The cost of having a baby isn’t cheap, but when you’re excited by the fact you’ve a new little person on the way, it’s easy to head out and buy the best you can find.
We made this exact mistake, which I put down to reading every baby magazine, singing praises of this brand or the next, making us think nothing else will do.
Now, as Lily approaches 18 months, we do things alot differently than we did when we were planning our nursery around 2 years ago. Here’s just a few things we’re now doing to save those extra pennies… and a few things we could have done differently from the start.
Online buy/sell groups
Shortly before Lily was born we realised we wanted one of those Chicco Next2Me cribs. As with any new parent, you’re fixated on something you REALLY want. This was mine, but the £150 brand new price tag was just too much. Thankfully we found it on one of the local Facebook buy/sell groups for £60, and the family were lovely – just trying to get rid of it quickly due to space. Lily was in it for about 8 months, then I managed to sell it within 20mins for the same price as we bought it for. This was the same with the £35 (rrp £120) we spent on then sold her jumperoo for, her £80 iCandy Strawberry 2 pram, and then bundles of her clothes at each age group for around £25 each. Yes, you do get some idiots who don’t turn up, or mess you around, but in the long run it saves us storing her clothes/outgrown items, and helps us contribute towards the next age group.
Lily has SO many toys thanks to many generous friends/family. These started building into a huge pile in the corner of the room, so she never realised what she had and quickly got bored. I then bought some cheap plastic tubs from Wilkos, and themed each box; building bricks in one, puzzles another, a musical box, an animal box etc etc. Each day, we alternate the boxes, so she’s something new to play with. We’ve also a few tubs in the attic so every few months she thinks she has new toys again!! Now she’s at nursery 3 days a week, there isn’t such a need for the rotation, but at least it looks alot tidier!!!
The nursery furniture
We bought these brand new in the Mothercare sale, but could have realistically got these second hand for far less. We know they will last her 4 years as they turn into a bed, but plenty of people are selling their old cribs online, and my parents were even given one from a neighbour for when we stay in London. If you’re looking to save some money, people often try to get rid of furniture quickly, so it’s worth checking online.
I’ve posted about this before but you don’t need to spend £7.50 a session on baby groups when there are so many free options run by the council. We have baby/toddler Stay & Play groups at the SureStart centres, council swim sessions, and toddler reading groups at the local libraries. These are all absolutely fantastic, and I’ve found we’ve got more out of these sessions than some of the paid sessions we’ve gone to… plus you don’t feel like you HAVE to go if baby is unwell, because you’ve not paid huge amounts upfront.
This is something else I’ve recently written about but something I’ve been reminded about recently when realising it would cost £11.50 plus £5 joining fee to take her to soft play! We have a lovely local museum, which is completely free, and has an amazing sensory area for children which Lily loves!
There are dinosaurs, touch-screen interactive learning areas (yes she’s too young to understand them but she likes the pictures!), and real Egyptian mummies. There are also often free or very cheap activities for children there where you can do themed crafts for example, such as on Diwali or fireworks day. I’d much rather take her down there, or to visit the animals in the park, than pay so much money for a couple of hours in a soft play centre! Check out a previous post on some of my top free activities for families nearby.
Any new parent needs to hit up Aldi – whether it’s for multipacks of Mamia wetwipes, nappies (including swim nappies!), or even accessories, you can always find some amazing deals. Some of our best Aldi purchases were some foam alphabet letters for the bathtub, newborn blankets, and Lily has always loved the Mamia range of food sachets at half the price you can find them in most stores. Even her bouncer chair was Aldi, but on baby events you can pick up everything from travel cots to stairgates!
We are lucky to have so many friends and family who have bought Lily toys and games, but when buying new (rather than the 2nd hand sites) we have found places like Asda and Tesco to have had the best deals for toys, whether buying for Lily or her friends’ birthdays. There’s no need to buy expensive items from boutique baby stores when it comes to toys as they go through them so quickly. One recent example was discussing ball pits with a friend – we bought Lily’s for £6 with 2 bags of balls for £8 – I didn’t realise you can spend over £100 on one!
The same with books – we love the Works, every time! Lily is a big fan of reading, especially the touch/feel books.
We managed to pick up 16 books for less than £10 in the Works sale! We are also lucky to have the local mobile children’s library (the Bookbus) which is completely free, and even doesn’t charge for overdue books! You also don’t even need to take books home – visiting the library can be a fun outing in itself!
Poundworld is an amazing place to pick up cheap colouring books (Crayola ones too!), crayons, paints, various sticky things, and plenty to stock up your craft box. The little ones won’t even notice they’re not high quality as they’re jusy wanting to have fun making a mess!
I’ve also been able to find some fantastic bits in the pound shops for eating – like plastic wipeable bibs, messy mats, beakers, plastic bowls etc.
For home activites that don’t involve mess, tupperwear tubs, wooden spoons and kitchen pans provide plenty of free entertainment!
Again, there’s no need to buy expensive clothing when there’s places like Primark and Asda. Some shops can charge £18 for a pack of babygrows, whereas you can get 3 for £1.50 in Primark. Babies dribble, puke, poop, spill food, scribble, and just generally get mucky over their clothes. Expensive items you just worry about. We are huge fans of Asda clothes – they do the job, look great, and we don’t panic when she makes a mess over them. What’s more, they grow so fast, it’s not worth paying huge amounts! We also found Lily was hardly in clothes as a newborn – it was mainly babygrows/sleepsuits as they are far more comfortable for sleeping babies.
Finally, remember you will get given so many newborn clothes if you have baby showers, so if you get a chance to make suggestions, always ask for vouchers for Boots/Mothercare etc. The vouchers we received were some of the most useful things at around 6 months once we had gone through her piles of early clothes/items, so we could start to look at her next growth spurt!
It is nice having some nice bits at times but for day-to-day it’s not worth it… and wait til they start nursery to see the state of their clothes!!
Boots Advantage Card
This is a MUST-HAVE for any parent. You collect so many points, and pick up so many deals/freebies along the way – especially in those early days. We managed to buy Lily a Trunkie in the sale entirely using Advantage card points, which we couldn’t have afforded otherwise!
Finally, I have found ‘stocking up’ in sales to be really helpful. The word ‘baby event’ crops up all over the place, so you are sure to find good deals if you do particularly like a brand or product that you know works well with your little one. We bulk-buy nappies, then have found places like Boots are more than happy to exchange unopened bags of excess sizes when they grow into the next. Toiletries are another one which can be expensive when you like particular brands, so it’s good to buy a few when they are on sale in Boots/Supermarkets. You will also find you can never get enough wetwipes (we love Aldi Mamia or Asda Little Angels ones!), so always stock up on these!
So in all, there are many ways to make sure you can save money without cutting corners. Some items are unavoidable, like milk powder/bottles if you are bottle feeding – especially as it can take time to find the right ones for your baby. But if you find ways of saving money from the start and (unlike us as new parents-to-be) don’t get excited by the best brands/products out there, when 2nd hand or own-brands are perfect. We still have plenty we can do to change our habits, but we can look back now and see what changes we could have made in those early days, which really would have made a big difference.