You’re having a baby!

One question you probably have is when is the right time to start shopping for baby gear. Should you wait for the shower or start shopping right away?

Keep reading for a full list of must-have supplies and the right time to make your purchases.

When to start buying baby stuff?

Some supplies, such as car seats, babyproofing gear and furniture, should be bought by the end of the second or beginning of the third trimester. Other items can wait until closer to the birth of the baby. Some, like a high chair, toys and books, can wait to be bought until after the baby is born.

*FYI some of the links in this article about when to start buying baby stuff may be affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase we may get a commission (at no extra cost to you). For more info please see our disclaimer.

Should You Wait for a Show Before Buying New Baby Items?

You shouldn’t wait for a baby shower before buying items for your new baby. Baby showers are unpredictable and you may or may not get what you want from a baby shower and there’s always a chance the baby will come before.

Baby showers are traditional parties in which friends and family members offer gifts to the mom-to-be. Expectant parents often create registries so that gift-givers can be sure they are buying the items most needed for the new baby.

In an ideal world, the baby shower would be the perfect place for all new supplies.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an ideal world. Baby showers are not a given. Not everyone who attends adheres to the registry. Most of the time you’ll forget important baby registry items so your guests never get a chance to even buy them. On top of that sometimes the baby comes before the shower takes place.

Waiting for the baby shower to buy any of your gear is a recipe for disaster. It also takes the fun out of picking out some of the items yourself.

I will spare you the absolute nightmare that was my baby shower, but the short version is that the person who threw the shower thought it would be a fun idea to throw a “surprise blanket shower.”

We received no items from our registry, but we did receive 50 blankets. Luckily, my husband and I hadn’t waited for the shower to make most of our purchases. You shouldn’t either.

Related: How to Write a Baby Shower Thank You Card

When to Buy Childproofing and Safety Supplies

Believe it or not, the first and most important supplies you should buy are possibly the least amount of fun. You need to purchase all of your childproofing and safety supplies well before the baby arrives.

Most new parents don’t think they need to worry about childproofing until the baby starts crawling. While that is technically true, you probably won’t have the time or energy to do a good job with your childproofing when you’re up all night feeding and diapering an infant.

Likewise, you have no control over when your child will start crawling.

The average age a child starts crawling is around eight months old. My son was three months old when he became mobile. It was very lucky for me that we had babyproofed the house before he was born.

Purchase a babyproofing kit that includes outlet covers, corner protectors and cabinet locks. An all-in-one kit is the easiest choice.

Also put baby gates and door knob covers on your must-have list. Buy these supplies around the beginning of your third trimester.

Install them and get used to navigating your house with childproofed cabinets and toilet seats.

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Other safety supplies like first aid kits and baby monitors can wait a bit longer. There is no reason to put off buying these items. There is also no reason to rush.

You won’t need a baby monitor until your child moves into their own room. That might be the first night you are home or it might be around the baby’s first birthday. It is different for every family and every child.

When to Buy Transportation Needs

A car seat is an item that you will need before the baby is born. You won’t be able to drive your baby home from the hospital without one. Therefore, purchase a rear-facing, infant car seat sometime during the third trimester at the latest.

Strollers often go hand-in-hand with car seats. A travel system includes the car seat/baby carrier, car seat base and a stroller. This stroller is the only one you will need until the baby is old enough to sit up.

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You can wait until your baby is about six months old to purchase a smaller umbrella stroller or a jogging stroller.

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When to Buy Nursery and Bedroom Furnishings

As with safety and travel gear, it is ideal to buy nursery furnishings prior to the baby’s delivery. At minimum, you will need a bassinet or crib, a rocking chair or glider and a solid surface for diaper changes.

Have all of these items set up and in place so you don’t have to worry about it once the baby is born. Earlier is better for nursery furniture.

It can sometimes take weeks for furniture to arrive once the order has been placed, so you might want to solidify these purchases around the middle or end of the second trimester.

Some parents will tell you that you don’t need certain items. Others will tell you they are musts. I chose to ignore the naysayers and I purchased everything that looked like it might possibly be helpful.

I was told a changing table was unnecessary as I would “probably end up changing the baby wherever I could.” That was not the case. I exclusively used the changing table for both of my children. Later, we converted it into shelving for my daughter’s toys.

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I was told I wouldn’t need a diaper stacker. I would end up just pulling my diapers out of the package like everyone else. That was not the case. The diaper stacker made reaching in and grabbing a diaper so much easier than fighting a bulky package at every turn.

I was told I wouldn’t need both a bassinet and a crib. In my case, this did turn out to be true. My son refused to sleep in the bassinet. My daughter refused to sleep at all, though that’s a story for a different time.

Along with the nursery furniture, make sure you buy an appropriate mattress, a waterproof mattress cover and lots and lots of sheets. You can wait to purchase these items until closer to the baby’s birth or even place them on your registry.

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When to Buy Feeding and Diapering Gear for Your New Baby

Feeding your baby and diapering your baby are two areas that are surprisingly controversial. Only you can decide how you want to feed and diaper. Whatever you decide, you do have to be prepared.

Breastfeeding moms theoretically have everything they need built-in. It’s not always that simple. Moms might be returning to work or simply planning to let others feed the baby on some occasions.

This will require a breast pump, storage bag, bottles, nipples for those bottles, a bottle brush, and a sanitizer. This breast pump kit has most of what you need.

Formula feeding moms will need all of the bottling supplies as well as a cache of formula. You will need more bottles than breastfeeding moms, but don’t go overboard just yet.

You should buy several different bottle and nipple types in small quantities. You will eventually discover that your child will have a preference. You will also discover you will have a preference also. On top of that, you’ll also need a few burp cloths and bibs ready to go when the baby is born.

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Whether you’re bottle-feeding or breastfeeding, you can wait to make purchases until just before the baby is due to arrive. Other feeding supplies, like a high chair and spoons, can wait even longer. A baby won’t start using a high chair until they’re around four to six months old.

Whether to use cloth or disposable diapers is a personal choice. Undoubtedly, you will hear both sides to the debate regardless of which you choose.

In both instances, you’ll need some advance supplies. Those using cloth diapers will need plenty of diapers, pins, diaper covers, and pails for washing.

Purchase sometime during your third trimester so you can have some practice with learning how to change a diaper. Disposable diaper users should buy newborn diapers with cutouts for the navel to heal. Have a package waiting for you when the baby is born. No other supplies are needed.

When to Buy Toys, Books and Other Playthings for a New Baby

Buying the first teddy bear is for a new baby is a time-honored tradition. It may be the first thing you buy when you get the happy news that you are expecting.

That was certainly the case for me. Both of my children were swimming in plush toys before they had made appearances in this world.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying toys, books, a play pen, a swing or a bouncy chair before your child is born. However, there is also no rush to do so.

Newborns can’t play with toys other than their own thumbs for the several few weeks of life. In fact, it is an unsafe practice to have toys of any kind in an infant’s bed.

In short, feel free to buy toys and other fun supplies as early as you like, but be aware that you won’t need or use them for quite some time.

When to Buy Clothing and Shoes for the New Baby

Your baby will need clothes soon after birth. That much is obvious. However, overbuying is a big mistake. You cannot know how big or small your baby will be, and therefore whatever you purchase may be wasted.

Case in point:
My son was measuring as an extra-large mega-baby. My doctor said to expect an 11-pound whopper and that my chances of a natural childbirth with a baby of that size were slim to none.

We even decided to induce labor a week early in order to attempt a natural childbirth rather than the Cesarean section that my doctor thought was inevitable.

When he arrived, he was only slightly larger than the average 8.6-pound boy. We had loaded up on 3-6 month sleepers and onesies, but they were all too large.

Luckily, we had some 0-3 months clothing, but not in the numbers that were needed.

You might say it’s fine to overbuy as long as the items are too big and not too small. Babies will grow and eventually the clothing can be put to good use, right?

Not so fast.

My son was born in February. All of the 3-6 month clothing we bought were for cold weather. By the time he had grown into them, it was a particularly hot May.

The long sleeves and heavy fabrics were too much for the weather change, and so we donated those items and bought new, summer-friendly gear.

You should buy some clothes before the baby is born, but not too much. Purchase enough to have a change or two for the first few days, and then make your list of must-haves once the baby is born.

Items that you can buy in advance without fear of sizing issues are socks, hats, and mittens.

Final Thoughts

Getting the timing right on your baby gear purchases saves time and money.

Make sure the must-have items are bought by the early third trimester and you will be fine.

What are you most looking forward to buying for your baby? Let us know in the comments!

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is it bad luck to buy baby stuff early?

    Some cultures believe it’s bad luck to buy baby stuff early. There’s no data that supports this but some items such as clothes should be purchased after the baby is born. The reason being you don’t know for sure how big your baby will be.

  2. When should I start buying diapers during pregnancy?

    Buy some diapers in the third trimester to start practicing and to have some for when your baby is born. I would save buying a lot of diapers till after a baby shower (it’s a common baby shower gift) and for when your child is born so you know how big your child is.

  3. What are the first things to buy when expecting a baby?

    The first things you should buy are childproofing and child safety supplies. The next item to buy is a child seat and stroller.

  4. Can you start buying baby stuff at 6 weeks?

    You can start buying baby stuff at 6 weeks. It should be limited items such as child safety items and a car seat and stroller.

  5. What should I buy at 8 weeks pregnant?

    At 8 weeks of pregnancy you should limit your purchases to only a handful of items such as child proofing and safety items and child transportation items like a car seat and stroller.

  6. When is the best time to start buying baby clothes?

    Purchase a little bit of clothing before your child is born but most clothing purchases should be for after birth. You’ll want to make sure the clothes are the appropriate size for your child.

  7. Can I start buying baby stuff at 20 weeks?

    Some of the items to consider buying at 20 weeks of pregnancy include a baby proofing kit, door knob covers, baby gate and nursery and bedroom furnishings.

Some Other Things to Think About