It’s natural to want to buy your baby the best of everything, but those tiny booties and cute bouncers add up. By planning ahead and picking the brains of parents who’ve been through it before, you can learn where to cut your costs, so your new arrival doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Work out how much money you’ll have coming inCheck your maternity or paternity package at work, so you know how much money you’ll be paid when you’re on leave. And check what benefits you’re entitled to as a new parent. Once you know how much money you’ll have coming in, you can work out how much you can afford to spend.
Calculate how much having a baby will cost
To get a better understanding of how much you can spend on what, plan ahead. The Money Advice Service has an easy-to-use Baby Costs Calculator. Planning ahead will save you from any first-year financial shocks. And it’s a good incentive to keep down the costs of kitting out your new arrival.
Ask other parents for advice
Write down a list of things you think you need (or ask for one at a mother and baby store). Then chat to other parents and visit online forums to find out what you actually need. They’ll have a good idea which bits are essential for your little one. Which? also has lists for most and least useful items to buy for your baby. And sites like Mumsnet can link you with people who’ve been through it all before and picks up tips along the way.
Pay attention to reviews
Everyone’s different, but it’s helpful to know if your friend found a popular buggy impossible to fold, or if a certain type of bottle got bad reviews online. Before you buy, pick the brains of your friends who are already parents, and search out product reviews online.
Learn to love ‘nearly new’
New can be nice, but do you really need it? Your baby will grow so fast they’ll often hardly use items before they’ve out-grown them. Look for a local NCT ‘nearly new’ sale – these offer preloved mother, baby and childrens' clothes and essentials. You can also find nearly new items at your local car boot or jumble sale, on eBay, or on sites like NetMums. And there are many freecycle websites, where you could get items absolutely free.
Borrow what you can
Ask friends and family if they have baby equipment you can borrow. This is especially useful for things you won’t use very often or for very long.
TIP: Your baby will grow so fast they’ll often hardly use items before they’ve out-grown them. So learn to love 'nearly new'.
Avoid stockpilingYour baby will outgrow things, like certain nappies, faster than you think. And you may find that something that works for them for a while quickly stops working. If you stockpile, you could be left with a lot of items you have no use for. Buy things as you need them.
Re-sell what you canIf you’ve got the space, hang on to boxes for baby equipment. And keep the labels on baby clothes until you use them. Then sell them when you’re done with them. This will also help free up space in your home.
Register for freebiesRegister with companies who make baby clothes and equipment – baby snacks, nappies, clothes, equipment, you name it. They’ll often send you freebies, tips and vouchers. Keep in mind that these are used for marketing products, so do your homework on what’s best for your baby. Go to sites like Emma’s Diary or google ‘baby club’ and see what’s available.
Cut back on clothesAvoid stocking up on newborn baby clothes – shop for bigger sizes. Tempting as it may be to pick up drawer-fulls of tiny jumpers, if you have friends and family nearby it’s likely they’ll buy you plenty. Plus your little one will outgrow newborn sizes fast. You might only need to buy one set of vests and babygros to get you through the first couple of weeks.
Shop aroundThe prices of items can vary widely from place to place, so search around before you buy. Look out for sales and use price comparison sites like Mummy Supermarket to find deals on the web.
Use your librarySee what your local library can offer you and your newborn. Many have free parent-and-baby classes, storytimes and games you can use or borrow. Plus they’re a good place to meet other parents.
TIP: Register with companies who make baby clothes and equipment. They’ll often send you freebies, tips and vouchers.