I have been wanting to write this for awhile now. A list of what budgets to NOT be surprised by and what products I really liked and thought were worth it.
I tried REALLY hard to not have cravings. I even instigated a 3 day rule...if I didn't want it after 3 days, it wasn't a craving, just a whim. That being said, I didn't really have too many cravings, but I did have things that sounded good and didn't sound good and that would change daily. Also, around weeks 9-12 I was so doggone tired that I HATED cooking. All I wanted to do was sleep. There were also a couple of times where I would make supper (something that sounded good), take one bite and gag.
Bottom line: make your food and eating out budget flexible. Maybe you won't have that issue, but maybe you will.
Obviously, this is a no brainer. I was in so much contact with our insurance agency, they probably got tired of me. That being said, our OBGYN office did not contact us until 5 weeks before our due date with telling me how much we would need to pay within 30 days of our daughter's birth. Luckily, we have medical savings, luckily we were saving some every month, and luckily they realized that they should have gotten to us much sooner.
Bottom line: Be in contact with your hospital, OBGYN, and insurance agency to know what you will need to pay, what your deductible is, what counts towards it. We were able to pay for Addie's birth in full, but if we had not had an emergency fund and savings (a la Dave Ramsey), there would have been a slightly bitter taste in our mouth with payments.
Being pregnant at least 2 other times before, I had scoured the internet (mostly Old Navy and Target) for maternity clothing deals. I found some great ones and really, I could have not needed to buy anything. That being said, my upper body did not fit into the ideal baby doll or empire waist type shirts and dresses that I had gotten previously. So many cute things went unused. By the second trimester, I could no longer wear either my regular pre-pregnancy clothes as the norm, nor a plethora of maternity clothes I had in my stash. I had to buy all new items, which really stunk, budget wise, and something I was not expecting to have happen.
Bottom line: If you are searching for deals, stay away from empire waisted things until you KNOW how they will fit you. Also, do try to make your normal shirts last as long as possible (splurge on jeans and shorts, especially in the summer). Most maxi dresses will work too.
Honestly, by the time we found out we were pregnant, we started saving $150/month to spend on baby supplies. You would be surprised at how fast everything adds up--even with baby showers! Even after baby, you find things that you don't even know you needed, but you do. Keep setting aside that money!
Favorite Products (0-3 months)
* Medela breast pump-- I wanted to nurse Addie. Surprise, surprise when she couldn't nurse due to our anatomies not matching up. Luckily, I had contacted my insurance and talked with my doctor about a prescription for a breast pump and it was fully covered with a prescription. I was also able to pick it up before Addie was born, so imagine my relief coming home, that I didn't have to worry about getting one right away, since I already had it. Even if you can nurse baby, this is a great thing to have on hand, and you don't always know what your body will do or what your baby will do. Always contact insurance first.
* Nursing shawl/cover-- This was also an item I purchased before Addie was born, in hopes that I would be nursing. As stated above, I am not able to, but when I excuse myself for pumping when we are around others it is nice to have something to cover myself with in case a little girl walks on in. Plus, who knows, maybe our next child will be entirely different.
* Feeding products (lanolin, milk bags, soothies, breastpads, and therapearls)-- I liked having these all on hand. I barely used the soothies, lanolin, and therapearls, but am glad that I invested in them before giving birth, that way I didn't have to run to WalMart. Fun story too, WalMart doesn't always have these things in stock.
* Pumping accessories-- Hands free pumping bra (if you have to pump and can't nurse, invest in this. Just trust me). Pumping bag. Ebay has some for $25 or less, but they are really nice those first months if you need to pump and you still want to go places.
* Boba or Moby wrap/baby carrier-- I bought a boba wrap at a consignment store for $10. It was worth it. I have only used it a couple of times, but it was so helpful and honestly quite comfortable to wear with her for hours at a time.
* Rocker/Recliner-- I recommend a reclining rocker over a glider any day of the week. There'll be a couple of nights where you will need to snuggle with your little one, and having something that you can both put your feet up and lean back, so that you can catch some zzz's is overall better in my opinion than a glider. That being said, not all parents NEED a glider, or even a rocker. Many parents snuggle on the couch or on the bed and have great success and comfort with those options. I wanted our bed to not be the go to. I also didn't want to sleep on the couch for those nights since my husband wakes up and gets ready to go at 6 am some mornings. The reclining rocker in the nursery was just the ticket for us and our lifestyle. Also, whatever you do, really think about getting leather/bonded leather. Like I said, Addie spit up a lot, and let me tell you--wiping it off of the chair was way easier than trying to clean our microsuede sofa.
* Rocker/sleeper/bassinet-- There are two kinds of rocker sleepers that I like. One was the Fisher Price rocker sleeper for baby and the other was the Tiny Love 3-in-1. We borrowed the Fisher Price one for traveling since it folds up and since Addie hated her carseat. For day to day use though, we used the Tiny Love. I opted to ask for this one for the baby shower since it had a greater pound limit and since I didn't know how long we would be using it for. The first month and a half she was in our room right next to our bed in this and it was great. Now it is in the basement for the times that both Simeon and I are downstairs, and it keeps her pretty well occupied!
* Nose Frida--buy here We were recommended this by some friends. Boy, it's a little hard to get over the thought of sucking out boogers with your mouth, but honestly, do I love it. We have not used the snot sucker that came home with us from the hospital because this one just works so much better.
*Multiple bottles to try-- We were lucky in the fact that we had 4 different bottles on hand for Addie to try since she was bottle fed. She also spit up generous amounts...a lot, so finding a bottle that reduced that was nice. Try finding them at garage sales, from friends to borrow, anything like that to save money before you settle on one and buy a certain brand. All babies are different and you just have to find what works for them. (We ended up settling on Dr. Brown bottles, and like them a lot)
* NUK pacifier-- We got this brand paci in the hospital and Addie took to it right away. Foolishly, we bought another brand because of the dreaded "nipple confusion" (which didn't matter anyways AND I am pretty sure it is a pretty minimal problem). She hated them. So back to the store we went, and bought more NUK's. Really, just treat pacis like bottles, have the two different kinds to try, but don't worry about buying them. If they take to the one in the hospital, just stick with that one. They'll figure it out.
* Bottle Cleaning supplies-- When you add up pumping and bottle feeding, that's a lot of bottles to keep clean. You have a bunch to clean by hand and for that we like the OXO bottle brush (buy it here). We started out with bottle brushes that have the foam on the end and it got destroyed within a month of use with the narrow bottle openings. We've had the OXO one for over 2 months and it's still in great condition. Also, at first we didn't buy a grass drying rack (like this one here, but we found an off brand at TJMaxx for cheaps), but boy is it nice. We used a towel first and lots of tipped over bottles and making a mess. This grass one holds all the bottles and pump parts upright and makes it much easier to move if I need the counter space. Lastly, I would recommend a dishwasher basket. Again, we bought the OXO brand because it made sense. It takes up some space in the dishwasher, but it is nice to have a place to clean all of the nipples, lids, spouts, straws and pump parts in the dishwasher at the end of the day (buy it here) and have a break from cleaning. Bottom line: If you are pumping and bottle feeding, invest in a good bottle brush that's all bristles, a grass type drying rack, and a good sized dishwasher basket.
*Essential Oils-- I like Young Living for my essential oil stash. I chose to mainly have Lavender, Peace and Calming, Thieves and DiGize oils on hand. I love them. There's a lot of other useful oils to use for babies, but these 4 are my top choices so far. Lavender is nice for diffusing in her room, as well as curing her cradle cap. I like using Peace and Calming on the back of her neck when she's freaking out. Even if it doesn't work for Addie, when I am trying to calm her down and I smell the Peace and Calming, I have noticed that I have much more patience with her. Thieves is perfect for anti bac purposes, and she has yet to get sick because of preemptive applications of this on her feet (as well as being breastfed). DiGize is a life saver, not only for her, but for us as well. It is quite possibly the most effective oil we own (as in every time we've used it, it has helped one of our tummies). Sometimes, she has trouble pooping or has gassiness that she can't get out. On her feet it goes and within 5 minutes of application, spit up, poop, a burp, or gas happens and she calms right down.
* Activity Mat-- I really struggled with this purchase, after all it was one more thing to buy for her, but am I glad I did. She loves looking at her treetop friends (here) and jabbering with them. I also needed it sooner than I thought I would. You could probably borrow one, but I fell in love with that one and figured it didn't take up too much space so I caved.
* Baby bath-- Just make sure you get a simple one that grows with baby. I know that sounds funny, but there are just so many options out there, that it gets confusing. This is the one we ended up getting from WalMart and we like it. It is just a bath after all.
* Blankets/Burp Cloths-- Make sure you have these on hand. I don't mean the heavy great big blankets either. I mean simple flannel blankets. We also just bought gerber prefolds for burp rags. In those early weeks, Addie spit up a lot. So having many of both of those on hand was what got us through the days. Even if you don't use them that much, it isn't a bad idea to have them on hand.
* Cozy Cover-- for the winter months is a must. Or something along those lines.
* Cloth Diapers-- I opted to try out cloth diapers, and fell in love with the GroVia Hybrid system. I won't write a huge spiel here, but let me know if you are interested in them and I can tell you my experience and what I like and purchased from them. Also, cloth diapering isn't for everyone, and for those of you that like disposable, I would suggest Luv's diapers (at WalMart). They are the most economical that I have found (even though I hate the strong powder smell).
* Baby monitor-- Just find one that you like. There are lots of good brands. We actually have 2 kinds, since one was given as a Christmas gift. The first one we have, we bought since it has 2 parent monitors that are rechargeable. This is nice because we can keep one in the basement and have one in our bedroom and not worry about carrying it all over with us. Also, once it starts getting nicer outside, it will be nice to have it outside without the cord. The second one we received was a video monitor. Normally, I wouldn't say that the video is necessary, but we really enjoy using it. It is nice to see if she is waking up before she gets really upset. Primarily, I liked it because we had her sleeping on her tummy pretty early on, so not having to go in and check on her so often (new mom) to make sure she was still breathing during her naps. This one is also rechargeable which is nice, and we ended up putting it in the living room, so now, we have zero need to carry around any monitor, unless we go outside. Score!
There you have it. That's my list of things that I have found that has actually made our life work smoothly. No matter what you decide to get or not get, I will say this. Make sure all of your big things are gender neutral. Carseat, activity mat, ect. You want to reuse and save money, not spend it all on adorable baby stuff. Buy used clothes at garage sales, or thrift stores, or even borrow them.