Preparing for Baby
by Maureen Bennie
A Beginner's Guide to Frugal Cloth Diapering
My Story: An Experienced Mom Preparing for Baby
Bogged Down by Baby Gear?
Waiting for the arrival of a new baby is an exciting time. New moms enjoy preparing the nursery, buying clothes and stocking up on supplies. There are also new worries like how to make ends meet once maternity leave begins and the family income is reduced. Perhaps parents will decide to live on one income and have to start saving now for the months ahead. A new baby can stress financial family life but this doesn't have to be the case. Careful planning, choices and a willingness to hunt for deals can reduce financial strain and make the arrival of a new baby the joy it is supposed to be.
Shop At Consignment Stores
Consignment stores that specialize in children's items are a godsend for savings. One good thing about babies is they are gentle on the things they use. Cribs, high chairs, portable play pens, baby monitors, car seats and strollers can look almost new even after a previous owner. Clothing is the best deal around because most babies will outgrow their clothes before they wear out. Buy diaper shirts, sleepers, booties, socks, and hats to start with. Be careful not to purchase too many clothes in newborn sizes, as they won't fit within a few weeks. Don't forget to pick up a rattle or two.
Shop at Large Chains
If you don't like consignment items or don't have a store near you, stick to shopping at the larger chains such as Wal-Mart, Zellers, Sears, K-Mart, Costco, or club member stores. Keep your eye on the weekly flyers for sales in your area. Most large chains do have "baby week" sales. If shopping for clothes in department stores, buy at the end of the season. For example, if you are having a winter baby shop for some 18 month sized summer items at the end of the summer. Buy nursery staples such as cotton balls, Vaseline, baby shampoo, and diaper rash cream as you see them on sale at the supermarket or drugstore.
Consider Using Cloth Diapers
Cloth diapers aren't what they used to be. You can now buy ones that don't need folding, are thick and absorbent, and fasten with Velcro. Buy diaper liners to add extra absorbency. Here's a helpful hint - unsoiled diaper liners can be washed several times. Disposable users will tell you that you'll spend as much money as they do washing with hot water and buying laundry soap. This simply isn't true. I used a combination of cloth and disposable diapers. I put my son in disposables at night to save on frequent changes during the night.
Things You Don't Need
Some baby items aren't necessary on a tight budget
- Baby swings are only used for the first four months so try and borrow one if your baby likes a swing
- Fancy crib toys are a waste of money. One or two things in a crib are plenty
- Having no change table is livable. Both my children were so squirmy that I ended up changing them on the floor
- Bassinets look pretty but they aren't used past the three months
- Babies don't need lots of toys. They are more interested in the world around them and everyday objects
- Forego using baby wipes. A wet washcloth is much cheaper
Borrow or Exchange Items with a Friend
My best friend and I do a toy exchange every 6 weeks. One of my son's preschool friends gave us his outgrown clothes. My double stroller and high chair is on loan to my best friend. I ask friends with children for items I need. My best friend hasn't had to buy any children's clothing because I pass everything on to her. Most moms love to give things they aren't using to new moms. I recently passed on my crib, car seat, baby books, dresser, and bookcase to my sister-in-law who is expecting her first baby. Ask around for what you need and you may be surprised what people are willing to give away or loan.
Prepare for the Storm Ahead of Time
Make meals and store them in the freezer. Many new parents end up ordering take-out or buying convenience foods because of the disruption and fatigue a baby causes. Investment cooking, taking an item such as chicken and making several different meals, is a task that can be done three months ahead of your due date and piled into the freezer. If cooking isn't your bag, ask the person who is organizing your baby shower to make it a Tupperware party. Everyone brings a dish you can freeze such as chili, lasagna, soup, muffins, or macaroni and cheese. Aim to have 20 meals in the freezer before the birth. It's the first three weeks with new babies that are the toughest.
Contact Baby Companies
Manufacturers of baby products want your business, as it is an area of high customer turnover as kids grow up. Heinz, Gerber, Evenflo, Cosco, Pampers, Huggies, Johnson and Johnson, and the formula companies all have 1-800 numbers on the side of their products. Call the customer service line and ask for coupons or samples. Some companies such as Huggies, Pampers or Heinz has clubs you can join to receive coupons on a regular basis. The Enfalac Company sent me a free can of their powder hypoallergenic formula Nutramigen, a $19 value, after I found out my daughter had a severe allergy to milk. Most companies will be happy to fill reasonable requests.
The most important money saving tip is to remember that babies don't need fancy equipment or a beautifully decorated nursery. They are happy with very little. What they really need are a pair of loving arms, a warm place to sleep and mother's milk. Keep those things in mind, borrow what you can and buy second hand and you won't break the bank.
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