Living in the city isn’t cheap, especially when you add a new baby into the mix. According to the book Baby Bargains, baby gear (from cribs to clothes to car seats) for the first year alone can run at least $7,000 on average.
The good news, however, is that there are seven simple strategies new and soon-to-be parents can do to cut down the costs of raising a baby from birth to age one, so there’s at least some disposable income leftover to enjoy all that city life has to offer. And perhaps even save.
Pick your gear wisely.
1.) Skip waste-of-money baby products. Consult baby store sample baby registries and the amount of baby gear you need can seem overwhelming. The truth is, however, that you don’t really need many of the items on such lists. Wipe warmers, fancy baby thermometers, crib bedding sets and bottle sterilizers are just some of the gear items on my waste-of-money list.
2.) Register for the basics. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of registering for the basics and for the items that you really need (like a car seat and stroller), so you’ll get baby gifts that you’ll actually use. On my baby registry, for instance, I included strollers, car seats and necessities like diapers, baby shampoo, diaper rash cream and basic white onesies.
3.) Buy the right gear the first time. Take the time to research and figure out the particular gear (from car seats to strollers to baby carriers) that will work best for your particular lifestyle, so you’re not wasting money on replacement items. For instance, if you take taxis a lot, the car seat you’ll want to get is different from the ones that would work best if you only drive or walk around the city.
Meanwhile, for those looking to cut costs, the right gear is often that which has the longest useful life and can have other purposes down the road. This is why I say go for an Exersaucer rather than a jumperoo, swaddle blankets that can work as crib rail guards, high chairs that are more like booster seats, and strollers that double as nighttime bassinets.
So where to can you do this kind of research? Good starting points include the book Baby Bargains, basically the Consumer Reports of baby gear; and sites like WeeSpring , Well Rounded NY (obviously) and (shameless plug alert) Hint Mama.
Rely on your network.
4.) Say “yes” to a baby shower. As John Schmoll recently suggested on U.S. News’ My Money blog, if friends or family ask if they can throw you a shower, say “yes” without any hesitation. You’ll need all the financial help you can get amassing the necessary baby gear.
5.) Take – and ask for – hand me downs. If you’re lucky enough to have experienced parents as relatives or friends, don’t be bashful about saying “yes” if they offer to let you borrow – or even keep – their used baby gear. In addition, don’t be ashamed to outright ask if they have anything to lend (when it comes to baby gear, the shameless person wins the saving money game). The experienced parents you know probably don’t have room to store all their gear at their place (small or nonexistent city storage spaces anyone) or don’t plan on using it again.
To be sure, you’ll want to avoid accepting hand-me-down cribs or car seats unless you know their exact history and are sure they’re still safe to use (this is why I prefer hand-me-downs from people I know rather than buying such gear used from strangers). You’ll also want to look over any hand-me-down toys or clothes to make sure they are in good, and age-appropriate, condition (stay tuned for more on what’s okay – and not okay – to accept, and buy, used in a future post).
Don’t pay full price when you don’t have to.
6.) Local moms groups are your friend. Moms groups (like the Golden Gate Mothers Group in San Francisco, where I live, and Park Slope Parents in Brooklyn) offer members discounts at various gear vendors.
7.) Clip your coupons. Always search online for discount codes before you make any big purchase, and if you’re going to make most of your purchases at certain stores, don’t forget to join the loyalty clubs. Finally, take advantage of big retail sale events like Cyber Monday.
What are your tricks for cutting down the costs of baby gear? Share them below.