Becoming a parent is an expensive prospect. You've likely already bought your home with a family in mind (or you're thinking in that direction!), and all you need to do is walk into Buy Buy Baby or the infants’ section of Target and prepare to be overwhelmed by the sheer stuff available. If you are a first-timer at the parenting rodeo, it can be easy to think that you need all those cutesy items (Diaper Genies! Wipe warmers! Bedding splattered with pastel bunnies! A dedicated changing table!), but the reality is that you can save a lot of money - to say nothing about space - by paring down your list of “must-haves” and looking at the situation from a long-term perspective. Babies are only babies for so long, after all.

Pick items that will grow with baby.

Buying one of those upholstered nursery rockers with the matching ottoman seems like the thing to do, but what happens once your kid is weaned and too big to sit on your lap? Skip the major chair in favor of a plain wooden rocker that will look great elsewhere in your house once your little has reached school age. Likewise, don’t buy a dinky-cute small dresser that’s scaled for your infant’s itty-bitty onesies and booties. Buy a full-sized dresser, since that’s what your child will need sooner rather than later. 

Buy regular versions of stuff.

Just like with wedding vendors, things that are intended for a nursery are automatically more expensive. Just to give an example, you don’t need a fluffy rug in pastel that is impractical and will look babyish as soon as your kid hits preschool. Go with something from the grown-up section that matches your decor (we recommend neutrals) that is high-quality enough to repel stains and stand up to frequent vacuuming and spot-cleaning. On the same note, you don’t need a special diaper pail: just wrap the dirty diapers up and toss them with your regular trash. 

Think about storage.

As your child grows, so will the inventory of their personal belongings. For example, think about stuffed animals. It seems like those things multiply like their real-life counterparts. And books - most toddlers will have a more expansive library than their parents, so wall shelving for picture books will be essential. Think trendy solutions that will look good as your child grows, like stacking cubes, cubbies, or a toy hammock.

Becoming a parent doesn’t have to mean going into debt for bundles of dedicated baby items that will be obsolete in three years or less. Following the simple recommendations here will ensure that you save money, space, and headaches galore.