Getting Ready for Baby: How to Prepare Without Spending a Bundle

May 7, 2013

 The moment that the blue plus sign appears on the home pregnancy test, expectant moms and dads begin thinking about all the things they will need for the upcoming bundle of joy.  You suddenly begin noticing the emotionally-charged TV ads featuring the latest baby necessities.

The baby catalogs begin arriving daily.  When you are handed the registry scanner at the baby megastore, the combination of elation and fear may make you start scanning as many brightly colored baby “essentials” as you can.  But in the hoopla, knowing what you will actually need (at least at first) and saving some money in the process is what’s truly essential.

And what should you do with all the money you save?  There’s always that college fund.

Diapers and wipes.  And more diapers and wipes.

From the first day, you will go through more of these than you ever thought possible.  Club membership stores like Costco and Sam’s Club sell jumbo size boxes of various brands of diapers and wipes (including the store brands), that will generally cost you less per unit.  Additionally, you won’t have to go to the store as often and convenience is key with a newborn.

Amazon.com offers free memberships that provide percentage discounts on recurring orders of diapers, wipes, and other basic necessities, along with free shipping.  Scour websites like BabyCheapskate and name brand websites for coupons.

Don’t forget about store brands, they can cost less than name brands but be just as effective.  If you go the reusable diaper route, the savings can also be significant.  Try and see what works best for you.

(Find even more tips in this post  5 Ways to Save Money on Diapers)

Get a little help from your friends.

The person most likely to give you frank advice about what your baby will really need is your friend or neighbor who already has a kid.  Or three.  Ask them what baby necessities they would recommend – did they use the sling?  The bouncy chair?  The $400 stroller?  What brands did they think were best and lasted the longest?

You may be surprised that the newest and latest baby gear item on the market receives poor reviews from moms whose kids just weren’t that interested.  Experienced parents can help you figure out what you will need and what you may not.  Washcloths and bath towels?  Yes, a lot.  Designer fur booties?  Maybe not.

Often times, your friends may be more than happy to clear out their basement and share used baby gear with you in the process.  Make sure any second hand gear is clean, safe, workable, and hasn’t been recalled.  You will only use some of this baby gear for a few months.  Your baby doesn’t care if his baby swing is the latest model and neither will you.

Consider gently used.

Various sponsors in your community may hold mega consignment sales of children’s gear and clothing at deeply slashed down prices. Just Between Friends offers consignment sale events around Colorado, and in fact, around the nation.

Parents of twins, triplets and other multiples can find great deals at consignment sales sponsored by the Moms of Multiples Society.  These sales may feel a lot like an intense Black Friday shopping experience, but the savings are unparalleled.  Be prepared.  Get there early and leave the kids at home.

Neighborhood community sales in the summer months are also a convenient way to find great bargains.  Also, check online for a list of children’s consignment stores in your area.  You can find gently used baby gear and even baby room furniture for a fraction of the price and save hundreds of dollars.  I still remember feeling like I won the lottery when I found the exact stroller I had been looking for at a baby consignment store, clean and in perfect working condition and at 60 percent off retail price.

Do keep safety in mind.  Certain items are better purchased new, for safety and hygiene purposes.  Also make sure your gently used purchases have not been recalled.  Online resources for recall checks include the Consumer Products Safety Commission (where you can also sign up for alerts) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (for carseats).  Also, BabyCenter has a Product Recall Finder.

For children’s books and DVDs, don’t forget your local public library. Public libraries often hold annual or semi-annual book sales where you can find children’s books, CD’s and DVD’s at deep discounts.

Go as you grow.

Parenthood is a process.  On day one, you may not know a thing.  You definitely don’t know what you will need a few months (or years) down the line or what your child will enjoy.  Don’t stock up years in advance on toys and gear.  Get what you need as it becomes necessary and you'll save a lot of money and time in the process.

This post was written by Julie Borisov from Colorado PERA.

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