Outfit Your Nursery for Less: 10 Tips for Finding Low-Cost, High-Quality Things You Need for Your Baby
Having a baby is so expensive! I should know . . . I'm six months along. On top of your copays for office visits, ultrasounds, midwives, etc., there's all the stuff that comes along with making a space for the baby. Things like changing tables, strollers, cribs, and even baby clothes and blankets add up, after a while. In fact, many couples put off having a child because they know it will cost so much.
Luckily, there are some good ways to save a lot of money on the baby items you want. And I'm not talking about getting cheap knock-offs that won't last. These tips will save you money on everything from generic diapers to top-of-the-line brands and the best-quality items.
1. Get the News Out
When you're comfortable telling people you're pregnant, make sure the word gets out. People have come out of the woodwork to give my husband and I things that would have cost us a small fortune to buy ourselves. At this point, we've received a free car seat, a baby Bjorn, a rocking chair, and an entire wardrobe of 6-12 month little girl clothes, and those are just the big things. Because people don't use baby items for that long, they're often more than willing to pass them along, free of charge, to friends and family.
2. Ask Your Friends
If you're looking for something specific, talk to people you know who already have children. Often, they'll know the best way to get it at the best price. Friends are also a great place to get advice about what is absolutely necessary for your baby, what it's nice to have, and what you really don't need to waste your time and money on. Beware the unwarrranted advice, though. There's something about having a baby that causes some people to want to give you their opinion on every baby product ever known to mankind.
3. Sign Up For Deals
When I bought a few maternity items at a local outlet mall, they put me on a mailing list. Usually, that's annoying, but in this case, I'm already getting quality coupons for things like diapers, bottles, and clothes — things almost every baby needs, at some point. And I'm also hearing about new products. This can be a little overwhelming, but it's been nice to know what's out there.
In addition, if you sign up for a baby registry at Target or Babies R Us, they will put your on their mailing list and send you special notifications about deals on different items. A friend of mine purchased 4 months of diapers for $75 through one of these deals . . . smokin'.
4. Use Coupons
Don't be bashful about using your coupons . . . that's what they're there for. If you're a smart coupon shopper, you can combine discounts at some places or get your coupons doubled at others and get things for prices you wouldn't believe. Stores and manufacturers issue coupons for all the essentials, so keep your eyes pealed and take advantage of a deal when you see one.
5. Shop the Sales
All baby items go on sale at some point, even the high-end ones. When there's a new line coming out, prices are slashed and it doesn't matter who the manufacturer is. If you get on the right mailing lists, you can get notifications of these sales. Sign up both with your local store and the company's website, so you can be sure to hear all the news.
In addition, search for some of the smaller or more obscure baby stores in your area that might carry a particular high-end item. These stores are more likely to reduce prices when they only have 1 or 2 of an item left in stock. If you time it right, you can get a truly astonishing deal.
6. Resist the Media
You don't need everything you see advertised. In fact, you don't need half of it. Ask around . . . see what other people used and what gathered dust in the nursery. Talk to several different families who've had kids to make sure you get a balanced opinion, then decide for yourself what you want and need. Many parents choose to start their "baby collection" with a minimum number of items and find that they never need to buy more.
7. Have a Shower . . . Heck, Have Several
Sure, showers are a time to celebrate your baby, but they're also a time to get some of these things that you need. Be sure your registries are up-to-date well before the date of the shower and full of items in all price ranges, so people can pick and choose what to get you. Alternately, tell your shower's host or hostess that you'd like to receive contributions toward one larger item (or she can collect the contributions and present the item at your shower, if there's enough dough contributed).
Craigslist is a great place to find slightly used items. You can get especially good deals on strollers and cribs here, as they are higher-ticket items that people don't want to just give away, but do want to get rid of all the same. You may have to follow your search for a few weeks before you find what you're looking for, but my experience is that it's always a good deal in the end.
While eBay offers some of the same sort of slightly used items you can find on Craigslist, they're also a great place to find items that have been recently discontinued. Case in point: several of my friends who had babies several years ago all ended up with the same diaper bag, because it's simply fabulous. When I went to purchase mine, I found that they are no longer made. But a quick search on eBay revealed several, all under the original price. In fact, I got my bag and paid for shipping for less than I'd have had to pay at a store. Like Craigslist, you may need to check back over several weeks to find an item that's just right for you.
10. Collect Diaper Money
It's easy to get inundated with baby clothes and blankets and all the big stuff, like cribs, strollers, and furniture that come along with having a baby. When this happens, you can forget about the regular expenses that come up after the child is born. However, more and more, parents are needing some help to cover these, too. There are numerous places online where you can set up a diaper fund that people can contribute to, and the service will send you diapers regularly for a year. If you don't want to pick a brand ahead of time, simply nominate a collector and advertise that this is an option for a baby gift. This is especially good for people who live far away from you but still want to give something — they don't have to pay postage or send a box, and they can still give you something important.
Check out these articles for more money saving tips for designing your registry and shopping for your baby:
- What You Need and What You Don't: Registry Tips from a Veteran Mom
- Register Smart to Get What You Really Need
- Which Baby Products Are a Waste of Money?
How have all of you saved money on your baby paraphenalia? I'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments.