Reading the parenting magazines and listening to all the hype, you'd really believe that it costs thousands and thousands of dollars to raise a child. But I'm looking forward to attachment parenting and frugal green living, followed later by Waldorf-inspired homeschooling.
Baby's got to eat. Well, God thought of that when He gave me boobies! Barring any complications, we plan to arrange our lifestyle such that I can exclusively breastfeed baby until s/he no longer requires breast milk. For the few times I may be away from baby when s/he's hungry, I'm partial to using a baby syringe as a nipple replacement, instead of bottles. We'll need that for medication anyway, and it's free at most pharmacies.
Baby's gonna pee and poo. We do want to keep that content off the furniture and clothing, so we are diapering.... with cloth diapers. One time expense, and a much greener and more comfortable option for baby, plus helps encourage potty training since baby learns not to enjoy that moist butt feel as a toddler. We opted for simple prefolds with white velcro covers.
Baby's gotta get around. Since we do live in an area where we utilize a car often, a car seat is a must. What is not a must is three or four different car seats and boosters as the child grows. We're opting for a convertible car seat that can be set up rear-facing with the appropriate inserts to keep baby from flopping all over the place, and eventually to serve as a booster chair. When not driving, a baby carrier will be our first choice of transportation. It keeps baby and parent close together, plus baby gets to see what's going on at a higher level than in a stroller. Having said that, we do have a stroller we bought years ago second-hand that converts from a bassinet style to a sitting position, which also lets you move the handlebar so you can either be facing baby or you can both be looking in the same direction.
Baby's got to wear clothes. At least in public! We're fans of unisex clothes for the first few months for several reasons. First of all, we are not finding out the sex of the baby. Second, I don't like color-coding kids, and if we knew we were having a girl, for instance, many of our loved ones would shower us with frilly pink princess themed stuff, which makes me want to gag! But most importantly, babies grow. Very fast. Any item of clothing in the first 12 months of life or so will only be worn a handful of times anyway. With unisex items for this stage, should we be blessed with baby #2, there won't be a reason not to reuse the same stuff. Speaking of hand-me-downs, if you've got baby clothes you want me to take off your hands, let me know! I am anything BUT a hand-me-down snob. I love hand-me-downs. We practically dressed our foster daughter in the hand-me-downs of a nice lady I met online who didn't need her kids' clothes anymore.
Baby's got to be clean. Wet washcloth baths in the very beginning and baths on a towel in the tub later on sound like a plan to me. I watched my siblings bathed this way, and I don't see any reason to purchase items to complicate a simple process. Baby can also use the same towels we use (obviously clean), so no need to designate one with a hoodie that can't be used once baby is too big.
Baby's got to be healthy. So there are a few items that I think need to be in our first-aid kit. A thermometer, baby syringe, nose aspirator. This category is hardly a bank-breaker.
Baby's got to have fun and get some exercise! First of all, toys for babies are like bicycles for fish. Completely pointless, though the fish owner may get a kick looking at the fish and toys in the tank together. Since I'm focusing on the very early time period right now, I won't go into toys that I do think are advisable for toddlers and beyond. But babies? They play with their toes, your finger, a sock. Just be creative. They don't care if it's made by Disney.
Most importantly, baby needs mom and dad. And no store in the universe can compensate for one-on-one time with the parentals!