I have a theory that people go back for more kids to average out the cost per child. 😛 There is also a lot of marketing out there that’s sole purpose is to make you feel guilty if you’ve not purchased the best (read: expensive) and many, many items for your darling new arrival and it’s a crock! I put the baby industry in the same bucket as the wedding industry with over-inflated pricing and heaps of hype to keep you paying just to keep up with the Jonses.
Let me come clean first: I’m a Marie Condo convert, budding minimalist and have de-cluttered my wardrobe and most of the house (as I’m definitely a believer that external clutter clutters my brain!) I’m also an avid budgeter and planner (aka addicted to spreadsheets), and I like to think I’m thrifty where possible (although some things are worth investing in). Obviously all babies are different and your lifestyle will differ to mine so adapt or ignore as you please.
I also call myself a hippie parent, which may mean you do some things differently to me and that’s fine. I don’t want this text to spark a debate on parenting styles – this is what I believe and what works for me so as above – adapt or ignore as required.
My biggest baby buying regret was getting things early. And it hurts to type that, as I’m always proud of my research and preparedness skills and my Boy Scout style. Plus the nesting instinct was strong in this one. I had my Love to Dream swaddles sitting there ready to go in a range of sizes and weights for different weather conditions ready to swaddle baby Riley and so ensure our uninterrupted sleep and then Bam! Riley arrives and hates being swaddled… so the first thing you do not have to buy for a new baby is:
You don’t have to buy one of everything in every style
Wait until you’ve found an item that works for you and then go out and buy a bazillion of them. It took me a while to comprehend that life continues after the baby, and that you can shop after the baby arrives, (admittedly you now pack more stuff for even the shortest trip and are at the mercy of the mood of said new baby but there is this new fangled thang called the interwebz if exiting the abode is not an option). From this lesson flows thing what I learnt the hard way number two:
Leave the tags on and keep the receipts
which is very hard when the nester in you demands you wash and fold all the new things and put them in the cupboard in size order (ignoring the tags, but comparing the physical sizes of items).
You don’t have to buy new
Think op shops, op shops and second hand places. So much cute, so little cost. Babies are small for such a short time, there is so little wear and tear on most baby clothes, they really are the perfect item for recycling. If you pick the wrong size or season, tis not an issue if you didn’t spend a heap on them. If you can, wait until after the baby shower to shop and do you don’t duplicate any gifts received (if you’re having one). And you don’t have to limit yourself to clothes – prams, car seats, play mats, bath seats etc are all out there. It’s a buyer’s market on second hand baby gear with super low resale prices so grab those hand me downs from the cousins, checkout ebay and join the local facebook baby buy, swap and sell group.
You also don’t need…
…anything that has buttons or requires turning the baby over to get it on!
Go with zips or press studs. Not many new babies are cheery about being dressed or undressed (the process, not the state). You’re asleep, sleep deprived, its dark, the baby is crying and the suit needs an emergency change – just go the zip!
…hooded baby towels
You don’t actually need baby towels with hoods – any old towel will do. Do invest in a packet of terry towel nappies, for burping, putting down under baby who may vom or drool at any time (meaning less sheet changes), using on change tables when you’re out and about etc. etc. These are an essential.
…expensive cot blankets
Head to spotlight. Buy polar fleece. Cut to size. It doesn’t fray so no sewing required. I made so many (read: too many) cute patterned blankets on the cheap.
About six months down the track check out baby led weaning.
…a bazillion skin care products
Babies can be pretty much cleaned with water. Yes to nappy cream, anything else is optional.
…a fancy change table
we use a trestle table and a cardboard box. Yes, it’s as cheap as it sounds! You can check it out here. We understand nappies are a temporary thing and having a dedicated piece of furniture wasn’t for us. Adding a mat to chest of drawers or existing piece of furniture you own is a great option, if our shabby chic industrial look ain’t for you.
…a ginormous nappy bag
I’m going to be hated by trendy mum’s everywhere. We use a regular sized Star Wars tote bag and a lot of the time it doesn’t leave the car. In the early days I did have an emergency stash in both our cars which included a towel, change of clothes, spare nappies, bib, hat, sunscreen and dummy. This means my mobile kit was just the wetbag containing a couple of nappies, wipes and cream, plus a muslin cloth for blanket slash change mat slash picnic rug slash shopping trolley liner and a small toy. As she’s grown we’ve added her cup and a snack. That’s it. I can feel the glares.
And you might not need….
My other big f**, I mean stuff up involved where the baby would sleep… Riley’s resting place did not go to plan. I fell in love with the Finnish baby box many moons ago. The concept appealed as did the SIDS reduction statistics so I ordered one as soon as we’d passed the 12 week mark. Although pricey, mine came filled with over 50 gorgeous baby essentials (some we have used a lot, others like the snowsuit that fit her in summer, we did not) and more importantly the box is where baby sleeps initially. I was excited as it was easily moved around the house for naps or nighttime and I busily sewed more mattress protectors and sheets for it. Riley loved being in the clear plastic box in the hospital so I was optimistic about the box at home. When I got her home however, I realized she loved the perspex box because she could see out of it, and putting her in the clean white cardboard box was worse than baby prison (aka a cot) and was more like baby mental asylum. Suffice to say the two sleeps she had in the box cost me as much per night as a luxury hotel. We found a great little co-sleeper with net sides that could sit in between us in bed that became her permanent home until her elbows touched the sides but when searching for the box replacement I stupidly purchase a bassinet sized baby prison because the maternal health nurse does an initial home visit and I wanted to keep up the appearance that we were following the western world baby rearing norm. Again, a very high price for two naps and a maternal health nurse lookover. It did however take the same size sheets I made for the box and was excellent storage for toys and crap you usually throw on the floor of the bedroom. After doing my research on safe bedsharing practices and dropping the mummy guilt associated with it, Riley joined us in the king size bed with arms outstretched and smiles all around. (I blogged here about our bed sharing.) We also never needed a baby monitor, cos y’know, proximity.
So you might not need a cot or a cardboard box. You definitely don’t need baby cutlery marketed at three month age intervals and yet I still have them in the drawer even though they are basically the same product! Sighs… So what did you buy in preparation for your new baby but never used?
[dropcap type=”square”] M [/dropcap]iranda