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Shannon Guyton
Contributing Writer

Baby Gear: What to Splurge on and What to Skip

The list of stuff to buy for baby can be daunting—not to mention costly. Here's what you really need and what you can live without.

Worth the splurge

Breast pump (if you’re breastfeeding)
These can be pricey, but if you plan to breastfeed longer than a few months, it’s worth the investment (versus renting). You want to be comfortable (or as comfortable as you can be when the machine is pulling your boobs into a construction-cone shape), and you want to get as much “liquid gold” out as you can. Expressing milk with a pump can help you go out with your friends again, let you share feedings with your partner and other things that will help you feel like you again. Denise and Alan Fields, who gathered tons of research and real-mom reviews for their best-selling book Baby Bargains, recommend buying a new pump (some pump styles can collect the previous owner’s milk in the pump mechanism), and their top pick is the Medela Pump In Style ($350, Amazon).

Check out our top breast pump picks.

Every stroller has a different personality. Make sure yours fits your traveling needs. Moms often buy more than one stroller for different purposes. If you live in the city, it should be lightweight, easy to maneuver with one hand and easy to fold up and down for hopping on the train. If you’ll be strolling along dirt or gravel roads, consider a jogging stroller with lots of storage for packing up a picnic. At the beginning, you’ll probably want a stroller that your baby’s car seat can snap into (so you don’t have to wake her when you get where you’re going). Another reason to splurge? If you buy a good one, you can use it for future babies. We can help offset the cost with discounts on our deals and offers page.

Check out our top stroller picks.

Car seat
Very few things are more important than baby being safe in the car. Baby Bargains states that buying a secondhand car seat is a huge no-no. It’s important to buy new so that you know the car seat hasn’t been in an accident. Also, a nice cushy car seat can make car trips easier on baby (and mom too).

Check out our top car seat picks.

You’ll spend hours, days and weeks in this chair, rocking, feeding and falling asleep. Make sure it’s comfortable!

Check out our top glider and rocker picks.

Crib sheets
They’ll see a lot of wear and tear because you won’t be buying any bumpers or bedding (important for SIDs prevention)—so you’ll want them to be cute and made to last.

Check out our top crib sheet picks.

Baby carrier
The microwave is beeping (we know you’re not making dinner from scratch), your mother-in-law is calling to offer you her best baby advice, and your firstborn has just found the fun in dipping toilet paper into the dog’s water bowl (and oh, it sticks on the wall too!). I’m not sure we need any more reasons why you need to find an awesome baby carrier so your precious babe can snooze and be safe while your hands are free to...well, handle everything else. And make sure the carrier is comfortable for your partner too!

Check out our top baby carrier picks.

You don't need

Fancy nursing pillow
There are many nursing/feeding pillows on the market, and while they can make nursing positions a little easier, they aren’t a necessity. Plenty of moms use regular or couch pillows instead. Heck, we’ve seen moms walking and nursing at the same time (that’s talent!).

Crib bumper and bedding
We know that they’re fun to pick out and add character to your nursery, but the American Academy of Pediatrics states that for SIDS prevention, no bumpers or blankets should be used in the crib. Period.

Nursing cape
Breastfeeding in public can leave you feeling a little...exposed, and there are many cool-looking nursing capes on the market that make nursing on the go more stylish and convenient. But if you prefer to use a cover, a simple lightweight blanket will do the same job—and doubles as a cover for baby’s legs as well!

Bottle sterilizer
It’s primitive, we know, but sterilizing your bottle parts with boiling water in a pot works just as well.

Bottle warmer
Turns out, good old-fashioned warm water from the faucet is one of the best ways to warm up a bottle to the perfect temp (and not too hot!).

Designer “burp cloths”
Cloth diapers or soft towels work fabulously for the same purpose, and let’s face it: No design looks good with baby barf on it.

Changing table
Instead, invest in a midsize dresser, a comfy changing mat and some cute shelves. This will save you in the long run, as you’ll use the dresser as baby gets older. Plus, you’ll get very good at changing diapers wherever the poop happens...and rarely will it be conveniently near your changing table.

Wipe warmer
Room temperature wipes just seem so...cold, don’t they? Keep in mind that if you’re not on top of wetting the pads frequently, the wipe warmer can dry out, causing an overheating hazard. You’re too busy to add this chore to your list. Plus, baby should get used to room temp wipes when you’re changing diapers on the go.

We know you had one when you were little, and they’re very cute and come with white noise machines and skirts and fuzzy animal mobiles. But they’re very expensive and only last a few months at the most. Try a travel crib or playard (many come with bassinet option)—you’ll get more use out of those well into baby’s toddler years.

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