Motherhood / Pregnancy & Baby

When to Start Buying Baby Stuff: Your 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Trimester Timeline

Last Updated: February 1, 2022

In the initial excitement of finding out you’re pregnant, you might feel like buying a few baby clothes or a small baby item to mark the occasion! But between your first positive pregnancy test and bringing your little one home from the hospital, it’s hard to know when to start buying baby stuff! While there’s not a definitive guide to when you should start buying baby things, this timeline will give you a general idea of when to buy certain things and a bit of the reasoning behind why.

For many, pregnancy can be a time of uncertainty and high emotions. Whether you have experienced difficulty conceiving, pregnancy loss, and/or other infertility issues, or unexpected pregnancy – each is different and may impact your personal decision on when you feel comfortable buying baby stuff and creating a baby registry.

Timeline for Buying Baby Stuff

Here’s a general timeline for buying baby things and what you’ll need when. Including: buying baby furniture, when to start buying diapers, when your baby shower is, completing your baby registry etc. Jump ahead:

First Trimester: 4-12 Weeks

When it comes to buying baby stuff in the firs trimester – before 13 weeks – keep this to a minimum. Consider the first trimester your research phase! You’ll have a lot of decisions to make as you get further along. Buy a cute onesie or stuffed animal or something meaningful to you to celebrate being pregnant. Shopping for baby can be so much fun. But you’ll have plenty of time to do this before baby arrives.

Reasons to Not Buy Baby Stuff Too Early:

  1. Early pregnancy uncertainty.
  2. Space – Baby stuff will take up space in your home. So you may not want to be moving boxes of baby stuff and gear around while also trying to set up a nursery.
  3. Baby Registry & Baby Shower Gifts – If you buy everything yourself early, then you’re missing the opportunity for those that care about you to buy thing from your baby registry!
  4. Budget – Baby stuff is expensive! Yes, it’s nice to spread out some big purchases over time, but consider saving that money, and buying what you really need later in pregnancy.
  5. Gender – If you plan to find out the gender of your child and that will influence your purchases (clothing and colors, typically) Then wait until your 20 week gender scan appointment.
  6. Returns – Consider your return window (if you buy too early, and then aren’t able to even use the item for a long time, you won’t know if it’s needed or if a newer version comes out etc.)

For example, if you have experienced miscarriage (or multiple miscarriages), it can feel like you just can’t buy any baby items until things feel further along! Is it bad luck to buy baby stuff early? No! What will happen, will happen. And if you do experience a miscarriage, it’s not your fault for buying a baby shirt early, in your excitement.

So what can you do in the first trimester? The first trimester is all about you. Take care of yourself. It can be a rough time for many women. You may be experiencing morning sickness, fatigue, and wild hormones. It can also be a time of fear or anxiety – even if you are also excited and hopeful. Both can be true!

Maternity Items & Wear

In your first trimester, consider they “baby items” to buy, being more about maternity items for you! Remember to keep buying your prenatal vitamins, if you’re not already. Get yourself some comfortable maternity clothes, bigger underwear, comfortable slip-on shoes etc.

Buy One Baby Item

Here’s a secret tip. Buy one or two small baby items. Something like a sweet onesie or a baby book. Let yourself experience this joy! At this moment, you are pregnant. You can’t control the future. We don’t know what will be. But at this moment, you are pregnant and excited. And if you want to buy a baby book or newborn t-shirt – do it. 13 Weeks isn’t some magical date that nothing bad ever happens after.

Research & Style Decisions – Nursery Theme

If you’re excited and thinking about baby stuff, then a good area to direct that attention is planning or researching. So Pinterest away styles for baby’s nursery and clothing styles. Consider your lifestyle and what kind of stroller you might like jogging vs city stroller etc.

And not everyone wants to decide on nursery style or research this early. But if you are excited to get things going, this a place you can start dreaming and planning instead of buying baby stuff early! This will also give you a jumpstart on putting together your baby registry later.

when to start decorating nursery
Create a secret Pinterest board for ideas your baby room & style. Then when you can start setting up the baby nursery later, you’ll have some ideas!

Second Trimester: 13-26 Weeks

The second trimester is all about creating your baby registry and getting the bigger items take care of in your baby room.

Create a Baby Checklist & Budget

Check out my minimalist baby registry checklist. This spreadsheet is a private list for just you, making sure you have everything you need. And it’s also a baby budget. Giving you a more realistic look at how much all this baby stuff is potentially going to cost, where you want to splurge or save, and how gifts and buying used can really help with the first few months of baby expenses. Whereas, a baby registry is as an outward-facing shared list for friends and family to know what to gift.

spreadsheet for minimalist baby registry checklist

Create a Baby Registry

After you have your baby checklist done, it’s pretty quick to create a sharable baby registry (Amazon is still the easiest). Plus, you get a sign up kit with some baby freebies and samples. And a 10% “completion” discount (15% off for Prime members) promo code to finish buying the rest of the items on your registry, closer to baby’s due date! Also check out my list of things not to put on your baby registry – baby items you don’t need.

Buy Baby Furniture – Crib, Dresser (changing table), rocker etc

The second trimester is a great time to start shopping for larger baby gear items for your nursery. You can buy bigger items like crib, a dresser to use as a changing table and storage, or a Glider rocking chair etc. Think items that you likely won’t receive as gifts. This is also a great time to look for gently used items on Facebook Marketplace etc.

babyletto crib
You’ll have more energy and time to assemble baby furniture in your second trimester!
glider rocking chair
Don’t forget to look used (Facebook Marketplace etc) for great deals on baby gear!

Start Setting Up the Baby Nursery

You will have more energy in the second trimester. So make use of this time by setting up baby’s room. This will give you time to decorate and and assemble things too. Assemble your crib, dresser or changing table. Add any room upgrades that you know you want. For example, we did a few minor things like changing out an overhead lamp shade. And adding pull-down black out shades and curtains to the windows. And get any other decorating items done.

Just remember, babies don’t need a fancy room. But it can be fun to decorate and pick a theme for baby’s room to make it a special place. Although if you plan to have your baby sleep in a bassinet in your room vs a crib, you might find that you rarely use the baby’s room for the first few months!

If You Find Huge Deals, Snag Them!

Although I recommend waiting until the third trimester and after your baby shower to complete your baby registry purchases, if you find a great deal, snag it. The second trimester is a great time to start planning for some bigger gear items to look for sales and be ready to jump on a sale. For example, if a jogging stroller is having a huge sale, be ready to pounce.

Home Repairs & To Do List

Sometime in your second or third trimester, many parents move into the hardcore nesting phase. You might find yourself doing bizarre things like organizing, decluttering, or finally feeling like the most important thing right now is fixing that broken shelf or wobbly doorknob. At about 13 weeks from my due date, I created a third trimester checklist of sorts. It was all about things I felt like I needed to make our home more comfortable before baby’s arrival. Things like installing smoke detectors in all the rooms, adding stair tread grips to our steep stairs, installing blackout pull down shades in the room that will be baby’s room etc. So get those little home repairs done before you have to plan it around baby sleeping!

Third Trimester: 27-40 Weeks

The third trimester is all about finalizing your baby purchases and getting things ready for baby’s arrival. 3-4 Weeks out from your due date is kind of when you should have everything ready for baby. Or ready-ish. Only for the reason that if your baby comes early you won’t have to worry about it!

Have Your Baby Shower

Baby showers are typically in the third trimester. Early to middle of your third trimester (so about 4-8 weeks before your due date) can be ideal so that you don’t have to rush in creating a baby registry. But also not so late that you already bought all your baby items, or if the baby comes early and you miss a baby shower!

And from a comfort perspective, towards the end of your third trimester, you may be feeling huge and exhausted! Just me?! Which made doing many little tasks just extra difficult, and less like socializing at a big party. But this also depends on when the people you love can attend. If you have family or friends who live far away, then it can just make sense to do a shower whenever you can. I ended up having my baby shower at 28 Weeks because it’s when closes family happened to be visiting!

Complete baby registry item, returns, & exchanges

Complete your baby registry items that you actually need. Remember, many baby registries offer a 10% of so complete discount code to get the rest of the items on your list at a discount.

And finish getting your baby items assembled. If you do this in early to middle part of third trimester it will also will give you time to do returns or exchanges if you realize you an item isn’t what you expected.

Buy a Car Seat

Get your car seat figured out at least 4-6 weeks before your due date. In the event your baby comes early (our little one surprised us 3 weeks early!!). We had a car seat, but friends had to go home, unbox and install it in our car and bring our car back to us so we could leave the hospital and bring baby home. Talk about a great baby gift!

Other than a car seat, you might start thinking about other baby travel gear essentials too (like stroller, car seat, travel wipes case, diaper bag etc.).

Buy Diapers

Check out my Diapering essentials post for everything you need to know. I recommend getting one small pack of newborn diapers! Most babies jump up to Size 1 very quickly (and some big babies skip straight to Size 1). Most babies are in Size 1 Diapers from about 8-12 pounds.

Plan for about 10 diapers per day for the first few months of newborn life.* So if your baby is doing a week of newborn diapers, and then switching to size 1. That would be 70 Size N and 210 Size 1 diapers, and 9 packs of wipes for the first month! And it’s easy to go buy more of the correct size, as needed!

Buy Baby Clothes

Here’s my list of essential newborn clothes, just remember they grow so quickly, that you’ll want limited amounts of newborn sizes. (some babies skip this size altogether!)

The best time to buy baby clothes is when they’re on sale! It’s a good idea to have some items in each sizes and you’ll probably receive baby clothes as gifts. But keep in mind that you’ll also be finding items after baby arrives and want some wiggle room to buy new things! So if you’re totally covered on clothing before baby arrives, that won’t leave space for more impromtu purchases later.

Wash baby clothes that you’ll need right away. Consider leaving tags on bigger sizes and not washing yet. You may find that you want to exchange or return items if you were gifted a lot and as you realize what style of clothes you’re actually putting your baby in more. ie. onesies and pants vs fullzip pajamas etc.

Baby Feeding Items & Breast Pump

How you feed your baby is a very personal choice. That said, breastfeeding is wonderful for your baby and you! So if you are able, give breastfeeding a try. Before you have a baby, you might have some ideas of what you want. But the truth is you don’t know how it’s going to go until your baby arrives. Fed is best! And everyone’s experience is unique. When it comes to breastfeeding essentials, it can be hard to know what you’ll need.

Check out my Breastfeeding essentials post for more info. But the third trimester is a good time to find out when and where you will get your breast pump. In the US, breast pumps are covered by insurance but you often need to know if you’ll receive it at your doctor office, hospital, or be reimbursed for it.

Baby Arrives

Congrats! Hopefully this timeline of when to start buying baby stuff helped you plan and buy the things you needed. Remember that most of us live close enough to stores to buy baby stuff even after baby arrives. So try not to plan for every single “what if” case. If you need more or less newborn clothes or diapers, you can drive to Target, get 2 day delivery on Amazon, or ask a friend to pick something up for you!

You’ve got this!

when to buy baby stuff - by trimester timeline

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