Buy Baby Bunting... But don't pay full price!
Registering for all the newest baby gadgets can be a blast, but it also can be a financial strain on you and those that you have on your wishlist. While it may seem that “baby posh” is the way to go, it makes more sense to invest in some basic baby staples that you can use in a practical way. Here are some of the best ways to save money when you’re expecting:
A portable playpen unit – Perhaps the most well-known is the Graco Pack n’ Play. I would not be as sane as I am today without this gem. A portable playpen / changing table/ and bassinet in one, you can save money and space in your nursery by getting everything in one easy-to-use piece of equipment. Those families without a dedicated nursery can benefit from placing the playpen in their bedroom or living room. Because they fold down easily into a bag you can take with you, trips to grandma’s are a breeze! Avoid thousands of dollars on a designer nursery set, and get yourself everything you need for less than $100. (Tip: When baby is too old for the bassinet sleeper, just have him sleep on the playpen floor. Sheets can be purchased to transform the playpen for sleeping, and there is no way for baby to crawl up the bars and escape!)
A Wardrobe for one – Sure those $48 baby rocker tees are chic, but do you know what your newborn will be doing all day? Why shell out big bucks for the latest in baby wear, when you can economize with some cute onesies and pants from your department store. (Many of them also offer organic and fair trade versions for far less than designer outlets.) Since junior will be eating, sleeping, and pooping for most of his first 3 months (and then nothing will fit anyway), splurge on a pricier piece for special occasions and photo ops only.
Strollers – Sure I’d like to say that I use the same stroller as Angelina Jolie, but is it really worth $450? Unless you plan on taking your fragile newborn strolling in the Himalayas or you're training for the next marathon with you new daughter in tow, skip the expensive shocks, struts, thermal padding, and GPS system. And while it may be tempting to get a pram for the newborn, jogging stroller for the older baby, and umbrella stroller for the toddler, it may just be easier to buy something you can use for the entirety of the baby’s strolling life. (Tip: Another option may just be to wear your baby in a sling or wrap. They are affordable and can help you bond with your little one!)
Baby Food – There is frozen, fresh, gourmet, organic, jarred, canned, and freeze-dried versions of every kind of fruit, vegetable and meat you can feed a baby. Problem is, as easy as it may be to pick up a jar of strained prunes right up off your grocer shelf, you WILL pay for the convenience. At roughly 50 cents for a small 2 oz. jar of fruits or veggies, you could get 2 fresh whole fruits and make a dozen of your own jars. Making your own baby food isn’t difficult, and you don’t even have to prepare a bunch in advance. Simple use a small food processor and a little water to blend to the right consistency. Portion out what baby will eat in one sitting, and freeze the rest.
While there will always be areas where I have learned from experience not to go cheap (diapers are a huge one!), I also know that there is too much stuff on the baby market calling my name. While all of it is cute, and some of it is handy – very little is necessary. If you are more excited about the arrival of you little one than the opportunity to obtain more stuff, celebrate it with a simple life for your newborn!