It’s true: Caring for a new baby can be expensive, but they don’t have to be bootie-wearing budget-busters, according to parents who’ve been there. It can pay to spend wisely on baby gear and accessories, especially during the infant stage.
We talked to a few parenting bloggers to find out how they would have made different spending decisions if given the chance — and they shared their best money-saving advice for new moms and dads.
“I think a lot of new parents get caught up in all the stuff you need to raise a baby,” says mommy blogger Ashley Marcin, founder of neverhomemaker.com. “After going through all the major milestones with my 3-year-old daughter, I look back at what we felt were ‘must-haves’ and laugh. Babies need a lot of love, attention, and — yes — gear. However, you can often borrow from family or friends, get deals at thrift shops, or even skip some ‘essentials’ that don’t fit your lifestyle.”
Here are six items that bloggers suggest new parents either buy, borrow or not bother with to help save money.
1. Car seats carry precious cargo.
While there’s lots of baby gear you can buy used or borrow, Crystal Paine of mommysavingmommy.com suggests that parents buy their car seats new, mostly as a safety precaution. Safercar.gov suggests that using second-hand car seats may be acceptable, as long as the car seat satisfies the statements on their Used Car Seat Safety Checklist. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot, though! Start shopping for a car seat before your baby arrives. That way you’ll have time to compare prices and find out about sales, special deals and coupons once you find the car seat you want. Plus, keep in mind that proper installation of a car seat is just as critical, so take time to install it correctly.
2. Bring on the baby bottles.
Are you planning to use baby bottles for breast milk or formula? Before you buy bunches of bottles, Marcin suggests you try out a few different types first. There are a lot of options and some babies respond better to one specific type of nipple or bottle design over another, so find out which works best for you and your baby before you stock up on just one kind.
3. The bassinet stay is brief.
Take it from parents who’ve been there — you’ll discover that a lot of baby gear is only useful for a few months or less. And according to Paine, a bassinet is a great example. Pediatricians often recommend making the switch from bassinet to crib around 3 to 4 months, and almost always before 6 months. Before you buy or put it on your wish list, Paine suggests you ask friends if they have one you can borrow. That’s what friends are for!
4. Got a notion for motion?
Parenting and lifestyle blogger Chelsea Day, co-founder of Someday I’ll Learn, suggests, “Skip the rockers, bouncers and swings until you know your baby’s personality. Since every soothing method doesn’t work for every infant, wait on purchases like that until after your baby’s born. Then ask a fellow mom if you can give their stuff a spin first.”
5. Walk away from cute little shoes.
Teeny, tiny baby shoes ARE totally adorable, but truly unnecessary. According to mommy blogger Beth Shea, contributor on inhabitots.com, babies don’t need shoes until they start standing, toddling and walking. In fact, Shea prefers bare feet, socks or soft-soled shows. Dr. Jane Andersen, a podiatrist in Chapel Hill, N.C., and past president of the American Association for Women Podiatrists, told the Chicago Tribune that bare feet and socks are preferred before a baby begins walking. But, once they begin walking, consider bare feet or “the most flexible shoe possible so their muscles can develop properly,” says Andersen.
6. Change your mind about a changing table.
According to Marcin, it’s a piece of furniture that you just don’t need. The right changing pad works just fine and turns pretty much any stable surface into a place to change your baby. The truth is, you’ll end up changing diapers whenever and wherever necessary — on sofas, in cars and at the homes of friends and relatives who don’t have babies (or changing tables).
Take it from these parents, carefully thinking about what you really need for your baby may help you save money. So take some time to consider which baby items you may want to buy, borrow or not bother having before you start shopping.