Prepare for Baby Frugally: Money-Saving and Space-Saving Tips

Baby crib and dresser...

After reading my other post about preparing for a new baby, a number of people have asked for more information about what I would consider to be necessary baby things to own.

So get ready for a photo tutorial of our baby stuff! :) We're currently a family of 5 living in a 900-sq.ft. apartment. Even though I didn't consider myself a packrat, I pared down even more when we moved here 6 months ago.

In complete honesty, I did get rid of some stuff when we moved (my baby swing and some toys are the things that come to mind). However, I obviously didn't consider them to be completely necessary! ;) But more on that in a minute.

When we had our first child 5 years ago, we were living in a smaller apartment and didn't have much. Some clothes, diapers, a car seat, stroller, and a small dresser for the clothes. As our baby grew, we were able to find things second-hand.

As our family grew, keeping the "stuff" under control became a growing challenge as well. Here's where we're at right now!

The changing area
(More photos of the children's bedroom
can be viewed in our house photo tour!)

My changing table has always been a dresser top with a waterproof pad/mat of some sort. It started out as a tiny dresser top. Now I have this big huge dresser top (hand-me-down furniture is the best!). :)

I like having a raised changing surface of some sort since it's so much easier on my back, especially just after giving birth. :) Other drawers store clothes for the children, extra blankets, sheets, etc. (our last house didn't have a closet, so everything was kept in these drawers!).

Yehoshua and Eliyahu, in front of their dressers
(More photos of the children's bedroom
can be viewed in our house photo tour!)

We have one more dresser; this smaller dresser holds Yehoshua's things. The top is perfect for the picture Bible we use, a small lamp, and a cd player/clock. We love music and reading at our house! :)

Baby toys!

The top drawer of the tallest dresser is also home to a few baby toys (I have about 10 small baby toys), Ruth's hair stuff, and other miscellaneous necessities (stroller pump, piggy banks, Bibles).

Our children each have their own bed right now, since we have a crib and bunk beds. I like co-sleeping, but a crib is still nice for nap time. :) We didn't have any sort of baby bed until our first child was a few months old. I got second-hand crib sheets and we just use any appropriately-sized blankets/throws as needed. :)

I especially enjoyed Kim's posts about how they fit many children into their bedrooms. Sometimes our idea of how much space we need per person can be challenged -- in a good way -- when we read about how others have worked around the difficulties!

Baby bath rest...

Here is Eliyahu's favorite Doggie, modeling the infant bath support (similar to this) I used for Ruth. I got this at a garage sale for 10 cents and it replaced my large hard plastic infant tub. It worked great, and a huge plus is that it can be stored in with outgrown clothes and takes up hardly any space when not in use! :)

An infant tub isn't a necessity in my opinion, but it is a nice little luxury. :) I originally had a hard plastic infant tub from a garage sale, but it spent more time in storage than anywhere else!

The diaper bag my mom made for me

I had a baby shower when I was expecting my first child, and was blessed with a good supply of gender-neutral clothes and supplies (including cloth diapers!). My mom made a diaper bag for me! Here it is after 3 babies, still going strong. ;) The outside pockets are perfect for holding water bottles.

Mei tai
My mei tai

We have one stroller (an older model of this one; I like it because I can go as fast as I want with it), which is definitely useful at times.

However, what I really use the most is my mei tai. (What is a mei tai? It's a baby carrier. You can see some pictures of me using it from a few years ago here.)

Folded mei tai
The mei tai folds up small!

I take the mei tai everywhere and use it more than the stroller or anything else. It's comfy and can be worn by me or by Joshua.

Folded up and in the diaper bag!

One of the best things about a baby carrier like the mei tai is that it folds up small enough to easily fit in a diaper bag or drawer when not in use! And there's really not room in our car to take the stroller everywhere, anyway. :)

Every baby is different, and I think often it's ideal to try to borrow various things (such as a swing, bouncy seat, various carriers and slings, strollers, johnny jump-up, bassinet, etc...) if you feel you may need them.

We got a swing from a garage sale when Yehoshua was about 5 months old, and he LOVED it!! Eliyahu and Ruth only used it a couple times each. (I gave it away when we moved.)

I borrowed a bouncy seat when my oldest child was born, but he never cared much for it. I have used the infant car seat in the house to rock tired newborns at times though! For me, the car seat was versatile enough to not need a bouncy seat, bassinet, or (later) swing. Others will tell you that the bouncy seat saved their sanity!

So if you want to try out lots of "stuff" and you have friends with babies or toddlers, borrowing a few items for a few weeks or months (and later purchasing only what you will really use a lot!) could be much easier. :)

If you're short on space, it might not be worth the expense, headache and hassle to try to store numerous large baby items when they may or may not get used more than a handful of times. I've found that borrowed items can be returned at your convenience -- whether that's a few days or a few weeks (or a few months if your friend is in no hurry!).

An old-fashioned high chair :)

A high chair isn't really a necessity in my opinion, and I have eaten many meals while feeding a toddler who was sitting on my lap. :) However, having a chair for toddlers is really really convenient!

We got this small older-style metal high chair (which someone had refinished!) for $5. I love that it doesn't take up nearly so much space as many of the newer plastic designs.

The closet... toy storage!

The children's room has a closet, where I store outgrown clothes and all their toys, games, school books, etc. We even recently moved their bookshelf from the living room into their closet!

We get out one kind of toy at a time. Ruth's infant car seat is stored in here too, along with winter coats, hats, gloves, and scarves. :)

Closet shelf full of toys and stuff...

The closet shelf has "big kid toys" like Legos, race cars, and puzzles. Many garage sale treasures and hand-me-downs up there! :) The boys each have a tricycle, and they share a large plastic Little Tikes car (these things completely fill up our small outdoor storage area!).

And I think that's it! (Am I forgetting anything?!) :)

So, to recap:

The baby stuff I feel is necessary:

A basic wardrobe (gender-neutral for newborns)
Car seat (if you have a car)
Diapers (I use cloth)
Diaper bag (or substitute)

The baby stuff we also have (luxuries!):

Mei tai
High chair
Dresser (for clothing and changing)
Baby wash, towels, and wash cloths (homemade "upcycled")
Toys and books!
Swing (used to have)

Baby/kid stuff we DON'T have:

Lots of clothes/shoes/etc. We have plenty! But when space is limited, you have to be practical too. :) And to save money, nearly everything is second hand. :)

Bouncy seat
Infant tub
Potty chair (use smaller toilet insert, or just help child)
Baby monitors
Baby food supplies
Large toys or any toys that don't help children be creative and thoughtful in some way! :)

More worthwhile reading on the topic of what a baby really needs:

My friend Crystal had a great series of posts about Having a baby Without Breaking the Bank! :)

So, there is my long, graphic-oriented answer to a very simple question! ;) Now it's your turn! Do you have any great money-saving or space-saving tips for parents or soon-to-be-parents? :)

Visit Jessica's blog for more frugal posts! :)


What a great post! Lots of great information.

Thank you! :)

I need some advise along these lines. I also live in a small apt. I have soo many children's clothes! I have very little closet space. How many shirts, pants, dresses, & PJ's should a five yr old have? How many out grown items should I save for her sister? Then how many of each should I keep for my two yr old wardrobe? I am over flowing! Most of the items are hand me downs or new gifts from friends. We have probably never had to shop for our kids yet, while that is a tremendous blessing I think this is a lot of stuff! HELP PLEASE!


We get a lot of hand-me-downs, too. I always accept, and then just pass along anything that would be too much for our house to handle! :) It helps that I know people with children who can use our hand-me-downs, as well.

It's so much easier to pare down when I remember that the excess will be used and enjoyed by someone else! :) I donate stuff to GoodWill or other thrift stores when I don't know anyone personally who can use the items. It's easy and a relief to not have to try to find homes for everything! :)

I'm sure every child is different... my boys wear our pants quickly (I then cut them off to use for shorts!) so I tend to hold onto more pairs of pants than shorts, since I know they're going to wear them out (half of Yehoshua's are worn out by the time he's outgrown them, so Eliyahu doesn't get as many hand-me-downs when it comes to pants).

So there are things like that to consider... :)

My boys (ages 3 and 5) each have probably 8-10 pairs of pants, 5-10 pairs of shorts, 10-15 tops, 6-8 pairs of socks, 10 pairs of underwear (super good sale! yay!), and 3 pairs of shoes (including their summertime crocs) and a pair of winter boots. Oh, and a coat and a sweatshirt.

When they outgrow things, I save anything nice enough to be used again, unless I have an extra lot of something, in which case I only save the nicest and give away the extras. :)

My girl (15 months right now) has 3 small-ish dresser drawers of clothes, which includes pretty much everything (dresses, tops, leggings, socks, shoes, sweatshirts, and coat).

So whatever fits her and fits into those drawers, we get to keep! :D Just my personal way to keep things under control... :)

I'd love to hear other's answers to your questions, too! I'm sure that laundry resources are another consideration (we have a washer and dryer in our apartment, so I can wash regularly).

Hi!Very interesting. I never had a changing table or a baby bath either. I loved that bath hammock thing, too.
Hey, I have been following your blog for some time and was wondering how you pronounce your boys' names? I have read them countless times and each time I wonder :o)
Have a great weekend!

Sure! :)

This post contains two links... one is to an audio clip where you can hear us saying their names, and there's also a link to a post about their names. :)

I love the high chair!! There are pictures of ME in a chair just like that but with red seat taken 47 years ago!
I used to believe in tons of stuff till I was in Peace Corps and saw babies thrive being fed with whatever was available--a cooking spoon, Mom or siblings fingers, etc.
While I didn't have babies [I adopted my kids at ages 7 and 8] the same approach is, IMHO, the best for older kids, too. Less stuff more imagination!

Lisa @

I love the high chair!! There are pictures of ME in a chair just like that but with red seat taken 47 years ago!

Oh, that is so neat! One of the reasons I love second-hand things is all the history and love invested in them... :)

(Disclaimer: It's recommended to check safety concerns for second-hand things like a crib, play pen, car seat, etc... so do your research before choosing what's best for your family.) :)

I recently had my seventh baby. My oldest is 25, so we have had lots of baby items. I do save most of everything clothing related. My youngest children have worn baby gowns and sleepers that the oldest wore. My current list of baby things includes the same crib that my first baby slept in, but it is outfitted with new bedding as my other stuff was over 20 years old and had been used by MANY children....not just mine : ). I have a storage box for blankets and sheets under the crib. A chest of drawers contains all of his clothing, bibs ( he is quite the drooler), burp cloths and the next-size up clothing. Plastic storage drawers contain baby toys, shoes to grow into and cloth diapers....we are using disposables as I only have 2 diaper covers. I am trying to talk dh into purchasing more diaper covers but traveling long distances may be in our near future and he doesn't think we will be able to manage that as we won't have access to washing machines. We also have three other baby items. A car seat that fits 5 lbs-100 pounds, so we dont have to buy any more carseats. A new stroller ( I didn't want to invest in another stroller, but my 10 year old stroller didn't work anymore) and a great high chair from my sixth baby. This high chair has adjustable goes almost down to the floor and it also reclines, so it has been my infant seat and play chair. It also has wheels, so I can roll it anywhere in the house. I bathe him in the tub with me (when he was smaller) and now will his four year old brother as he can sit up alone now. A blanket across the floor with a few toys in his reach keeps him occupied for a while. You really don't need swings, bouncy seats, Bumpo's, or those little saucer things. With so many in my family, we don't need any obstacles in the house!

Thanks for sharing! I loved hearing about what's worked for your family! :)

Speaking of baths, I forgot about our boys' bath tub toys! They have 3 small toys and a cup to play with in the tub. Occasionally we take other water-safe toys in there, but limiting it keeps our bathroom sane! ;)

Wow, I'm amazed at how much baby "stuff" you did without. I love the idea of borrowing too. We borrowed a bassinet for a few months and then returned it when my daughter started sleeping in her crib. We also lucked out and were given almost everything in the baby gear category as hand me downs. When you're pregnant it's amazing how many people start offering you free baby stuff.

Yes! Babies grow so quickly; it seems they usually don't wear things out (especially the first year!) and there's no need to get everything brand new. :)

One thing I noticed is that the crib became a lot more useful for my second and third babies than it was for my first as a newborn. It became a safe place to set the baby (away from curious and "helpful" older siblings!) and I used it a lot during the day. :)

Could you elaborate on the room sharing arrangement? I have a 4 y/o daughter, 2 y/o son, and 8 week old daughter. We have 3 bedrooms, and currently the baby is sleeping in our room. But I have a really hard time sleeping in the same room as a baby, and wake up practically every time she moves. So I'd like to put her into one of the kids' rooms, but I'm not sure how to arrange it. My older ones talk to themselves all the time when they're falling asleep or when they wake up, and I'm afraid they'd wake each other (or the baby) up if they were together. And do you put all of your kids to bed at the same time since they're in the same room? Do they wake up at the same time? As you can see, I have lots of questions. :-) If you (or anyone else!) could walk me through how to do this, I'd love it!
Heather C

Well, in our last house the children all shared a bedroom and it had two door ways with no doors on either (just curtains). That was very difficult since noise, light, everything was an issue! :) I LOVE that their bedroom has a door now. Ruth (15 months) gets much better naps, and the boys bother her less, too. :)

The children do sometimes wake each other up, and don't technically sleep through the night (the boys cry/go potty once during the night, and Ruth nurses several times and gets changed a couple times and goes between me/my bed and her own bed... she's gradually transitioning over to sleeping in her own bed between feedings... as my milk supply adjusts). :)

Our day (sleep-wise) goes like this:

I get up at 4:45 and nurse Ruth and then start my day. (She goes back in her bed to sleep.) The boys wake up at ~6am but often Ruth sleeps a little longer in her room with the door closed.

Ruth naps in the bedroom (usually with the door closed!) for a morning and afternoon nap each day. They all go to bed at the same time.

Sometimes we have trouble getting the boys to settle down at bed time, and they wake Ruth (if she falls asleep right away). I change/feed/care for Ruth as needed, but if they've wakened her and she's just crying from being tired, I let her cry for a few minutes until she falls back to sleep. The boys do NOT like to hear her cry!

I have told them that if they are noisy and wake her up or keep her from getting to sleep, the crying is their fault and they will have to listen to a few minutes of it... since they don't like that it's extra motivation for them to be quieter. They are still boys though :P :)

I hope some of this is useful for you... and maybe others can chime in with what works for them, too! :)

But do have things to share!

We weren't blessed with a big family...only 2 children and blessed with 3 bedrooms. However, we traveled frequently, so they did have to share rooms many times. Our children both slept through the night very early (the first at 3 weeks, and continued doing so except when very sick), and neither gave us any trouble about bedtime. I'll share what worked for us!

-Bed time routine was pretty much set in stone. After Bible time and prayers, we said good night and that was that. No getting water during the night ever (we had AC, so there was no reason), no getting in bed with mommy and daddy. We found that if we lovingly but firmly enforced this with no exceptions, the children stayed put!

-We were never quiet for them to sleep. I even would vacuum in their room when they slept as babies! They could and still do sleep through most anything.

-The oldest almost always had a slightly later bedtime than the youngest (again, only 2 children and separate bedrooms, but this worked when they shared a room away from home). Again, absolute consistency resulted in them accepting this as the truth. My friends were amazed when we would stay in their homes that we could put them to bed in the same room at separate times. It always worked!

I won't go into how we got nursing babies to sleep through the night consistently at an early age, I'll just again say that planning and consistency made all the difference!

Consistency for all of these things means that it takes a dire emergency to have an exception. :)

Thanks for the advice! We'll see how it goes for us... And Tammy, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one with early rising children! Mine are up at 6 also, but I often hear my daughter talking to herself well before then. But for the sake of my sanity, she's not allowed out of bed until 6. Good thing my husband and I are both morning people! :-)

Heather C

One thing I bought with this last baby is a snap and go stroller, it's just a wire frame that folds up to about the size of a long umbrella, an infant seat snaps on it, not only did I use it for a stroller but but the breaks on and used it in place of a bouncy seat and to feed her as it was a good height.

I would say a bumbo seat is right up there on my list of needed items for fussy natured infants!!!!!!

I have seen the Bumbo seats and they do look fun! I've never tried one for my babies, and before I knew it, they were past that stage... a Bumbo would probably be a great thing to borrow some time! :)

Thank you for linking to us! I love posts like this; it's always nice to hear from others who are walking a similar path and compare notes.

Hi Tammy,

I have a question about slings/co-sleeping. There are some schools of thought that say don't ever spoil a baby by wearing them, holding them, sleeping with them as they will get dependent on it. Others say you should hold/cuddle a baby as much as you can to give them security and comfort. I was wondering with you carrying the babies a lot and co-sleeping, did you ever have problems with your kids getting too dependent and clingy? What are your views on the two schools of thought?

Good questions. :)

Really, every baby is very different and so I disagree that a certain thing (co-sleeping, babywearing, holding, cuddling, etc.) will always do a certain thing for or to every baby. That doesn't hold true in my experience and research. :)

I do have some preferences/convictions, though, including:

Breastfeeding is VERY important to me. I want to do anything and everything to encourage and enjoy nursing! For me, this has meant that I nurse my babies a LOT (and not on a set schedule) and for me, co-sleeping has facilitated a good breastfeeding relationship while still getting enough sleep. :)

I may be strange, but I have never looked forward to my babies "sleeping through the night" in their own beds (they usually slept through nursings and diaper changes after about 6 months though!) because I know it's the start of the weaning process and I will produce less milk, etc... :)

Ruth (15 months) nurses about 3 times during the night and 3-4 times during the day (along with eating solids). Without the night nursing, she'd probably be weaning herself my now... but I want to continue to benefits of breastfeeding (healthy for her and for me!) so co-sleeping fits with that mindset. Does that make sense? :)

Another thing I feel strongly about is that babies are only little for a short time. :) Hold, cuddle, love. :)

We still set boundaries, still train, and still discipline our children. But we give lots and lots of love!! :) Our children aren't too clingy, too shy, or too whiney/etc. (We never encourage or put up with cry-baby whining or pouting!)

For example, I held/wore Ruth a LOT before she started walking. Now that she's walking, she falls down, gets scrapes, etc... and I don't "baby" her if she's not really hurt... we act like, "Hey, falling down is a part of life! Laugh and go on..." :) And she does great. :)

I guess, I think there is a time for lots of holding/attachment, and there's a time to encourage toughness and independence. :) Newborns (in our home) get complete holding/attachment. As the child grows older, they slowly transition to more independence. :) Having siblings and interacting with adults regularly are two things that I've noticed help children grow up well-adjusted and happy. :)

But. I am not an expert on parenting topics! :) So these are just my thoughts/ramblings... for whatever worth they may be to anyone reading... :)

My husband and I understand the merits of co-sleeping and definitely plan on co-sleeping with our future babies. But I don't understand how it works, logistically. Can you have blankets and/or pillows on the master bed? Does the baby go in the middle? Is there a particular way (for example, back or side) that everyone should try to be sleeping? What other precautions need to take place (besides NEVER going to bed intoxicated with a baby)? Thanks!

My methods... let's see, I always wear a shirt to bed, so that the covers don't need to be up too high on my side, and that way they won't slip over the baby's head on the other side.

I always sleep on my side, with the baby on his/her side as well. I like some support behind my back -- either a pillow or else the back of the futon or my husband's back (a wall would probably work too).

I have never had a problem with the baby being on the outside of the bed at times; I sleep with one arm sort of around the baby and if there's room, I might also put a pillow behind the baby's back to keep him on his side and/or keep him secure. :)

I know a lot of people love the "Arm's Reach" co-sleepers, or take the side off of a crib and put the mattress level at bed-level so they can set the baby there in between feedings at night, but easily retrieve. :)

Depending on the age of the baby, I do various things. With a newborn, I have often slept in the living room with the baby and my husband slept in our bed, since I was up a lot during the night and he needed sleep for work. (At our last house, our bedroom was upstairs and I couldn't physically traipse up and down the stairs numerous times per night any way!)

As the baby gets older, they sleep with me the whole night. I keep a diaper near by and change during the night if needed. I do that in the dark and the baby usually doesn't wake up (at least my 3 so far!). Whenever I wake, I just switch sides and start the baby nursing again. :D

Now with Ruth (15 months old right now) I often nurse her and then put her back in her bed. If I wake up a few hours later (and I usually do) I get her out of her bed and bring her to bed with me. She would sleep all night in her bed just fine. If I'm really super tired, I tend to want to keep her with me. If I'm not as tired, I'll put her back in her bed after nursing. :) It's really just whatever I decide -- she usually sleeps through most of it! ;) If she does wake and cry in the night, I go get her and change/feed her and she goes instantly back to sleep. :)

I've never read any books on the topic or anything... it's just kinda whatever works... :)

One thing I've noticed is that when sleeping beside me, my little babies stay perfectly warm (not sweaty or cold) when dressed lightly, whereas when I had them in their crib (as newborns for naps) they were often too cold or too warm (even though I check on them to add/subtract blankets as needed). It just seems easier to me to dress them similarly to me and sleep beside the using the same blankets. :) At least, it worked well for us! :)

Other special advice for co-sleeping -- I'm not sure, other than "don't have a bed that sags in the middle"! ;) I'm sure there are articles about it online though! :)

How did you use this? In your bath or sink? In the bath seems like it would require bending over and being on your knees.


The infant bath support can be used in either a large sink or in the bath tub. In a bath tub, yes, it would require bending over and being on your knees. A single-basin kitchen sink would be large enough to give baths in the kitchen sink (which I think is a lot easier for a post-partum mom!). :)

Which pregnancy test do you recommend and where is the most frugal option to purchase it? Thanks!

I don't know if your daughter wears hair ribbons, but I was recently at Hobby Lobby in their fabric department and they had bags of ribbon that had 15 2-yard lengths of various sizes and colors of ribbon for $1.99 a bag! I snatched one up for my little girl's hair ribbons and they are all very high quality ribbon. I decided they could also be used for gifts and making beaded bookmarks so I'm headed back for more this weekend. I make the beaded bookmarks with various ribbons, strings, etc. and hang a cross charm at the bottom and they are very pretty and make a nice gift to put in a bible. You should try making them, but be careful, you'll become hooked and head back for more supplies!

Thanks for so much practical advice. It is easy to get consumed with the baby culture and all the bells and whistles- especially when you have so much time to "get ready" for baby! I am going to print out this list and use it to remind me when I get "spend happy"!

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