Babies are expensive little creatures. With all the wonderful things they bring, they don't come with user manuals or an accessories kit. And they develop so rapidly that, as soon as you gather all the tools to bring them through a certain phase, it's time to head back to the store again for more stuff.
All parents could benefit from cutting corners here and there.
Check out these inexpensive ways to score great baby goods for less:
Coupons - Save lots of money on diapers, wipes and formula by clipping coupons. Those free parenting magazines delivered to your door each month are full of them. By taking the time to flip through each issue and clip out what you need, you can easily save between $5-$25 per month on baby supplies. Also, visit each of your favorite diaper/formula manufacturers' websites and sign up for special offers - if you are on their list, they tend to mail out discount coupons regularly. A little effort adds up to big savings!
Clothing Swaps - The great thing about having a friend with a baby slightly older than yours, aside from their priceless advice, is the leftover baby swag. If you happen to have a friend with a baby six months or older than yours, ask if you can borrow some of their child's gently used baby clothes. Sure, every parent has a few new articles of clothing for their sweetie that they'd like to treasure as mementos, or save for another child, but by arranging a clothing swap, your pal will gain back some much needed storage space and you'll save tons of money on clothes your kid will only sprout out of in seconds flat.
And why not pay it forward? If you have a friend with a slightly younger child, offer to loan them clothing that your child has outgrown. Keep the good karma going!
Furniture - It's great to save money on certain big-ticket items like baby furniture, car seats and the like. But for safety's sake, some of these items are much better to splurge on. Here's what to buy used, and what to buy new:
- Cribs: You really should invest in a new crib to assure it meets today's safety requirements. Also, often times cribs don't reassemble as well the second time (a serious safety hazard), so it's usually better to shell out for a brand new bedtime spot.
- Car Seats: It's better to buy car seats new due to rapidly changing safety features. Both infant (rear facing) and toddler (front facing) car seats must be LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system compatible to meet legal safety requirements.
Buy Used With Caution
- High Chairs: Many high chairs are made of plastic and, after a few years, can begin to wear. You want your high chair to assemble with the utmost security. Make sure it has a three-point safety belt and can withstand twenty-five pounds or so of weight.
- Bureaus/Storage Furniture: If they are in excellent condition and can be anchored into a wall for safety, there's no reason not to buy a great looking piece of nursery furniture used and paint/spruce it up for your baby's room.
- Changing Table: These are generally really easy to reassemble and are widely available - lots of kids outgrow them around the age of three. For hygienic reasons, be sure and invest in a new contoured changing pad and two or three waterproof pad covers that you can rotate.
- Baby Carriers/Slings: Babies tend to get really picky about how they like to be lugged around. That said, parents go through a lot of trial and error in finding the right means to transport them. Check out online listings, local parenting groups, and garage sales for gently used baby carriers. If baby doesn't happen to like what you score, your wallet will feel a lot less pain.
- Toys: There are so many new toys and gadgets on the market to aid in babies' development. But unless you're Madonna, it's almost impossible to bankroll all the latest and greatest stuff. Besides, there's no way to tell which toys will become favorites and which will end up gathering dust.
Make the rounds of flea markets, garage sales and stoop sales to see what toys other parents are trying to off load. You can score some amazing deals for next to nothing. Just be sure to give your loot a good hose down and disinfecting before offering it to your little one.
Food - Making and freezing your own baby food can save you a ton of money at the grocery store, not to mention offer your child nourishment free of additives and preservatives. Just grab your handy Cuisinart Elite 14-Cup Food Processor and get to it!