A new baby isn’t exactly cheap, but the good news is you don’t have to look into selling a kidney or taking out a second mortgage.
It all depends on whether you feel you need to welcome your precious baby into the world Victoria Beckham style or if you are ok with all your baby gear not necessarily being diamond-studded … too scratchy anyway, I say.
Your first pregnancy is, understandably, a super exciting time for planning showers, buying baby things and decorating the nursery. It may seem a great idea to paint, decorate, buy lots of furniture and all the toys and accessories the stores seem to suggest are necessary, but take a moment to think about what you’re going to need first. Ask around friends or family members who have babies or older children to think back and get some hints on what they bought or borrowed and which items worked for them.
There are lots of ways to save money and still have everything you need for your new baby’s arrival and homecoming!
Babies don’t give a crap where you bought their crib, how well set up their change table is or whether or not you bothered to fold their onesies into the newly sanded and painted chest of drawers. You don’t need to go to extremes painting; keep your walls as they are, make them neutral and add easy to remove stickers or pictures. You don’t want to have to do it all again in a couple of years when they’re way too big for all that baby stuff.
When you purchase a cot, try to get one that converts to a first toddler bed, they come on sale for around $150. If someone offers you a bargain or a gift of one, for sure take it, just check the structure out and make sure it complies with the Australian Safety Standards. Do buy a new mattress for your child, it’s very important that they don’t sleep on one that has had wee, poo or vomit on in it the past and is now a bacteria fest. An innerspring mattress that fits those convertible cots is around $90 and a $20 mattress protector will see it last well into the toddler time! It’s recommended for babies to ‘room in’ with parents for at least the first six months of their life.
Accept all offers of hand-me-downs or loans. Tiny newborns wear winter or summer versions of onesies pretty much all the time and grow out of them to the next size super fast. Most of the clothes given to you will probably seem like new and if any terry-cloth clothes are a bit hard, just pop them in the dryer after a wash to soften them up again. Good as new.
Of course, you’ll want to buy new clothes for your bub, what mum doesn’t? Hit the sales whenever you can for heavily reduced items, look for easy access clothes and remember to buy for the season your baby is born in. Ruffles, bows, dresses and denim overalls are seriously unsuitable for a sensitive squishy and a sleep-deprived mum. Keep it simple and comfortable for bub and less expensive for you. K-mart or Big W have onesies for about $5 each and leggings, soft shorts or shirts for $3 – $4 each. A pretty wrap for your little one is a good baby shower gift idea that you can ask for. You really don’t have to drop a bomb on your bank account.
Food for baby
Breastfeeding is free. It’s also very convenient. If you have any troubles, consider these two points and get as much advice as you can to help you to continue. If you can’t breastfeed, don’t beat yourself up, all that matters is that your baby is fed, not how.
Finding the ‘right’ formula and bottle can be tricky as there are quite a few different ones on offer and it’s pretty daunting to stand in front of a wall of cans and teats trying to choose for the first time. Go with a basic one that suits a newborn, if your baby hasn’t any specific medical requirements, formula should only cost $16 – $20 a can. Pick a bottle and teat combo that is a close to breastfeeding one.
Food for you
Stock your freezer with enough pre-cooked meals to last you a couple of weeks. You’ll most likely be too tired to cook and it’s so easy to pick up the phone and order a take-out. Before you know it you’re on a first-name basis with the restaurant, ordering ‘the usual’ and blowing out your budget each week.
Huggies have a newborn nappy with an indicator line (this smarty pants line changes from brown to green when the nappy is wet or soiled) and is quite a blessing in the middle of the night, when you would rather chop your arms off than disturb your baby, unless he or she really needs that nappy changed! You can buy these in bulk and they’ll cost around 32c per nappy. Doesn’t sound like much, but go through 10 nappies a day and that soon adds up!
Once they’re a bit bigger, switch to a good quality supermarket brand like Coles Comfy Bots or Aldi Mamia. Both brands of nappies have excellent absorbency, are soft and cost around 24c per nappy. They may have generic pictures on them unlike the Huggies which always have Winnie the Pooh or Mickey Mouse, but at the end of the day, nappies catch wee and poo. Who cares about the pictures?
We always have bills to pay. Now that you’re home all day the electricity usage will increase. Watching TV while feeding, burping and settling non-stop for a few weeks is a given, there’s also the extra washing, lighting, heating or cooling, it all adds up. Try to save by setting your air-con to 26 degrees and use your energy efficient appliances like the slow cooker instead of the stove.
Hopefully, you won’t need to visit the doc more than the routine newbie checks and vaccination schedule, which are all covered by Medicare. We also now have the after-hours doctor (completely bulk-billed by Medicare from 4pm until 8am, which is usually when kids get sick!). It’s a non-emergency service that can save you a bundle when you’re worried about rashes, fevers and the like.
You could also ask your GP about bulk-billing, it never hurts to ask, they can only say yes or no! Make use of your local child health clinic, babies less than four weeks old can see the midwife and the registered child health nurses are always happy to help (there’s usually a lactation consultant among them) and have baby cuddles. They’ll cuddle you too if you need it! Oh and it’s free.
A must have item for a baby going in a car at any time.
Car seats can cost so much, it’s a good idea to research the ones you might be interested in then stalk them and when the one you want comes on sale — pounce on it! You can save money over time by buying a seat that will last from birth to eight years. It costs a bit more initially, but saves you having to upgrade at around three to four years.
If you do choose to buy second hand or accept a gift of a free seat, please be sure that the seat has no damage and hasn’t been in a car accident (even if it looks ok, if it’s been in an accident, toss it) and that it still complies to current Australian Safety Standards.
Pram or Carrier
Whichever suits you, make sure you have test runs in the store or with a friend’s. These can be expensive items and you need one that really suits you and your baby. It’s worth waiting until your baby is born if you aren’t absolutely sure of which carrier you want as it’s near impossible to get a feel for them when large and in charge pregnant. A sleepy wrap will be perfect for newbie (a little secret, they come with sleepy dust, babies love them) and free your hands up without sending you broke. You can pick up prams and carriers second hand, which is a great way to buy them if they’re in good condition, especially if you want both!
So considering a baby’s daily life agenda consists of very simple, basic needs to survive and thrive — a full tum, a clean bum, cuddles, love, warmth and sleep – perhaps that’s a good indicator of what we really need when we buy for them!