“ Buying all the items available on the market (many of which are totally unneccesary) can be an extremely costly business. It is possible to do it on a budget, without compromising your babies health, safety and development. It's all about knowing where to look. If you've done just that, and succeeded on a tight budget, then why not share your knowledge and advice with other dooyoo mums to be? „
I'm sure the thought of having a baby and the costs involved freak a lot of people out but for me I knew that this would not be a problem. I have always been one to save money on a day to day basis so naturally this was the route that I was going to take with the little one.
Various baby bibles and the internet tell you that you will need this and that and the list is longer than your arm and amounts to a small fortune. You may think that 9 months is plenty of time to get everything sorted but when you get the morning sickness weeks out of the way and the last few weeks where you may be very tired out and possibly even immobile, throw in a few special occasions (maybe even Christmas!) and you are left thinking where did the time go!
So, starting from the beginning I would suggest that if you suffer from morning sickness invest in some seabands. They are available on Amazon, Ebay and local chemists and cost around £6. I thought these were quite expensive as I just didn't think that they would work but they did their job perfectly. They are stretchy cuffs that fit on each wrist and have a white ball that pushes on a pressure point on your wrist.
Clothes for your little one
I was lucky enough to be given a few few new born clothes from a colleagues daughter. This was my first baby so I had no idea how many vests, babygros, sheets etc I would need. Although I did think that I had quite a bit already without having to buy anything.
I would advise you to accept gifted clothes as babys can be in newborn clothes for a matter of weeks so it is not worth spending £6 or more on 1 babygro. Also, we received so many outfits, many of which we did not use as newborns do not like to be pulled about while you are dressing them. If you are not lucky enough to know anybody that has recently had a baby try your local freecycle site. I received three black bin bags full of clothes ranging from 0 months right up to 9 months. I have hardly had to buy clothes for my daughter for the first year of her life saving me hundreds of pounds.
My list of essential items of clothing are:
5 babygros (pop up the front ones work best rather than the ones that have to be put over their heads)
5 plain vests - preferably long sleeved
Scratch mitts (although I never felt the need to use these and many babygros have these built in)
Coat or Pramsuit depending on the season
Without taking the fun out of shopping for a changing bag (I did it too) they are really not worth the money and within months you will be wanting to swop it for a small one or throwing some nappies in your handbag. I would advise signing up to the Boots website and getting the parenting club bag free with a purchase of Pampers nappies.
Next go to the Asda website and sign up to their baby club. When you do this you can download two vouchers for the Huggies Newborn Starter Kit. This has a packet of size 1 nappies, a pack of baby wipes and a hat. In this box there are also vouchers for money off further packets of nappies. The boxes usually cost £5 and you get them for free. If you get your family and friends to sign up you should manage to get yourself enough nappies to see you through the first stage! Even though our daughter was 8lb 8oz when she was born these nappies fit her until she was about 2 1/2 months old.
Huggies have always been our preferred brand as we have had very few accidents with them and they are good value when Tesco, Boots and Sainsburys have their 1/3 off events. I would advise against buying Sainsburys Little Ones Nappies as they are not elasticated at all so offer little protection from accidents.
The cheaper option for cleaning your baby is cotton wool and water but this can be a little messy. Throughout my pregnancy we stocked up on wipes as I feel this to be an essential for me.
My list of essential changing items are:
Newborn Size 1 Nappies (we must have used at least 10 packets)
Top and Tail bowl or a little plastic pots for holding water
Baby Powder (some people advise against this)
Hooded baby towel
Again this can be a very expensive area with cots ranging from £30 up to £300! We purchased our cot on Ebay for a mere £8.50. A lovely Mama's and Papa's one which was still on sale for £150. All we had to do was purchase a new mattress. Our extravagance was the cot mobile as Fisher Price do a lovely rainforest one but we bought it for £20 again from Ebay. 8 months on this is still being used.
I was getting stressed about cot sheets, flat sheets and moses basket sheets as I was being told by various family members that I would get through at least two a day. This was not the case and I am glad that I didn't stock up as they are quite expensive! I purchased some Muslin squares from Tesco and used these under her head in the event that she was sick. They are are good as burp cloths to save your clothes, make shift bibs etc.
The best tip was to use a pillowcase for the moses basket mattress as the work just as well.
Don't spend a fortune on a moses basket either. Our daughter was in hers for just 9 weeks and seemed a little bit of a waste of money. See if you can borrow one or certainly look for second hand ones.
My list of essential nursery equipment are:
Cot & mattress (make sure the mattress is a good one as they could be using it for 2+ years)
2x Fitted Sheets
Baby Sleeping Bag (this stops baby's from kicking off their covers in the middle of the night)
Wipeable Changing Mat
A suitable chair or swing
Taking Baby Out
We could not afford to buy an expensive travel system that cost hundreds of pounds so we purchased one from ebay. Initially we loved it but when we actually tried to shop with it it was a nightmare. We couldn't get it around shop aisles and we would end up taking half of the shop with us! So we did end up buying a brand new stroller (which was one of the only things we purchased brand new!) Strollers now days are suitable from birth and are very lightweight and will see your baby from birth until they are able to walk about.
Baby slings are brilliant as it allows you to be hands free and when your baby is a little older then can face outwards. They are also good for babies that develop colic and do not like being left alone. They allow you to carry on with the housework etc.
Invest in a good car seat that will last you as long as possible. Apparently it is best for your baby to be rear facing up to at least 16 months as it is safer should you be involved in an accident.
We also purchased a mirror for the car that fixes onto the headrest to allow you to see your baby in the rear view mirror.
As they say breast is best but I was so ill after giving birth that I didn't feel up to it. This would have been the cheapest method of feeding and wouldn't need any of the equipment that I am about to list!
We were given a bottle cooler and warmer made by Lindam by a friend but never used this. We found that it would warm the bottle too much which is not good when you have a baby screaming for its feed!
We tended to use a jug of hot water to warm the bottle but after 6 months I got inpatient and thought I would try warming the bottle in the microwave which I wished we had done from the beginning. You have to give it a good shake afterwards to disperse any hotspots but it takes around 30 seconds to heat to a suitable temperature.
We have found that 8 bottles are sufficient enough - this enabled us to make the feeds all in one go so they were ready for the day ahead. We went for the Avent Gold Bottles but wished we had invested in Dr Brown bottles as our daughter suffered from colic for the first 7 weeks which was awful.
We also purchased the Tommee Tippee steriliser which allows you to sterilise 6 bottles plus dummies etc in around 5 minutes. (I would advise against this one as we have had nothing but trouble with it but I will save that for it's very own review!)
Find the cheapest reputable brand of dummies you can and stick to them! We made the mistake of purchasing the mam dummies as I liked the designs but cannot get her to have any other dummy now and they are one of the most expensive brands! They do sell their own range of soother savers though which are a godsend when you are out - no more dummies on the floor.
Essential feeding items list:
Thick cotton bibs (I dislike the plastic backed ones as they are not very absorbant)
A few items that are a must - calpol or similar for after their innoculations, saline nasal drops for stuffy little noses that they just can't blow, Ashton and Parsons teething powders are amazing but quite hard to get hold of, bonjela, a syringe for giving medicine, oilatum for any skin complaints.
And the all important item that doesn't cost a thing - LOVE! At the end of the day it is all they need. There wasn't all of this fancy stuff around a hundred years ago so don't worry that you don't have the newest most up to date stuff. It really does not matter!
So you got those two blue lines on the little white stick- you're heart is racing, your so excited to meet your little one even though it is still 9 months away. The thoughts of telling your parents, of letting your friends and partner know, but then it hits you, oh gosh, what are you going to do for money? You'll have to give up work for at least a few months, and get a fraction of your wages, you'll have a new mouth to feed, and what about all the STUFF the baby needs! How on earth will you afford it all!!!
Well not to worry- I just had my first baby, I don't work (though my husband does but with a relatively low income), and I managed to get everything my daughter needs without spending a fortune!!
First, write a SENSIBLE list of what the baby actually needs. There are so many pointless things on the market which you don't need for the baby...so don't worry about skinting yourself for them!! Here is a sensible list of what you really need for the baby:
Moses Basket and Stand
Sterilizer (you could just buy a large bowl or bucket and use sterilising tabs or fluid)
6-12 bottles and teats
6-12 newborn vests
4-6 newborn sleepsuits
3-4 baby towels
a warm coat or jumper
plenty of mittens (70p for a set of 2 in Asda!)
1-2 newborn sized hats
a changing bag
a changing mat
baby bath or seat/float for the big bath
breast pump (if breastfeeding)
car seat (if you have a car!)
pram (you may be best getting a travel system if you are going to be using the car seat a lot).
Nightlight (may not sound necessary but for me if was a must have as baby is scared of the dark!!!!!)
I would also get a few outfits in a slightly bigger size incase baby is too big for newborn clothes- they will grow into them, but dont make the mistake I did and only buy 0-3 month clothes, as my baby had no clothes which fit right until I got out to go shopping!!!
OPf course there are hundreds of other things you CAN get, but you don't have to get them things like a baby sling, nappy disposal unit, changing station, warderobe etc.
I would also stockpile on nappies and baby lotions and wash in sales etc running up to the birth!!!!!
Ok now for the saving money part!!!
First off make sure you are gettig everything you are entitled to. If you leave work during your pregnancty after 22 weeks (so long as youhave worked for them for the qualifying period), you may be entitiled to Maternity Allowance instead of Maternity Pay. If you are signed off work with sickness in pregnancy, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance.
Then there are the grants, at the moment all pregnant women get £190 in Health in Pregnancy Grant (this ends in April 2011 due to government cuts), all women get this at their 25th week of pregnancy regardless of your circumstance.
For those on low incomes, you may qualify for the Surestart Maternity Grant which is £500 (you can only get ONE of the grants!). So be sure to look into these grants and benefits before worrying too much.
Now on to buying things. Consider looking on websites like Freecycle.org this is a website where people offer items free of charge- I got a sterilizer and changing mat which goes over the cot off there, but there were other things offered which I wasn't quick enough to get; cots, moses baskets etc! All you'd need is a new mattress for these items!!!
Look on Ebay! I got a GORGEOUS moses basket and a rocking stand for just £10!!!!!!!!!! RRP was £100! I was ecstatic although a moses basket and stand only usually cost around £30 brand new, I had a saving of £20 AND I had the moses basket stand I wanted which I would never have been able to afford otherwise.
People sell most things they had for their babies especially if like me they could not store their items after the baby was too big for them and most are happy to sell them cheap for mums to be like me who couldn't afford much!
The pram tends to be the biggest expense, most travel systems are over £300, we had no chance and I was annoyed that after she had grown out of it, I would have to sell it at a much lower price than I had paid as I would never have the room to store it for IF we ever had another baby.
I very luckily found a beautiful Mamas and Papas Freestyler travel system for just £50 with the car seat and in amazing condition! A good £300 less than the RRP even though it was hardly used!!! Meaning when my daughter is too big, it won't be a huge expense down the drain.
Look in the sales for baby clothes: don't spend £10 for a tiny dress or £15 for a couple of baby grows, look in the sale items in the likes of Asda, you'll get the clothes half the price!!!
Ask family and friends for their old baby items, most parents keep the clothes and cot etc for their next baby even long after they've decided on no more children and will usually be very willing to give it to you for nothing, it's always worth asking!
Try putting £10 a week away for when the baby is born, if you do this over 8 months around 36 weeks, this is £360..and will definitely help you out in the first few weeks until your tax credits and child benefit are sorted, for me it was 5 weeks before it was paid to me, if I hadn't had my mum lending me £25 a week until I got my money through I would have been very stuck for buying nappies and milk, so if I was to do it again, I would definitely put £10 a week away to help in those first few weeks!
I really hope these tips help mums to be, been pregnant is an exciting and scary time, don't worry about spending thousands of pounds on your babies cot...they won't remember it...and nobody will see it apart from you and your partner! Don't buy into the gadgets and gizmos which you probably won't use...just buy the necessities and if you find you have the money spare, you can buy the extras then!!!
Budgets are a necessity these days, even if you are planning for the up and coming new arrival. Babies although beautiful and a joy to anyone they can be very expensive even from the day of conception.
As a mother myself I am fully aware of the hormonal changes that happen to our bodies, so can someone please explain why we have to buy every book or magazine ever printed, just to make sure we are doing things right.
Within the glossy pages of these books and magazine's are very clever advertisments telling us what we need to buy so that we make our baby safe and happy. What they forget to mention is the cost. So if you have a budget avoid the books and magazine's then you won't give into temptation.
If things do get out of hand cut out the pictures and look for the cheaper alternative you might even get a really good bargin.
O.K so despite endless advice on what to buy and what not to buy and what I would and wouldnt need I went ahead and spent god knows how much money on things I didn't really need and didn't spend half as much as I needed to on things I really did need.
It was my first pregnancy, and I don't suppose any of us like to listen really as we all think we 'know it all' at some point. I found out I was having twins, and then twin boys ( non identical ) but I just wanted everything baby'fied in every catalogue and shop I looked in. Now though I realise half the things I bought were just a total waste, and now I know next time I have a baby I will be alot more sensible when it comes to buying things. In fact I'm doing things now that I wish I had done when I first found out I was pregnant.
Of course I wanted the brand name products, the best and most fashionable clothes, the biggest and most expensive toys, the best looking double buggy I could find, which of course resulted in a lot of money being wasted.
Most things I had to buy two of obviously as I was expecting two babies at once, but even though I was expecting two it still didn't stop me from wanting to spend hell of alot on money when really I should of been looking to save it.
I bought two sterilisers, loads of babygrows and vests in newborn and 0-3months, two moses baskets, rattles and a few other fancy toys to pin on their pram and cots etc, baby bath, bibs, socks, this is just some of the things I had to get but most of the things I actually needed I didn't buy anyway as I was so wrapped up in the whole "my twins will have the best, and most expensive things" phase.
They stayed in their moses baskets for just 4weeks as they were both quite big born at 7lb 4oz and 7lb 1oz and continued growing at a hefty rate (lol), for the first week they were in the same moses basket, but even when put on their own they grew out of them very quickly so of course I had to move them to their cots, they shared a cot for the first month and then were in their own. Because I had realised I had wasted quite a bit of money on 2 moses baskets for a start I went to Mothercare to shop for cots, and decided to opt for the cheapest which set me back £260 for 2 cots which they still have now at 16months. I'm so glad I opted for the cheapest as now they just kick them until the bars break, bite them and bounce them round their room like they are toys. So the moses baskets I really think are a waste of money, why spend money on a moses basket when you are going to transfer them to a cot in no time anyway. O.K so they might last in a moses basket for a few months but they are still going to end up in a cot so theres not much point on wasting the money on a moses basket in the first place. Get them used to sleeping in a cot straightaway, and that way they don't get used to sleeping in one place and then you don't have to mess up their comfortable surroundings when they get to a certain size. Babies can adjust quicker than we know it too things and will get used to a cot from day one. Of course this may not be everyones cup of tea but I so wish I had just put them in cots straightaway.
I probably would of bought 2 baby baths too but whats the point my Mum asked as there was no way I was going to be bathing two babies at the same time! Ahh thats right knock some sense into me Mum. They grew out of their newborn vests and babygrows within a week and were soon out of their 0-3 months ones as well. Nappies they were flying through like wildfire. This is when I began to realise I needed to take different steps to try save myself some money.
I had to buy highchairs, and yes I did need two, so I shopped around for good but 'cheap' ones and managed to get two lovely high chairs for just £50 including the delivery and they are still in excellent condition now.
Here are a few things I've found have helped me save money, and hope they can be hot tips for mums to be also;
As for their clothes I buy them in advance now, and I tend to go to primark for their tracky bottoms and jumpers and t-shirts for around the house as they are so cheap, but nice at the same time. For their 'smarter' clothes I will go to Matalan, Next (sometimes) or Asda as I do think the prices are really good, especially as I buy two of every outfit.
Car Boot Sales and Charity Shops have been a total godsend for toys !! I even have toys stocked for when they are a little older which I have purchased in charity shops and at boot sales, they have been real bargains. I wouldn't have dreamed of doing this before but for what they do to their toys (throwing them everywhere, drawing on them, breaking them etc) I didn't want to pay £15 plus for a toy which wasn't really going to last two minutes. So with my bargain toys I give them a good wipe over and clean and they are just as good as one I would buy brand new in a shop, nobody knows any different and my boys are happy. By doing this I have saved so much money.
I have found that by shopping around when I've seen something I want for the boys has helped me save alot of money. I've also got my head around the whole not buying what I "want" for the boys and instead buying just what they need! They don't have a clue about what clothes they are wearing etc, just so long as they are clean, tidy and warm in the cold winter months and they have my love and attention there is no happier child really.
I'd say when you find out you are pregnant write down a thorough list of exactly what you will NEED for your baby, shop around for the best prices and even look on ebay, your local newspaper ads and like I said Boot Sales and Charity Shops. I wouldn't buy loads of clothes for when they are just born as they really do grow out of them so quick, they also don't get dirty as quick when they are just babies as there is no mucking about in them etc. Also I'm sure friends and family will buy you clothing gifts too for when your child is born.
I found joining parenting clubs etc has helped me, such as Bounty and Boots, they have sent me money off coupons etc. Also with Boots you can earn double points on your advantage card when buying certain baby products which these all add up. I even joined Pampers and Huggies and received coupons form them for money off their own products such as nappies. Every little helps.
I didn't breastfeed but I'm sure breastfeeding would be alot cheaper than buying formula. Formula tubs cost at least £6.50 a tub which is unbelieveably costly when it doesn't last that long either.
As for your pram don't just assume that the most expensive one you see is going to be the best, really look into your pram and what you are going to use it for, whether you need it to fold up easily or maybe fit into a car or onto public transports If you need it to be lightweight and if you need it to carry shopping etc. Are you going to be out and about shopping more, or long walks? Is it going to last your child until they are a bit older or will it be a 2 minute pram. Really do alot of research when it comes to your pram, as there is not always a need to spend £300 plus on a pram which is supposedly the "best" pram at the time and all the rage, as it may not meet all your requirements.
As for buying a baby bath, they are not in them long and I probably would of been better off bathing them in a large bowl which you can buy cheap enough.
I always said when I was pregnant if anybody offered me any hand me downs I would politely say no as I want all new, now if anybody offers me anything that I think I may need I jump at the chance, there is nothing wrong with any of it really and so long as it saves you money why not take it if somebody else doesn't want it. Also to keep the good deed going you can hand it down to somebody else yourself when finished with it as it could help somebody else in need.
I found when weaning my boys onto more solid foods they didn't really like the jars anyway but have you seen the prices of them? I had two big babies to feed and the ones they did enjoy didn't really last very long. So I spent a good £10 on a baby mixer, and pureed veg and their dinners. For me it got them used to eating 'proper' food early on they coped with it well and they basically ate what I ate but in a smooth version and then I gradually mixed their food less to introduce lumps. It was so much cheaper than having to go buy jars of gunk which looked and smelt absolutely horrid in my opinion. I couldn't let them eat that.
I also had all the accesories for the boys cots, cot mobile, cot bumper, quilt and sheets. The mobile was useless, it played an annoying melody to be honest and more often than not woke the boys up rather than calmed them to send them to sleep. The quilt was matching, but it was thin, small and useless really, I would of been better off just buying a lovely warm blanket from somewhere. I bought baby monitors too which were a total waste of money as the house I lived in was so small I could hear the boys when they cried no matter what room I were in. Only buy a car seat if you are actually going to need one, but I wouldn't reccomend buying one secondhand really, just my opinion but there is no guarantee it's going to be 100% safe!
As for nappies and toiletries, keep an eye out when offers are being held. Know when you are going to need some more and stock up when the offers are in place. You can even stock up before you even have your child on bigger sized clothing if it's in the sale, your baby bath lotions and shampoos, and nappies too. Buying in advance I find helps me alot with two babies. The offers that are in place in supermarkets etc really do help out too when I'm planning on stocking up on nappies and wetwipes.
When you've finished with clothes, and accessories if it's still in working and good condition you can either try sell it to make a few extra pennies yourself, or join your local freecycle group if you have one near you. This is a good way of 'recycling' your things for free, and helping somebody else out at the same time.
Toys is another big one, yes I did save money by buyin toys at charity shops and boot sales, but there are plenty of things you can make these days to keep children occupied and provide them with genuine fun rather than letting them make fun on their own with an overpriced battery powered toy. Obviously this would be easier as your child gets older, but it really does work. My boys are only 16months old now but they love painting (paints can be made yourself) gluing, anything messy really lol. So I keep any old leaflets, catalogues, boxes, bottles - Oh yes anything noisy too. Fill a bottle with some nuts and you've got a perfect noisy instrument which doesn't cost much at all.
So basically within all my rambling what I'm trying to say is, only buy the essentials you need for your baby, shop around for the best prices. Keep an eye out in charity shops, boot sales, ebay and your local newspaper ads when you do need something. Just doing these simple steps could save you so much money and your baby would still be the happiest baby ever! If people reccomend things for you and your baby, or you read reccomendations in magazines it doesn't neccesarily mean you do actually need it. You will know what your child needs as time goes on and it is a big learning curve for all parents whether you are 1st time or 6th time mum. I hope my personal tips help someone, as gradually they have helped me heaps.
Just because you are being careful with your money when it comes to your little one it doesn't mean you don't love them. A happy child results from a happy parent, and if we save money we are happy - theres my logic in it all lol
I had known I wanted kids at some point but when the pregnancy test was positive it began a whole new ball game. Suddenly we had to buy all the things a baby would need and there was a little thrill in the idea of choosing all the lovely things we would want or need.
Still, I thought, I'll be cautious and wait until 12 weeks before I start buying anything and I'll spread the cost, though I couldn't help but admire little things as soon as I knew. Passing the clothing section in Tesco added a whole new dimension to shopping.
Then, at 7 weeks and an early scan, we found we were going to be preparing for two babies. Shocker! I was delighted.
This put a whole new spin on things though, we lived in a pokey two up two down terrace and had no room for the obvious things we needed. Our dining table was a creative two seat affair and we simply couldn't imagine what to do.
So, knowing we had to move and deciding to make a move on the property ladder meant baby shopping would be on the cheap. Knowing we had to have two of many things changed the budget.
Having established what was important, we decided that we would have new cots and mattresses but anything else could be second hand. Cots are known to harbour MRSA and may well explain many 2nd and consecutive sibling cot deaths when cots are reused but not cleaned properly in the interim.
My parents stepped in and bought two cot beds, half price at Toys R Us, just under £80 each. Our twins are still using them at age 3 in their bed form and with at least another year or two of use to come.
The other grandparents bought the mattresses, also from Toys R Us, using vouchers we received when the cots were bought and we bought the type suitable for cots then beds with wipe over covering on one side and breathable cloth on the other. In other words, lifetime mattresses instead of the flimsy foam cot mattresses which would need replacing again as the cots became beds.
Our choice of cot beds was a slightly unusual size so we bought some of the sheets at Toys Y Us too, again using vouchers from the back of the in store magazine and making use of a 3 for 2 offer, so I bought 6 which still see us through in rotation.
The rest of the bedding came from Dunelm Mill, which has a great selection of pretty, themed baby and child bedding in sets, which also have a great resale value later down the line. Dunelm Mill have a website if you don't have one close by.
Now we had somewhere to put the babies we thought about transport. In a fit of organisation I posted a wanted advert on our local Freecycle website. Freecycle is all about reducing landfill by giving away items you intend to get rid of. You can post 'wanted' or 'offered' adverts. Some people are very rude and ask for things to sell, we've fallen foul of that, but some are pleasant and genuine and give things away which save other people no end of trouble.
Freecycle can be found by googling along with the name or your area or nearest town. It's all free!
Our advert asked for any baby items for twins. From that one ad we got a McLaren double pushchair, two single Graco pushchairs with car seats and bases, two bouncers, two moses baskets and stands, a bottle warmer and a highchair. That's around £800+ of baby kit and the givers were pleased to see it go.
We used a wallpaper stripper to steam clean everything, MRSA loiters in fabrics and the weave of moses baskets too. Research told us that bleach and high temperatures kill MRSA and most other nasties. Bleach isn't kind to newborn skin so steaming was the way for us. Everything was in great condition anyway but looked brand new and gleaming once steam cleaned.
We gave the bottle warmer away pretty fast. It was a pain in the neck on the side in the kitchen. We found two Tesco 33p measuring jugs did the job just fine when filled with boiling water and the bottles placed inside.
We used all the pushchairs, the double at times and the single if we were both out, the car seats and bases were used everyday and eventually we gave them all away again to be used by others with their children.
We bought a single changing mat and kept it slid underneath an armchair when not in use, thereby not bothering with a changing unit, though my Nannan, excited about forthcoming babies bought one anyway so we had the luxury of having one in their bedroom too.
I joined the Boots and Tesco baby clubs, which has yielded a great deal of coupons, even during pregnancy, for stocking up on essential baby products and a few treats for the burgeoning mother to be.
Then I began shopping on eBay. Buying in bulk was great. I bought expensive washable nappies (Kooshies) in large quantities for far less than you can find on the high street. I'll admit to failing entirely with washables, it was such a headache and I gave in and bought disposables to my own disgust.
However, I resold all my nappies and recuperated almost the entire cost back on eBay!
I then used the money again on eBay to buy bulk Tommee Tippee bottles, dummy clips, MAM teats and dummies and the other small paraphenalia which comes later. These are small items which not every baby or mother wants but if you do use them they begin to aggravate with their inflated prices.
Our girls would only have orthodontic teats and dummies, which was fine but they cost a little more than most.
Breastfeeding is the cheapest way to feed a baby of course, but not everyone can. I was able to make use of the local Surestart services who loaned out breastpump which had all brand new pieces, ensuring hygiene. This meant I could express to make the most of my milk even when one of my babies couldn't feed. Eventually we used formula and even then, chose Farleys, one of the cheapest on the market but with the better balance of casein for babys instead of the much heavier products like Cow & Gate.
As the girls grew I would give away what they had outgrown or no longer needed and readvertise in need of each new stage of development on Freecycle and on the local forum. This gave us clothing and toys, a couple of lightweight strollers for a holiday, two bed guards when the cot sides came off, a baby walker and no end of other useful bits and pieces. Even now I can advertise second or third generation pre-loved items, continually passing on.
Car boot sales are a veritable gold mine for baby items, but only if you go early. The good stuff is sold quickly but the prices are usually excellent. We usually buy toys or clothes and we've had some John Rocha clothes and hugely expensive Fisher Price toys for as little as £3 for the £65 toy and 50p for clothing.
eBay was handy for shoes too. Clarks cost an arm and a leg if you keep twins in them but since most toddlers barely make a mark on shoes until about 18 months old, you can get first walkers in mint condition for a snip on eBay. So, we had the girls feet measured but bought online, usually saving up to 80% or 90% of the cost and still having the right sizes and in the current trends in the Clarks stores.
After the initial few months of shed loads of baby clothes as gifts for the new arrivals, I began buying their clothes in bulk on eBay and in sales. It's a habit I've stuck with. I keep a seperate wardrobe of clothing for the year ahead as I buy all their clothes for the next age group. So, as the end of 08/09 winter stock sales are beginning I'm buying the clothes now for winter 09/10 in the appropriate sizes.
This means I'm prepared for any growth spurts and I can spread the rather diminished cost over the years sales.
We made full use of the Woolworths closing sales and stocked up on clothing, shoes and school uniform for when they need it in 18 months or so. At 45p - 99p each item instead of £7 - £10 each I'm happy to keep a little space aside for them.
There are no end of freebie websites which can help new parent with allsorts of items like feeding spoons and samples. They need to market their products and we need to save the cash, no problem. We tried no end of products by signing up to many websites. Just be careful to tick the privacy boxes or you'll be plagued by junk mail forever more.
Anything we buy new generally has a resale value on eBay or on the local forum for sale section. We picked up two Bumbo seats on there for £15 and £13 and resold them on there 6 months later for the same prices. Both in the same condition and used well for several months.
Though we've saved money every step of the way where possible, occasionally sacrificing beauty for practicality, it's been worth it. The days of empty nurseries full of antique furniture are long gone, we live in practical houses for the most part and most of the products we are instructed we 'need' are just luxuries which we must eventually part with. So why buy new and waste money? It might be a worthwhile investment if you plan to use any item for more than one child but there are so many baby sales items because they get very little use. The best part of the day a baby sleeps, nothing wears out, except patience now and then when they lie awake at night!
My writing may appear in the same or slightly altered format on Helium, or other sites.
Preparing for the arrival of a baby does not have to be an expensive experience. There are of course alot of expensive products out there on the market, and they sound as though you must have them. But if you take a few minutes to think about it, do you actually need it? I have a 13 month old boy, and when we learned that we were expecting a baby, we started to write a list of things which we thought we needed to buy. One good bit of advice that I can give is to not always buy brand new. We bought alot of our baby stuff second hand from car boot sales and jumble sales. We manged to get some lovely clothes for very little money, and babies grow so quickly that the clothes were as good as new. We also bought a second hand pram and buggy, which have lasted really well, and saved us a fortune. Some things you must buy new, such as a car seat, and bottles etc. These can be bought cheaper on the internet. If you research on price comparison sites you can get the same items for the cheapest price.
I used to always say that if I'd waited until I could afford a baby, I'd never have gotten pregnant. I'm sure this sounds familiar to a lot of people. However, having a baby needn't be nearly as expensive as people would have you think. In fact, you needn't spend much money at all.
I have to admit, I've changed a lot since I was pregnant with my first child 7 years ago. Back then, I wanted to get all the latest must haves. When my son was born just under 2 years later we did reuse a lot of items, but again bought some new. Looking back, we realised how much of a waste it all was. We've become a lot more frugal since then. Where I would've splashed out and spontaneously bought that new pair of shoes to go with that new outfit, I now only buy something if we NEED it and even then I'll search online for discount codes and cashback sites before I part with any money.
So, when we had our youngest daughter last year, we only bought the very least amount of items possible. Here are 10 tips on preparing for a baby on a budget. Enjoy, and I hope you find them useful.
1) Breastfeeding - Do it if possible. This is absolutely free, is the best food for your baby and is all they will need for the first 6 months. If you have no need to express, don't bother even buying bottles, sterilisers and pumps and what not.
2) Cloth Nappies - Obviously not everyones cup of tea, but it really isn't as bad as you may think. I was expecting lots of folding, safety pins and scrubbing to get them clean. However, nappies have evolved so much. There are velcro fastening, popper fastening, all in one's to name a very few. The paper liners mean everything goes on there (most of the time anyway) and goes straight down the toilet. You can pick cloth nappies up pretty cheap. I got a full set of Motherease One Size (birth to potty) nappies, which included absolutely everything I needed for £150 on ebay brand new (worth over £300). If you really are pushed for cash, keep your eye on your local freecycle site and get second hand ones for free. I spent around £10 per week on nappies for my older 2 children. Do this for 2 years and you're almost literally throwing £1040 down the toilet. Despite what some will have you believe, there really isn't that much extra washing involved - about 2 loads a week. Speaking as someone who's actually doing it, there's no way I'm spending the £890 I'm saving on extra washing!
Cloth nappies don't lose much of their value either, so once you're done you can make a big percentage of your initial outlay back by selling them on.
3) Freecycle - This has been mentioned in number 2. For those not in the know, freecycle is an internet based group. There is one in most areas around the UK and the aim is to keep things out of landfill by giving them to other people. When I first found out about freecycle, my dad stated "it'll all be a load of old tat!". Well, maybe some, but certainly not all, and you know what they say "One man's junk is another mans treasure" and freecycle can be a goldmine. However, please don't abuse it! The idea is that you offer as well as ask. Anyway, I see items like moses baskets, cots, baby baths, prams etc on my local one all the time. Not to mention clothes and toys. I've given away and received a lot of our baby stuff on here and it's almost always good quality stuff.
4) Ebay - For what you can't get on freecycle, head to ebay. From my experience it's similar quality though, so I'd always check freecycle first.
5) Friends and Family - Everyone always wants to buy stuff when they find out there's a new baby on the way and more often than not you'll end up with several of the same items of clothes. Work this to your advantage and if they ask what you need be honest and tell them nappies, wipes, bedding etc. For grandparents who want to get something a little bigger ask for a nappy starter set or a cot. One thing you will almost certainly need to buy is a car seat, so if you have everything you need why not suggest this as these should NEVER be second hand.
6) Don't waste money on a pram and a pushchair and a buggy. Use a sling/carrier/papouse. Your baby will be happier, you don't need to worry about maneuvering and they are so much cheaper (or free if you're lucky enough to be gifted one on freecycle). If you really need something, why not look at a travel system. They usually come with a car seat, are suitable from birth for as long as they will need a buggy and are very good value for money.
7) When it comes to weaning, don't go buying jars etc. Apart from being expensive, they're not particularly good for your baby when compared to fresh home cooked food. It's as easy as putting an extra potato on when you make your dinner at night.
Babies don't need juice, in fact they're better off without it. Cooled boiled water will do the job, save you money and form good habits.
8) Join parenting clubs like Tesco and Boots. These shops send you out vouchers for money off/extra points etc every so often. Even if you don't need half the stuff, there will almost always be something of use and it's free so you've nothing to lose. Also join as many parenting clubs online as you can. I know Cow and Gate send out a free cuddly toy and HiPP send out free weaning spoons and a bib, but there are lots of others out there.
9) Pretty obvious, but charity shops, NCT sales and car boot sales. We all know there are bargains to be had here. The added bonus of car boots sales are that you can haggle. Go near the end of the day as the sellers don't want to take it all back home with them, so they're more likely to accept your offers than they would be first thing in the morning when a better offer could come later on in the afternoon.
10) Borrow things where possible. I borrowed a TENS machine from someone I met on freecycle, but I believe some hospitals will loan them. Borrow bouncy chairs etc if you have friends with kids already. Borrow books from your library instead of buying them. Anything that you are able to borrow instead of buying.
And there you have it! My 10 tips. If all of these worked you may even get away with not spending a penny, but if only one or two work it'll be money saved. Some of these are very obvious, but I hope that for everyone that reads this, there is at least one or two things that they wouldn't have previously thought about.
In summary - Babies don't ask for anything! They don't need a cross-country pram with dual suspension and a brand name on the side. They don't need and certainly wont appreciate designer clothes. Babies aren't expensive, it's the parents!! If you're struggling now, imagine what it will be like when they're demanding the latest toy and designer clothes that they've become accustomed to. Save your money while it's still an option!
Being pregnant in itself can be a daunting experience, with so much to think about both physically and emotionally, preparing for your child brings a whole lot of new prospective into the matter. Having children is costly matter, and many of us worry whether or not we can actually afford to have children, there is never a right or wrong time, but there are ways to help cut the cost and make things a bit easier for you and your baby.
Being pregnant, you are more than likely to be caught up in all the hype of thinking that you need this and that, magazines, people in general, and the internet will all be telling you, that you have to have 'this' certain item, or how can't manage without that item. I have put together a list of things which i consider to essential and non essential, and i have also listed a few hints and tips for first time parents to be on a budget.
~Where to start~
Sit down with your husband, partner, mother or whoever will be supporting you, and plan out your budget and how much you can afford to spend on things. Then write down a rough list of things that you consider to be essential and things that aren't (wish list). Get help from family, and friends who have had children and ask them what they consider to be useful and things that weren't. Once you have your list stick to it.
Before you go diving in and buying things that you see first, hunt around, do research and make sure that you are getting the best for your money.
During my first pregnancy i brought something every week, whether it is a pack of vests, or a pack of bottles, over the weeks it will all add up.
Look on places like ebay, free cycle, or your local paper for things that are second hand or new, most of the time you can pick up things for next to nothing, don't knock second hand items until you've tried them, things like clothes, and moses baskets are hardly worn because babies grow so quick.
Ask family and friends who have recently had children if they have any unwanted items, which you can lend, buy, or have. Friends and family will jump at the chance to help- that's what there for.
Don't get jumping in head first and buying loads of clothes, if you are pregnant in the summer, your baby won't need summer clothes for quite some time, and vice versa for winter.
If family members have promised to contribute into buying things, again make a list as to what you need, and tell them this is what i need and hopefully everybody will get you something different.
Sign up to baby clubs, like boot's, Mothercare, bounty, as when you sign up they will send you lots of vouchers, free samples etc and give you help and advice too. Boot's are particular very good, as when you sign up they send a voucher when you buy a pack of huggies newborn nappies you get a changing bag free worth £30.00- bargain, one less thing to worry about.
~What your baby will need ~
Clothing- As I have previously mentioned don't go mad buying lots of clothes, get the basics for now, your baby won't worry if he's not in the latest designer baby grows, If you do not know the sex stick with whites, creams, yellows, for the first few weeks your baby will need
*5-6 Sleep suits
* 2-3 cardigans- hand knitted ones are great
*2-3 pairs of socks or booties
*2 pairs of scratch mitt's
*Snow suit( if winter)
*Coat (if winter)
* 1-2 outfits
People tend to buy you lots of clothes once your baby is born anyway, and they know the sex, before long you will have a whole wardrobe of things.
Feeding- Breast is best for both baby and mother, and it does save a lot of money, as you don't have to worry about bottles, sterilisers etc, plus it's more easier in the long run. If however you chose not to breastfeed or cannot for any reason, and you plan to bottle feed I would suggest buying feeding equipment new, at least bottles anyway. Look out for shops doing offers like 3 for 2, or buy one get one free, that way you get double for your money, also look for a steriliser that suits all your needs, one that will last and is reliable, again do research and ask people for their thoughts.
Sleeping - Your baby will obviously need somewhere to sleep, i did have a Moses basket and found it quite useful as it was just big enough to fit beside me in bed, buying a Moses basket new can be expensive so look out for ones in your local newspaper, or see if anyone is selling one locally on eBay that you can pick up, I got mine for about £5.00 and it has served my two daughters brilliantly, If you chose not to have a Moses basket and go straight for a crib/cot, again look for second hand ones, from reputable buyers, a cot bed is a good investment as it will last until your child is about 4-5 years. But always buy the mattress brand new , and go for breathable ones
Bedding- You will need sheets, and blankets for you your baby, but buying new can cost a fortune, look for bundles on ebay, or again ask friends, it doesn't matter if their second hand, once washed you will never know the difference, and when buying blankets go for cellular ones (ones that have little holes) so they breathable if your baby ever wriggles underneath them, they are control your baby's body heat to.
Traveling - You will need a good sturdy pram that will last you for quite some time, I've known many a people to go and spend £400 on a pushchair and only use it for 2 months- what a waste! Travel systems are a good idea because most of them have 3-4 different positions that you can have baby, so it adapt as your baby grows, plus a lot of them come with car seats which you can click onto the pushchair, these again can be picked up half the retail prices, at discount stores, eBay, and local papers.
Changing, Reusable nappies are best and although cost a lot to start with they are more beneficial and cost worthy in the future, If you chose to use disposable nappies, buy bigger packs, and sign up with the brand names, like Huggies or Pampers who have baby clubs and will often send you out vouchers to redeem against them, A changing mat is ideal as you need a clean, hygienic area to change your babies bum. These are very cheap and can be picked up from most places. I tend to use cotton wool and water on my daughters when every i can, as it protects them more from nappy rash, and is cheaper too; I know this is not possible when you're out so that is when i used wipes, again look for offers, and try using supermarket/ shop brand instead of expensive ones.
Washing- All babies need to be washed daily, and for the first couple of months i used a baby bath, to buy these new there around £10-20, i got mine second hand for 99p of ebay, and it's a winnie the pooh one to. It is not advised to use shampoos, baby bath on your baby for the first few weeks, but only to use water, as the chemicals can be too harsh, when it is time to use bath products, I use supermarkets own brand which are a fraction of the cost compared to leading brands, and they work just as well, sometimes better, and your baby won't notice!
Toys and activities- Things like, play gyms , bouncer chairs, door bouncers, cot mobiles are all optional and up to the individual , i had a few of these items and found them to be great, as my daughter loved them, i picked most of mine up from eBay second hand.
~Things you won't need~
Top and tail bowls- why pay out £7-10.00 for a bowl, when i bet you've got loads of bowls lying around the house that will do the job just as good.
Nappy bins- I had one and never used it, really a waste of money, whats wrong with a good old nappy sack and a quick trip to the outside bin?
Bath supports- very fiddly to use and pointless, i got used to holding my daughter with one hand, and washing her with the other, millions of mums did it, before they were invented.
Bottle warmers- Again not that much use, it's quicker and safer to warm bottles in a jug of hot water
Designer clothes- You baby won't care if she hasn't got the latest designer clothes on her back, what she cares about the most, is you giving her love, milk, clothing, a warm safe bed, and plenty of cuddles.
I'm sorry if I've rambled on a bit, but i wanted to explain everything that i thought was important, and things that weren't. Babies need a whole variety of things, but with a little bit of thinking, and saving you really can work on a budget, just remember mothers back in the days where they didn't have half the things we have today managed- as your grandparents!
Preparing for your new arrival is a very exciting time, but unfortunately it can also seem like a very expensive time also. However, it doesn't need to be if you shop wisely and budget yourself.
There is so much to do, and it's best to do this over a few months so you can take your time and relax about it, but don't leave too much until the last minute as you never know when baby will arrive as they never seem to like to be on time!
Don't leave too much to do near to the end of your pregnancy as you will need to rest as much as you can and have time to relax, you will need to save all of your energy for the big day. So remember not to overdo it!
~Relaxing and Sleeping~
Try to find ways to relax in the evening. Take a warm bath. It's not always that easy to sleep in later stages of pregnancy it is difficult to get comfortable at times. You will need extra pillows for support. I always found it easier to sleep with a pillow in between my legs and a pillow under my bump to give a bit of support. Take naps whenever you can. It's very difficult to get a full night's sleep during the end of pregnancy so nap whenever you get the chance, you will need all your energy for the birth.
~Caring For Your Body~
Use a lot of lotion on your skin of your stomach throughout your pregnancy; later in pregnancy it becomes very tight, and irritated and itchy. This also helps prevent stretch marks. Cocoa butter is recommended, you can use any moisturising lotion, just keep the skin well moisturised to stop it from becoming tight.
~Your New Baby's Nursery~
The most enjoyable part of preparing for your little one is planning and decorating the nursery. It is a good idea to make a list of what you want in the nursery, so you don't over buy, and budget for what you are going to buy.
As with anything it's good to shop around and even better to shop around online as this will save time and energy trawling round the shops. Checking out what you need firstly online will also give you a head start on getting the products you want for less.
You don't need to spend a fortune. Babies don't need all the products that are out on the market. Always think before you make a purchase...Is this an essential item?
Having a baby is expensive, they grow so fast and a lot of items will be of no use to you, so plan carefully and spend wisely. Babies don't need all the latest fashions, and all matching accessories, they just need to be safe and well loved!
You won't need many newborn clothes, they grow out of these very quickly, and a lot of people will gift you newborn outfits. Not all newborns are born tiny either.
All a baby needs for the first few months of their life is Milk, Nappies, and Clean Clothes! And of course lots of cuddles and love.
Don't buy things - Just in case. The shops won't run of a certain product, and your baby won't suffer if you haven't bought everything straight away.
It is a good idea, however, to have a number of quick and easy meals in the house for when you arrive back from the hospital as both you and your partner will be walking around like the living dead for the first couple of days while your bodies adjust to a lack of sleep.
~Somewhere for baby to sleep~
There is so much choice; you need to think about your budget and space and what would be best suited for you.
Moses Basket - These are not necessary but a lot of new parents like these as they look 'cute' These usually retail around £25 - £40 on average and they are recommended for a baby up to 6 months old, however, I find that a baby will grow out of this a lot sooner than this, it depends on the baby and how soon they become mobile/ are able to wriggle about and how fast they outgrow the Moses Basket. A Moses Basket can be placed inside a cot or put on a stand. I never liked the idea of a stand as I was never sure how stable they are, probably not a good idea to use a stand if you have pets or toddlers as they may accidentally knock the crib stand. I used a Moses Basket for my daughter and this was not an essential item.
Crib - These usually retail from £60 - These come in a choice of wood colours or white and again this is not an essential item, I used a crib for my son (second child). These are recommended for up to 6 months, again this depends on the child, they can outgrow it before this age, and once they become mobile then this is no longer a safe place for baby to sleep. I used my crib until my son was 5 months old, not much use really for £60. However luckily other family members were expecting around the time I had finished using my crib, so it got passed on. (You should always replace the mattress if using a second hand one).
Cot - Prices vary on this anything from £29 to over £200 some are sold with the mattress and some sold separately. I would say it is probably cheaper to buy a cot with a mattress that way you know it is the correct fit for the cot, which is highly important. A cot will last a baby until they are about 2 years, again this is dependent on the child, as all children are different, some may be happy in a cot until they are two, where as some may not like to sleep in a cot until this age.
Cot bed - I chose a cot bed with both of my children, as you won't need to spend additional money at a later stage on a junior bed as these will last for longer if they are well built. The prices on these vary and are the most expensive out of the choices, but if you have the money then I would recommend a cot bed, as once a baby is ready to sleep in a bed this can be converted in to a bed, so you are getting a piece of equipment that will last.
I would recommend that you buy a cot from new, unless you are getting one from a friend or family member, (someone that is trusted) this way you know the age of the cot and if it is safe for use, you can get these fairly cheap if you shop around, IKEA have a selection at very low prices.
You need to know that the cot is safe and is non toxic and lead free and the mattress is flame retardant, and it conforms to safety standards. A new mattress is needed for any second hand cot as these can harbour bacteria in them overtime which can be lethal to your child. The mattress also needs to be the correct fit with no gaps if you are not sure what size you need take your cot measurements into any good baby store e.g. Mothercare and ask. Cot bars need to have a gap of 45-65 mm apart, your little one could get injured if the cot is not safe.
~Items that are useful ~
Nappies - You will only need a couple of packs of newborn nappies.
Re usable nappies cost more to begin with but will save you money, but think if you want to use re usable nappies.
Cotton wool balls - To clean your baby.
Baby wipes - Not essential, you can use flannels. I find baby wipes are very drying for your skin.
Bedding - you will need a few fitted sheets, in the first few months these never tend to stay clean for long periods of time.
Receiving blankets and cellular blankets you don't need a duvet.
A cot bumper, I only had one, I really don't think you would need more than two of these, they don't really get dirty, and they can easily be washed and dried, plus once a baby is mobile you shouldn't use these for safety reasons.
Room thermometer - A baby's room needs to be at a certain temperature.
Car Seat - You will need a car seat to take baby home in. Most importantly never buy second hand! You need to know it's safe, and passed all the safety tests, and you don't want one that could be faulty or damaged. Make sure it conforms to safety standards.
Sterilizer - There are several different varieties, steam or cold water sterilization.I used a steam sterilizer with both of my children, as I find it better to not use chemicals to clean baby's bottles.
Bottles - Make sure these are compatible with your sterilizers not all bottles fit in some sterilizers. Bottle Brush, to clean baby's bottles.
Breast Milk or Formula Milk - If you don't plan to breast feed, then you will need formula milk, it's a good idea to have a couple of cartons of readymade formula in case you don't get on with breast feeding. Despite the fact that I did not breast feed either of my own children I would highly recommend it to all as formula milk is no true substitute for breast milk.
Changing mat - You can cut an old sheet up to use as a cover, you don't need to buy the fancy covers, or muslin squares.
A Changing Bag - (If you sign up to the boots parenting club, you will get one free with a purchase of newborn nappies).
Large Soft Towels - baby towels are not necessary, ordinary good quality towels are just as good.
Muslin Squares - These are a much used item, they are expensive however you can always cut up an old sheet or towel as they are only used for messy jobs, like feeding and winding baby, as long as they are clean and non abrasive that's all that counts.
Nappy Sacks - The basic ones do the job; you don't need to use these for every nappy change, just the dirty ones.
Clothes - You will be tempted to buy a lot of new clothes, but you only really need a few outfits, baby grows and vests. It is better to wait and see what you get gifted, and then you can see what else you need.
I always shop around in the sales and buy clothes the next size up when I see them in sale, I try not to buy clothing that's full price as they out grow clothes so quickly!
Push chair - There are so many to choose from, and this is something you want to put a lot of thought into, it is one of the most expensive pieces of equipment you will need, however if you shop around a lot of pushchairs will come as part of a travel system with other items like a car seat.
Don't chose one that looks stylish, think about how practical it is, if you drive, you want something that is easy to fold down and fits onto your boot. If you walk everywhere then you want something that is durable and will last. If you use public transport a lot you will want something that is small and light weight.
In the winter months you will need a foot muff and rain cover, and in the summer you will need a sun parasol. Some pushchairs come with all the accessories.
Baby carrier or sling - I personally prefer to use a baby carrier for the first few months, I find it a lot easier to get about.
Baby Bouncy Chair - You won't need to buy one before the birth, a budget one is just as good as the more expensive ones, baby's don't always like to be laid flat and like to see what's going on around them, so these are great.
~Items that you don't need~
After having the first of my two children, I have learnt that a lot of products that are aimed towards new parents are not needed. A lot of these modern gadgets are just that, a lot of them are pointless.
Top and tail bowl - I have never used one! They take up a lot of space and end up collecting dust!
Bottle warmer - I have never used one of these, I can't see the point, I have always made feeds up freshly when needed, and you can warm baby's milk in a jug of hot water. (I wouldn't recommend heating in the microwave as this method does not heat the milk evenly and hot spots can occur).
Nappy cream - This really shouldn't be used unless your baby has a serious rash, on the onset of a rash you should allow plenty of nappy free time, and warm baths to cleanse the area. I bought a pot when my second child was born and it's still sitting in the cupboard unopened a year later.
Shampoo - I have never used baby shampoo, baby's hair doesn't actually get dirty, and only needs to be washed once a week, the baby bath soap will clean the hair just as well.
Baby powder - I really don't know why they sell this, you don't want baby to be ingesting baby powder.
Bath support/ bath seat/ bath sling - All these gadgets that have been designed to make bathing your baby easier actually make it more of a hassle! I have never used any of these as they are a waste of time, I was bought one for my son and it never got taken out of the drawer.
Baby oils, creams, and lotions - Baby's skin is perfect it doesn't need to have all these products, most of which are not good for babies skin and only clog the pores.
If your baby has dry skin you can use Olive Oil - yes the Olive Oil you use to cook your food with! This works far better than any creams. It's natural and does no harm to your baby's precious skin and you only need to use a TINY amount on the areas of skin that are dry so a bottle will last for ages. Olive Oil is also very good for use on cradle cap just apply some to the area and after a couple hours you can easily rinse away the cradle cap away. You can then use a soft baby brush to remove any excess.
Nappy bins - These are expensive and then you need to keep buying cartridges. I have heard that these are not as good as they are made out to be. A regular bin with a lid does just the same job.
Baby bath - I have never liked these, they take up far too much space, and they are expensive, and most of the time you have more water on the floor when you are finished! A washing up bowl for a newborn is a perfect size! Much easier to bath a newborn in, you will want a new one that is used only for this. You can also use any plastic box, or tub, as long as it's clean and has a soft surface on the bottom.
Once your newborn has out grown the bowl, you can put them in the regular bath, you can take them in with you if you feel comfortable with this.
Baby boots or shoes- They may look cute, but you really don't need to buy any sort of footwear other than socks for baby until they are walking. Baby boots only get lost!
You don't need to buy toys, you will probably be gifted these when your little one arrives. They won't be able to play with these for the first 3 months, you will be better to buy a few books that you can read to your baby.
You don't need to have everything new, things like baby clothes only get worn a few times, they never get worn out, if you have babies in the family then you may get their clothes passed on to you or you can pass on your old clothes to them.
Wash all of your newborns clothes, new doesn't always mean it's clean, you will want babies clothes to be fresh and soft, baby wash liquid (Ecover make a great natural washing liquid) is better always give the wash an extra rinse, baby doesn't like the strong smell even if you do. Babies are more sensitive and so is there skin.
I hope this guide helps in some way towards your joyful day, and remember you can never fully prepare yourself for child birth so don't worry.
In your first pregnancy I think it is only natural that most mums want the best of everything and head off to mothercare, credit card at the ready with a long list of every matching item they need for their impending arrival.
But having a baby is an expensive business as all the baby care shops know and they will ash in on your emotions so what can you do without wasting your valuable money on?
One of the things you can do without is a changing table, I just made do with a changing box and changing mat (but to be honest you can do without these aswell!) I just think they take up a lot of room and you will rarely use it
Also, I never had a pram!, I bought one of those 3 in 1 buggy travel systme things instead which you can put a newborn in from birth and grows with your baby
For many on a budget while pregnancy can be a time of excitement over the coming baby, it can also be a time of high stress as one frequents the on and offline baby shops and see the huge array of must haves with their eek! pricetags. Second hand goods abound, but even those add up to a large sum of money that the young parents to be can ill afford. Many people may even be have a ready supply of free baby gear from friends and family, but this too should be approached with caution. The second hand goods market of baby goods also can prove a minefield, with some products no longer being safe to use even theough at a glance they seem fine. So, what do you ACTUALLY need, and what should you look for to ensure the goods are what you need, and are safe to use?
Below I have a list of things that after 4 children, I have found to be necessary and listed the places that are the cheapest places to get. In case of safety issues, I have also listed what to look for.
You only really need a few of these. A few pyjamas or vests with an appropriate tog baby sleeping bag. Lots of people say baby grows, but these have been in my experience nearly a complete waste. Either too small in the bum, too short in the legs, or too tight across the shoulders. Also generally useless if you use cloth nappies. Not to mention that you have to completely undo and pull the baby practically all the way out to do a nappy change, something that is a nightmare to do in the darker hours, and results in an awake and shrieking baby if you need to change them during the night after they fell asleep. Best place to get the baby sleeping bags: Asda or Tchibo. They are also very simple to make if you or someone you know sews. Look for one with wide shoulder straps and a sturdy zip down the middle.
Outfits: you will be given tons of usually by friends and relatives, if not, look on Freecycle. Someone ALWAYS has some to give away, and also dont be afraid to ask. If not a member, join now. www.freecycle.org. Dont wait, go join NOW.
These are soooooo expensive to buy new! Look for one that lies perfectly flat for a newborn (so umbrella types are OUT for the first 6 months). Look for one that has a sturdy set of wheels, preferably with front swivel, brakes on the rear wheels, an ergonomic handle, that folds easily, and does not weigh a ton. That way you can easily fold it if need be one handed when getting on a bus or train, and it will also lift easily over kerbs and into the boot of your car. Front swivel wheels makes turning a breeze, and a good tread pattern on the tyres also means that you will get good traction on walking surfaces, without the pram skittering about or sliding away, or even tipping over. Be aware three wheelers DO tip rather easily compared to four wheelers and take up a LOT more storage space when folded in general. A good bet would be a Graco of some decription with the Citi and Metrosport coming out tops for ease of folding, durability, etc. Both also have a nice large shopping basket.
Places to look for:
Ebay, Freecycle, friends, family. Be sure to examine the wheels closely looking for cracks in the hard plastic fittings. If tread is bare, be aware that they will need replaceing. Graco replace the set of 4 for about £25 including postage.
Alternative: A good sling (NOT a baby carrier, an actual sling). You can carry baby without straining your back and still have your hands free.
Even if you do not own a car, you will need one of these for when you DO go in a car. In any case, the hospitals do not allow a newborn to leave until they see it is in a car seat. You need to be extra careful here. Choose a quality seat. If going second hand, stick to friends and family you know for certain have nevr even had a near miss that caused the seatbelt to tighten in anticipation of a possible crash, as even this puts stresses on the seat and can cause a failure later. Inspect any foam padding (like the stuff they use in bike helmets) for any cracks or other damage. Finally, before accepting or buying a seat, check the Which? Report and the AA crash tests before committing. Many seats sold meeting the minimum standard fail utterly and catastrophically at 30 when hit from the side rather than head on, or even at just 5 more mph. The regulations are just for 30 mph head on, and not any higher, nor for rear or side impacts. Small comfort then if rear ended at a junction or during an accident on the motorway! It is therefore worth signing up for the free trial just to read the Which? Report, as it is surprising how many trusted brand names have a few bad seats. You can view an actual child seat crash test at the Which? Siite without signing up. Simply Google Car seat crash test and the link will come up.
Finally, you should ensure you know how to install the seat correctly, and that it will fit the car you wish to use it in, as not all seats fit all cars properly.
Best bet: see if family will chip in on a new seat that scores well in the crash tests and fits the car. Also be aware you should not leave a small infant in the seat for more than an hour or two, as small infants suffer from breathing difficulties when placed in the more upright position car seats offer, needing to lain flat on their backs as much as possible.
Also, if choosing a seat that can be then turned front facing for an older infant, please keep baby rear facing until at least the age of 1 year, preferably longer. It is preferable to have to fold their legs than to risk severe spinal injuries. For more info, visit this link:
http://babyproducts.about.com/od/carseats/youtube/rear_facing.htm to view why. We have a Volvo and the very best thing we ever did was buy the Volvo seat so he was safely facing backwards until just recently (he just turned 4).
4. Baby bed
Advice is for the infant to sleep in the same room as Mom for the first 5-6 months of life rather than rely on monitors. Many parents splash out on a Moses basket. If you can get a free one, fine. If not, see if you can snag a free carrycot, or even just a use a sturdy rectangular laundry basket for the first few months. You can make a simple mattress by buying an inexspensive bath sheet, folding it to size, and placing it in the basket, with any open edges to the feet, or better yet, sew on Velcro strips to hold it closed. This way, its safely closed so baby wont get tangled up in the folds in any mishap, and you can unfold it for quick drying after washing.
If using a Moses basket, check that the handles meet in the middle, as many baskets in the past did not, and it posed a hazard with regards to slipping from the grasp of the person carrying it. Same goes for a carry cot. Also ensure the straps are firmly affixed. I would NOT advise a stand as they tip over easily. One small bump and over they go! Simply place on the floor out of the way of feet and other hazards. If the floor is cold, fold a towel beneath to insulate.
Cots are another expensive item. Consider the space you will have to put on in. If limited space, consider either an IKEA cot, or a travel cot. If you have plenty of space, its no bother as long as the cot meets minimum saftery standards. These are:
Cot should be deep enough that an older infant up to the age of two can stand in it with the mattress in, with the cot at its lowest mattress height.
Bars should not be more than 45-65 mm apart, to prevent entrapment of the head. The smaller the gap, the better, as infants have been known to get legs and arms trapped inbetween with broken limbs as a result.
There should not be any finials or other parts that rise above the sides of the cot. These pose a hanging risk.
Any paint will be certified lead free and varnish should be non toxic.
It should have a NEW mattress that fits snugly into the cot frame. Used cot mattresses can hide lethal bacteria in the layers event heough they look and smell clean, and are linked to a risk of cot death.
Consider cloth nappies. Modern cloth nappies are easy to launder, and genrally more leak proof than disposables. Freecycle is a good place to ask for these, and many councils offer cashback schemes. Cheapest and quickest drying options are prefolds , muslins,and terries. Modern waterproof outers allow skin to breathe, making this a more skin and reproductive friendly choice (disposable nappies are linked to later male infertility due to the heat retained) and most fasten in the familiar way, with the nappy merely being folded into a rectanlgle, laid in the wrap, and the wrap closed with velcro side tabs. Liners that catch poo can also be cheaply purchased at about £2-3 per 100 and flushed down the loo., making for less ick factor.
best bet..use your kitchen sink. Its a handy height and the right size, and when outgrown, junior can sit in a bath ring in the tub.Or take baby in the shower (mind the water temperature!). Friends and family may also have a free baby bath to give you, but if not, use the free options above. Just as good!
7. baby toiletries.
Most are a waste of money, and despite all the claims about dermatolgists, are NOT recommended by medical professionals who don't work for the manufacturers.
Instead of baby wipes (which most midwives will counsel you against), use plain water. If its a nasty poo mess, use some kitchen roll and add a squirt of baby bath. Otherwise, just use a clean flannel and give a quick wipe down.
Babies in general dont have a lot of hair, and small children tend to get dry hair that attracts beasties who can then climb on with ease from a lack of hair oils. Use plain water to rinse dust and what not out, and once a week, a bit of baby bath will do.
Baby bath. Own brand is fine. Use when stinky, sweaty, or super grubby. Otherwise, plain water is recommended. Less drying to delicate skin, and if you want the relaxing type of baby bath, just add a couple drops lavender essential oil to the bath water, and pour in a cup of chamomile tea. Soothes the skin, and relaxes baby.
A waste of time and the petroleum can clog the pores. Use olive or a vegetable oil instead and apply sparingly. Can be safely eaten and soaks in to the skin rather than sitting on top.
Nappy rash creamTry this first. If it doesn't work, it might not be simple nappy rash and need a specialist ointment you can get from your GP. For common nappy rash, make up a cup of chamomile tea, and allow to brew until it is tepid. Soak a flannel in the tea, and lay against baby's bottom, placing between the skin and the liner of the nappy. It is ok to leave this on overnight. The rash usually disappears like magic.
You will need about 5-6 sheets as babies tend to posset on the their bedding. Freecycle and family are great to ask for these. If none are to be had for free, check out a local NCT sale and Ebay.
You will need 1-2 lightweight blankets as well to provide an extra layer of warmth if the room temperature indicates it, but no more than that as the baby sleeping bag not only acts as PJs and a pram suit when worn with a jacket, but also as a blanket.
Don t dash out and buy one. You usally get one in your Bounty bag!
10.Bottles and breastpump.
You generally do not need these straight off. Ideally, you should plan to try to breastfeed, and you will be more successful if you dont have bottles about to fall back on and if you get to know a knowledgeable breastfeeding counsellor. If planning to breastfeed, your best bet is to NOT rely on your local midwife or HV as often they are not specially trained, but to contact your local La leche League and become aquainted with a proper specialist. The NCT can also be invaluable in this regard. Given the proper support, over 99% of women CAN breastfeed. The pump should not be gotten until feeding is established at least 6 weeks and if you need one.
If you do choose to bottlefeed, then you WILL need the bottles and a steriliser, and possibly a bottle warmer. Try freecycle for these things first. If you get second hand, look for cracks and changes in colour in plastic bottles, and always buy new teats. Electric bottle warmers a renice, but also unnecessary. Babies can take cold milk without getting ill and cold bottles can be warmed when sat in a jug with warm water. Better and safer yet, make up fresh at each feed.
11. nappy bag and change mat.
Get one that can double as a handbag to reduce what you are carrying, and make sure you have a suitable wet proof bag to keep in it to wrap dirty nappies in. Also try for a foldable change mat you can use at home or out and about. This can be a wipe off type, or even a cheap ordinary bath towel. Ikea do some for under £2, as does Asda, and they do the job nicely.
As you can see there is not a huge list there, and most can be gotten for free or purchased on the cheap. For things that need to be purchased, it is better to start buying as soon as you know you are pregnant toa void a large expense just before or after the baby is born.
Above all a baby needs three things that you do not have to buy: love, attention, and caring. Provide these and it does not matter that there is not the latest geewhiz cot mobile, whizzy baby light and sound toy, or whatever. But cuddle, smile, and talk to your baby, and you will have a happy child indeed.
This review is posted under the 'preparing for birth' category, but by the nature of things, a lot of what I am writing will either come to a practical effect or apply as much (or even more) when the baby is actually with you!
It is also a very long text - it's not designed to be entertaining for childless review readers, it's designed to be useful to first-parents-to-be and the like!
I will start with a amateur-sociological observation, please forgive me, before launching into my main text. If you have no patience please skip.
I think that unless you have very strict, specified, anti-consumerist attitude that forms an important part of your identity it's very difficult nowadays not to perceive and define many of fundamental life experiences in terms of shopping/spending money.
Every time I hear people saying 'the part of pregnancy I really enjoyed was baby-shopping' or see 'Shopping' sections included now routinely in descriptions of tourist destinations, I feel a bit sad. But despite my not-too-enthusiastic attitude to shopping in general I also actually enjoy some forms of shopping (online usually) and for some types of goods (books and baby things for example but not only). And I am never entirely sure if my own attitude is not at least partially a bit of sour grapes one, and if I was thinner and richer I would perhaps like shopping more (hold on, I WAS thinner and richer and I didn't really…).
Why am I boring you with the above? Because I think that one of the main ways to avoid spending extortionate amounts of money for completely or mostly unnecessary stuff is to actually see to one's attitude first.
Shopping is NOT a core and important part of becoming a new parent, and the amount of money one spends and amount of stuff one buys is not a direct representation of one's love for one's child. After all, the baby doesn't give a monkey's.
HOW TO BUY
Before you buy, think hard if you really need the thing in question. See the next section for my personal advice on what to buy and what not to buy.
2) Get it for free.
Unless you are completely family-and-acquaintance-less and totally alienated it's very likely that people will give you stuff, more than you can probably imagine. Plus there are also other options.
- You will get presents of new stuff just after the baby is born. If my experience is anything to go by (and we moved house a month before birth and never had massive social circle anyway), this should cover your needs for baby clothes and rattles for the next three months.
- Get hand-me-downs from friends and family. People love to see their precious baby clothes used again as they last for such a short time it seems a waste not to reuse them. You might get them forever, the pass them on when the baby grows out; or you might get a loan if the person is planning to have another baby. This applies even more to bigger stuff. We received plenty of clothes, cradle, carrycot, cot and a car seat for both our children from friends and family, some to go back to the owners, some not.
- Frecycle it. If you are not a member of your local freecycle group, stop reading this review and sign up NOW. Freecycle (www.freecycle.org - see relevant reviews for details) is a mailing list for people who want to get rid of stuff they don't need that would otherwise end up in landfill. I have been a member of several groups (they are localised as stuff needs to be picked up) and baby things come up regularly. We have received a Mamas and Papas 3-in-1 pram (in fact identical to the one I paid £150 five years before); used but in fantastic condition; as well as a backpack style baby carrier for when he's bigger. I have also seen offered nursery furniture, baby swings, sterilisers, door bouncers and clothes. The main snag with Freecycle is that you need to collect stuff and thus, at least for bigger items you need to drive - and in a more rural area this applies to pretty much everything.
- Local free-ads papers (Loot, Scot-Ads) usually have 'free to a good home' sections too.
3) Buy it second hand
- Local free-ad papers are an excellent source of very good value baby items, though you would normally need to travel to have a look and collect.
- Car boot sales can provide fantastic value, especially for clothes - I have seen snowsuits for 50p and babygros for 10... But you need to travel and trawl through stuff which is a pain.
- Charity shops can be great, it depends on the charity and location. Funnily enough, the ones with good stuff often have more reasonable prices, too. Go to all of them in your area and pick one or two worth visiting regularly.
- And last but by no means least, ebay is the ultimate second hand marketplace offering fantastic convenience (you can see the items before buying and they come delivered to your door) and massive choice, though, in case of baby items, not such brilliant value as can be found in local paper, car boot sales and charity shops. Nevertheless, excellent condition, hardly used or even new things still can be had for half or less of retail price, even if you include postage. I live out in the sticks now and cannot drive, and that's why absolute majority of my baby shopping was done on ebay even though I could have got them free from freecycle or cheaper locally.
4) Make it yourself, use reusable and generally be medieval (or post-modern)
- Try to breastfeed as much and as long as you can: unless you are on income support or JSA, you will have to pay for the formula and it costs about £7 for a box that will last between a 9 and 4 days depending on the size of your baby.
- Consider reusable nappies - either old fashioned plain muslin/terry squares with plastic pants; or more high-tech modern ones. There is the initial outlay, rather high in the case of fancy refolds and all-in-ones, but they can be bough second hand and resold for not much less than they are bought. Also, you could get somebody to buy you some as a present (not really viable with 6 months supply of disposables!). Some councils offer grants towards purchase of reusable nappies, check with their recycling officers (some even have dedicated nappy person, no kidding!).
- Use cotton wool and water or even better, washable cloth (piece of muslin square) and water instead of wipes on the baby bottom when you are at home. It's cheaper and better for the baby.
- Later on, don't buy stupid jars of baby food, make it yourself and freeze or make it yourself on the day. It can be fun if you see it as such rather than a chore.
5) Buy it cheap
- Buy online, even for new items ebay is often the cheapest source and for other suppielrs you can often find discount codes and vouchers online, look at Rpoints forum for a good selection of those.
- Use price comparison engines like Pricerunner or Kelkoo. Research, research, research, especially for costlier items.
- For consumables at least try own/cheaper brands; this applies particularly to nappies, bath supplies, clothes.
WHAT NOT TO BUY
A Moses basket. Pretty surplus item, costs a lot and lasts for a few months. A pram carrycot will do as a sleeping contraption instead, and if you really want to have a tiny bed for a tiny baby, buy a cradle as it has the added benefit of rocking.
Lots of clothes. You never know for sure what size baby you are actually going to have (I was predicted to have a 10 pounder while in fact my daughter was born at perfectly average 7 pounds something). People will bring you presents and a lot of them will be clothes, and with hand-me-downs from friends and family added to it you are likely to end up with more newborn clothes that you will need anyway. The same applies to toys.
A top and tail bowl. I have one and use it mostly for storing stuff, but as a bowl is totally unnecessary, any receptacle will do.
Baby oil. Use olive or sunflower oil, healthier and cheaper.
Baby powder. Unnecessary and clogs the pores anyway.
Shampoo. Baby bath or even better, just clear water will do - most babies have no or little hair anyway.
Bottles: unless you know already that you will not breastfeed don't buy bottles until you know you need them. Don't buy them just in case as if you try to breastfeed and have problems the lack of bottle and formula will motivate you not to give up to quickly. When you need them you can get them very easily but you might not need to!
Bottle warmer: On of the most useless pieces of equipment I have heard of, even if you bottle feed. The best thing is to make bottles up as you need them, so what would really be needed is a bottle cooler (aka jug of cold water). If you need to heat up a feed for some reason (if you make up a daily batch in the morning or something) a jug or bowl of hot water really is as good, and probably faster than a warmer.
Bath support. Another of silly things invented by marketers. By the time the baby is big enough for the big bath, you will be confident enough in handling it as not to need this!
Nappy bin. It's a reasonable enough idea as far as useless things go, but in my opinion just completely unnecessary. For disposables, use the normal household bin or a separate lidded bucket and empty it frequently. If you really are so bothered about smell - use some drops of essential oil to deodorise or/and use economy/value/smartprice nappy sacks. I use these only on the very pooiest pooy nappies.
Feeding chair. If you breast feed it's important to have a comfy chair to do it in, at least at first (later on you'll do it everywhere and one handed); but a lot of normal armchairs, possibly with a help of a pillow and footstool will do and you will not know if the feeding chair is any good until you try feeding in it. For bottle feeding anything will be OK, really.
Hoodie towel. Yes, a nice thing to have but wait until you are given one or make one yourself (there is a review somewhere here which advises how). They are ridiculously overpriced and in reality as medium sized towel (one or two sizes down from bath-sheet) will do as well.
Baby bath. It's optional, I always had one but really at first babies neither need nor like baths anyway. I didn't bathe Michael for about 4 weeks at all. Later you can use the big bath, though it means kneeling down and associated back strain. I would recommend getting a largish baby bath if you have a shower only, though.
Breast pump. Leave this one until you know you need one.
Steriliser. As above. For occasional bottle of water/dummy cold water sterilising (bowl/bucket + some sterilising fluid) or boiling in a pan is probably the best solution.
A high chair. Will be definitely needed but not for another few months.
WHAT TO GET
What a baby needs is attention, love and care. As long as they are fed, warm, reasonably dry, comfortable and entertained and cuddled they will be fine. Remember, the baby doesn't give a monkey about having things that are new or fashionable at all.
Clothes and Toys. Buy just one packet of three plain white babygros (sleep suits) and one packet of plain vests, and a couple of light rattles. You will get the rest as presents!
Car Seat. If you have a family member(s) or good friend(s) that are willing to make a more generous contribution consider carefully what you would like them to buy (or on what would you like to spend the money they give you). My first indication would be, unless you have no car or have a second-hand car seat from a friend or a family member whom you can trust as far as accidents the seat might have been in, to spend the money on a new car seat.
Pram/buggy. If buying new, it is one of the costliest and perhaps most important item to consider - and the second one on the list of things that I would spend this generous granny contribution on. The important question would be: will you really need one and if yes how soon? I know of mothers who travelled pretty much everywhere by car, took the baby out in the garden in the car seat or bouncy chair and occasionally used a sling, while £600 contraption stayed in the hall. On the other hand, if you know you are going to do a lot of walking, a decent buggy is essential.
Also, I am a great fan of prams - not perhaps a Coach-built Silvercross, but anything with a carrycot is great for having round the house in the first few months, to use pretty much as a mobile sleeping station, especially if you have a garden. Plus, the carrycot taken off the chassis doubles up as a basinet and completely removes the need for Moses baskets and the like.
A choice of a type of a buggy is a subject for a separate review in itself, assuming you don’t get one for free or on loan and decide to buy one, the budget choice will be between buying a cheaper one new or an expensive one second hand.
Something for baby to sleep in, unless you are doing the family bed thing. We used the pram carrycot until Katie was big enough to move to a large cot and we are using one for Michael now. A cot is the third of the potentially most expensive items and I would wholeheartedly advised to get one second hand as they are rather robust things - or get somebody to buy you one if you have indulgent relatives. As far as bedding goes, buy a set of flannelette sheets (I bought 10 on ebay for about £1 each including postage) plus a few fitted ones and a couple of cellular blankets.
Sling. To me, an essential. But the number of types and brands is mind-boggling and at the end of the day you will never know what you and your baby are going to like/cope with best. Wait until the baby is born and test if possible. Buy second hand, as they can be had substantially cheaper.
Changing mat. Definitely, good for nappy changes, bath preparation and will save your sofas and carpets!
Muslin squares. Fantastically useful as bibs, protection of your clothes from burping spills, for putting under the baby when it's on the mat/sofa/floor/bed and can always leak or posset some milk. Great as cheap and simple cloth nappies especially from smaller babies. Cut up for reusable wipes. Put at the bottom of the baby bath/wrap the baby in it before putting in the bath for nicer and more secure feeling at first. Use a piece as a bath flannel if you are squeamish about using your fingers.
Changing bag. You will need something. Some buggies come with a changing bag, but the best option I found was a Huggies bag offered free (well, almost - you had to buy packet o Huggies nappies but these were of use anyway) by Boots parenting club. It had some free goodies inside ranging from useful (Persil tablets) to inane (nurofen branded 'medicine bag' for kids), but the bag itself is excellent and I have abandoned my pretty pram-matching one for this.
Bouncing cradle. One modern gadgety thing that I would recommend getting - though not every baby will like it. My daughter didn't, my son does. I have a vibrating one, but he doesn't seem bothered about this effect - some will, though. I would recommend buying one second hand and going for one with more widgety facilities (vibration, play arch) as it might be just what you will need.
Mobile, Play Nest, Baby Gym. These are optional but I would say definitely worth getting if you can - get people to buy them as presents, pick up free from friends or freecycle or get them second-hand (especially mobiles). If I was to pick up one thing of the three I would go for a mobile - I have three (all off ebay) and they work (i.e. keep the awake baby happy as I type away on the computer…)!
And every time you buy something, ask yourself if it's for the baby, or really for you? Or maybe for your friends and strangers in the street to admire? And remember, the baby doesn't give a monkey's!
I am by nature careful with my cash and was horrified at all those reports you read about the cost of bringing up a child these days. I was even more horrifed when I saw what people were spending at our local baby superstore - we literally didn't have hundreds to spend on everything matching from Mamas and Papas, so here's a few things we learnt, and we've got a happy, healthy two yr old now!
What not to buy...
Ask anyone who's got a baby before you start - don't be afraid to go to your local mother and toddler group when your pregnant to pick brains (and pick up parenting / birth tips) and of course consult Dooyoo, but here's my tips..
- Don't buy lots of newborn clothes a) you don't know how big baby will be - mine was only 5lb 12ozs but lots barely fit into newborn b) the world and his wife will send you little outfits c) you'll cover it all with bibs anyway
- A moses basket. We were given one. The baby slept in it for a couple of weeks. It looked pretty. But you can manage without. Stick the pram in the corner of the living room, and use the cot.
- Lots of cute toys. Again, people will buy them for you, and your baby won't need much in the first few weeks anyway. Also, wait till you've met the little fella, and you'll see what he / she responds to.
- A pram that the woman in Toys R Us could fold one handed and you have a nervous breakdown trying to get it into the car boot and have to ask a passing stranger to help you with....we made an expensive mistake that way! I didn't try in the shop because I'd got bump, but I should have got my mum to have a go...You won't believe the design of some of those things!
- We were given a baby bath but several of my friends quite happily used a washing up bowl, if that's any help to you!
- A top and tail bowl. It's a fancy bowl with two sections in it. We lived without it!
- A Bumbo baby sitter (plastic seat thing). Supposed to be great. Expensive and my son hated it.
- A high chair. You won't need that for a good while yet.
- Tie up bibs - I could never use them. You need a degree in origami.
What to definitely get...
- A changing bag of some sort - I got a very plain one out of the Argos catalogue, but it was big enough. Some of these little backpacks just don't do it. Keep it packed by the door so you can go out easily.
- Changing mat, sudocream (goes a long way) and Lidl baby wipes (cheap and really effective).
- Supermarket own brand toiletries - they're just as good as Johnsons
- Loads of velcro fastening bibs to save on the washing.
- All the baby books out of the library, so you can decide which one you like and buy. The times I ended up looking in the Haynes Baby Manual (no, I'm not kidding..) at 3am..
And if the budget streches to it...
- As you'll know if you read my Bambino Mio review, I'm a great fan of cotton nappies - you have to pay out to start with but they'll save you about £1000 pounds in the long run
Where to buy...
- Shop around as much as you can and compare prices of things you've got your eye on. My baby was due in February so we did a lot in the January sales. Go and test it out in the shop and then buy it cheaper on the internet!
- Look out for good quality secondhand stuff in your local paper - I got some great maternity wear that way dead cheap.
NB Don't buy a car seat secondhand though - it's impossible to tell whether it's been in an accident and you can't afford to take any chances with that one.
- NCT organise sales of good secondhand baby stuff - www.nctpregnancyandbabycare.com
- Try not to buy if you can avoid it! I was given so much really nice stuff by friends and family who just wanted some room back in their houses...plus they will tell you what was useful. I got a smashing changing table and bags of clothes through other people's generosity.
- For clothes, go for supermarkets, Matalan and the Next sale (you'd be amazed how cheap it can be..) H and M is good for maternity wear (I've read a Dooyoo review on that somewhere..)
Breastfeed if you can - if you need convincing, go and check out the price of formula! It's also really good for baby, and gets you back into shape quicker.
Get out every day and go for a walk - it's free, good exercise and keeps you grounded. The first time I tried on my own, I didn't manage it until 5pm, but stick at it!
What a baby really needs most is love and attention - he / she doesn't care that they haven't got an adidas tracksuit and Nike trainers - we've got all that to come in the teenage years!
Being pregnant and anticipating the arrival of a brand new person is very exciting. As you get bigger and bigger you seem to get more and more dreamy and I know that I spent lots of my time imagining what it would be like to have my baby with us. I also found myself drawn to reading endless baby magazines... For a first time baby it?s really hard to sift through all the information and lists provided in the baby books. Worst of all, the baby magazines seem to be in league with the baby products manufacturers and an afternoon spent leafing through a couple of mags could leave you thinking that to be a 'proper' parent you need to spend vast sums of money and that somehow you can buy a 'thing' for every problem and difficulty that you are bound to encounter with your delightful but complicated, beautiful but human baby. The temptation to spend money, even when you don't have it, is enormous! The early stages of pregnancy, when you can still dash about, can seem to last for ever and when you're bigger you can't do much, its a bit boring and there's that hormone thing going on urging you to nest down. I was the first of my group of friends to have a baby and so I wasn't able to take advantage of hand me downs, although I'm building up an excellent box for whichever of my friends is lucky enough to reproduce first! Let people know that you'd be happy to have anything they've got to offer - I think that most people would be very happy to pass on their barely used cast offs along with top tips. With a careful attitude, counting to ten before I bought something and asking for advice from any mum I could find I managed to kit my baby out really cheaply. I'd say that the first thing to do is your research. Browse the catalogues, read the mags, search sites like Doo-you, but leave it a few days before you buy anything. Try to remember that the thing your baby needs
most is you. You'll be very tempted (and cajoled by magazines) to get "everything" - its almost a way of trying to get your head round the fact that your life is going to change enormously - it certainly was for me. You can do lots to prepare but things will change in your life and having that super dooper electronic whizzflip baby slipper nipper will never be as helpful as reminding yourself of the tune to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. However much I knew I shouldn't and couldn't spend loads of money and knew that the magazines with all their ads were trying to persuade me to buy things I didn't need I still somehow wanted to buy 'new' things for my 'new baby'. It will be a desire but kitting yourself out on a budget doesn't have to be dreary and down-market. If you use your imagination and channel your "nesting instinct" you can make your money go further, indulge your desire to make things nice for your baby and not end up with an annoying pile of useless tat to trip over as you stagger from bed to baby to bed to baby and back again. I'd really recommend making a list of things you definitely need. This way when you're doing your bargain hunting you're less likely to bamboozled. The things to bear in mind are that the first few weeks go very quickly, you won't know how big your baby will be when s/he's born, they grow with breathtaking speed, you are likely to be given presents (but its rare that you can specify exactly what you want!) and that every baby does this and most parents will go mad and buy everything and anything and way too much of it. This is a key point for the budget minded parent as it means that there is loads of stuff out there that is 'second hand'. In reality this can often mean clothes and items that have been worn once or twice, have never been taken out of the packet or were too small/the wrong colour/lost at the back of the cupb
oard (new mum syndrome!) Second hand stuff for babies isn't the same as stuff for adults. Banish thoughts of mothballs and the mystery stains you associate with normal second hand stuff and get hold of unbelievable bargains. Baby clothes in particular can be so expensive and for the price of a couple of new "designer" babygros you can get a whole wardrobe. Good places to pick up second hand stuff: Car boot sales and charity shops tend to be the cheapest but you can't guarantee that there'll be a massive selection and braving the sharpened elbows of the experienced charity shop granny can be a chore. Get into the habit of popping into your local charity shop on a regular basis. I've got some incredible bargains - a baby bath for a pound, a nappy wrapper bin for 2 pounds, complete with an unopened cartridge (would cost £30 altogether at Mothercare), a lovely brand new coat and gloves for £1. NCT sales are fantastic. I didn't do the NCT antenatal classes but managed to find out about the sales through a friend's sister. They usually take place every 3 or 4 months (check out the excellent website which will give you contact details for your local branch http://www.nctpregnancyandbabycare.com/). My local branch uses a church hall. The whole room is filled with baby stuff. You can get really good quality clothes (and choose the styles you like and indulge yourself a bit) at a fraction of the normal price. Be warned it?s extremely tempting to fill your bag to the brim. Try to think what you need before you set out and only take the amount in cash that you can afford to spend. I've found them excellent for clothes and sometimes for equipment (but you have to get there early). Ebay. (www.ebay.co.uk)This is an internet auction house and is like a giant car boot sale. Lots and lots of baby clothes and equipment and you can get very good bargains but be really careful. I've bought lots of t
hings and haven't ever had a problem with unscrupulous sellers, but because it?s an auction I've sometimes gone a bit mad. You can get things very cheaply but the price will usually go up quite a bit when postage is included. I'd also really recommend checking out what things cost in the shops. Sometimes I get so intent on "winning" my item I end up paying just a little less that what it would have cost new in the shops! Local papers, small ads and Loot - really worth a scour if you've got the time and also their online equivalent. I was really in trouble when it came to buying a cot. Even the cheapest new cots (Argos for example) were going to cost me about £100 and on Ebay they weren't going for much less. I found a local London website (familiesonline.co.uk) with a small ads section and managed to get a beautiful hard wood cot with a new sprung mattress for £40 including delivery. However much you buy second hand it?s still nice to get some new things. If you plan carefully you can indulge yourself at the sales. Supermarkets (and their websites) usually have good bargains and even ludicrously priced shops like Baby Gap have fab bargains in the sales. Baby 'fashion' is as keen as adult fashion but last season's babygro is just as snazzy as this season's and can often be much, much cheaper. I also bought new vests (button under are MUCH better!) and a few white babygros from John Lewis as they were very cheap and fulfilled my desire for some new things without breaking the bank. You'll get lots of presents. If you can I would suggest asking for things for when the baby is a bit older. (Say, things for when s/he starts on solids and when you'll be very skint - a hand held blender will save you a fortune in jars of baby food, and even though it might seem a bit silly, having soft ended spoons and a beaker bought for you will help. I've found that my box of "presents for
when she's older" is still delivering useful surprises bought for me by my aunts, who, having had kids are "in the know" about what's going to be useful). Things you need: 8-10 vests (more if you don't have a washing machine or tumble dryer) 6 babygros (really good and you don't need to bother with other kinds of clothes for a good few weeks) footless will last much longer a hat (warm if winter) a small soft blanket will do instead of a shawl a cardigan of some kind muslin cloths (or any kind of very washable cloths - useful for mopping baby sick, stemming breast milk splurging - remember you will be living in a new world of wet and you'll need something to staunch the flow) a new towel (for softness) breast pads Things you don't need just yet: a pram / buggy - a sling of some kind is much easier for the first few months - a good second hand buy is a Wilkinet. They are soft and washable (no clips to break off and make buying second hand dangerous) and you can get the instructions from their website or they'll send them to you in the post). Wait to buy a buggy/pram - those suitable for newborns are really pricey and bulky and before you know it you'll want something lighter. A cot or moses basket- sounds a bit mad I know. I'd recommend sleeping with your baby for the first few weeks at least;. It makes nights much easier and when you master breastfeeding lying down you'll be grateful for the extra rest. If you don't want to sleep with your baby I would recommend buying a cot straightaway - moses baskets last such a short time and are really expensive (having said that this makes them a very likely good quality second hand bargain). Baby toys: they haven't seen anything in the world yet and as they grow and their sight and sense develop the world becomes the biggest toy box you can imagine. My daughter loved to look at
things hanging from the backs of doors Baby bath - again sounds a bit mad, but I wish I'd waited a few weeks before I got mine. I live in a tiny flat and my baby HATED going in the bath. I topped and tailed her (don't buy a top and tail bowl - just use two ordinary kitchen bowls) and bathed with her until she was bigger Breast pump - very useful later on if you continue to breastfeed but it can certainly wait for 6 weeks or so and you might end up not breastfeeding Things you don't/might not need at all: bottle / food warmer - use a bowl of warm water feeding pillow (use a big cushion) baby monitor (have the baby in your room and think about how big your house or flat really is baby shoes talc (just dry carefully with a towel) expensive baby massage oil (get grapeseed oil from a health food shop and use it on its own at first, later, if you like, you can scent it with a couple of drops of lavender oil - this is a bit of a luxury but baby massage is lovely and you don't need to go to pay for a class just think gentle stroking) All in all - keep your purse in your pocket and don't believe the hype - you don't need gadget after gadget. You will manage because what your baby needs is a mum (or dad) who loves her and who isn't too stressed about everything being perfect (or the fact that they've spent way too much money). Learning to trust your instincts rather than products and what the mags tell you you should buy will come with time and, anyway, you've got the best gadgets going - your boobs! Breastfeeding is the best tip for parents on a budget - free and (once you get the hang of it) easy. Having a baby can be one of the most trying times if you haven't much money - but doing it on a budget can be extremely liberating and once you break the spell of buy, buy, buy. Good luck
Now the blurb about writing on this subject seems to suggest that mothers should be writing here but I feel that fathers are just as suited to write on this subject as anyone so I would like to take this chance to let you know how we managed on a tight budget and what we eventually found out what we were entitled to after the birth. Now to many people think that the minute you are pregnant you have to go out and spend a fortune on babies clothes and bit's but the reality is that most of what you need is bought by family and friends for you and even if this is not the case there are certain things that you can do without. A baby's bath was suggested to us but it is not really necessary when you have a bath or sink which does the job just as easily after all you have to hold them in a baby bath anyway and if you are living in a small place it would just take up loads of space. Clothes now as we all know from either having kid's or having friends who have had kid's it is easy to go out and buy tonnes of babygrows,jumpers etc etc but believe me it is so not necessary as they grow so quickly that you will end up with loads of stuff that the baby has never had the chance to wear. Also clothes tends to be a favorite for friends and family to buy for you. If you really are on a tight budget then reverting to the old fashioned terry nappies is a great money saver but can be a pain having to clean dirty nappies but if things are tight it will save you a fortune as you can hand wash and use again and again instead of paying out £5.99 a pack when your using 8 or 9 a day in some cases. Baby bum lotions can cost a fortune but all you really need is castor oil and zinc cream which you can get a big tub of from Mothercare for £2.99 and this will last you about a month it really is suprising how much you can end up paying for named brands. In fact named brands are not always best in terms of baby essentials tescos etc d
o their own brands of nappies and creams etc and if you check most of the home brand reviews on this site you will see what I mean. There is one thing that I think is very important and that is knowing what you are intitled to such as mothers and children are allowed free prescriptions,child care benefits for those parents who want to get back to work up to 70% of childcare costs can be paid by the government. Child care allowance is every parents right and can be as much as £65 a month,Child tax allowance for when you do go back to work one of the parents can claim an additional tax allowance which really makes a difference and if you are a single parent this can be even more. If you have young children and have not been claiming any of the above you should ring your local benefits office for more details and they do backdate any benefits unclaimed before. Additional things that may be helpful are- - Single parents can get up to 25% off Council tax - Can claim more tax credit - Can claim more child care allowance I do really hope that this information is of help to somebody and who knows could get you a bit of dosh from unclaimed benefits to help out.