Did you nearly fall off your chair as well? £11,025?!
Fair enough, I’ve always been a bit stingy. I actually remember putting pennies into a sock when I was about ten, to save up for university…
The thing is, I think it’s perfectly sensible to be stingy when you’re shopping for baby gear. Especially gear for teeny tiny babies. Why? Because:
1. They outgrow most things within a matter of months, if not weeks
2. They hardly need anything. Just a pair of boobs, and a pair of willing arms/sling to cart them around everywhere, if we’re honest. Maybe a cot if they’re feeling cooperative and will actually sleep outside of the arms/sling.
Clothes? Doesn’t matter what they look like as long as it keeps them warm and washes easily. 11th hand is fine.
Toys? They’ll be fine in front of a mirror for the first couple of months, and then they’ll only want your keys/phone/pots and pans anyway.
Baby food? Go for Baby-Led Weaning and they’ll just eat salt/sugar-free versions of what you eat.
Okay fine, obviously we’ve bought a fair few things for the Bean, including a cot, clothes and a small number of toys. Nevertheless, in the end our total pre-baby spend only came to about £700 on “essential gear” plus about £400 on a really good cloth nappy set (which is supposed to see two babies through to potty training). Over the course of the Bean’s first year, I think we have spent an additional £500-700 on toys, clothes, more gear and formula. Bringing us to a grand total of £1800 at most, not including childcare costs (I’m not going to tell you what we spend on that because you’ll hate me).
With a bit of common sense and perseverance, as well as a truck-load of imperviousness to the adverts for useless crap that parents are constantly bombarded with, it is possible to spend that little. My top five tips for a Thrifty Little Baby experience are:
1. Ask for ‘expert’ advice
As a new-parent-to-be, it’s really, REALLY hard to figure out what you need, what amounts to a luxury item, and what is tat.
Before M was born I spent two hours in Aubert with my sister-in-law (who has two kids under 4). We didn’t buy a thing. Instead, she showed me what was gimmicky (anti-colic/reflux bottles. If they’re going to scream, they’re going to scream), and what would save my sanity (a baby bath support, because you really do just have one pair of hands). So if in doubt, ask someone who has a kid under the age of two.
2. Compare, compare, compare
I left Aubert with a list of stuff I wanted, and sat down to Do My Homework.
First it was decision time: was the branded, top-of-range stuff worth paying for, or would the non-branded stuff do? If we had to go branded (which we almost never did), we made sure that quality and longevity were reflected in the price, rather than the name of the brand.
Then on to smart shopping. Lots of web-based shops are very competitive and have random sales, plus there’s always eBay and freecycle.
3. Beg and borrow shamelessly
It’s amazing how many people hoard things they no longer need, just because they can’t be bothered to put it on eBay. We got a cot from my neighbour, a 7th-hand buggy (which is ugly as sin but works fine) from Mr P&P’s colleague, a high chair from my brother, and tons of hand-me-down clothes. To keep the karma rolling, I give away whatever the Bean doesn’t use anymore.
4. Brave a baby fair
Although I normally bolt for the exit at the mere whiff of a sales spiel, going to a baby fair was very useful; I scoffed the free food (look, I was pregnant, okay) and returned with a bag of samples and discount codes. Classy eh.
5. Get creative
You don’t have to be super-nifty, or have tons of time at your disposal (ha!), to make useful and fun things for your baby.
You could cut an adult-sized IKEA bed sheet into four rectangles, sew elastic into each corner and voilà! Four cot sheets in about an hour.
You could follow this great tutorial on how to make a gym for a little baby.
You could make some simple toys, such as the wigwam I wrote about last week.
What do you think? Is £11,025 a realistic amount to spend on a baby? What money-saving tips do you have?
Like this post? Stay tuned for Thrifty Little Baby Part Two: The really essential baby-essentials!