Babywoods sleeping in a bassinet next to our bed. While this was necessary for the early weeks when she was eating almost every 2 hours, we quickly realized that none of us were sleeping well with this arrangement. For some families, co-sleeping is ideal and for others, it’s not. Our experience of sleep is based on what we discovered works best for the three of us, but your baby may have divergent opinions on the matter!

Here’s what we employ to facilitate good sleep:

  • Babywoods hanging out in her Miracle Swaddle with Frugal Hound
    Babywoods hanging out in her Miracle Swaddle with Frugal Hound

    The “Miracle Swaddle which swaddles baby tightly to comfort them and also prevent the flying hands and startle of the newborn Moro reflex. You can also use a plain old blanket to swaddle bebe, but Babywoods is a contortionist escape artist and while in the hospital was forever worming her hands out the top of the swaddle and then accidentally hitting herself in the face… so, we find the baby straightjacket approach of the Miracle Swaddle to be, well, miraculous.

  • A white noise machine. Babies are accustomed to the wonderful wooshing noises that accompany them in the womb and thus, the quiet environment of a house is often not conducive to sleep. A white noise machine provides the reassuring woosh they love. Sidenote: this is why the “shhhh” sound is often so effective in soothing baby.
  • Something for baby to sleep in. Babywoods started off in a bassinet next to our bed and then transferred to a crib in her own room at 10 weeks old and has been sleeping amazingly well since then (knock on wood and fingers crossed this continues!!). Everyone finds the path to sleep that works best for their family, so you may not need a crib at all. A great option for a bassinet is a pack-n-play, which can be used in different configurations as baby gets older.
  • My free blackout shades
    My free blackout shades

    Pacifiers. Babywoods is a baby who adores nonnutritive sucking (in other words, sucking not only for food) and so a pacifier is a marvelous soother for her. We weren’t going to use pacifiers, but after both having our arms go numb while holding our fingers out for her to suck, we got some pacifiers.

  • Frugal hack: babies sleep best in rooms that are cool, dark, and have ambient white noise. We take care of the cool via our naturally frugal thermostat setting (and our New England climate), and the white noise machine does the trick as far as sound in concerned. However, we discovered that the regular blinds in Babywoods’ room do nothing to block out sunlight. And our baby won’t sleep with the sun streaming in. Solution? I covered her windows with paper bags. Not perhaps the most visually appealing solution, but it 100% works and it was 100% free.
  • Books I found indispensable: The Happiest Baby On The BlockSolve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
The paper bag window hack is concealed by the blinds
The paper bag window hack is concealed by the blinds

Other Baby Goals

Babywoods in the Ergo on a snowshoe hike
Babywoods in the Ergo on a snowshoe hike

Once we get past the absolutely imperative and paramount goals #1 and #2, there are other things that babies like to do–especially as they get older!

Going out and about

Having the ability to go out and about with Babywoods is a priority for us and we’ve found several mechanisms that make our jaunts possible.

  • A baby carrier. Baby-wearing was transformational for us. Babywoods loves being snuggled up next to me or Mr. FW and nothing facilitates that better than popping her into a carrier strapped to our chests. I wear Babywoods around the house, when we go hiking and snowshoeing, when running errands, at church, on walks… basically anytime we go out, Babywoods is being worn. Mr. and Mrs. 1500 very kindly sent us their Ergo carrier now that their kiddos are too big to be carried and we LOVE it. Is there a word stronger than love? If there is, then that’s how I feel about the Ergo. The other carrier I similarly adore is the Moby wrap, which my sister handed down to me.
  • A car seat. This is a legal necessity if you wish to drive with baby. We did indeed get ours as a hand-me-down from my friend J. The myth that you can’t get a used car seat is just that–a myth. As long as the seat hasn’t been in an accident and still meets current safety regulations, a used seat is perfectly fine.

Around the house:

If I’m not wearing Babywoods or holding her in my lap, I’ve found it’s very nice to have safe (and fun!) places to set her down, particularly when we want to do chores or take a shower.

  • Babywoods and Frugal Hound love the play mat
    Babywoods and Frugal Hound love the play mat

    A swing or bouncy seat. Although these aren’t strictly necessities, our buzzy rocker (which I found for free by the side of the road) is fabulous. And, Babywoods enjoys batting at toys hung from the bar above the seat, so it’s a win-win.

  • A play mat. Again, not obligatory, but it is quite delightful. Babywoods is amused by her hand-me-down jungle play mat, from which dangly toys hang. She kicks, plays, and rolls like a fiend on there.
  • Frugal hack: I utilize our bassinet mattress as a portable baby pad–I set it on the floor in whatever room I’m in so that Babywoods can watch what I’m doing. Works well in the basement, the bathroom, the kitchen, etc… easier than carrying a baby swing around and it provides more padding than a blanket.

Consumables and health care:

Babies also require a few items in the hygiene and personal care department. Although we didn’t have a baby shower, our parents very generously offered to buy us a few things for Babywoods and so, I asked them for the following:

  • Diaper rash healing cream and zinc oxide paste. I didn’t realize that these are actually two different things until after Babywoods was born and got some gnarly diaper rash while in the hospital for her weeklong NICU stay. Thankfully, my mom and dad did know this and kindly got us both.
  • Babywoods chilling on her bassinet mattress (covered in a free hospital blanket might I add)
    Babywoods dancing on her bassinet mattress (covered in a free hospital blanket might I add)

    Baby wash. My in-laws got us a bath set of washes and lotions with which we cleanse our baby. I think you can use anything mild to wash a baby, but you do need something because they get stinky (at least Babywoods does).

  • Diapers and wipes. I’ve already written extensively about our decision to use disposables and my friend Kalie offers the counterpoint on how to use cloth diapers.
  • Thermometer. I got a hand-me-down baby thermometer and I will say, you want to have this before you bring baby home from the hospital because there’s nothing like knowing whether your child actually has a fever or if you’ve just overdressed them in too many clothes (uh, the latter would be the case with us… ).
  • Nail clippers. A necessity! Especially if you’re breastfeeding, baby claws in your chest are not pleasant. And wow do they grow fast. Babywoods sports some epic baby talons, which I cut and file every few days. I swear by these nail clippers, which my parents kindly gifted to us. Sidenote: Babywoods is so prone to scratching my chest while eating that Mr. FW researched it and apparently, babies do this instinctually as a remnant of our ape ancestors–she’s looking for fur to cling to so she doesn’t fall out of a tree! 
  • Rags. Our rags and burp cloths get almost constant use (thanks to Babywoods’ prolific spitting… ). There’s no need to buy fancy or cute “baby” rags, any old squares of cloth will do. Some of our favorite rags are old t-shirts that I cut into wide strips.
  • A book I found very helpful: Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality


Babywoods in a dress my sister and I both wore as babies
Babywoods in a dress my sister and I both wore as babies

Babies need some clothes, especially if you have a winter baby in a cold climate like we did. But, they don’t need tons of clothes, nor do they require the variety of sartorial options we adults enjoy. Although I have adorable dresses, pants, sweaters, and tops that I received as hand-me-downs and although it is fun to dress Babywoods up on occasion, these types of clothes aren’t fundamental. Here’s what you do need:

  • Onesies. These are exactly what they sound like: one-piece outfits that snap or zip up the front. Perfect for everyday wear–it’s what Babywoods is in 99% of the time. In terms of sizes, Babywoods was a peanut and wore the newborn size for about a month, after which she transitioned into the 0-3 months size. At 4 months old, she’s starting to wear the 3-6 months size. But, baby can always wear onesies that are a tad too big, so err on the side of larger.
  • Hats. If in a cold climate, hats are beneficial when you go strolling around outdoors. The hospital will give you a hat or two for free as well.
  • Bibs. These aren’t a necessity per se, but Babywoods is a ‘happy spitter’ meaning she spits up all the time and isn’t bothered by it at all. Bibs help keep her onesies clean so I don’t have to change her outfit 900 times a day.

How We Furnished Her Nursery for $20

Since we decided to go the second-hand and hand-me-down route for all of Babywoods’ paraphernalia, we’ve spent next to nothing on her thus far in life (aside from our $450 co-payment for her birth and diapers from Costco).

Several keys to our success in this endeavor:

  • Don’t be picky. We took whatever people offered us. Color, style, and condition didn’t matter. Plenty of Babywoods’ hand-me-downs came pre-stained, pre-faded, and a bit banged up. But who cares!
  • Start early. I began the process of collecting baby gear well in advance of her birth (actually I started before we even got pregnant). People want to get rid of things on their timeline, not on yours.
  • Be grateful. No matter the condition or color, be grateful because… it’s free!!!

Our sources for hand-me-downs:

  • Babywoods and I voted in our hand-me-down Ergo
    Babywoods and I voted in our hand-me-down Ergo

    The Buy Nothing Project. I cannot possibly express enough gratitude and awe over the amazingness that is the Buy Nothing Project. It’s an international organization with local branches that facilitate neighbors giving away items to one another completely free of charge. I’ve given away a ton of stuff via the BNP and in turn received an enormous amount of baby paraphernalia. Check here to see if there’s a chapter in your area and if not, consider starting one.

  • Friends, family, and acquaintances. We put the word out that we would happily take anyone’s cast-off baby articles and wow did folks come through! Anything we received that we don’t need, I pass along to other parents through the Buy Nothing Project.
  • Parent list-serves. There are several parent email list-serves that I’m a member of, through which people offer items for sale and for free. Ask other parents in your area if there are list-serves or forums you can join.
  • The side of the road. Trash finds apply here too! I found several items for her by the side of the road, which I happily scooped up. Everything for babies is washable and so there’s nothing to fear in taking used things.
  • Garage sales. A fabulous source for baby stuffs! People are usually chomping at the bit to unload unwanted baby accouterments and will typically offer you a discount if you buy in bulk. This is how I procured a veritable mountain of clothes for a cool $10.
  • Babywoods loves her trash find baby seat
    Babywoods loves her trash find baby seat

    Kids’ clothing exchanges. My friend C (a frugal and wise mother of twins) introduced me to this awesome spot in Cambridge where you can swap baby clothes your kid has outgrown for outfits that do fit–all completely free. Genius idea and I believe they exist in other cities as well.

  • Thrift stores. I actually have not been impressed with Goodwill’s prices or selection of baby products, but, I have heard that consignment stores specifically for kids are ideal spots for discount finds.
  • Craigslist. We haven’t needed to purchase anything for Babywoods on Craigslist yet, but, it’s a fantastic repository for all things used.

The only products we’ve purchased new for Babywoods are consumables (i.e. diapers) and health care items (i.e. Vitamin D drops). And, my in-laws sent us some gorgeous outfits for her, which we greatly appreciate. Every single other thing in her nursery is used.

Babies: Not Inherently Expensive

Baby-rearing is one of those life occasions that our culture tells us is inherently expensive. But to this I cry folly! Aside from finding free and cheap items, babies can also get by with far less than is marketed for them. The media trots out every conceivable trope to make parents feel incredibly guilt-ridden if they don’t buy the latest, greatest, and priciest of gear for their little one. But buying stuff does not equal a happy and enriching childhood. And material goods don’t–on their own–enable children to grow and thrive. But having parents who aren’t burdened by debt and over-spending? Now there’s something a kid can take to the bank.

What are your frugal baby-rearing hacks?

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  1. Your baby is such a cutie! It sounds like you have the baby gear covered! I got lucky in the fact that my sister gave me most of the “big stuff” – a crib, a high chair, car seat, etc. We never had to buy a lot.

  2. Such helpful advice, as I several showers coming up! Last summer, my husband and I recently inherited my old crib and changing table. It had been passed around through a few cousins, and it was time to either reclaim it or lose it. We aren’t totally ready to have kiddos (maybe within a year or so?), but we know that it’s a possibility. As a result, we (somewhat awkwardly) went back and scooped it up. It made my mother incredibly happy 😉

    1. Haha that’s awesome. Yeah, we similarly started early with gathering hand-me-downs, which similarly made our parents very excited!

  3. Did you ask your health insurance about milk storage bags? In addition to a breast pump included in the policy I pay for (I don’t consider this free :)) my policy includes a 90 day supply of milk storage bags. I can call every 90 days and reorder, and they are shipped to my door. They say it is included as long as I am nursing, but as my toddler approaches age two I’m guessing I’ll be told there is a cut off age 🙂

    Curious if you will be passing along baby items to others via BNP as your daughter outgrows/ages out of items you’ve been gifted. I love the generous spirit of the group! We have been passing on items our daughter no longer uses, knowing that if we have another kid that generous spirit will still be out there. It’s a great community.

      1. Good to know re. the bags and Vitamin D drops–I’ll have to look into that! And Babywoods hasn’t outgrown much yet except for clothes, which I’ve passed along through Buy Nothing and also the Cambridge Children’s Clothing Exchange. You are so right–the generous spirit of the Buy Nothing community is amazing!

        1. Longtime reader here, and also, living in the area. I was curious where this clothing exchange was at. I used to participate in clothing swaps, but a lot of the popularity of those have died done for those.

          Congrats on your homestead!

  4. Hi Mrs. FW – just recently discovered your blog and I have been having a great time reading through the past posts. You both are such an inspiration! We are neighbors too (hi from Brookline!) so it’s been great to read about how you guys survive in this HCOL city. I’m expecting a baby in about 2.5 weeks (eek, time flies) so thank you for this post. We’re about as ready as we can be, at least in terms of baby items, although the day-to-day life is a challenge I can’t really prepare for other than being ready for the unexpected! Do you have any recommendations for local support groups for those first few months? And I am curious to read about your frugal plans for childcare, as that is a huge expense coming up for us.

    1. Congrats, Marina! Ok, here’s my full rundown of free Baby & Me groups in the area (more Cambridge/Somerville-focused since we live in Cambridge). I haven’t been to all of these, but the ones I have been to are awesome and they’re all free! My favorite is the Mt. Auburn group that meets in Waltham on Tuesdays–I find it’s totally worth the drive. Enjoy! It’s organized by day of the week because it’s my own personal list and I have to think linearly 😉

      Mondays, 10:00am-10:30am
      Baby Lapsit at Main Branch, Cambridge Public Library in the Rey Room

      Cambridge Center For Families Drop-In Infant Play Groups
      Mondays, 12:30—2:30 pm, Center for Families, 70 Rindge Ave., rear of Peabody School, door 10
      Tuesdays, 12:30—2:30 pm, Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, 71 Cherry St., grey door on the right side of the building.
      Fridays, November 13 and December 18, 10:30 am—12:00pm, Center for Families, 70 Rindge Ave. (rear of the Peabody School)
      Check here for other programs (there are parent education support programs too):

      Tuesdays, 2-3:30pm at 335 Waverley Oaks Road, Waltham, MA 02452, 1st fl classroom
      Mt. Auburn Midwives drop-in Postpartum Support Group

      Tuesdays, 10am-12pm
      Cambridge Health Alliance Breastfeeding Support Group
      8 Camelia Avenue, Cambridge

      Wednesdays, 10am-12pm
      Cambridge Health Alliance New Moms Group
      8 Camelia Avenue, Cambridge

      Thursdays, 10am-12pm
      Cambridge Health Alliance Doula Program Breastfeeding Support Group
      8 Camelia Avenue, Cambridge

      Thursdays, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
      Congregation Eitz Chayim, 134-136 Magazine Street, Cambridge
      The JF&CS also has free meetings in other towns and you do not need to be Jewish to participate:

      Fridays, 11:30-1:00 at Cummings School, 42 Prescott Street, Somerville, MA 02143
      There is a free moms group in Somerville. It is a collaboration of the Somerville Family Learning Collaborative and the Jewish Family and Children Services.

      Fridays, 3-4pm
      Free Playgroup at The Loved Child in Belmont

      Fridays, 10:30am-11:30am: New Parent coffee hour at Stella Bella Toys
      New parents with babies zero to 6 months old are welcome at the Inman Square location. Free coffee and muffins from 1369 Coffee Shop.

  5. When I worked with the Gabriel Project at our church, we received tons of used car seats for mothers in crisis pregnancies. Our local fire department was happy to check if they had expired, inspect them for any damage, and show us proper installation if it was a seat we were unfamiliar with. They told us that most fire departments offer this free service. It is a great way to be comfortable about a used seat. I used it with one of my children as well – they were really nice and knowledgeable.

  6. Loved your article! I do not understand why people want to pay so much for new things when they can buy used or hand-me down and save money for the really important stuff! Keep up the great writing and making us thing.

  7. Great suggestions! I agree that it is important to find a good balance between minimalist and buy-every-baby-item-made. We tried the minimalist method with our first, but we ended up buying a lot of things out of desperation, which as you’ve mentioned in past posts, is not usually the cheapest way! I also wanted to mention–don’t be discouraged if you arent able to get hand-me-downs from friends and family. I was sort of counting on this, but our first came at an odd time when everyone had either a) already given everything away because their kids were old, or b) weren’t having kids yet. It meant we didn’t get a single thing, despite sending out that “hey, you can give us hand-me-downs instead” call. However, with our second (due in a month), we are getting a lot of offers and more baby clothes than we can store!

    Also, our hospital didn’t give us hats or blankets to take home, but they did give us some other items (like diapers)–they actually had a list of what was free online, so just do your research or ask so you can plan accordingly!

  8. Wow! I am so impressed that you can nurse while you hike! I aspire to that level of nursing mastery and I have watched many a YouTube video on the subject, but I just can’t get the hang on it.

    Have you heard of those breastmilk freezer trays? You freeze the milk in bottle sized cylinders and then pop out and store the frozen cylinders in a freezer container. I haven’t tried this personally yet, but it would be a lot cheaper than buying those bags, I think. Also, if you do need the bags, the up&up target generic ones are a little cheaper than the brand name but just as good.

    For when Babywoods gets a little older, with our older son, we saved $by not buying baby food. We just gave him some of whatever we were eating and let him eat it or not. This is just how our parents fed us as babies. But now it is apparently a whole thing called Baby Led Weaning.

    1. Haha, it’s all about nursing in the Ergo (I can’t really claim any mastery, it’s just that she’s positioned perfectly when she sits in there). I find that I usually have to bend forward at the waist so that she’s first away from my body and then I stand back up to pull her close to latch. Once she’s latched, she’s good to go and I can keep walking. I never could get the hang of nursing with her in the Moby, so I really do credit the Ergo :). Good to know re. the freezer trays and bags! And, your approach to solids sounds like what we’re planning to do as well–glad to hear there’s a name for it, I’ll have to research more.

  9. Old plain white t-shirts make the best baby rags in my opinion. We would go through so many that we actually went to the thrift store to purchase more (shop rags from home depot did not work as well as we hoped).

  10. Ok…I’m not yet at the baby shower stage, but I am getting married in less than two months so I will be “showered” soon. Over the past few months, I’ve literally attacked the clutter that has accumulated in the house I’ve owned for over five years. My reasons were A) to minimize my junk and therefore my stress level and B) to literally make room for my husband-to-be’s (admittedly few) items. When asked what we wanted as wedding gifts, we have been adamant that we wanted gift cards or pantry staples. We don’t need anything! I’ve just now managed to dwindle my items from quadruplicates of everything to mere duplicates. However, the people at my church are insisting that I register at local shops and my mother is telling me not to be ungrateful for the gifts people want to get me. I’m not trying to be difficult, but the stubborn side of me doesn’t like being forced to conform to the traditional wedding registry just because that’s the way it’s always been done. I also don’t understand why people would ask what I want and then balk at the answer. I literally shudder at the thought of a carload of picture frames and mixing bowls. I have 6 every day mixing bowls and 5 vintage sets of Pyrex bowls already! So what are some wedding gifts that a frugal, semi-minimalist girl could actually appreciate and what do I do with all the stuff I get that I don’t need or want?

    1. Oh good question! I find linens (sheets, towels, blankets, etc) very useful because they do eventually wear out. And, it’s nice to have sets for when guests visit. Tools are another wonderful frugal registry item since they enable greater frugality in the future! If you’re into a particular sport or hobby, the accouterments for that are a good idea (for example hiking shoes or ski poles). Congrats on your upcoming wedding :)!

    2. I had exactly the same problem with my wedding shower! We eventually registered for kind of odd things that I would never buy myself (berry colanders, steamer baskets, etc.). We also started a Honeyfund and asked for money toward specific activities on our honeymoon. I don’t love asking for money, but we did actually use it for the exact experiences (dinners, tours) that people gifted us. It’s tough to balance gratitude with a strong desire for NO MORE STUFF though. Good luck and congrats!

      1. Thanks for the input! It’s like the idea of not wanting the traditional gifts just blows everyone’s mind! I didn’t expect it to be this big of an ordeal. I actually just read a blog by a woman who said it was customary in her region for the bride to go around to the guests with a decorative bag while the guest dropped cash filled envelopes into it. They even host parties intended to collect donations for the cost of the wedding and honeymoon. That would be amazing! Pity I’m not from that region 😛 I honesty believe that as it becomes more common for people to get married later in life, having established homes and careers, it will become far less taboo to give solely gift cards and cash as wedding presents. Meanwhile, I’m wondering it would be in bad taste to list mildew-resistant caulk on my registry…I have a bathroom project coming up. 😉

    3. Brittney, I would register for linens and towels. They wear out fast. Kitchen linens (dish towels, dish cloths, and the like) also wear out fast. Placemats and tablecloths are also nice to have. Is there a large appliance that you have been dreaming of, like a big KitchenAid mixer? Tools — make sure they are good ones. How about lawn/yard implements? A good rake is worth its weight in gold. Don’t forget snow shovels if you live where it snows! And maybe a bunch of your friends could go in on a lawn mower of some sort..?? Anything you don’t want could be donated for a nice tax writeoff or sold. Once a gift is given, it is yours to do with as you wish — that’s what etiquette says, anyway. Good luck and congratulations!

    4. This may be a bit of a pain, but if you really get some items you don’t need, you could take them back to the store and get cash or gift cards (if they will do that, depending on amount). Then you could pick up the items you need, and your giver wouldn’t know. Just make sure you write what they actually gave you, so you can thank them for it! 😉

  11. Our darkening-the-room hack, since daughter was in a south-facing room, and we had casement windows, was to remove the screens and slip them into black plastic garbage bags, then pop them back in place. With venetian blinds closed over them, you never saw this from inside, and the back of our house, where her room was, didn’t face any neighbors, so it didn’t matter what it looked like. When you wanted some air, you could ruck the bag up somewhat, and open the window a bit. This also works well when they get older and it is still light when they need to go to bed – or you want them to go to bed. Where we live it stays light in the summer till nearly 10 PM, and that is too late for the little ones to be up.

    We also had some hand-me-downs of various items, but the thing to remember about doing this – someone had to buy or make this stuff in the first place, so it doesn’t translate into total-frugality-for-all. Most of her baby stuff has long since (she’s graduating from college!) been passed along, though we’ve got her disassembled crib tucked into the back of a closet.

    1. That is a much smarter way of doing room-darkening! The mega flaw with my system is that you can’t open the windows… I’ll have to do what you did instead.

  12. Perfect list. Funny/ not so funny story. My boys were 6.5 years apart. I’d forgotten how important a breastfeeding pillow was. We had a local nurse come by at about 4 weeks (a personal friend too!) – and she said “get yourself the My Brest Friend!!” (I was pretty torn up already.)

    Best purchase ever.

  13. We prepped for all 3 babies in a similar manner (and possibly in an even more minimalist way!). Almost everything was free or hand me down or a gift (even though we never had baby showers). I do recall spending big $ on a used high end Medela breast pump (used x3 kids and saved hundreds or thousands on formula plus the obvious health benefits). Otherwise, the delivery was (and is) the most expensive part of having kids so far (the oldest just turned 11 today).

  14. Great list! We lucked out when my co-worker lent us a super nice baby swing before I had Miniskate. We got a lot of use out of it and my co-worker didn’t have to store a huge swing that her daughter had outgrown, so it was a win win situation! Not having to store a bunch of space-hogging baby stuff is a huge positive of borrowing/lending out baby things.

  15. Please don’t recommend the use of a second hand pump unless it is a closed system. That can be incredibly dangerous (bacteria/mold) to a immune-comprised little.

    1. I second this. Also, Medela (open system) will sanitize and refurbish your pump when you are done with it, then they donate the pumps to the Ronald McDonald House for moms whose babies are in the hospital.

  16. Mrs. FW, this post of yours could not have come at a better time for us! We have been enjoying your blog for a while now and we are expecting our first (although hubby keeps clarifying that we are expecting our “only”!) baby in August. Other than a few clothing items that my mom couldn’t resist, we haven’t purchased anything new. While we haven’t furnished the nursery for as little $ as you have, everything has been second-hand and far cheaper than it would be otherwise.
    One question I had for you was in regards to your thoughts on a baby monitor. Have you utilized one for Babywoods and, if so, what do you recommend?

    1. We got a Phillips monitor as a gift (just sound, no video), and while it’s worked well, I have to say we almost never use it. Our house is small, and there is really nowhere in the house that we don’t hear a cry. We only use it if we’re working in the basement or outside while the baby is napping. We didn’t even break it out of the box for the first few months, because the baby slept next to us in a bassinet, and refused to nap unless he was on someone, so there was really no need for it.

      1. yes! A monitor is good if baby is going to be sleeping in another room. We just have a simple one that’s only audio (I really don’t think you need the video.. from what I’ve heard you’ll just obsessively watch it if you do.. at least I would!)

  17. We are expecting our first in May, and thanks to the miracle of southerners who love to shower soon-to-be brides and moms, we haven’t purchased a thing save for a ceiling fan we installed in our baby’s room. While most of our stuff is brand new (again, thanks to incredibly generous friends and family), our frugal tactic has been to get rid of things we no longer use and question how we use our living space. Significantly de-cluttering has thus enabled us to remain in our small condo (rented from a family member) for a while longer. Rather than feeling the urge to run out and buy a house without a significant down payment, we’re staying put and making one major life change at a time.

    Side note: we chose not to find out the sex of our baby. We just wanted to enjoy the surprise but found a happy bonus is that people gift things from the baby registry instead of complicated newborn outfits that will be worn just once. We also refrained from registering for extras like a bedding set and decor. As a result, we are set with the true necessities…like a crib!

    1. This! One of my coworkers also didn’t find out the sex of her baby before birth and therefore got very useful things as a result.

      What kind of irks me is that baby girls much more so than baby boys are treated like living dolls to dress up. Another of my coworkers was expecting a girl and literally got HUNDREDS of outfits as gifts … most of which the baby couldn’t wear after she was three months old. The saddest part? SHE THREW THEM OUT. Her reasoning? The outfits were “too expensive to give to Goodwill.” GAAAH!!!

      1. OMG! That is the stupidest reasoning ever!!!!!! The clothes are not too expensive for landfill??? Can you slap her for me?

        I hate when perfectly good stuff ends up in landfill. Drives me bonkers.

        Breathe, Kim, breathe. Relax……

        1. GAH!!!!!!! Threw them out?!!!!! That’s painful when so many people would be thrilled to receive a donation of baby clothing!

    2. We are in the same boat for a living situation: expecting first baby soon and looking to stay in our condo as long as possible. For the two of us the 750 sqft is pretty roomy. I mentioned to a co-worker that I had to pare down my stuff to fit baby’s stuff in my closet, and his reply was that “maybe you should buy a bigger house”! I could not get over the sheer absurdity of spending tens of thousands or even HUNDREDS of thousands to hold maybe 2 square feet and $100 worth of baby gear. Something into the house, something out, it’s that simple.

      1. That’s a very smart approach! Your co-worker’s comment is the epitome of lifestyle inflation. Way to go on resisting the urge to upsize!!!

  18. Thanks so much for this. It’s bookmarked for our future selves, when we finally start a family.

    Love that photo of you guys snowshoeing with the baby. So badass. Well done.

  19. I just wanted to say that her white and red polka dot dress is adorable!!! Omgosh so squish 🙂
    Also I love your blog, thank you for all your frugal tips!

  20. Re feeding baby, I had to pump and supplement with formula with my first. A few tips for ladies in that situation or even ladies who have to pump at work, LactaMed Simplicity Hands Free Pumping Bra Kit is awesome. Its cheap and works in concert with your nursing bra so you don’t have to buy a special pumping bra. I had a few styles of pumping bras and they all caused blisters with frequent use. Also they get milk on them and start to smell funky by the end of the day.

    If not pumping frequently an old sports bra with holes cut in the right places works fine as a pumping bra.

    I wish I had tried store brand formula sooner. It is half the price and my son liked it just as well.

    When you get to baby food it isn’t hard to make your own with a blender and freeze with ice cube trays. has awesome recipes.

    This was an awesome and comprehensive post! I wish I could have had a similar reference when I was pregnant!

    1. Oh you are so right about the hands-free pumping bra! I should add that to the list. I received one as a hand-me-down and it is pure gold to me. Holding the bottles while pumping? The worst. Pumping bra? AMAZING

  21. We bought our car seat used on Craigslist. Our two big criteria were (1) accident free & (2) clean. It met both of those and still has several years life before reaching the expiration date (good for future baby #2).

  22. I am curious as to how childcare fits into the formula. That is, by far, my most hefty monthly expense. I have two children and this expense is more than my mortgage (even with one going to an in-home care provider which saves hundreds per month, the other is in pre-k). My husband and I both work full-time and even spent about five years with somewhat split schedules to minimize the expense.

    1. I second this! I would love to know how you two frugalize childcare. That’s the one thing that eats into our budget more than anything else. We had to balance finding a place we were comfortable with with the cost, and ended up paying a little more for a provider that we really trust.

  23. My “baby” is now 15 months, but my indispensable item for new parents is a wipe warmer. I guess it’s totally considered a “luxurious” item, but it enabled scream-free (or scream-LESS) diaper changes. For harried parents on the verge of breakdowns, many would gladly pay for less screams. 🙂

    Also on my top list: a newborn lounge pillow (somewhere to set the baby); a bouncy seat (again, somewhere to set the baby–I’m noticing a trend); and mine is particularly fond of “lovies” to calm herself down. She never was one for a pacifier. Her favorite is this one:

  24. One thing I would add is a Halo sleep sack. $20 for some SIDS-free peace of mind for the sleeping infant is worth it to me.

  25. Hint when you need to give baby meds out of a dropper (the breast top won’t work when the doses get larger ????) Get the tip toward the back of their mouth and as you squeeze out the stuff gently blow in their face. Their reflex is to swallow!

    I was the first of my family on both sides and friends to have a baby and I was lucky to be gifted much of the “essentials”. It is funny how all kids are different. My oldest lived being in a swing and the youngest was not happy unless she was worn. The oldest loved sitting next to me in her boppy but the youngest preferred a bouncy seat! There are many things I used with the first but the little one wouldn’t have it. Now that they are 8 & 6 this still goes on but now with clothing. The oldest is a tomboy and prefers jeans and tees. The youngest is miss glamour and wouldn’t be caught dead in jeans. I have to resell both their clothes to buy what I need in the next season.

    1. Thanks for the medicine tip!! Haha, I can see Mr. FW and I are going to have fun trying that out in the future…

  26. I wasn’t able to nurse my second child, and have saved a lot of money by using store brand formula. Since formula is heavily regulated, it is just as nutritious as name brand, and half the cost. And since one company makes nearly all of the store brand formulas, I can compare sales-usually Walmart has the best price, but sometimes I can get a better deal at Target or CVS.

  27. Baby stuff seems so individual! Everyone has their own sleep preference, some people hate babywearing, some babies hate swaddling, some people like zippers and some like snaps. (I like snaps.)

    I also spent many hours at my computer with the My Brest Friend! Especially doing my online grad school. Or I would work standing up at the kitchen counter, with my baby carrier. I never learned to nurse in mine. I’m 4’11” tall and baby’s head was just too high! I did manage nursing in a ring sling once or twice.

    What you discover with your second child is that it’s OK for them to wear pajamas all the time. Big Brother had separate day and night wardrobes. Little Brother got a new footie when he had soiled the old one.

    Now that my kids are preschoolers, the challenges are different. Little Brother kept wearing out his shoes riding his balance bike and Big Brother is hell on knees. Some of his pants have–this is a fact, not a joke–patches over the first patches. To keep them uniform-appropriate, I patch them on the inside. And I buy pretty much every pair of used shoes I ever come across in their sizes! I hit up semi-annual consignment sales to get their clothes.

  28. Love this! Sadly not all insurance is covering the cost of breast pumps – I JUST discovered this b/c I’m in a moms group and someone informed us that her insurance company found a loophole. Can’t recall which company but I’m sure they will all follow, ugh.

    We have 3 kids and luckily had many hand-me-downs from cousins on both sides of our families. Paid shipping on some of it b/c they live further away but it was sooo worth it/still saved a ton).

    I will say with my first we received so much in clothes that I made returns to pay for other things we needed that we couldn’t find second-hand. And now I limit how many outfits etc each child has – helps with laundry too lol! We make our own wipes and I’m doing cloth with my twins until they are at least 2-2.5 (only 6-12 more months to go, phew!). One of my friend’s told me she felt her kids potty trained early b/c of cloth, and mine are 1.5yo and they tell me now (by pointing, no words yet!) when they need a diaper change so I’m hopeful this will be the case. With twins I thought I would need two of everything, and I’m so happy that I stuck with my minimalist view and avoided this for the most part!

    1. Oh that’s too bad about health insurance not covering pumps–they should be required to! And I’m in awe that you’ve maintained minimalism with twins–very impressive! I have several friends with twins and I truly cannot imagine how you all do it. I can barely take care of 1 baby! You have my admiration 🙂

  29. Estelle is adorable. I keep writing the same comment over and over again – she is so cute! I agree, food and sleep – once those are covered everything else usually falls into place.

  30. We taped Tin Foil over the windows of our oldest daughter’s room to block out light when she was a baby. That pic of the paper bags over the window brought back memories lol.

    Great post by the way…eat and sleep. That’s what it’s all about!

  31. Something we really vacillated on was an isofix car seat base. I mean… it seemed like overkill, just a marketing gimmick… I mean, you just use the seat belt, duh! But NO. It made correct car-seat positioning and securing the work of 1 second, so we went and got one of those within about 2 days of getting baby number 1 home!

    I never did find a baby-wearing combination that worked for me. I have tried so, so many, with each of the babies, and I hated all of them. Hot, uncomfortable, claustrophobic… but everyone else I know, EVERYONE swears by them. They are AWESOME for colicky or fretful new babies because it allows the parents to, you know, do something other than hold for hours!

    As far as baby washes and consumables go, I have found through three babies that several things are consistently true: if something is cheap and unscented / relatively unscented and says hypoallergenic specifically, it’s a winner. Absolutely zero need for anything special or fancy and often those things get rashes and irritations going. Any brand of nappy that fits nicely is the answer. No brand-loyalty AT ALL. If it’s on special, get a small pack and try. So often I’ve been thrilled by the knock-off brands…

    You guys are doing so well – we could never share a room with any of our babies past about 3-6 weeks either. Just too… disturbing and anxiety-provoking. We all slept much better as soon as they went into their own rooms. And here we are, the youngest is 2.5 and everyone sleeps like champions! Winning! For now!!

    1. Glad to hear your kiddos are sleeping well! From everything I’ve read, those good sleep habits start very early, which is why we’ve focused so much on getting Babywoods to learn to put herself to sleep. Sleep is everything!!! 🙂

  32. Wow I wish I had this list when we were preparing for Baby CTC! It is very realistic and very complete. Even though I take pride in the fact that we did everything on the cheap and never refused a hand-me-down, we still ended up with a whole bunch of stuff that turned out to be terribly useless.

    I am amazed by one thing however: a white noise machine? Really? Is it bad parenting that we put Baby CTC next to a running dishwasher one fateful evening?

  33. O, how could I forget to mention this: Your daughter looks stellar! (What’s in a name?)

    Therefore I’d like to add one more non negotiable necessity: little bows in all shapes and sizes.

    1. Hahah, the white noise machine just makes our lives easier since it’s in her room and it helps her stay asleep. And, yes to bows :)!!!

  34. I love this article even though my “baby” is 18. When he was born, I had been on bed rest for two months and then he was born early, so we didn’t really have lots of stuff. He slept in a laundry basket for the first few days and then in a large old fashioned flat stroller we borrowed from our friends till he moved to his crib (also a hand me down). The stroller was good as we gradually moved him farther and farther from our bed as he was keeping us up… We also accepted all hand me downs and shopped second hand stores. Didn’t affect him a bit, except perhaps he is still happy to shop at thrift shops/Goodwill for his clothes and stuff…

  35. We didn’t find out the gender of our first baby which has actually helped us have a good variety of gender neutral baby clothes for all subsequent children. It is fun to see each of my 5 kids (girls and boys) wear the same outfit, it brings back great memories!
    Free wipes hack: save up walgreens rewards and pay for wipes with a $5 or $10 reward.

  36. Great list! As a previous poster mentioned, only closes system breast pumps should be shared or handed down. These are typically hospital grade. Most insurance provided pumps are open system. They can be returned to the manufacturer for recycling but should not be shared.

  37. Oh nursing tank tops! I practically lived in those for the first few months. This is a great list, but along the lines of “every baby is different”, ours hated the swing. Didn’t matter if it was swinging, bouncing, with vibration, music, or without – he wouldn’t stay in it for more than five minutes without screaming, and forget sleeping in it! Given how variable babies are, there’s another argument for used and handed down items – if your baby hates it, at least you didn’t waste any money on it!

    1. That is so true! You never know what your baby is going to like, so it’s definitely ideal to get hand-me-downs and then pass them along if they don’t work for you. I definitely wear my nursing tank tops every single day… 🙂

    2. My husband bought a sling too, new one… Baby didn’t sit in it for even 1 hour. Also, she was quite plump, causing our back to bend in an awkward position and hurting our backs. We still have it 8 yrs later.. Used for a day.. 🙁 The stroller is what saved us a lot of back pain.. We used the stroller in home during feeding her, instead of a high chair.. We also had a crib made locally from the carpenter for 1/20th the price of a new crib.. Now it’s used as a seat for the my 8 year old and her friends. I know people who survived without using a single diaper for their kid… Also without buying or using cribs or playmats or high chairs or stroller or baby tubs or potty seats.. Their kids too grew up just as fine.. Since we had a fat kid we couldn’t carry her everywhere so the stroller was well used. We bought potty seats, potty, crib, stroller, sling(used only 1 day!) , baby walker(used hardly a week as doc said not to put kid in walker). Not used or bought – changing table, high chair, baby play mat, expensive toys.. We got a ton of clothes for her naming ceremony.. So used them till she was 1.

  38. FWIW, if you have a cheap or old smartphone or tablet, there are lots of free white noise programs meant to aid sleep, from ocean waves to twittering birds to a thumping heart. Just load it via wifi & keep it plugged in. You can even get swirly sunset colors….
    Of course that old tech also has other stuff, like a camera, speaker, and microphone you could use as well. Search on the stores for free software for baby monitoring/soothing, etc. No phone contract needed!

  39. I’ve been following your blog for a bit now. Fun post! I have a 3 year old and an almost 2 yo. We skipped the white noise machine and downloaded an app on our phones and would just leave the phone in baby’s room. It is nice when they get in to toddler stage, because they stop needing as much gear. We had to buy (or were given by family) almost everything new when we had kids. None of our family had had children and none of our friends did either so no hand me downs. I did check consignment shops/sale groups but I live in a much less wealthy area than you so it’s hard to find good used gear! Most of it had already been through the ringer and we plan on having three so I wanted stuff that would last. When our siblings start having kids we will be able to a bunch on them!

    The “downside” as they get older is that although they require less stuff, they do start getting more expensive. Doctor’s visits, ER/urgent care visits, food, food, food (I feel like they are teenagers already!), they start wearing their clothes a lot harder (although they aren’t outgrowing them every three months, so that’s nice!). My oldest started breaking out into terrible rashes with the brand of diaper we had been using for years, so now we have to use the exorbitantly expensive organic unbleached ones. Oh well.

    A few things you might want to keep an eye out for the future (cause I know at that stage it feels like they will just always be babies!)

    High chair. We got one of the fisher price booster seats. It’s nice because we can use it traveling, as a high chair, or as a booster seat and it doesn’t take up space.

    Exersaucer. They are hideous and also lifesaver for about two months. They are easy to find used and it’s such a relief when you can pack it away again. But it is great during the “i want to sit yo but can’t/want to crawl and get into trouble while you are cooking dinner” stage.

    A different carrier. The Ergo is great when they are little, but can be uncomfortable for bigger/older babies. I have an Onya and it’s designed for hiking. It’s great! I loved my ergo up until about six months, but the Onya I will even out my three year old in sometimes.

    Have you heard of Hike it Baby? It’s a free parenting hiking group. It’s fun, you should check it out!

    Good luck!

  40. Love this post! I’ve been following your frugal advice and my husband and I are planning bringing a child into the world on a major budget this next year so it has spoken to both of our frugal souls. Question though: If you could put the total cost of having a child, the frugal way, into an actual figure for the FW family, what would that figure be?

    1. Thanks so much for reading and, great question! So I think we’ve spent around $550 on Babywoods thus far in her life: $450 of that was the co-payment to the hospital for her birth and the remaining $100 was for baby stuff & clothes (all used), medications, and diapers (which are super cheap at Costco). Hence, the amount (at the beginning) is really dependent upon your health insurance. I wish you all the very best on the journey!

  41. After having three kids, my best advice is to wait until the baby is here before you buy a sling/bouncer/swing etc. Even stockpiling diapers can be a crapshoot because they may not work well with your individual child (rashes from disposables, too many newborn diapers for your fast growing giant child, cloth diapers don’t fit right, rashes from cloth).

    We’ve seen it all. Pocket cloth diapers didn’t work great on skinny Kermit-the-Frog shaped child but prefolds did. Cloth gave yeast issues to 2nd and 3rd children. Pampers gave a rash to one child but Target brand was OK. First child hated swaddling, even as a newborn, and hated riding in a sling of any kind, so my husband walked around for 3 years with a baby in his arms or on his shoulders. Child #2 loved the Ergo and hated any kind of wrap sling. Child #3 went everywhere in a stroller because I now had arthritis and my hip can’t tolerate extra weight. All my kids needed a swing because of colic but hated the bouncer.

    If something ever gets by my tied tubes I’m only buying a few onesies and a pack of newborn diapers, some prefolds for a burp cloth, a few bottles (I can’t make more than a few drops of milk despite all interventions), and a can of Sam’s Club Sensitive formula. The rest we’ll beg, borrow, and thrift as we find out we need it.

  42. I’m so glad that you have all entered a phase of increased sleep! Love all the pics!
    I live the concept of baby wearing as opposed to always carting them in the infant seat. I bet there are many parents with shoulder strain from awkwardly carrying those things, plus nothing makes a baby happier than being carried close to a warm human!

    I don’t have much infant experience (our son was 26 months when he joined our family), but I definitely advocate accepting have me downs and buying used whenever possible.

  43. Thanks for being so clear about every family/baby being different. I think this is especially important to remember with breastfeeding, since there’s a great deal of pressure on women to do it. My daughter never learned to latch properly – despite us working with three different LCs – and I was devastated by this for a while. Soon I realized that bottles equal freedom for mom, and that my husband could take some of the overnight shifts with them. 🙂 It’s so easy to feel like you’re doing your child a major disservice by not breastfeeding exclusively, but that the end of the day, there are countless more important things we do for our children that will have a much greater impact on them.

  44. Great post as always! Estelle is so sweet.
    I hope you won’t think that I am crazy but your blind cords are making me a little anxious. As a pediatric emergency department nurse I have seen too many avoidable tragedies happen that involve older babies and toddlers getting wrapped up in cords. Don’t forget to shorten them when Estelle becomes mobile.

  45. Great post! I’m a Somerville lady (what whaaat!!) and have a five month old baby. I second this post in every way. Some people didn’t want to offer me boys onesies. Why? She’ll look like a baby. I don’t need to stamp GIRL CHILD in order to love her and keep her happy.

    Do you know of any local listeservs that may have escaped my notice? I’m on Somerville Moms, Garden Moms and Babies of Camberville 2.0 on FB.

    I love your blog and smile hard when I see local references (MAH, Market Basket, etc). Keep up the great blog!

    1. Howdy neighbor! Bahahah… “girl child”–so true! You’re cracking me up! I’ve never heard of Garden Moms–could you send me the link to that? The only other listserv I’m on is Cambridge Parents, but it’s not as big as Somerville Moms, so I’d say you’re good with that one. I’ve also heard Arlington Parents is good, but I haven’t joined it yet.

  46. Enjoy every moment with Babywoods. She looks so cute and adorable. I hope that she grows up like you Frugalwoods and can reach whatever dreams she wants to achieve.

  47. Great list! I’ve also found the Buy Nothing Project and garage/consignment sales to be gold mines for baby clothing. I’m curious what bassinet mattress and crib mattress options use. Especially with all the toxin concerns and debates, that’s one area where I’m finding it hard to be frugal…or decisive. Thanks!

  48. The old navy at Arsenal Mall has .47~.97 clearance items in infants, boys, girls and mens. I,ve found .25 Nip baby bottles at garage sales. One can put a changing pad on a dresser. Target has infant xmas themed toys at 90% off. Collect Pamper points for free toys . Join the local Facebook online garage sale site. I’ve picked up nip toysfoe $3-$5 each.

  49. You may be interested in the new book:

    Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids
    Useful tips for parents of young kids

    In 2005 Asha Dornfest, a new parent, launched the blog Parent Hacks as a way for parents to share tips that make raising young children less nerve-racking. This book has the 134 best tips from the blog. Here are a few examples from the On the Go section:

    #116 Write your phone number on your kid’s belly.
    #113 Strap ankle weights to a lightweight stroller to keep it from tipping.
    #110 Line your car’s cup holders with cupcake liners.
    #118 Use adhesive bandages to baby-proof hotel room outlets.

    Other tip themes include pregnancy and postpartum, sleep, food and mealtime, organizing time and space, and getting dressed. Craighton Berman’s clear illustrations make it easy to understand most tips at a glance. If you or someone you know is pregnant, this book is essential reading.
    05/7/16 — Mark Frauenfelder

    Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids ($8)
    By Asha Dornfest
    2016, 272 pages

  50. Your baby is so Cute 🙂 This post Rocks! I think you covered everything and so many low budget fixes I am in ahh! Thanks for the information

  51. Mrs. Frugalwoods and Readers – Could you weigh in on how necessary a baby monitor is? We’re in the process of planning for/shopping for our first baby and have had the hardest time figuring out what is actually really necessary versus what is deemed necessary by friends and family who think we should have a 12 page registry at Babies R Us (I nearly got hives going into that store).

    My sister is trying to convince us that a baby monitor is absolutely crucial but we live in a small, one story house and the baby’s room will be right across the hall from ours so I should be able to hear them cry and get to them quickly from anywhere in the house. Her argument is that we want to be able to look at the baby from the other room to find our if it really needs us so it doesn’t get use to us coming in every time it cries.

    We’ve actually found a few monitors pretty cheap (less than $20) at garage sales lately so it wouldn’t be a huge expense but we would rather avoid collecting a bunch of unnecessary stuff. So I’ll let you fellow frugal weirdos hand down the final verdict. Baby monitory – yea or nay? Thanks!

    1. We don’t have a video monitor (just an audio), but we only use it when we go outside in the yard/on the porch while she’s sleeping. Otherwise, we can hear her from anywhere in the house! I agree with you–you’ll hear baby if you’re close by, so I’d say skip the monitor unless you want to go on the porch/in the yard.

  52. Before my first was born, we bought the absolute essentials: some diapers, 7-14 outfits (which we didn’t buy, but were actually hand-me-downs), a blanket, and a car seat. That’s all. From there, we went with what we found necessary as time progressed. I used a pillow underneath while breastfeeding. We never had any kind of baby monitor (always lived in a small house or apartment, so not necessary), and didn’t buy a stroller until he got too heavy to carry in the wrap for long periods. To this day my kids prefer to play with kitchen utensils and cardboard tubes rather than toys. I have been grateful for the baby swing that my best friend bought me after she noticed my son responded well to the rocking motion. Every baby and family have different needs. But I am always sure to tell an uncertain first-time mom not to worry: it can always be purchased when you find you need it.

  53. I know this is an old post, but I’d like just to tell you that it literally just stopped me from clicking “order” on my saved Old Navy online shopping cart full of clothes for my 4-month old son. Instead, I went straight upstairs to his nursery, packed away the items that he’s outgrown, and realized that he has a ton of clothes already from our very generous family and friends. A 40% off sale is enticing, but so is saving 100%! Thank you 🙂

  54. Great to hear – these are some of the items on my wish-list. Can you let us know what Babywoods slept in initially? What about a stroller?

  55. Hi Liz,
    I just wanted to say thank you. I found out I was pregnant in mid nov 2020 and I panicked reading an article about all the gear I “needed” for a baby. I knew about FI and had heard you from ChooseFi but hadn’t yet read much and I came across your baby series. Now I am 3 months away from the due date and I have a to full of things that I acquired free or close to it. Thank you for changing the trajectory of our life as parents in many ways. Choosing to do this more simply has brought a palpable peace to our lives. Thank you.

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