i did a lot of reading on mdc and a few searches of consumer reports for some items. we weren't planning on getting a crib or changing table, and i figured we could stave off getting a high chair or booster seat until the babe was actually sitting up and going to use them.
*Britax Marathon carseat: spendy but absolutely worth the $$, in my opinion. still rear-facing since it can be so until the child is 33lbs. rear-facing is safest: http://www.cpsafety.org/articles/stayrearfacing.aspx
we also didn't bother with the infant car seat with the lock in bucket.
*slings: Maya Wrap ring sling, Moby Wrap (two shouldered carrier), Ergo Carrier (we didn't buy this until our son was 4 months old because we didn't need it before then)
*exersaucer: we got ours used and weren't even going to get one until we put our son in it at the resale shop one day and he got the hugest grin on his face. it was a great buy and let us eat dinner while sitting at the table many nights.
*doorway jumper: again, we weren't expecting to buy one, but he tried one at a friends and loved it. this let me shower and know that he was safe and happy.
*stroller: we did not buy a stroller before the birth of our first child because we figured we could try the babe out in different ones and see which was most comfortable. we got a jogger stroller used when he was about 6 months old and he still hates it. then last summer we bought a Combi Savvy (travel stroller that's a little bit more than an umbrella stroller but just as lightweight) because we were planning some trips and our son loves it. he walks almost everywhere now, but it's great for traveling and walking through the airport and trips to the zoo and such.
*booster chair: we had a cheapo high chair we got used and we hated it and our son wasn't too fond of it either. the tray was a pain to clean, too. then we wanted a portable booster seat and found the Handy-Sitt chair made in Denmark. we bought it from www.pinkandbluebebe.com
It's the best darn thing in the whole world, we think...
*cloth diapers: i love my simple chinese prefolds (CPFs) but i also love Fuzzibunz pocket dipes. of course, i would have bought the totally wrong sizes for our son, who ended up being a skinny-legged one who the petite size fits best. who knew?