The post is part of the Baby Expenses Series. See the entire series here.
This is a list of items that either we used or things that I know people typically get with a new baby – I’ve indicated whether I think it’s mandatory and the timing of when you need it. I’ll put an approximate price for new items which is generally on the lower end – you can spend much more if you want. I’ve split it up into a number of posts which is in keeping with my tradition of not having excessively long posts.
Crib – mandatory
Not much explanation necessary except that some cribs also convert into beds which will extend their useable life. [EDIT] As Brip Brap pointed out in the comments, try to get a crib where the side is quiet and easy to lower and raise. This makes a huge difference with most babies. [EDIT]
When: Sometime between birth to about six months depending on when you want to put the baby in the crib. We started using a crib around the 3-4 month age. Some people put the kid in the crib right away. I think the reason a lot of people don’t use the crib from the beginning is because if you are breast feeding then in the first month or two there will be many late feedings and it’s easier to get the kid out of a bassinet or basket or side bed rather than a crib.
Do not put the child in bed with you. The risk of SIDs is higher, you won’t sleep as well and as one of my friends found out, if you try to take a kid who’s used to sleeping with his parents for several months and put him in a crib – he won’t be happy!
Cost: Zellers has a basic crib for $129 and a mattress for $50. You also need a couple of mattress sheets. We paid about $300 at the Bay for a rather nice looking one (on sale) plus about $100 for a mattress. Part of this was paid for with a gift certificate we received and the remainder from my mom 🙂. Just so you know, we went through the hassle of getting two hand-me-down cribs but one of them didn’t have any hardware and the other one was broken and you couldn’t lower the side properly. After that we decided to buy a new one. We also paid about $35 dollars for delivery. The box that the crib comes in is fairly large and it wouldn’t fit in my smallish suv only because I couldn’t put the full backseat down because of the car seat. This might be a good reason to get the crib (if you buy new) before installing the car seat. If you buy a used one then make sure it fits the new standards and isn’t too old (should be build in 1986 or later).
A bassinet is basically a small bed (or cradle) which you can put on the floor beside the bed. A co-sleeper is kind of like a crib with one side open. They are set to the same height as the bed and make for very easy access to the baby. We didn’t have either of these because we borrowed a basket which had a foam layer on the bottom from some friends. It was pretty good because it had a handle and you could carry him around in it if necessary. This is one area where you really don’t need to spend much if you don’t want to. The first few months the kid can’t move so any kind of container (cardboard box?) will do. In my case I was an unexpected twin so I spent my first few months in a drawer lined with blankets and I turned out just fine (I think).
When: Immediately. Whatever you end up using, you should have this prepared before the birth.
Cost: $50 for bassinet, $200 for co-sleeper, an old drawer…priceless!