My life has taken a variety of twists and turns over the years, and our latest twist is that we are possibly (but not certainly) adopting. If it all works out, we will be adopting an older infant, with relatively little notice. I’m sorry that I cant give details, but what I can do is let you know how we are frugally preparing for this possibility.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t really need tons of baby equipment to raise a healthy and happy baby. Making sure your baby is well equipped for eating, sleeping, playing, and traveling is all you really need to do.
Of course the most frugal way to feed a newborn is to breastfeed. It’s generally considered healthiest, too. In some cases, such as adoption, breastfeeding just isn’t possible. In that case, looking for coupons on cans of formula may be your best bet. If you are under certain income limits, WIC can also help you purchase formula for your baby.
When it’s time for solids, making your own baby food isn’t difficult. Just steam up some vegetables and puree them in a food processor or blender. It’s much more cost efficient than buying individual jars of baby food.
Craigslist is a great place to find baby feeding supplies. Even if you’re looking for a specific brand of bottle, you’d be surprised at what you can find used. Second hand baby stores are another good place to look. You don’t need to pay full price for feeding supplies.
For a high chair, we decided on using a booster with a tray that attaches to a regular dining room chair. It’s inexpensive, saves, space, and can be used from infancy through the time a child is old enough to sit in a regular chair.
Your baby needs a place to sleep. I’m not going to debate co-sleeping vs. crib sleeping, but do make sure you have a safe place for your baby to get some rest. For our circumstances, I bought a crib. I chose to spend the money on a brand new crib, as there have been so many crib recalls in the last year. For my older two children, we borrowed cribs and bassinets. If you do this, though, make sure the equipment you’re borrowing (or buying used) isn’t on any recall lists.
Add a few crib sheets and waterproof mattress pads, and your baby will be set for safe sleeping. Quilts, bumper pads, and pillows are all cute, but are unsafe to put in a crib with baby. There’s no need to spend the money on these accessories.
A good carseat is a must, and it’s important to buy new. If there’s one thing you should be willing to spend money on, this is it. It is also important to recognize that carseats expire after about 6 years. If your state is one in which kids need to be in boosters through age 8, you will need at least two carseats in your child’s lifetime. My plan is to buy a good convertible carseat for the early years and switch to a dedicated booster later on.
You will also need a way to transport your baby for walks or in places like shopping malls. A stroller or baby carrier is very convenient to have on hand. Before buying new, though, make sure you check yard sales, second hand stores, and craigslist. I’ve seen some very nice baby carriers on craigslist in recent months.
You really don’t need all kinds of new fangled baby toys to keep your baby happy. The most important thing the baby needs is you. Peek-a-boo, singing, dancing, and rocking all keep a baby entertained and promote healthy bonding.
If you do feel the need to buy baby toys, keep it simple. Soft books and blocks are good choices for babies. If you buy secondhand baby toys, make sure to check for loose parts or other hazards. In some cases, new is better, as toys tend to be recalled frequently.
Add some clothing and diapering supplies, and that’s all you really need for a new baby. Additional baby equipment can certainly be convenient, but if you’re strapped for cash, it’s not necessary.