A great book we found back when we were earnestly baby gear shopping (can’t believe our little one is a year and a half now!) was Baby Bargains. Grab the latest version from the library to save even more! This book has a lot of reviews and recommendations on baby gear. It tells you what you need, what you don’t and which products are worth the money and which you can get on the cheap. Definitely talk to friends as well, to find out what baby gadgets are worth the money and which are not. I found tips from other moms invaluable when buying for baby. It’s amazing how quickly a baby outgrows different toys and items. Some items make your life more manageable (the bouncy seat allowed me to shower for the 1st 8 mos!) and some seem like a waste of money (I bought a little food mill and found that it always jammed. It was easier to either use a fork or get out the food processor).
Yard sales and craigslist are a great way to pick up toys and books on the cheap, typically in great condition. I have purchased a lot of great books at yard sales. Since they were 4/$1 I rounded out her collection of board books for $10! Our daughter can sit and look at her books for what seems like hours (or at least enough time to do some dishes!) I also hit the town yard sale and picked up a lot of summer clothing. Since our daughter was born in the winter we did well with presents for winter/fall clothes, but didn’t have any summer items. I was able to buy shorts, bathing suits, water shoes and t-shirts for under $20 to complete a summer wardrobe. I have also had great luck looking for specific items on craigslist. I wanted to buy the Little People’s Noah’s Ark to use for her first birthday cake. I found out that the all plastic version I wanted was no longer sold. I was able to find one locally on Craigslist. People use baby items for such a short time. There are always bargains to be had in the second hand market. Currently I’m in the market for two items: A push around trike or buggy for walks around the neighborhood and a toddler swing (we are getting the swing set as a hand me down from my sister). MITBeta is looking for a toddler trailer for his bike.
One other frugal tip I found out from a friend is, you should never spend $14 on a pregnancy test. I did not know there was any other option! It turns out that you can obtain very affordable pregnancy tests online for around $1 each! Check out Early Pregnancy Test. You can also pick up tests at the Dollar Tree for a $1 as well. For everyone who has ever spent a fortune on tests this will save you a ton of money! They are also just as accurate as the $14 versions at the drugstore.
Here are some of my top frugal buying tips:
1. Try not to get any “real” clothes for a baby under 3 mos old. You won’t want them in anything but onesies and one piece sleepers anyway. You can save the “real” clothes for when they are older.
2. Since you will be doing laundry so frequently with a new baby you probably won’t need 20 of any one item. As they get older and the laundry stretches out to every 2- 3 days you start to need more (i.e. we need about 5 pairs of spring jammies)
3. Buy things that morph or can be used for longer periods of time: our bouncy seat converts into a toddler rocker that she loves using now.
4. Skip the highchair and just get a travel seat. Our travel seat is always attached to our kitchen chair, but we had it for outings as well. Now she’s big enough for a high chair at restaurants, but the travel seat still works great at home. Space saver as well!
5. Babies/kids don’t need a million toys. Our daughter has entertained herself for days by putting her babies and stuffed animals in a cardboard box and pushing them around. It doesn’t take bells and whistles (and batteries) to entice children.
6. Since you will have the need for some battery operated items, invest in a good charger and rechargeable batteries.
7. Some safety items are not worth the money. We have all the outlets covered, tot locks on the dangerous cabinets and the door to the outside has a knob cover on it, but I found items like a toilet latch, toilet paper cover and table guards are not necessary. I found just teaching her not to touch the toilet lid was enough and since I NEED a shower every day she has spent 95% of my showers hanging out with toys in the bathroom. Some safety items actually attract the child to the hazard. Better if they hadn’t noticed it at all or learn that some things are not toys and should not be played with. Save some money but make sure you are equipped with adequate smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and have a quality car seat. Wait and see, you might be surprised what your own child gets into and what they avoid.