When you find out you’re expecting, the first thing you start to notice is just how much baby stuff is in shops. And then when you’ve noticed that, you start to notice how much is on TV, in magazines, billboards… And, especially when it’s your first, you want everything new.
My husband and I started off the same; new pram, new steriliser, new cot, clothes… the list went on. But a month or two after we started buying, when the ‘oh my God!’ feeling had passed and we realised just how much stuff might be needed (and read a terrifying article of how much the average parents spend on nappies each year), we started to re-evaluate. What actually needed to be new? What could we get second hand? Where could we save money?
So now our little one is almost 11 months old, and we’ve swapped nappies for pull-ups and we’re lucky if she doesn’t try to do a somersault off the changing table, here are a few of our top tips:
You can get really good quality items for cheap, if you’re happy buying second-hand.
Not everything needs to be new. Our moses basket was second hand, with two stands, sheets, blankets, and mobile for around £20.00. It lasted about 4 months and we resold it (on its own!) for the same £20.00. We got a barely used Mothercare changing table for about £30.00, and it’s still pristine. And when she’s too big for it to be a changing table (almost, almost…), the bumpers come off and it converts to a standard chest of drawers, with room for bits and bobs on top.
Buy things that have more than one purpose.
For instance, the cot we bought has a level for baby, a lower level for standing toddler and then the sides come off and it’s a toddler bed. Like the changing table, it will last years for little money. Try to buy a travel set rather than separate car seat, pram and pushchair. Not only is it a cheaper option buying everything together, it’s much more efficient and more of a space-saver to only have one frame that works with everything. You can then resell as a bundle, which is much more attractive to potential buyers.
If you have the room, store your best bargains.
A jumperoo (second hand, £40.00), a rainforest swinging chair (new without box, approximately £15.00), and a swinging crib (second-hand but pristine, £20.00) are all some of the things we’ve put into storage for Baby Number 2. Anything you find that has saved you time, saved you money, or saved your sanity, put to one side. You’ll thank yourself later.
Bundles are the best.
I still like to guiltily sneak a new dress, or jumper, or pair of tights into my basket when shopping, but for day to day wearing, bundles are the best. You can get them so easily on selling sites, and you can be looking to spend around 20-50p per item. Search either by size, gender, or item needed and you’ll find loads for the picking. New clothes are fun to buy, but you’ll find Baby won’t be wearing anything longer than a couple of hours before it’s covered in sick/poo (and later on, food) and needs to be changed anyway.
Make use of your consumer rights.
Just because you bought something second hand, doesn’t mean you won’t get help from the manufacturer if it turns out to be a dud. We bought a swinging, vibrating chair for around £30. When we got it home and put new batteries in it, it didn’t quite work as it should. We could have written it off (sold as seen, nothing we could do!) but we contacted the manufacturer. They wanted the model number etc. but confirmed that for it not to be working there must be a problem with the motor. They sent a pre-paid label, we sent it to them for inspection. After they confirmed the fault, they sent us vouchers for the retail value of the chair…. £80.00. It is always worth trying!
Make time for baby fairs and car boots.
With sometimes thousands of pieces of clothing you can rifle through at a tenth of the cost, unwanted gifts, and other parents trying to clear some space, you can really grab a bargain at baby fairs. Some of our best buys were a wooden crate with blocks for £2, a turtle musical star projector for £1 and a Fisher Price piano for £3.
If you can get/make something for free, do it!
Learn to crochet and whip up a baby blanket, create a tug toy with a shoebox and some string, or a rattle out of some dried pasta in a tupperware box. Be creative – sometimes the best things are the ones you came up with yourself!
Not everything needs to be new. So long as baby has a full belly, clean clothes and someone to hold them when they’re crying, they’ll be perfectly happy. So, get some good quality pieces and save yourself some money – you’ll need that for nappies.