As Des from Half Banked put it wonderfully, babies are tiny expensive humans. When we decided we wanted to expand our family we knew that would come with a great many expenses. Buying for baby was going to cost us a lot of money since we were starting from scratch. While we knew that we still wanted to make smart money decisions to stretch what money we did set aside as far as possible. We set aside $3000 to support the baby gear and clothes we needed for Ava’s first year. We thought of this as startup costs. Should we be able to expand our family further we will not have to purchase the same items again and hope to re-use them to get even more wear out of them.
People are Awesome:
Due to very generous family and friends we didn’t really have to buy a lot ourselves for the big baby gear. I was thrown a very small shower with just my cousins and aunts. Friends from work (both of our offices) got us a couple of things for Ava as well. We were gifted the travel system (stroller and car seat), crib, Mamaroo, playpen, highchair and activity centre. We were also given a Bumbo seat, bath tub, thermometer, humidifier, play mat, some linens and a few articles of clothing.
Baby things are great to buy second hand. Parents, especially first time parents, have a tendency to over buy things, and they only use the stuff for a short amount of time. Babies tend to grow out of clothing before they wear them out. One item you should never buy used – a car seat. In Canada they go for about $300 and that would be the high end. If a car has been in an accident the seat is not useable. So unless you are buying from someone and you know the history, just buy new.
Hot tip – car seats expire so keep an eye out for that as well if you get second hand or re-using from an older child.
What We Bought:
There was only 2 things I bought for baby before we were given gifts and it was 2 Beatles themed onesies from the Beatles’ store in Las Vegas when I was there in February 2017. Nothing else was purchased until we got things because I didn’t want to waste any money and have a true sense of what we needed and only buy that.
The number of clothes you have dictates how much laundry you are going to need to do. There is no way around it. We got by with about 10 onesies,7 sleepers and a couple of pairs of pants. Since Ava was born in mid- June we didn’t need to bundle her up as much as a November baby. During the day we hung out in a onesie and either a sleeper or some pants. Some days we went the whole day in one outfit and others we went through five. I had to do laundry about 2-3 times a week depending on the week.
A good tip is to buy clothes from different stores. The sizing will be different and then you can stagger when they grow out of them to give you time to buy more clothes.
I dislike putting her in a hat, mittens or socks (she dislikes the last 2 as well) so outside of the hospital she didn’t wear them. I would also buy right before you need to size up. At the stores I shop in they have come out with new things all the time. Also you don’t know when someone will give you something or you come across a sale. We only invested in 3-6 month clothes when she was growing out of the 0-3 month stuff. That way there was less temptation to over buy because I saw a cute outfit that I just had to get but I will have no use for since I bought everything 6 months ago.
Other cloth things:
We have 3 thick blankets, 4 receiving blankets and 3 muslin cloths for swaddling. Also we have 2 sleep sacks but she didn’t like those when she was super little so we will break them out again as we get into the winter. We didn’t really swaddle her for sleeping after 6 weeks as she would just kick it off but they are helpful to have around the house.
Where we saved money:
We didn’t buy a change table but re-purposed an Ikea dresser. Scott freshened it up with some paint, matching the nursery walls and just like that a change table. Separately we got a change pad and basket for diapers and the change table was done!
We skipped the rocking chair/glider. We have awesome couches great for feeding on the main floor and basement. In our room we took a chair we had in the basement and brought it upstairs. Scott likes to feed Ava in the chair but I prefer the bed as I have more space and I can move her around easier. I also have no idea where I would where we would put it after we are done with it. Also when testing out Scott almost fell asleep in the stores which isn’t safe when you holding a baby at 2am!
We skipped the bassinet and went straight into a crib. The baby sleeps in our room now and thanks to some creative re-arranging of furniture and living in the suburbs we had enough room to put a full sized crib there. So not only did we not need to buy a bassinet, but it helps to get her use to sleeping in a crib when we eventually move it to another room.
We skipped newborn clothing. We went right to 0-3 month clothing. By her 2 month birthday she was already out of her 0-3 sleepers and some of the smaller onesies. She was born at 7lbs 8oz; an average sized baby. If you get an indication that your baby will be on the smaller side then you might want to invest in newborn clothing but from what I have heard from most parents they don’t wear that stuff for very long.
We skipped the high end video monitor and opted for an audio only baby monitor. We have a small house. Usually we are on the same floor as the baby. As I write this the baby is in her crib and I can hear her squeaking on the monitor. If I need to look at her I can get up to check on her and luckily she doesn’t wake when I do this. On any other floor she is in my eye sight so I don’t need it. If I’m on the main floor and the baby is upstairs it takes me about 30 seconds to walk upstairs to see her. Now had she not been a deep sleeper and checking up on her would wake her then I would say investing in a video baby monitor might be worth the money.
When to buy:
“Boy or Girl?” was the most common question I was asked. At the end the most common questions were “Is the nursery set up?” and “Are you ready/do you have everything”. The nursery question always put me in kind of an odd situation. Since the baby was going to be in our room, we have a master bedroom/nursery as well as an office/nursery. The office has the change table, all of Ava’s clothes as well as our office desk. When Ava gets out of our room we will convert it to her nursery and move the desk into our room.
Regarding the “do you have everything question” I politely answered like this:
“We have everything we need should the baby arrive tomorrow but stores will still be open after the baby arrives”.
Stores Are Open After Baby Arrives:
We live in an area with lots of stores and very close to a major mall. It’s easy to run out to get something. When all else fails Amazon would be our friend. I found it was better to not buy something I wasn’t sure I was going to need. If I felt like I needed it I went out to buy it after. Stores will still be open after baby is born. Buy only what you KNOW you need (clothes, bed, car seat to come home from the hospital). Don’t feel pressured to buy something you don’t need or want or get everything setup perfectly. Life after a baby isn’t perfect; don’t feel pressure to get setup as if it is.
So tell me, what was a must buy for you, what did you not need, how did you save money?