Our top tips for new parents when shopping for baby gear

woman is awating for baby and choosing crib in the shop.

Isn’t it amazing how much stuff the baby needs? Suddenly, you’re shopping for a crib, car seat, stroller, Diaper Genie, changing table, baby bottles and more. Then, of course, there are the baby clothes, diapers, and wipes. It can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming.

To help get you started, here’s a quick guide to some of the dos and don’ts for when you are shopping for baby supplies.

If this is your first child, you might not realize just how many changes of outfits your child can go through in a day. From leaky diapers to spitting up, it’s a safe bet that for one reason or another you will go through at least two or three changes of pyjamas, onesies, or outfits each day. So, depending on how often you want to be doing laundry, it’s better to have a good supply on hand.

An affordable way to do this is to look into some second-hand outfits. Babies tend to outgrow their newborn clothes before they have the chance to wear them out, so there is generally a supply of second-hand clothes available for your child’s first few months. Check with friends or family members who have had babies recently, or visit second-hand shops or baby exchange shops, websites, or online marketplaces such as Kijiji, Facebook and Bunz for gently used baby clothes.

Since your child will also outgrow their earliest outfits without putting a great deal of wear and tear on them, you can return to these swapping spots to trade up as your child gets bigger. When in doubt about sizing, opt for the larger choice. A loose outfit may be less than ideal, but your baby will grow into it. One that is too tight will do you no good – and will only result in an unhappy, fussy child if you try to shoehorn them into it. 

When it comes to baby gear such as strollers, cribs, and car seats, you are going to find a wide price range of options available. Shop around, do some research and make sure you select the products that give you the functionality you need without added costs for features you won’t use or brand names that don’t matter.

When it comes to safety gear such as car seats, newer is better. Regulations change as technology advances creating new safety standards, and products are sometimes recalled when they don’t measure up. Transport Canada puts out some guidelines for how long car seats and booster seats are safe to use.

If you find a hand-me-down crib, stroller, or car seat that you want to use, you should always do a safety check with the manufacturer directly to ensure that the product is safe and there have been no recalls.

Two highly recommended items

These may not be on every essential baby gear list, but many new parents find these to be invaluable. The first is a front carrier to wear your baby when you’re out and about. Having your baby pressed against you is a wonderful bonding experience. It frees up your hands for shopping or running errands, and it allows the baby to see more of the world than they might lying down in a stroller.

The other recommended item is the swing chair or bouncy seat. This is a chair that gently swings or vibrates – and sometimes plays music – for soothing the baby to sleep. It really works. Plus, the swing chair is far more portable that a crib, so you can have the baby sleeping beside you in whatever room you are in without lugging around heavier furniture or equipment. 

You can pace yourself when shopping. Some items such as a high-chair, jolly jumper, or activity centre likely won’t be used for the first six months of your baby’s life. This gives you time to focus on the infant essentials to begin with and to gradually acquire the other gear as needed. 

Trying to purchase everything all at once can have you spending too much money on products in a hurry to get it all done before the baby arrives. If you take your time and plan out your purchases carefully, shopping for your new baby can be both fun and affordable.

Peter Harris

Peter Harris is a marketing, branding, and careers expert. He began his career as a travel writer and advertising copy writer, and went on to build the original Canadian content for Monster.ca, serve as the editor-in-chief of Workopolis, and deliver the country its daily news and features as the homepage editor of Yahoo! Canada. He writes and speaks frequently on career, workplace, education, and technology issues as well as on trends and changes in the Canadian job market. He is the co-founder of Yackler, a content marketing start-up, and the father of a challenging, funny, elementary school-aged son.

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