Having a baby doesn't have to cost a fortune. Sure, there are some things you have to have before you bring your little one home from the hospital—diapers, blankets, car seat--but you don't need to buy every gadget imaginable before your bundle of joy is born. Stick to the essentials and look for savings on the things you need.
Start Planning Before Baby's Arrival
One of the best ways to save big on baby things is to wait to shop until after they're born. There's no way to know everything you'll need or want until you actually have the baby at home. "It's impossible," Angie says. "You'll waste money by trying to cover all the bases. Instead, buy or borrow when you perceive an actual need."
Research Before You Buy
Before you head to the nearest baby superstore and go on a baby shopping spree, do your research! "Shop with a notebook, not a wallet," Angie says. Read reviews to find out what other parents are saying and compare prices before you buy anything.
You'd be surprised how many baby items you can either get for free from friends or find used. The one item Angie recommends buying new is a car seat. When you do buy new items, look for sales—20% off or more.
Stick to Essentials
There are some baby items you can't live without. "Think basic needs: food, sleep and safety," Angie says. Some essentials include:
- crib and bedding
- diapers and wipes
- bottles and formula
- breast pump
- car seat
Hit the Sales
Learn how to shop sales. "Parents who don't shop the sales or use coupons spend quite a bit more than they need to. Probably 25-30% more," Angie says. Stock up on consumables such as diapers, wipes and formula so you don't have to rush out and buy them at the last minute.
Know When to Splurge
Depending on your lifestyle and priorities, there are some baby items that are worth spending a little more money on, according to Angie. Moms who go back to work and are breastfeeding will appreciate a quality breast pump. Organic products such as bedding are more expensive, but they are a priority for some parents. If you plan to walk a lot with your baby, it might be worth investing in a more expensive stroller.
Avoid Name Brands
Babies don't know the difference between a designer label and a bargain brand. "Why buy a $30 shirt that your infant will outgrow in two weeks?" Angie says. There's a lot of hype about the best baby products or things you can't live without, but Angie says in most cases it's not worth spending more on high-end products.
Make Smart Bargain Buys
Save big on baby items by clipping coupons, waiting for sales and buying in bulk. "You can cut the cost of baby consumables by up to 50% by using store-brand diapers, formula, shampoo, diaper cream, baby food and medications whenever you can," Angie says.
Cut Costs in the Nursery
Angie doesn't recommend spending a lot of money on pricey baby furniture and bedding. "All you really need is basic bedding, a waterproof mattress cover, and crib sheets," she says. "Try to use what you already have in other rooms of the house. Make it cute, but don't go crazy." Your child will only be a baby for a year and you want to be able to live with your choices as they grow up.
You Must Have a Registry
Let friends and family shower you with gifts for your new baby. Make sure you get the things you want and need by creating a registry. Choose places that have a comprehensive selection of baby items and good shipping deals for out-of-towners.
Test-Drive Before You Buy
Before shelling out for big-ticket items, try them out. Push a stroller around the store, or visit friends who have a product you're interested in and see how it works. This is an especially good idea for items such as strollers or cribs that you will be using for a long time.
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This original piece was featured in an issue of Parents magazine and on Parents.com. Reprinted with permission from Meredith Corporation. Copyright 2012