Having a baby? There are some ways to prepare for baby without breaking your budget. Sure, you can save money by breastfeeding over formula feeding or by using cloth diapers over disposables, but these options don't always work for families. The suggestions offered here are easy and can mesh with most families.
Do you really NEED it?
If you have a tight budget, here are some items you might be able to do without and save a little money.
1. Bassinet - Most babies don't need one after 3 months so this has a very short lifespan. But if you really want one (and I think it's a godsend if you breastfeed), see if you can borrow one from someone.
2. Changing table - most are only useful while baby is in diapers (a couple of years) and not only can they be expensive, they take up space. If you do get a changing table, you may be able to increase it's lifespan by using it to store toys or books in baby's room. Save money by borrowing one, buying a slightly used one or at least getting one on sale. Another way to save money and space is to get a playpen that has a changing table feature (such as Graco's Pack N Play). The changing table can be removed when you use it as a playpen.
3. Swing or vibrating chair? Many babies have a preference, so if you get both, keep the packaging and return the least favored item. Then you can put that money towards something you really need.
4. Books. Many parents want to read to their baby after (and even before) they are born. That's great. Just buy ONE or two books to read to baby in the beginning. Your baby won't be as interested in the book until they are at least 3 or 4 months old anyway. And when you want to expand your child's library, shop at book sales and garage sales or even at www.half.com. (other great sites are Better World Books and Book Depository). The Barnes & Noble website often has children's books - and even toys - in their sale annex.
Easy ways to save money
1. Get yourself on mailing lists for baby stores and manufacturers before baby's arrival to save money on the things you need. You can get valuable coupons, notice of upcoming sales and, in some cases, free samples. Start with places such as Babies R Us, Pampers, Huggies, Beech Nut, Gerber and Earth's Best. Some companies, such as Pampers, even offer a buying club so you get points for what you buy; those points can be redeemed for toys and other items.
2. See if friends or family with slightly older kids have clothes, toys or other items to give or loan you. With clothes and toys, most parents are glad to see someone else use the stuff and even happier to have some extra space.
3. If you like clothes, sign up for a Gap credit card and they take 10% of your first purchase and 10% off your purchases at Baby Gap the 1st Tues of the month.
4. Buy rechargeable batteries. Many baby products - such as swings and bouncy chairs - will eat batteries and it can cost you a small fortune (especially the items that require D batteries). Buy double of what you need (ie if a swing needs four D batteries, buy eight batteries) so you can have one set charged when the other set dies.
5. See if your supermarket has a baby club. They are free to join and you get points or cash back on purchases you would make anyway.
6. Look beyond baby stores for your supplies. For example, baby gates are often cheaper at pet stores than at baby stores. And you can often find regularly priced crib sheets cheaper at the large super stores (such as Target) than at places such as Babies R Us.
I was lucky to have some moms give me advice before having my first baby and in other cases, I learned by trial and error what was best. Hopefully these recommendations will help you, as a new parent, to get the things
that will really help you.
1. Lansinoh Cream
This is wonderful (and worth the money) for keeping your nipples from getting too sore or cracked. You can buy it at most baby supply stores and even some maternity shops.
2. Breast Pump
The Medela breast pump This can cost you a few hundred dollars but it’s worth it. I have the Pump in Style and it works really well and is fairly comfortable. Medela offers different cup sizes to accommodate different breast sizes. Save money by borrowing the pump or definitely put it on your baby registry. Put the accessories on your registry because the costs can add up.
3. Baby bottles
Dr. Brown's baby bottles have a great design and REALLY keep the baby from getting gas. We tried Avent and our baby was not happy (although we know several people who like them). The nice thing is that the Brown’s baby bottles can also attach to the Medela cone for pumping breast milk directly into the bottle.
4 Breastfeeding pillow
The Boppy is among the top-rated items for parents. While it is wonderful for breastfeeding ease, it also is great for propping a baby who can’t quite sit up yet. You also can put baby on the pillow on her stomach for “tummy time.”
5. Baby Monitor
We love the monitor by Summer Infant Products. It costs about $170 but it does go on sale or use a store’s 20% off coupon. It has some great features. It has a pretty mobile base and the handheld unit is very easy to take with you. The handheld has a color screen with night vision so you can see baby without disturbing him. It is pretty tough, too. We’ve dropped the camera part a few times and it still works great. There’s also minimal interference between this and wireless products.
6. Play Yard
The Graco Pack N Play is another favorite among parents, including us. It is fairly easy to pack up to take with you or store. It has a changing table feature which is nice. It also is durable.
7. Infant Swing
We think Nature's Touch Cradle Swing by Fisher Price is the best one out there. You can fold it easily to put away (although it still is a little bulky) and it’s still sturdy. It is very versatile as well. You can adjust the seat so baby is lying back or sitting more upright; you can change the swing direction from side-to-side or back-and-forth. The swing offers music and white noise sounds, a little mobile and mirror for baby to look at. There also is a play tray that you can detach or attach if baby wishes to play with it.
8. Baby toy
Every baby - even newborns - should have a toy. Our baby’s favorite toy is the Noa doll by Noukies (www.noukies.com). This doll is SO soft! It also is very light so very young babies can hold it and toss it around. Noa’s braids are also great for a teething baby. Noukies dolls can be pricey (12-inch dolls go for about $25) but they are very durable and most can be machine washed. If you don’t like Noa, there are plenty of other stuffed toys such as Lola the cow.
We LOVE our Graco stroller. It's called the Mosaic stroller. It is one of the lightest strollers under $200 and it packs up fairly compactly so you can put it in a small trunk or even the back seat. It is maneuverable and strong. (We actually broke one stroller in the store trying to fold it up). It has a cup holder and a storage basket (which they could improve a little). And it works nicely with Graco’s infant car seat and when baby upgrades to a new seat, it’s a great toddler stroller.
10. Diaper Pail
We like the Diaper Champ. It got the same – or better – ratings from parents over Diaper Genie. Plus you can use regular garbage bags instead of special bags for the Genie, which is a tremendous money saver.
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