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Preparing for baby on a budget – what do you really need?

There are a huge number of baby products on the market today, so it’s no wonder prospective parents feel overwhelmed at the thought of setting up their nursery. It’s also no secret that getting everything you need for a new baby can be an expensive exercise, so it’s important to know what you do and do not need, what is important to invest in, and what can be left for a later date.

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Let me start by suggesting you work out your budget before you begin, otherwise you can fall into the trap of whittling your money away on gorgeous but non-essential items before you’ve purchased the basics.

Sleeping

Even though Moses baskets and bassinets are cute, they are not a necessity – your baby can happily sleep in a cot from newborn. When choosing your cot, make sure it meets the Australian and New Zealand safety standards, especially if it is second-hand. Check it has been painted with lead-free paint and is in good condition with all screws tight, no missing pieces and no sharp edges or holes your baby could put their fingers into. The mattress must be firm and flat and fit the cot, with the space between the mattress and cot sides being no greater than 25mm.

If you are buying a second-hand Moses basket, bassinet or cot for your baby, it is recommended that you invest in a new mattress. As mentioned above, just make sure it fits the Moses basket, bassinet or cot correctly.

Changing

You don’t need to spend lots of money on a changing table, especially if space is tight. You can easily secure a changing mat to the top of a set of drawers. Just make sure your changing station is the right height for you to easily change your baby without any strain on your back.

You can also change your baby on the floor. Just put a towel down on the floor underneath the baby to catch any unexpected accidents! This is the cheapest option but I don’t recommend it as it is not ideal for your back or if you are recovering from a c-section.

Prams

Prams are a big investment and one that should see you through multiple children, so think long-term. Because you are going to have it for a long time, I think it’s best to invest in a new one so that you get the longevity out of it. But if you do buy second-hand, make sure that it is in really good condition with no mould or broken parts.

Be honest and ask yourself what you will really be doing with your pram. Do you really need that gorgeous European buggy that looks good but is super impractical? Or the expensive all-terrain, running pram with many attachments if all you are going to do is use it in the shops?

Car seats

Car seats are another big investment and rightly so as they are the single most important piece of safety equipment you will buy for your baby. But does that mean expensive is better? Not necessarily. Do your research! Try and buy a car seat that converts so that it will last your child right up until they are old enough to be out of a car seat (around eight years old). You can purchase car seats that go from newborn to eight years but they have their pros and cons – so again, do your research to see what will suit your situation.

Having said that, most people get a capsule for their newborn and then buy a car seat when the baby has outgrown the capsule. Depending on the size of the capsule and the size of your baby, you can get up to six to 12 months of use. They are easily hired – often for less than a $100 for six months, which is a great deal.

Small savers

  • No need for a fancy, expensive ‘nappy bin’. Just use a normal bin – you’ll be emptying it every day anyway.
  • Buy nappies and wipes in bulk, but not too many as babies grow so fast.
  • Consider cloth nappies. I know they have their pros and cons, but cloth nappies are pretty awesome these days and can save you a lot of money in the long run. Look into it.
  • A baby bath is not necessary – babies are just as happy to have a bath in the kitchen sink or have a shower with you when they’re a little older.
  • You don’t need a special chair to breast/bottle-feed baby, simply use a comfortable chair or couch you already own. Just make sure that your back and arms are well supported.
  • Fancy baby swaddling blankets? A square muslin cloth will do just as good a job.
  • Nappy bags are handy because of their many compartments, but are definitely not essential. Any large handbag will do the trick just fine.
  • Borrow baby items from friends and family and make use of hand-me-downs.
  • Go easy on buying baby clothes. They grow so quickly.

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About Author

Grace Nixon

Grace Nixon, BHSc (Midwifery), otherwise known as The Baby Lady, is an Auckland-based newborn specialist. Using her skills and experience gained both as a midwife and nanny over the past 10 years, she helps new parents prepare and adjust to life with their new arrival. She also runs Practical Parenting Antenatal classes that focus on both birth and life at home with a baby. See more at thebabylady.co.nz or practicalparentingantenatal.com.

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