Baby Gear Save vs. Splurge
Baby Gear Save vs. Splurge
September 7, 2022

Baby Gear Save vs. Splurge

Babylist editors love baby gear and independently curate their favorite products to share with you. If you buy something through links on our site, Babylist may earn a commission.
Baby Gear Save vs. Splurge

There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to choosing baby gear. Whether you’re building a wishlist for family and friends by creating a baby registry or shopping for gear yourself, cost is often a major factor when you’re trying to decide between car seats, high chairs, monitors and other major items.

Figuring out what gear to splurge on versus where you’d rather save is a personal choice; there’s no “right” answer, and most of the time you can navigate product decisions by taking a look at your overall budget and your particular lifestyle. But it is helpful to have all the facts—and that’s where we come in.

We’re taking items from 11 of our most popular baby gear categories and putting big-ticket items up against their budget-friendly counterparts so you can compare, contrast and figure out where you want to put your—or your gift givers’—hard-earned dollars.

And remember, if you add a higher-priced item to your baby registry, know that you can use the group-gifting feature and let people contribute as much as they’re comfortable with toward your gift.

Infant Car Seat

SAVE: If you’re debating whether to save or splurge on a car seat, it’s helpful to remember this: regardless of price, all car seats are safe when installed correctly, and all seats are tested to the same federal safety standards.

Keeping that in mind, the Graco SnugRide 35 is a safe, lightweight and very well-priced seat. It checks all the boxes most parents and caregivers are looking for when it comes to a rear-facing infant seat with features like a machine-washable seat cushion, an ample canopy and an adjustable 5-point front harness. It can also be installed using either your car’s seat belt or the LATCH strap.


SPLURGE: On the other end of the spectrum sits Nuna’s Pipa Lite Rx infant seat—a thoughtfully (and beautifully) designed seat packed full of high-end features…but it’s going to cost you.

The standout features of the Lite are weight combined with versatility. At only 6.9 pounds, it’s lighter than most newborn babies and a lot lighter than other infant seats on the market. (And if you think a few pounds doesn’t make much of a difference, talk to us after you’ve carried your car seat + baby around for a few months.) You can use it with or without the base, a huge perk if you’re frequently in a rideshare or taxi.

We also love the no-rethread harness for easy adjustments, the aerospace aluminum construction and crash-absorbent foam, the ultra-easy install and the Merino wool blend fabric.

Convertible Car Seat

SAVE: Convertible car seats are a must-have once your little one outgrows their infant seat, but the price can be tough to take. Not the case with the Scenera, a great seat from one of our favorite budget brands, Cosco, available exclusively through Walmart.

The Scenera Next is a fairly basic yet extremely safe seat—all for under $45. It can be used rear- and forward-facing, features side-impact protection and a 5-point harness with three buckle locations, and weighs only 10 pounds, making it easy to switch from one car to another if needed.

It can be tricky to get a tight install in some cars, so be sure to Google installation videos before you give it a go.


SPLURGE: If a safe, modern car seat that many say is “built like a tank” is in your budget, then you need to check out the Clek Foonf.

Despite its funny-sounding name, there’s nothing funny about this popular seat. Safety is the name of the game here. The Foonf incorporates European and auto industry safety features like Rigid-LATCH, an anti-rebound bar and an aluminum crumple zone. Parents also love the seat’s sleek design and fun color choices.

Keep in mind that this seat is tall. Width isn’t the issue (you can fit three across in many vehicles), but height is, and if you’re on the shorter side you may have trouble seeing out the back window when the seat is installed rear-facing.

Bassinet

SAVE: A safe place for your little one to sleep is a priority when you’re thinking about what type of gear you’ll want to buy or add to your registry. The LullaGo is a safe, simple solution that boasts a ton of smart features and won’t break the bank. The bassinet is simple in all the right ways: it’s light (so it’s easy to move around), it has basic mesh sides (great for breathability and air flow), features a large mattress (with a zip-off pad) and folds flat, making it perfect for travel.

It doesn’t feature any movement or sound features, but most parents (and babies) are totally okay with that.


SPLURGE: The Snoo is the original smart bassinet and the ultimate sleep splurge. Imitating the calming movements and sensations babies feel inside the womb, Snoo learns your baby’s wake patterns and auto-responds with gentle rocking and white noise to soothe them back to sleep. Some parents swear by it, reporting it helps their baby sleep longer stretches throughout the night, even very early on. There’s also a built-in swaddle that keeps baby from rolling into an unsafe sleep position.

So what’s the downside? Cost, of course. And the fact that some babies may not actually need all that much movement to help them sleep, meaning you could spend way less and have a baby who sleeps the same amount. We like the rental option if you want to give Snoo a try without shelling out thousands.

Crib

SAVE: Didn’t think you could love IKEA any more than you already do? Meet the (amazing) crib that works in any nursery and fits into any budget.

The Sniglar crib is simple and affordable. It’s made from solid beech wood (so nothing to worry about when it comes to unsafe paints or finishes) and meets all safety standards. The crib adjusts to two different heights and, when your little one is ready, you can remove one bed side and turn the crib into a toddler bed.

If we had to find some cons…the crib is on the lower side, which can be frustrating for taller parents (but great for shorter ones!). And as is often the case with IKEA furniture, the assembly instructions leave a bit to be desired.


SPLURGE: If you love simple, modern design and want a crib that can go the distance, you won’t mind splurging on Nestig’s The Wave Crib. It’s the ultimate in transformations, converting from a mini crib to a full crib to a toddler bed, so although it’s pricey, it’s the only sleep solution you’ll need for quite a while. The frame is constructed from sustainably harvested solid Brazilian Pine and the crib mattress has three adjustable heights.

Monitor

SAVE: “Video monitors? What? We didn’t have those! When you were little, we’d just leave the bedroom door open so we could listen for the crying,” says every grandparent ever. And we have to give them credit because…they’re right. A video monitor (or any type of monitor, for that matter) is great, but far from a must-have.

If you’re looking to cut your budget, this audio-only monitor from VTech will run you about $40 and more than gets the job done. We love that this one also has intercom capabilities so you can beg your toddler to nap longer when the time comes. Just be sure the transmission range works with your space.


SPLURGE: Want to step up your monitor game and learn ALL THE THINGS about your baby’s sleep? Then add this Nanit bundle to your registry stat, because there isn’t much this monitor can’t do. The Nanit tracks your baby’s sleep, movement, vital stats and even growth, all via a live stream right from your phone. The camera provides a crystal clear look at your baby both day and night, and the Breathing Band fits over your baby’s pjs and monitors breathing motion with no sensors. There’s even a Smart Sheet to track height and growth. It’s all tracked and analyzed via the Nanit app.

This Babylist exclusive bundle comes with a Nanit Pro Camera, Floor STand, one Small and three Large Breathing Bands, one Smart Sheet, Multi-Stand, Travel Case and one year of Nanit Insights.

Stroller

SAVE: A stroller is often a big-ticket registry item—but it doesn’t have to be. Known for affordability, this travel system offers a stroller and a car seat for under $200.

The stroller is lightweight and has many of the same features found in much higher-priced options like a full recline seat that rear- and forward-faces, a peekaboo window, a large sun canopy and a roomy storage basket. The car seat clicks right into the stroller frame so you won’t need to deal with adapters.

Is this stroller as sturdy and easily maneuverable as its $800+ counterparts? It’s not. But for a fraction of the price, it’s a great option for lots of families.


SPLURGE: Looking for stroller luxury? Look no further than Bugaboo, the first (and one of the best) stroller brands to play in the stroller splurge market.

A few things stand out about Bugaboo strollers: beautiful design, high-end materials and finishes, effortless maneuverability and an amazing suspension system that provides a cushy ride. The Donkey5 checks all of these boxes and more. It converts from a single to a double stroller in three easy clicks, and fits through most standard doorways even when carrying two kids. It works for one baby, siblings of different ages and twins and can be configured in countless different positions.

This stroller is a definite splurge, but if you’re a city family planning on having more than one baby and whose main mode of transportation is going to be your stroller (or any type of family who’s planning a lot of excursions with baby), you’ll want to give it a look.

Bouncer

SAVE: A bouncer seat is a safe, comfortable place for your little one to relax and play. (It’s also the perfect—and portable—spot for baby if you need to get something done like hop in the shower or cook a meal.) This one is simple and straightforward, and that’s what we love about it. It bounces via your little one’s natural movements and features music, a removable headrest and a toy bar. The seat pad is easy to pop off and toss in the wash when it’s starting to get icky. And the base has non-slip feet for extra security.


SPLURGE: Upping your bouncer game—and your bouncer budget—does come with some perks. Although this BabyBjorn model does basically the same thing as its lower-priced Fisher-Price counterpart, there are some standout features worth mentioning if you’re looking to splurge.

We love the beautiful simplicity of this seat. It’s ergonomic, thoughtfully designed and will catch the eye of any minimalist-loving parents. (And won’t stick out like a sore thumb in a neutral living space.) And it’s great for baby, too; it’s supportive in all the right places and made from an ultra-soft fabric that’s also machine washable. It can be used from day one and transforms into a toddler chair when your little one gets a bit older.

Baby Carrier

Keeping your baby close and your hands free are two huge benefits of adding a baby carrier to your registry. The Flip from Infantino offers four different carry positions for your little one—normally a feature of much higher-priced carriers—at a fraction of the price.

We love this carrier’s supportive waist belt, adjustable arm and leg straps and the padded shoulder straps for extra comfort. We don’t love that parents say the carrier doesn’t work as well for bigger babies. Just be sure to keep in mind that different brands of carriers work differently for parents and little ones, so it’s always worth doing a test run if at all possible before making a purchase.


SPLURGE: Ergobaby makes some of the most-loved higher-priced baby carriers, and the Omni Breeze is a favorite. Like the Infantino version, this carrier can be worn four different ways and has tons of options that maximize comfort and fit for bay and whoever’s doing the carrying. The other standout feature here is the material; it’s made from a soft and lightweight mesh so you won’t overheat while wearing it. The ergonomic design emphasizes hip health, which is a nice reassurance if you’re worried about how your little one is positioned in the carrier. And as for if it’s worth the extra spend or not, lots of parents and caregivers say it is—but you’ll really need to test it out for yourself to see if you agree.

Swing

SAVE: If you’ve ever spent an hour rocking a screaming baby, you know why a swing is so popular among new parents. Graco’s Simple Swing may have ‘simple’ in its name, but we think it’s anything but. This compact swing has everything we’re looking for to soothe and calm a fussing little one like several sway speeds (six, to be exact), two vibration settings and even sound options.

It’s marketed as ‘compact,’ which it is when compared to many baby swings, but take that with a grain of salt—it’s still going to take up a decent amount of space in any room.


SPLURGE: The wonders of tech take on baby soothing in this splurge-worthy swing. What stands out here is the swing’s unique movement. In addition to traditional side-to-side swinging, the mamaRoo offers four other motions that are designed to mimic the natural motions parents do when comforting a newborn. (Think things like a gentle wave or the bounce of a parent’s arms.) You can combine the movements with one of five speeds and four sounds any way you’d like, creating a completely customizable soothing experience for your baby that can stay the same or change over time as your baby grows and their preferences shift. You can also pair the mamaRoo with Amazon Alexa or Google Home for voice control and connect to Bluetooth to stream in your favorite music.

There is a con to keep in mind, though: some parents report their babies just don’t love the types of motion the mamaRoo makes. If that turns out to be the case with your baby, try coming back to it in a few weeks; babies’ likes and dislikes change so quickly over the first few months that it’s often just a matter of timing.

Playard

This no-frills playard is the ideal spot for baby to sleep when you’re on the go or for a safe place to play while you’re busy doing other things. Despite the low price, you’ll get a few features that we think are key to any playard: a durable frame, mesh sides for breathability, wheels for easy moving from room to room and an easy fold.

We don’t love the weight (it’s almost 20 pounds) or the thin mattress, but at this price point we’re happy to overlook those features and focus on the positives instead.


SPLURGE: If you’re going to splurge on a playard, the Remi, from UPPAbaby (you may know them for them awesome high-end strollers) is an excellent choice.

The quick, easy fold is the best thing about this playard. It takes one hand and only a few seconds, which is a pretty big deal if you’ve ever wrestled with a tough-to-break-down playard or travel crib. We also love the mesh sides and the zip-down panel on one side that gives you easy access if you’re trying to soothe your little one to sleep. The mattress is great, too; it’s made from a triple-layer air mesh so it’s comfy and breathable.

Pro tip: although this playard is also marketed as a travel crib, it’s on the heavier side, weighing about 20 pounds. If you’re looking for something better suited for travel that’s much lighter, we love the BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light.

High Chair

SAVE: This budget high chair tops many best-of lists, and it’s easy to see why. This no-frills chair is compact, sturdy and ultra easy to clean. It’s also lightweight and easy to move from room to room…all for under $30.

Cons? It doesn’t fold up. There’s no footrest. And it’s not great for younger kiddos. (But the good news is you can buy adorable accessories to help with all that.)


SPLURGE: The Stokke Tripp Trapp has a large and loyal following and has for years—and we totally get it. This iconic Scandinavian chair looks like a piece of furniture rather than a big, bulky plastic high chair. It pulls right up to the table so it’s easy to make your little one a part of family meals. And it grows right along with your baby; it’s the only chair you’ll need from the beginning of your solids journey all the way through the big kid years.

Keep in mind that there are lots of accessories that can drive the price up, though. Things like the tray and cushions will set you back even more.

This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babylist may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write Babylist content and the Babylist Health Advisory Board.