by Christine Allen
Babies are adorable. They don’t ask for much except love, attention, comfort, and a place to sleep. Nonetheless those adorable creatures can become very expensive, even without trying. The initial costs, even though they occur only once, can be significant. Cribs, playpens, carriages, bassinets, and changing table are must haves, and they can be quite expensive. Items that are bought and replaced periodically, like breast pumps, bottles and nipples, and clothing, can also require significant outlay over time. The real cost, however, is in the much used consumables like formula and diapers. There are ways for the prudent shopper to save money, however.
1. Buy Used and Save Big
The first thing to remember is that the baby doesn’t care whether the items purchased in his or her behalf are new or used. It’s the parent who worries about such things. There are some things, such as a christening outfit, that parents may insist be new. However, some parents find that using a family heirloom may be even more fitting, and cost nothing. Most items like furniture, clothing, and certain accessories are perfectly suitable when purchased used provided they are of good quality, in perfect condition, and safe for use.
Most furniture that is required to care for a baby at home need only be clean and sturdy. The single exception is the crib. Older cribs are generally unsafe due to the dangerous spacing between slats and the faulty mechanisms that control the sliding side. Never buy any crib that does not meet the current government standards.
Craig’s List and eBay often have excellent buys on furniture and some baby clothing. A more convenient source are thrift shops, Goodwill stores, and Salvation Army stores. Garage sales are also excellent sources. When you buy clothes, whether new or used, never put them on the baby until they have been machine washed in hot water.
2. Borrow from Friends and Family
Unfortunately, for some parents, the cost of even used baby furniture can be prohibitive. Where possible, borrow the needed items from family or friends. Obviously, the cost savings is phenomenal, but the responsibility is great. When you borrow something like baby furniture, maintaining it in good condition for its eventual return is crucial. Be prepared to replace it with a new item if it is damaged while in your care.
Borrowing clothing is a bit more difficult. The clothing will get dirty and oftentimes damaged to the point where the original owner would not want to use it again. If you want to borrow clothing, reserve that option for special clothing used for special occasions like weddings.
3. Buy Multi-Use Baby Products
Many couples who are having their first child are often living in small apartments that are quite limited in space. If there is a separate room for a nursery, it is often quite small. In many cases, the baby must share space in the apartment’s single bedroom. Obviously, this is not a situation where a suite of baby furniture would be appropriate. There are several manufacturers of baby furniture who produce multi-use products: bureaus with changing table adapters on the top, cribs that convert to a playpen, cribs that can serve as changing tables, and other combinations. There might be a small savings, buying the multi-use furniture, but there’ll be a large savings in space.
When you are shopping for a multi-use product, check it out thoroughly. Read the manufacturer’s instruction manual, and be sure you understand it. Make sure that any mechanisms or latches that must be used to change from one mode to another are strong and that they function correctly. Safety is the most important characteristic required from any piece of baby furniture whether it be single use or multi-use.
4. Check for Bargains, Discounts, Coupons, and Specials
Check the newspapers and internet sites for bargains, sales, and going out of business specials. It’s important that a piece of baby furniture be sturdy and safe, but it’s not so important that the finish be perfect. A scratch or dented piece that is functionally perfect can often be purchased at a considerable savings.
When it comes to saving on consumables like formula and diapers, be on constant lookout for coupons. Check out the manufacturer’s website. They often offer specials to encourage first-time buyers. Some offer rebates when you buy a certain amount of their products. Check the websites for all your local supermarkets to see which one offers the products at the least cost. Don’t be afraid to try equivalent store brands for diapers and other baby consumables. Most are just as good. Some may be made by the same manufacturer that makes the name brand.
5. Buy in Bulk and Save
There was an old joke floating around when the Costco chain of warehouse stores opened, claiming that warehouse stores were places where you can buy products in sizes so large that you never use them up. That may be true for small families, but it certainly is not true for diapers and formula. Buying these things in bulk can be a real money saver. Babies go through diapers as quickly as someone with a common cold goes through facial tissues!
It’s natural for moms and dads to want the best for their babies, but budgets do have a way of dictating reality. If you follow the tips given above, you can provide your child with everything he or she needs using products of high quality, but a significant savings in cost.
Christine Allen, a stay-at-home mom, gave up her own career to take care of her two babies and her husband. Now she is an editor of http://www.livesnet.com/, a site offering baby gear reviews and tips on problems parents encounter in daily life. She’s surely willing to share her own experience and tips. You can contact with her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/livesnet. Please visit Livesnet and read her recent review on DaVinci Kalani convertible baby crib.