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How to set up for a baby when you're on a budget

How to set up for a baby when you're on a budget

Having a baby can be an exciting but overwhelming experience. Exciting as you wait to finally meet your little one after 9 long months, but potentially overwhelming with the cost and deciding what you actually need for your newborn.

Understanding the difference between essential and “nice to have” is key, especially for the newborn phase. As a new parent it’s easy to be convinced you “need” something by friends, family, stores and social media - there is information everywhere you look and not all of it is helpful! We’re here to help you cut through all that and discuss the absolute essentials for a newborn. Here at The Sleep Store we stock quality, safe baby products. And although we have a huge range, what you really need is a fraction of what we offer, so we’ll give you the lowdown below.

We’ll also discuss other ways to save money, whilst still ensuring your baby is warm and safe and has exactly what they need for the fourth trimester (baby’s first three months).  


A safe sleep space for your baby

Baby's first bed

There’s a wide range of baby beds on the market, from moses baskets to bassinets to cots and you certainly don’t need them all. When choosing your baby’s first bed, look for an option with a firm, flat mattress, that meets the AU / NZ safety standard and offers good longevity. Moses Baskets and Co-sleepers often don’t last much longer than 3 or 4 months, so if you can fit a cot in your bedroom, choose a cot. There’s no reason why your baby can’t go straight into a cot from birth. If you can’t fit a cot, but don’t want to purchase a smaller baby bed for such a short time, a travel cot many be a good option. They have many benefits, including flexibility as they can be moved around the house for day sleeps and can be taken with you if visiting friends or family. Many have a bassinet mode for newborns and can last up to 18 - 24 months of age depending on the model.

2 x Swaddles or Sleeping Bags

Whether you’ll be swaddling your baby or using a baby sleeping bag from birth, it’s recommended to have 2 of each - one to wear and one for the wash. If you’re swaddling, you could choose a style like the Purflo Swaddle to Sleep Bag or an Ergopouch Cocoon where baby could either be swaddled arms in or have their arms out like a sleeping bag. That way, if your baby doesn’t like swaddling, you don’t need to go out and spend more on sleeping bags. If you’re using a sleeping bag from birth, choose a size that’s suitable for a newborn (usually 0-6m or 0-9m).

2 x Mattress Protectors & Fitted Sheets

Babies can be messy so it’s important to protect the mattress from spills and other stains to keep it clean and dry. It’s easier (and cheaper) to change a protector than buying a whole new mattress. Why not try the The Sleep Store waterproof cotton mattress protector? It's a mattress protector and fitted sheet in one, saving you both money and washing! But if you like to have a fitted sheet over the top, The Baby Basics range offers excellent value for money. If you're using a swaddle or sleeping bag, there’s no need for additional sheets or blankets, which not only saves money, but is a safer sleep option for your baby as they can’t kick the blankets above their head or off and wake up cold.

Newborn Baby Settling

White Noise

Some babies can take a bit of work to settle to sleep. Using a White Noise Machine mimics the sound of the womb and can help calm & settle your baby more easily, keeping them asleep longer by blocking out background noise. This works especially well when combined with swaddling. Choose a portable white noise machine which can be used in the nursery, but also out and about so you don’t need two machines. Also look for a model with a soft night light which can be used for late night feeds and nappy changes. Two necessities for the price of one!

A stretchy wrap or baby carrier

A wrap or carrier is another great settling tool. Carriers allow you to hold and comfort your baby whilst keeping your hands free to enjoy a drink, get some jobs done or just go for a walk and enjoy the outdoors. It’s a great settling tool, especially for fussier babies.

Baby Clothing

Clothing is often one of the first things parents-to-be will buy - it’s lower cost, doesn’t need much research and who can ignore those adorable outfits as they’re out and about researching the more expensive items?  

Try to hold off on buying too much clothing though. There’s very few items of clothing a baby will actually need in their first few months. A gown (for easy night nappy changes) or zipsuit is all your baby will need for night time sleep when used with a sleeping bag or swaddle. A mix of bodysuits and singletsuits are also essential for layering, particularly in the cooler months. These items are incredibly versatile and can be used day or night, combined with zipsuits, gowns or tops & leggings.

Choose some long-sleeve and some short-sleeve or singlet style bodysuits to help with versatility. Natural fibres are best - cotton is a good breathable option, as is merino, which does tend to be more pricey.  

Another point to note is sizing. You don’t know what size your baby will be when they’re born and they may spend very little time in the newborn size. Try to buy a combination of newborn and 0-3m sizes to cover all potential sizes and bear in mind that clothing is one of the most commonly gifted baby items, so it pays to not buy too much.


Other Newborn Essential Bits & Pieces

Reusable cloth nappies

Although a bigger outlay, OSFA reusable cloth nappies will give you big savings over the long term. The modern styles are easy to fit with velcro or dome snaps and once you have your washing routine set up, it’s easy to keep on top of the wash cycle. Look for trial packs so you can test different options before committing to one brand.

Reusable Baby Wipes

One-time use baby wipes from the supermarket are expensive and you often need quite a few to get the job done! Use reusable wipes or take old fabrics from around the home to wet and then clean your baby’s bottom. Then, throw them in with the cloth nappy wash.

For spills and burping

There are many burp cloths available with a range of shapes and fabric. However, using a simple old school cloth nappy for spills and burping is all you need. Plus, they’re so versatile.

For sore nipples

Many new mums don’t expect the initial stages of breastfeeding to be so painful and hard on their nipples. Using a nipple cream or silver cups can promote quicker healing and therefore be less painful for mama.

For bathtime

Whilst you could use an adult towel at bath time, having something smaller and with a hood can be more manageable with a tiny newborn. Hoods are also handy to keep bubba’s head warmer post-bath as newborns can lose a lot of heat through their heads.


A buggy/pram

A buggy is regarded as an essential by many, however a good, ergonomic baby carrier is just as good and a lot more cost effective. Carriers still allow you to get out for a walk, especially in the bush or beach where many buggies can’t go, and they allow you to be hands-free wherever you are. The other option is to look for a second hand buggy, but do check it thoroughly to ensure the brakes are working and there’s no mould in the padding/seating.

A carseat

A newborn suitable car seat is a must to organise before your baby arrives. When it comes to car seats, a more expensive seat is not necessarily better. You can look for an option that lasts from birth onwards to save money over the long term or you could rent a baby capsule for the first 6 months and then buy a bigger seat which will last longer once your baby is out of the capsule. Capsule’s are generally used only for the first 6 months, so renting can be much more cost effective (and it’s one less thing to have sitting around your house!). Ask for an install check from a qualified car seat technician - some Plunkets offer this service.

Other ways to save

Second-hand items

One of the best ways to save money on baby items is by purchasing second-hand items. Many parents sell or give away their gently used baby items, such as clothes, toys, and furniture. You can find second hand baby clothes in op shops, online marketplaces like Trade Me or selected Plunket locations.  

You may find friends or family will give you a lot of clothes for the first few months (new or hand-me-downs), so it’s a good idea to hold off buying newborn and smaller items for as long as you can. We also recommend only buying a few newborn size items and some 0-3m items as there’s no guarantee what size your baby will be when they’re born!   You can always buy more newborn clothing if you need it. If you are buying second hand items make sure to thoroughly clean and sanitise them and also check they’re in good working order.

Borrowed (or hand-me-down) baby gear

You’ll often find that friends around the same age group tend to have babies at similar times in their lives, so you may be able to borrow certain items from friends (or siblings) who have already had their babies. Things like bassinets, baby bouncers or prams can be passed around between each other as your baby grows. Just take care of checking the safety aspects - ensuring mattresses are still firm and flat, ensuring there’s no mould on any items and that things like prams have working brakes etc.  

For toys, join a toy library when your baby is older. When they’re newborn they’ll sleep a lot, but also be happy just looking around and watching your face. Join the toy library as they start to explore more, it will save you money on buying expensive toys and also means you can swap them out every few weeks, so there’s no boredom!

Buy what you need when you need it

Whilst stocking up during sales and clearance is great if you have some spare cash, there’s absolutely no need to. Buying things for your baby as you need them is absolutely fine. For example, baby won’t start solids until around 6 months, so save buying the high chair and feeding items until then.

Look for specials, deals, bundles & multibuys

You can often get good deals on things like baby clothes and sleeping bags at the end of a season. This can be a good time to prepare your baby’s wardrobe for the next size up and even stock up on essentials before your baby is born. Your baby won’t know it’s wearing last season’s clothes!  

Likewise, when you’re looking for your baby’s first bed or other big purchases, start researching early and then wait for a sale to buy. The other option is to look for a bundle deal, many stores offer bundle deals which may feature a combination of cot, mattress and protector or similar, so you’re saving by buying everything at once.


Breastfeeding is the most budget-friendly way to feed a baby. But if you’re struggling to establish breastfeeding it can become frustrating for you and lead to an unsettled baby. Get support early and quickly to establish a good latch and ensure bubs is getting what they need. Look to your Lead Maternity Carer, Plunket or Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand as your first port of call for assistance.


These are just some ideas to help you save money when having a baby. It’s hard, but try not to think about all the things you “could” have or others say you “need”. The most important things are a safe place to sleep, something to keep them warm and nappies. By looking and asking around you can continue to save money once your baby arrives. Do you have any budget saving tips to share? Let us know in our community!

How to set up for a baby when you're on a budget | The Sleep Store

Baby lying on back in The Frank Cot with Hussh 2 white noise machine hanging on rail