I remember well how I felt when I brought my first child home from the hospital. Pride, of course, at having the world’s most beautiful baby and a driving urge to provide the baby with all manner of luxuries, fancy toys, beautiful clothes, the best stroller – I’m sure you know what I mean. I simply couldn’t do enough. A nice soft, warm blanket wasn’t good enough. I needed to get a special blanket with the baby’s name embroidered on it. I even bought some clothes and had them monogrammed.
Thanks to some calm restraint from my husband, I managed not to put us in the poor house before the baby was a year old. I was in love with my baby, but even more in love with being a mother. It wasn’t until the second child was born that I began to see that the baby’s needs were very simple, and I was complicating the rearing process by focusing on my desires as a mother. I was being materialistic; the baby wasn’t. I’ve spoken with other mothers who have gone through the same process and finally realized that babies want only to be loved, be comfortable, be fed, get lots of attention, and feel secure; requirements which, for the most part, are not costly.
The baby will need clothes, of course, but not too many pieces. Buying too many outfits is a waste of money because the baby grows so quickly. I did alright with a half dozen each of onesies, sleepers, blankets, as well as a few pairs of socks and a couple of cute hats. Naturally, the baby will need a bed. A stroller and a car seat are important for traveling about and a lot of disposable diapers and formula will be needed. As far a “must haves” go, that just about takes care of it. The love, comfort, attention, and security are free. You simply have to supply it liberally.
This doesn’t mean that I gave up wanting nice accessories for the second baby; I simply learned how to play the system. Shyness goes away when the second child is born. My sister planned a baby shower for me. I let her know the things that I would like to have, and she told my friends and family. This resulted in my getting a nice new diaper bag, a new car seat for baby number 2, and one of those doorway-hanging swings to keep the baby entertained. Don’t buy anything that you don’t really need until after a baby shower. Why pay for something that you might get as a gift?
When it did become necessary for me to give in and actually buy something, I went to consignment stores and thrift shops. You will be surprised to find out how much money you can save on really high quality items. You won’t get the same abundant selection when shopping for a toddler, because they wear out things as fast as they outgrow them, but for infants, it is a Godsend. Babies outgrow things so quickly that the clothes look hardly worn. I swear that some baby clothes that I got had never been worn!
I learned quickly not to be afraid of hand-me-downs, and I learned not to turn anything down. If someone offers you something for the baby and you don’t really want it, take it anyway. The next time they may offer you something you really need. If you turn them down once, they may feel hurt and not offer again.
There is an interesting website that I tried with the second baby. It’s called Freecycle.org. You can give and get clothing and other things from groups in your area, if they are available. It’s free, and really good stuff gets exchanged. If you live in an area with lots of thrift shops and consignment stores, you may not need to use the site. If you’re in a more remote area, however, it can be a real treasure trove.
Before I forget, if you’re having your first baby, buy a new stroller, car seat, and bed. I never felt comfortable thinking about placing my baby in the bed or car seat of someone that I never met. I make exceptions for exchanges within the family, but not from strange sources. If you buy new for the first child, and take care of these items, they’ll be available for child number 2.
So don’t forget what I said at the beginning of this article. The baby’s needs are simple. You can provide them at little cost with lots of effort. The other things? They’re extras; nice-to-haves. It’s the basics that are most important.
Amy Brown, a stay-at-home mom, gave up her own career to take care of her two babies and her husband. Now she is an editor of http://www.livesnet.com/, a site offering baby gear reviews and tips on problems parents encounter in daily life. She’s surely willing to share her own experience and tips. You can contact with her by email at Amy@livesnet.com, or you can find her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/livesnet. Please visit Livesnet and read her recent article on Tips on Selecting the Best Car Seat for Your Little One introducing several types of car seat.