When Should I Start Buying Baby Stuff? A Trimester-by-Trimester Guide

Expecting a baby brings a whirlwind of emotions and a never-ending to-do list. One of the biggest questions I faced was when to start buying baby stuff. Too early, and I risked cluttering my home with unused items; too late, and I might miss out on essential preparations.

Navigating the perfect timing can seem overwhelming, but it’s all about balance and planning. In this article, I’ll share my insights and tips to help you decide when to start shopping for your little one, ensuring you’re well-prepared without the stress.

Key Takeaways

  • Start with Research: Use the first trimester to gather information, read reviews, and join parenting forums to identify essential baby items.
  • Second Trimester Shopping: Begin buying big-ticket items like the crib, stroller, and car seat after the 20-week mark to manage finances and preparations effectively.
  • Third Trimester Focus: Concentrate on acquiring smaller, non-essential items like diapers, clothing, and feeding supplies. Use this time to finalize your baby registry.
  • Building a Timeline: Follow a trimester-by-trimester guide to ensure a balanced approach to purchasing baby essentials, avoiding last-minute stress.
  • Budgeting Tips: Look for deals and discounts online, consider secondhand stores, and prioritize quality for crucial safety items like cribs and car seats.
  • Essential Early Purchases: Secure furniture and room essentials such as the crib, changing table, and glider between 20-24 weeks to ensure a well-prepared environment.

Understanding the Best Time to Purchase Baby Essentials

Evaluating when to buy baby items can be challenging. It’s about balancing the timing to avoid clutter or last-minute stress.

Considerations for Early Purchases

Analyzing the benefits of early purchases involves several factors. Financial planning tops the list. Spreading out expenses over several months can make budgeting easier. For instance, buying nursery furniture and car seats early can help manage cash flow.

Availability is another factor. High-demand items (like popular stroller models or limited-edition designs) may sell out quickly. Starting early ensures you get the specific items you want without backorders.

Finally, shipping and assembly time impacts planning. Many large items like cribs or dressers might require delivery and setup, which can take weeks. Accounting for this time by purchasing early prevents last-minute rushes.

Common Recommendations

Informed recommendations can guide the timeline for purchases. Many experts suggest creating a checklist of must-have items. Focus first on essential items (like a crib, diapers, and basic clothing) during the second trimester. BabyCenter, a reliable source, recommends starting during the second trimester to avoid third-trimester fatigue.

Non-essential items (such as toys and decorations) can follow as the due date approaches. This phased approach ensures necessities are in place earlier while allowing flexibility for less urgent purchases.

Following a structured plan personalized to individual needs and timelines will ensure you’re well-prepared without unnecessary stress.

Building a Baby Shopping Timeline

Trimester-by-Trimester Guide

First Trimester

During the first trimester, focus on research. This period is ideal for gathering information about essential baby items like cribs, strollers, and car seats. Join parenting forums, read reviews, and create a list of must-have items.

Second Trimester

Begin purchasing essential items in the second trimester. Prioritize big-ticket items such as the crib, stroller, and car seat. This is also the best time to set up the nursery. Many experts recommend starting shopping after the 20-week mark since you’ll have a clearer idea of the baby’s needs.

Third Trimester

In the third trimester, concentrate on smaller, non-essential items. Stock up on diapers, clothing, and feeding supplies. Double-check your list to ensure you have everything you need for the baby’s arrival. If you’re having a baby shower, this is a convenient time to finalize your registry.

Key Milestones for Baby Gear Shopping

20-24 Weeks: Purchase the crib and start setting up the nursery.

24-28 Weeks: Buy the stroller and car seat.

28-32 Weeks: Gather smaller essential items like baby clothes, blankets, and diapers.

32-36 Weeks: Complete the shopping with non-essential items, stock up on feeding and bathing supplies, and finalize any remaining items on your registry.

Essential Baby Items to Purchase Early

Furniture and Room Essentials

Crib: Acquire the crib between 20-24 weeks. The crib serves as a centerpiece for the nursery, providing a safe sleep environment.

Changing Table: Purchase a changing table alongside the crib. It offers a sanitary and convenient spot for diaper changes.

Glider or Rocking Chair: Add a glider or rocking chair to the nursery for comfortable feeding and bonding moments.

Dresser: Get a dresser not just for clothing storage but also for organizing other baby essentials like blankets and diapers.

Clothing and Daily Care Items

Newborn Clothes: Stock up on onesies, sleepers, and socks around the 28-32 week mark. Babies outgrow clothes fast, so buy only essential sizes.

Diapers and Wipes: Start accumulating diapers and wipes in different sizes during the second trimester to ensure a steady supply after birth.

Swaddles and Blankets: Purchase swaddles and blankets early to help with comforting and securing the baby.

Bathing Essentials: Buy baby-specific bathing items such as a baby tub, gentle soap, and soft towels once you reach the 24-28 week mark.

By acquiring these essential baby items early, you ensure a well-prepared environment, reducing stress as the due date approaches.

Tips for Budgeting and Shopping Smart

Where to Find Deals

Finding deals can significantly reduce costs, especially for big-ticket items. Begin by checking online retailers like Amazon, Target, and Walmart for daily and seasonal sales. Subscribe to newsletters from these retailers and baby-specific stores, which often offer exclusive discounts and early access to deals. Secondhand stores and consignment shops are excellent places to find gently used baby items at a fraction of the retail price.

Inspect community-based options like Facebook Marketplace and local parenting groups where other parents frequently sell or give away baby gear. Utilize cashback sites such as Rakuten, which provide additional savings on online purchases. Regularly visit deal websites like Slickdeals to spot flash sales and coupon codes on baby products.

Balancing Quality and Cost

Balancing quality and cost is essential when shopping for baby items. For crucial safety items like cribs, strollers, and car seats, prioritize quality over cost. Refer to Consumer Reports and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) for safety ratings and recommendations. High-quality items, though more expensive upfront, often last longer and hold resale value.

For items like clothes, toys, and diapering supplies, consider buying in bulk or during sales to save money without sacrificing quality. Look for multi-functional products, such as a high chair that converts into a booster seat, which provides long-term value. Create a registry to let friends and family contribute high-quality essentials, enabling a balanced approach to budgeting and shopping smart.


Timing your purchases for baby essentials can make the journey smoother and less stressful. By planning ahead and breaking down your shopping list by trimesters, you can ensure you have everything you need without feeling overwhelmed. Prioritizing safety and balancing quality with cost are crucial steps in this process. Don’t forget to take advantage of deals and consider secondhand options to stretch your budget further. Creating a registry can also be a great way to receive high-quality items from friends and family. Happy shopping and best wishes on your exciting journey ahead!

Starting to buy baby items can be exciting, and a trimester-by-trimester approach helps manage this task without overwhelming parents. In the second trimester, focus on essential items like a crib and car seat, as recommended by What to Expect. By the third trimester, you can complete your list with clothing, diapers, and nursery décor, ensuring you have everything ready for the baby’s arrival, similar to the advice provided by BabyCenter.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I start buying baby essentials?

You should start planning and researching baby essentials in the first trimester. Focus on buying big-ticket items like a crib and stroller in the second trimester. Finalize smaller items and your registry in the third trimester.

What are the key milestones for purchasing baby items?

Key milestones include researching and creating lists in the first trimester, buying big-ticket items in the second trimester, and focusing on smaller items in the third trimester. Specific items like the crib should be purchased early in the second trimester.

How can I save money on baby essentials?

To save money, look for deals on big-ticket items from online retailers, secondhand stores, and community-based options. Consider bulk purchases and multi-functional products. Creating a registry can also help offset costs through contributions from friends and family.

How important is safety when buying baby items?

Safety is paramount, especially for items like cribs and car seats. Always prioritize quality and safety standards over cost for these essentials to ensure your baby’s well-being.

What should I include in my baby registry?

Include high-quality, essential items that cover various needs—everything from big-ticket products like car seats and strollers to smaller items like clothes and diapers. This allows friends and family to contribute significantly.

Are secondhand baby items a good option?

Yes, secondhand baby items can be a great way to save money. However, always check for safety recalls and ensure that items like cribs and car seats still meet current safety standards.

How can I balance quality and cost when shopping for baby items?

Prioritize safety and quality for crucial items like cribs and car seats. For other essentials, consider cost-effective options such as bulk purchases and multi-functional products. Use your registry to receive high-quality items as gifts.