Kids Products

Essential Baby Gear – Splurge or Save? Second time around, I'm breaking it down

I remember researching all sorts of baby gear when I was pregnant with my first baby a few years ago. It was so overwhelming, I didn’t know where to start! More importantly, I wasn’t sure where I could cut corners financially and which items I should consider really investing in.

Three years and two babies later, checking out baby gear is still one of my favorite pastimes. I’ve rounded up a splurge and save for each piece of essential baby gear. So when do you save, and when do you splurge? Check out below! 

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Crib

Save: IKEA Gulliver ($99) | Splurge: Babyletto Gelato ($400)

My advice: Save. All cribs pretty much serve the same purpose – keep your kid locked in for the first (or first few) years of life and then convert into a toddler bed. I’ve seen cribs upwards of $800, but in all honesty, my $100 Ikea crib was one of my favorite purchases. Why? It’s low-to-the-ground, slim profile takes up minimal room in the nursery. It’s also gnaw-proof (so teethers don’t leave any marks!). It converts to a toddler bed without any extra pieces – and I can resell for probably around $50 when I’m ready to part ways with it (that’s HALF back!). Even if I couldn’t recoup the full cost, it’s still a wise investment in my book. And don’t let the price scare you off on safety – this crib has lasted 2.5 years of three toddlers jumping in it at once!

Diaper Bag

Save: Skip Hop Duo ($45) | Splurge: Fawn Design ($160)

My advice: Splurge. I absolutely love my Fawn Design baby bag. It retails for $160 and worth every penny in my book (however, I must admit I did buy it second hand). Really, I need the thing everyday, so it makes perfect sense to splurge on something that I love carrying. Wondering about my everyday diaper bag essentials? Check out this post. If you’re not in the market for a pricey bag, this Skip Hop bag is also super cute and only $45.

High Chair

Save: Fisher Price Booster ($27) | Splurge: Stokke Tripp Trapp ($250)

My advice: Save. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely LOVE my Stokke Tripp Trapp, but at the $300+ price tag (with infant accessories), I easily would have given it up if it weren’t given to me as a gift for my baby shower. While it’s definitely built to last (converts to an adult chair), most high chairs are only used for a couple years and can really withstand daily use anyway. Plus, they get the same amount of food grime on them regardless of their price tag. 

Pack ‘N Play

Save: Graco Pack N Play ($60) | Splurge: 4Moms Breeze ($240)

My advice: Save. The 4Moms Breeze playard has been on my wish list since I was pregnant with Ben. It’s one-handed open and close and sleek, modern style definitely won me over. However, I just don’t use a pack-n-play frequently enough to justify the large price tag. I’d recommend the splurge only if you’re opening and closing it on the daily and need something super convenient. Otherwise, this Graco pack-n-play is a fraction of the price and meets all the needs that you’d use a pack-n-play for anyway. 

Changing Pad

Save: Summer Infant ($19) | Splurge: Keekaroo Peanut ($129)

My advice: Splurge. The Keekaroo changing peanut retails for $130. At about 5 times the typical changing pad price, it’s easy to say it’d be wise to just save on it. However, the wipe-ability of the Keekaroo and the fact that it doesn’t need a changing pad cover ($20-ish each) make it a winner in my book. I splurged for one for my second baby’s nursery since I didn’t have to buy much on my own (yay hand-me-downs). It’s something I use everyday, multiple times a day, so it’s worth it to me. 

Swing

Save: 4moms rockaRoo ($125) | Splurge: 4moms mamaRoo ($285)

My advice: Save. Maybe it’s just my kids, but I got hardly any use out of my swing (twice). Unless it’s a gift, at $285 the 4moms mamaRoo is a good chunk of change for how long you actually are able to use it. If you’re looking for something similar, the 4moms rockaRoo is like simpler version. The only reason I’d say splurge for the 4moms rockaRoo (as compared to other traditional, lower priced swings) is because it’s a great space saver and I have a tiny living room! Otherwise, a traditional swing for normal price is always great option. Even better – buy one used. I’ve seen a ton of mamaroos under $80 on swip-swap sites. 

Baby Monitor

Save: HuanMonitor ($47) | Splurge: Samsung BrightView ($199)

My advice: Save. The newest baby monitors with video, audio and full color/night vision can be upwards of $300. My house is rather small, and I honestly hardly use the baby monitor since I can just hear middle-of-the-night cries through the wall. I’m also on my second, so my need to really SEE what’s going on has really diminished. If you can’t give up the video piece – look for a used one at a consignment store. Otherwise, a basic monitor with audio should meet all of your needs without breaking the bank.

Luxe Stroller

Save: Baby Jogger City Select ($500) | Splurge: Uppababy Vista ($880)

My advice: Splurge. I guess this really depends on how much you’ll USE your stroller, and whether you’re having multiples close together. For me, I use my stroller very frequently – so it was definitely a high ticket but budgeted item. I love the ease of handling, opening/closing, look and feel and so much more of my Uppababy Vista (it’s my ALL TIME favorite baby gear purchase).  You can read my full review of why I’m UB obsessed here. Since I use it so much, and it’ll last me a few years while maintaining a good chunk of it’s value on the resale end, I definitely didn’t mind splurging. If $900 for UB just isn’t in the budget though, the Baby Jogger City Select is pretty much the same features-wise and about HALF the cost. Right now it’s at about $500 on Amazon, but I’ve seen it down to $420 with the extra seat.  


Overall, I’d say when it comes to baby gear, there’s really one rule of thumb: consider how long you’ll use it. This applies to everything baby related, from nursery decor to accessories. If you’re looking at it everyday and need it to last, consider investing. If it’s something that will just end up at a baby consignment in a couple years, try cutting costs with a more economical version or purchasing second-hand. Of course if it’s just pretty and you want it… well, treat yourself. 

I hope you enjoyed this piece – please share your tips on baby gear saves and splurges in the comments!

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15 Comments

  • Reply Kelsie Kleinmeyer February 15, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    I love this so much, especially as a mama with a baby on the way in two weeks! Thanks for sharing your insight!

  • Reply jennyfromgeorgia February 14, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Such great advice and so well researched! Thank you for this!!

  • Reply Jess Beer February 14, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    Great tips! I really wish I had splurged on my stroller but didn’t and now I’m drooling over nicer ones!

  • Reply Frugal Florida Mom February 14, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    This is such a great post. When I was first pregnant I was terrified that I would get the wrong things and you think you have to spend a fortune or just get everything at Babys R Us. There are so many great products out there these days at such great savings but you should still know where to put more of your money for the best of your baby.

  • Reply Jasmine - LoveLifeLaughMotherhood February 14, 2017 at 9:35 am

    I didn’t splurge on much when buying things for my son (all while pregnant because first kid, you dont know what you’ll end up using) but the most expensive item I got was actually a gift, but I’d consider a crib splurging when it’s $400 but it’s actually a convertible 4-in1 crib that’ll eventually change into a toddler, day, and full size bed. So considering it’s lifetime use, i thought it made the perfect baby shower gift

  • Reply thisawkwardmom February 13, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    Definitely agree with the crib and high chair! It is so much easier to move the high chair around as needed and lasts well until they can sit by themselves at the table. We have had the same one for both my kids and their was a huge gap in age. I love the Ikea cribs, too!! I wish I had known about them when we had our first. They are adorable!

  • Reply thecoffeemom0617 February 13, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    With my 2nd I pretty much bought nothing. Heck, my crib is still in my attic and he is 5 months lol The swing is a MUST have though.

  • Reply Kate February 13, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    I splurged on an expensive swing for my first baby, and of course he never used it. I almost donated it, but I’m SO glad I didn’t because baby number two just loves it! I totally agree about the crib; my first crib was over $1000 and I have no idea why I thought that was necessary at the time! This baby’s crib was $250!

  • Reply Amy February 13, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    Total coincidence that I posted today about baby bargains! I totally agree with your decisions to splurge or save on each item – I did the very same! Def splurged on my stroller as I’m a big walker and love the idea of baby being sprawled out and comfy.

  • Reply Shann Eva's Blog February 13, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Great advice! I definitely agree with splurging on the stroller. That’s my most expensive item, and it’s worth every penny. Our cribs were gifted to us, otherwise, I would have went with IKEA too.

  • Reply crazylifewithlittles February 13, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Love your advice! There are so many items for babies these days. You just have to know which ones to save your money on!

  • Reply kristamae12 February 13, 2017 at 11:52 am

    This was such a great and informative post! I think I’d have to agree on pretty much all of it. We got the mamaroo as a gift and my son hated it!! I am due with baby #2 in July so I’m curious to see if she likes it any better than he did!

  • Reply tkmom18 February 13, 2017 at 10:43 am

    we didn’t splurge with any of our kids…we were so broke when we had our first and now number 3 we have everything he needs lol. I’ll splurge on grandbabies!

  • Reply Marcie February 13, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Great tips! We use our swing multiple times a day and I’m so thrilled that we’re borrowing one from a friend. We splurged on our pack n play and we’ve used it twice total with my 2 kids. We’ve lent it out more than we’ve used it. You just never know what you will really use and each family is so different!

  • Reply Lindsey February 13, 2017 at 8:35 am

    It’s so easy to go overboard and splurge on everything {even without the budget!!} I agree with most of these… I splurged on a diaper bag (not the first time around and regretted it!) and a stroller!

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