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When to Buy Baby Stuff

That early excitement can quickly turn to worry as you start to wonder how you’ll get everything you need for your new baby. Even though it’s true you can never be 100% ready for a newborn, there are a lot of tips that you can use to make getting ready a lot easier (and more affordable).

From deciding what you need to when to buy stuff for baby, you’ll find our top tips for planning for (and shopping for!) the newest member of your family below. 

When is the Earliest I Can Start Buying Baby Stuff? 

Most people wait to start buying baby stuff until they are about 13-20 weeks along. This is the time that most parents start announcing their pregnancy to coworkers, family, and friends (aside from those people they just couldn’t wait to tell). Additionally, the risk of miscarriage lowers to 5% (rather than 10-15%) after the first trimester

Of course, you don’t have to rush right into buying baby stuff once you hit that 13-week mark. Many parents choose to wait and plan for how they will spend their money, rather than jumping into buying right away.

While you may not avoid the temptation of a cute onesie or stuffed animal, there are a few reasons that you may want to wait until a little later to start shopping.

Let’s take a closer look. 

Things You Can Buy Earlier in Pregnancy

If parents choose to learn the sex of their baby, this reveal usually happens around 16-20 weeks. If you plan to go with a cute nursery theme or have your eye on any gender-specific clothing, now is the time that you can start planning for it. You can also start shopping for other small things- pacifiers, onesies, baby wraps, diaper bags, and more. Of course, you still might want to put off actual shopping until after your baby shower- or just be sure to include specifics about what you want in a registry.

Keep in mind that people who don’t use your registry are most likely to buy things like blankets, clothing, toys, or diapers. Another insider tip is to buy those super cute outfits you love in a size six months. Most babies grow quickly- so quickly that they are usually in their six-month outfits well before they meet that milestone. Additionally, it’s a lot easier to roll up hems than it is to try putting too tight clothes on your baby. The fussing isn’t worth it, no matter how cute the outfit is. 

Of course, aside from things that you just have to have, it might be best to put off actually shopping for things until after your baby shower is underway. Most mothers have their baby showers later in the pregnancy, after they know the sex and before it’s so late in the pregnancy that you are easily tired. Waiting until later also gives you a chance to take advantage of sales and discounts, too. 

Things to Wait On Until After Your Baby Shower

Something nice about waiting until after your baby shower to start shopping is that you already know what everyone else has bought for you.

Additionally, it gives you a chance to save up some money to drop on big-ticket items like cribs, play pens, car seats, and nursery furniture. (You can check out this handy guide on saving money for baby if you need a little extra help creating a nest egg before your little one makes their arrival).

You can save even more money by taking advantage of the discounts that many retailers offer after you’ve registered with them. 

Even if you don’t think family members will buy your more expensive items for your baby, put the items on your registry. One of the best things you can do to save money is to take advantage of baby registry discounts. Many retailers offer a discount that starts up to 60 days before your due date, usually as much as 10-15% on a single purchase. (You can find our list of best baby registries here- it’ll break down some of your options and the discounts available with each registry). 

Other Considerations to Keep in Mind

Even though you can look around for guidelines as to what to buy for baby and when you should start buying things for baby, keep in mind that the same plan isn’t going to work for every family.

What you should do is come up with a plan for how to make your purchases. Even if you don’t want to buy baby items right away, consider setting aside money as you start to save up for baby. This will make the big purchases easier (and more affordable) if you can take advantage of registry discounts and buy all these things at once. 

Store Policies

Even if you use a registry to help keep track of everything, it’s easy to get duplicates or too much of one item. If you are going to buy early, be sure that there are lengthy return limits on those earlier items.

Additionally, for products that need to be assembled, be sure to put them together within the period of the return. If you have any damaged or missing parts, this gives you time to return them.

Something else to keep in mind regarding store policies is that some retailers offer longer return policies if you take advantage of their registry option. 

Pregnancy Symptoms

Even though you can spend the first trimester doing planning, odds are you’ll want to wait to start shopping and putting things together until the second trimester. Most mothers experience nausea and other symptoms more severely in the first trimester and by the third trimester, there are good odds you’ll be exhausted from being pregnant. Additionally, it’s more likely you’ll need help carrying and putting together those bigger items if you wait until your third trimester. 

High-Risk Pregnancy

For mothers who are considered high-risk, there is usually a greater chance that they’re going to give birth sooner. If you are high-risk, it’s best to have those necessary items for your diaper bag packed and ready to go by the middle of the second trimester. You’ll likely still have a little time if you deliver early since your baby will be in the hospital until they are strong enough, but you’ll be recovering from giving birth so it’s best to take care of the important things earlier. 

Shipping and Custom Orders

If you plan on shopping online or customizing orders, you’ll need a little extra time for delivery. Be sure that you order everything early enough for them to show up before your baby gets there. If you are expected to deliver early or have complications, you’ll want to keep that in mind as well. 

Maternity Leave

Many companies don’t offer maternity leave, so things may be tight for your family once you can no longer work during pregnancy. One of the best things to do is either save money to buy these items so you don’t have as much money going out at once or buy the things you need throughout your pregnancy instead of waiting until the end. 

What You Actually Need

Even though you should put everything you need for the first year of your baby’s life on your registry, there’s no reason you have to rush to buy everything you’ll need that first year. After your baby shower and you’ve seen what everyone else has purchased, buy those items that your baby absolutely needs in their first three months first. If you do have the extra money and want to take advantage of your registry discount, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t get all those things and put them in a garage or storage area for a few months. If you don’t have the funds without dipping too far into your savings, however, don’t sweat it. 

pregnant woman with gifts at a baby shower

What You Can Do While You’re Waiting to Buy

Even though you don’t want to start stocking up on baby items right away, it can be very beneficial to spend your first trimester planning. Use the resources available to you like baby lists to find out what you really need for baby. Keep your lifestyle in mind- you don’t necessarily need all the latest baby gadgets and gizmos. Decide what those things are that you absolutely need for your baby and start with those. 

Something else that you can do in the first trimester is research. In addition to deciding which baby products you need, it’s a good idea to check into different brands and decide which ones you want for your baby. It’s also helpful as you compile your baby registry, especially since you’ll want to narrow each type of product down to what you need. You don’t want to end up with two different cribs because you couldn’t choose a brand and put both on your registry. 

Finally, use the time you are waiting to buy to make shopping for the newest member of your family more affordable. Shop around for items you wouldn’t mind buying secondhand if they are in good shape like nursery furniture or cribs. (Be sure you know what to look for in secondhand furniture if you are going to shop used baby furniture and be aware of product recalls). You can also use this time to email companies and ask for samples, sign up to email lists if you’d like, and look for sales. You might find that retailers have a big sale or blowout that you can take advantage of if you shop for the right item at the right time. 

FAQs About When to Buy Baby Stuff

How do I decide what to buy for my baby? 

Start by covering the absolute essentials. Things like a car seat, somewhere for your baby to sleep, clothes, pacifiers, and bottles are all must-haves for the first three months of your baby’s life.

If you plan to space out your purchases as your baby grows, then the best thing to do is come up with a list of items that you absolutely need in those first three months. You can create a checklist on your own or use an app or program to help you. If you need ideas, there are plenty of resources online. 

When should I have everything for my baby?

You should plan to have your baby’s crib, car seat, some clothes, diapers, and other basics all purchased by the eighth month of pregnancy. Your baby is fully viable by then and his or her lungs are developed enough that they’ll easily survive outside of the womb.

The exception to this rule is mothers who have a high-risk pregnancy or are expecting complications- you may want to be ready around the 6th or 7th month if you are expecting to give birth prematurely. 

Keep in mind that having everything you need for your baby includes those items you’ll need in the first three months of their life. There are a lot of baby items you’ll find your child has to reach certain milestones first- like they need to be able to sit up before you set them in a high chair to eat. (Babies also aren’t ready to eat yet in those first few months). 

Can I buy baby items secondhand? 

Yes, you can absolutely buy baby items secondhand. Many parents save money by taking advantage of secondhand or even free baby items.

Things like clothes are much cheaper secondhand and if you have a friend or family member with an older child, you may find they have clothing items they’ll give away just to de-clutter their own collection of baby stuff.

Garage sales and online marketplaces also make it easy to find secondhand baby items a lot cheaper than you’d find them in the store. 

When buying large furniture items secondhand, take the time to inspect the product before you buy it. You should also research if there are any recalls on the item. If it passes this test, check areas with hardware for any loose or broken parts.

You should be cautious about buying anything that isn’t already assembled. While it’s easier to buy something that’s already broken down, it’s impossible to know if all the parts are there and to check for signs of damage. 

Is there a rigid schedule of when I should start shopping for my baby? 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to any aspect of parenting, including when to shop for baby stuff. While you don’t want to be completely unprepared, it’s important to take a look at your financial situation, your baby budget, and how you can best use what you have to start getting ready for your newborn. 

The best thing that you can do is come up with a plan or a schedule for buying. Think about what items you need and how much they are going to cost. Then, consider how you are going to allocate funds each month so that the time your baby gets here, you are prepared.

Keep in mind that while having a plan is helpful, it is possible to have setbacks. Re-evaluate and readjust as needed- you’ll be ready before you know it. 

Is it bad luck to buy baby things early? 

Some cultures have superstitions around certain practices, including buying baby clothes early in your pregnancy or even before you are pregnant.

While the superstition exists, there is no medical reason that you should not buy baby clothes as early as you’d like. It will not physically harm your fetus in any way.

If you feel stressed about it, of course, there’s no reason that you can’t wait. Some mothers prefer to wait until a little bit later in their pregnancy, once they are sure their baby is viable. This is especially true for mothers who may have a pregnancy following a miscarriage (a rainbow baby) or for those who have struggled to get pregnant.

In addition to avoiding the superstition, some mothers just wait because the pregnancy doesn’t feel real yet until the second or third trimester. 

Final Word

Deciding when to buy baby stuff is just one of the many questions you’ll have to answer before the birth of your little one.

Hopefully, these tips will make one of the things you have to worry about a little easier.

Keep in mind that the same process doesn’t work advantage for everyone. While you should take advantage of the tips that you can, it’s also important to adapt what you’ve learned to whatever works best for your family. 


  1. Miscarriage…, www.marchofdimes.org

Samantha Davis is a part-time writer and a full-time mommy of two boys, Apollo (age 5) and Adrien (age 7). She has been working as a writer for seven years and loves the freedom it gives her to spend time with her boys and fiance.and do things like camping, swimming, and painting. She is also a parent to three fur babies- two dogs and a cat!

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