As the excitement and disbelief of seeing the double lines of a positive pregnancy test start to fade and reality hits, you may find yourself beginning to compile a list of baby necessities.
The projected cost of all these gadgets and must-haves?
Thankfully, this doesn’t have to happen to you.
Read on for a list of suggestions on how to survive the baby’s first year without breaking the bank.
Buy secondhand whenever possible.
Some things you can’t afford to scrimp on, like car seats and cot mattresses for example, because it can be unsafe to do so.
But there are lots of items designed to make life with a baby easier, and for these, it’s perfectly fine to hit the local op shops or hunt around online marketplaces. Things like change tables, prams, cots (you’ll save even more money if you co-sleep!), baby carriers and slings, bouncers/rockers, high chairs, nursery furniture and clothing. By buying secondhand you’re not only saving money but reducing your carbon footprint too. Win-win!
Unless you’re one of a select few, breastfeeding can be hard work. But even if you end up hiring a private lactation consultant to help smooth out any feeding issues, the savings of breastfeeding vs formula feeding are undeniable. Bottles, formula, and sterilising equipment can cost well over $1500 for 12 months, so if you can, it’s well worth the effort to breastfeed. I’d also suggest not wasting money on specific breastfeeding clothes straight up. You’d be surprised how well layering a couple of cheap tank tops or singlets works! If you need to use a breast pump, borrow or hire a closed system pump rather than buying outright. Some places offer hire-to-buy options too, which can save you the initial outlay of buying a new pump.
Look into reusable options.
Reusable nappies, breast pads, and even feminine hygiene products are becoming more and more popular and can offer a great way to reduce your ongoing expenses. While the initial outlay might throw you at first, the savings over time are proven. You can also hunt around for trial packs, or look out for mums selling second-hand cloth nappy kits online. These nappies are designed to go the distance, and will often be used on multiple siblings before being sold or passed on to another family.
Look out for clothing sales and buy bigger sizes for your baby when you can afford to. It doesn’t matter if it’s not in the right season, you can always layer for added warmth. It’s also a good idea to join (or start) a club with other local mums where you can receive and pass on clothing as your child outgrows them.
Bake up a storm.
Ask in your community if there are any Mama Bake groups or similar. From the MamaBake website – ‘MamaBake is a group, big batch cooking for mothers. Mums get together regularly to group, big batch cook. Each brings one big meal, they divide it up amongst them and go home with a number of meals cooked for the week. Results? Time off, close friends, new foods for the kids and the list of benefits goes on!’ Some communities run similar programs, so it’s worth asking around, or perhaps you could start your own informal group with a bunch of Mum friends.
Join a mothers group.
You might have already connected with Mama’s from your antenatal classes, but if not it’s a good idea to find out about any local mothers groups in your community. Building a tribe of like-minded Mama’s is essential to staying sane throughout the journey that is parenting, but it can help you save money by finding out about the free and low-cost activities for mums and bubs in your area. Look out for free/low-cost playgroups, mums and bubs yoga or exercise classes, park meetups, and library storytime, all of which are great ways to get you out of the house and keep you connected with other mums in the community.
Talk to other Mums.
Talk to mums who’ve already been through the baby stage, and ask them about the items they wish they had saved money on, and what they were glad they invested in. With my own child, I bought the fanciest, most luxurious high chair available at the time, and then I cursed it to heck every time I had to pull it apart to clean it (which was often, because it was leather and plush and had so many crevices food could escape to!). If I could go back in time, I’d have opted for a cheap, hard plastic Ikea-style high chair instead!
Avoid prepackaged baby food.
Those little jars and pouches of baby food (although convenient) can be expensive. Baby-led weaning is a low-cost alternative because it basically means the baby is eating what you’re eating. If you choose to do purees, it’s so simple to blend or mash up some cooked veggies or fruits, store them in reusable containers, and pop them in the freezer for later use.
Keep a small baby bag in the car.
You might have the most well-stocked baby bag in existence, but there will likely come a time where that bag is left at home accidentally, or your baby goes on a mission and outpoops/outpukes every outfit you’ve packed. Load this spare bag with a couple of nappies, a small pack of wipes, an extra outfit, a spare top for yourself, and a plastic bag to bring dirty clothes home in, and it means you won’t have to go out and buy said items in case of emergency.
Find out what you’re entitled to.
Ask your employer about maternity/paternity leave benefits. Can you cash out any annual leave or long service leave? Are you entitled to paid parental leave? Contact Centrelink and find out about your eligibility for any payments like Family Tax Benefit. It’s also worth digging around and hunting down any lost superannuation you may have. And finally, cancel or suspend any memberships you have that you won’t be using for the next year.
Share a streaming account with a friend.
Babies wake A LOT. And almost every Mama will recall the countless hours she spent staring at some mind-numbing TV show as she wiled away the hours during those night feeds. Back in my day (and I swear I’m not ‘that’ old), all I had to keep me the company was evangelical TV, or if I was lucky, those really obscure songs ‘Rage’ would play during the small hours. Thankfully nowadays, streaming services mean you have almost countless options of screen entertainment at your fingertips. A good way to save on the cost of streaming services is to share the account with a friend and split the monthly subscription fee.
Use online shopping for groceries.
Ordering your groceries online is a great way to save money and your sanity. Shopping with a newborn or toddler can be tricky, especially if you have more than one child, so why not do it from the comfort of your own home? Online shopping means you can order at any time of the day (even during those 2 am feeds!), you’ll eliminate the temptation of supermarket displays (or adding an extra block of chocolate to the cart because you’re hungry-shopping), and you can save money by spending some time browsing the best value offers. Most retailer sites also offer recipe suggestions meaning you can meal plan for the week, again saving money, and avoiding the dreaded ‘what am I going to make for dinner’ question that bugs us daily. You can choose ‘click and collect’, or opt for the convenience of home delivery. Make sure you lookout for special offers on home delivery costs too. There are also a number of fresh produce stores or local co-ops now offering delivery of seasonal fruit and vegetables every week, so this is a great way to nourish you and your family with local, fresh produce, and support local farmers too.
Set up a bank account for the baby.
Once you have your baby’s birth certificate, it’s a good idea to set up a savings account for your child. Some banks offer a bonus interest rate if you meet certain criteria, such as making monthly deposits and no withdrawals. Even setting up an automated transfer of $5 per week from your account to your baby’s will soon begin to add up.