This is a guest post from Valerie Rohde. I couldn't help but add a few notes throughout the post. 🙂 – Anna
Diapers, bottles, and booties, oh my!
How sweet it is to dream and prepare for your new baby! It is so easy to get caught up in all of the adorable little bitty items and the parenting magazines that suggest all of the items you’ll need for your baby. The coupons and fliers begin filling up your mailbox, e-mail inbox, and you even start getting text messages to alert you of the latest baby sales in every local store. The sales seem great, and the pressure to measure up to others and have the latest baby gear can become quite overwhelming. I hope this guide helps to dispel some of the myths regarding what you really need to have, and what you should splurge on.
Worth the Splurge (if You Can):
The childbirth class my husband and I took was worth every penny, and I would take it again and spend the same amount of money with no regrets. It was a 12-week course offered by an organization outside of the hospital setting. I highly recommend that you look into a class other than the short class on a Saturday that is typically offered by your local hospital. (Take advantage of the free tour your hospital or birthing center offers in order to learn about their specific policies.) Otherwise a comprehensive birth class is the way to go.
This is probably one of the most important items worth buying new and doing your research on to make sure you get a great quality seat. I would not advise purchasing a used car seat (even if it is not expired) unless you know and trust the previous owner and are sure it has never been in an accident. A car seat that has been in an accident may not look different on the outside but the inner safety features can be greatly compromised and you don’t want to sacrifice safety to save a few dollars! (Note from Anna: I've found this Car Seats for the Littles Facebook group to be extremely helpful.)
This item is nice to have if you have the extra money to spend (especially if you live in a small space). It is not a necessity, but can provide peace of mind and help you keep an eye on your baby from a distance. (Note from Anna: We didn't have a baby monitor for 10-ish months but we eventually got one for when we were traveling. We went with this simple sound-only baby monitor and it's held up really well.)
Baby Jogger City Select Stroller
This particular stroller is expensive. However, if you are going to splurge on a stroller, this Baby Jogger City Select Stroller would be the one to give you the most bang for your buck in the long run, especially if you plan on having more children. This stroller is very well made, comes with a limited warranty, and you can customize the features for a child of any age. This stroller has up to 16 different options, some of which include an adapter for your infant car seat, and an optional bassinet. The seat can either face toward or away from you, and it can also turn into a double stroller with the purchase of an additional seat. Overall, you end up spending money on one stroller that gives you many different options and is built to last, so you shouldn’t have to purchase another, even after several children.
If you do not have a knack for photography this is one area I would recommend doing some research on. Look for a photographer with a style you love and who possibly offers a “watch me grow” package where you can pay to have him or her capture your family during maternity, newborn, 3, 6, 9, and 12-month sessions. This package deal is usually a very cost-effective way to capture moments that you’ll want to save, share, and look back on for years to come.
Where You Can Save:
Clothing, clothing, clothing
This one should be a given. Whether you’re shopping for maternity clothes or clothes for your baby, just back away from the retail-priced items, and run to your local consignment sale or shop. (Or your close friends who have recently had babies.) Also, chances are if you do a quick search for consignment sales in your city, you will find an organization or church that hosts a large sale in the fall and in the spring. Perfect for picking up seasonal items as well as gently used toys, books, costumes, and other necessities at a steal…Most sales even have a ½ price day on top of the already low prices! Maternity and baby items are used for such a small period of time they are almost always like new and are usually name brand. Paying full price on a couple of must-have items is fine, but don’t be that person who’s paying retail for your baby’s entire wardrobe when you will receive adorable new clothing items from friends and family. Save your money for some of the items you really need…or want!
Tack the word “baby” onto any furniture item and watch that item’s price jump a hefty percentage higher than what it would cost otherwise. The baby retail market is smart and they present pictures of beautiful nurseries with a perfectly placed crib, dresser, changing table, armoire, glider chair and ottoman, complete with the matching curtains, mobile, diaper holder, bedding, and even a cute rug. Don’t. Fall. For. It. Just don’t! You can find all of these items on consignment if you really must have a matching set. Let your creativity and imagination blossom into something truly unique that suits your style and something dreamy for your new baby.
So you may have heard rumors about people actually using cloth diapers again. Are these people crazy? No! The cloth diaper industry today is not what it was years ago. New cloth diapers are beautifully designed for functionality and come in stylish colors and prints. Not only can cloth diapers save you money over the course of your diapering years (because they can be saved and reused for subsequent children), but you also limit your child’s exposure to certain chemicals and toxins present in disposables.
If you don’t want to fork over a bunch of money for a stroller or if you prefer to practice attachment parenting exclusively, try baby wearing! Invest in a baby carrier that is supportive for baby’s hips and is also going to provide support for the wearer, such as an ergo-structured carrier, or for a stretchy beginner wrap, try the Baby K’tan. (Note from Anna: Be sure to do your research to avoid possible damage to the little one's hips. This is a helpful post on hip dysplasia. We got this Boba carrier.)
Save lots of money on mealtime for baby by choosing first to breastfeed (or bottle feed with breast milk) exclusively for the first 6 months of your baby’s life. This not only helps in saving money over what you would spend on formula and bottles but it also allows your baby’s gut flora to develop completely before introducing solids later on. This lessens your baby’s risk for developing food allergies and also provides a unique bonding experience for the whole family. Upon the introduction of solids, consider baby-led weaning, as long as you eat a good diet and allow your baby to eat what you eat. You can save time and money by not having to buy those expensive jars or pouches for every meal. (Note from Anna: You can take whatever your family is eating, toss it in the blender with a bit of water, and you have baby food. Super easy and inexpensive.)
And lastly, but certainly not least, there’s that new family car you’ve been eyeing. A lot of people want to provide a safe vehicle for their families, and rightly so. However, don’t go out and purchase a brand-new car on a whim. Stay within your budget and purchase a vehicle that will not later become a financial burden. Check out used car lots with good reputations, ask family and friends for advice on reputable sellers, and getting pre-approved by your bank is usually a great way to ensure you are getting the best interest rate, and approved with a payment you can handle.
In the end, simply save where you can on items that aren’t absolute necessities so you can spend your hard-earned money on the items you really want and can treasure along with your new baby for years to come!
What items have you found you can do without during your baby’s first year?
Valerie Rohde is a wife, mom, and a childbirth doula working toward certification. She has a full time “day job” on top of the many other hats she wears while she and her husband are working hard toward becoming financially free of old debts and student loans. She is currently working toward her doula certification as well as becoming a childbirth educator and lactation consultant. Valerie has an intrinsic love for writing.
P.S. Be sure to check out these other kid/baby related posts: What Should I Register For? Baby Shower, How to Know You're Financially Ready to Have a Baby, and 10 Tricks to Save Money on Baby Gear.