Sunday, 3 August 2014

Preparing for baby, as cheaply as possible!

As I'm in the process of kitting out Child-The-Second at present, I thought now might be a good time to share some ideas I've come across about doing so on the cheap. It's a text heavy post so I hope you stick with me. I'll try to put in as many pictures and links as I can to brighten things up, though!

The following list is just my own opinion on what's necessary, and other places will tell you different things so pick and choose according to your own lifestyle. Remember - the shops will still be open after baby is born, so if you find that you're really lacking in something, you can grab it at a later date!
Daughter and I, all wrapped up at 12 months.
  • Sling - Daughter wouldn't be put down at any point (seriously - I slept sitting up with her over my shoulder for at least six months) and I couldn't have kept my life running if I hadn't been able to get on with things hands-free. My Papoozle was a godsend, but there are hundreds of different types of slings out there and the best way of finding one to suit you is to look up sling libraries in your area. The list I've just linked to is not comprehensive, so if there are none posted within easy distance, it's still worth a search on facebook for separately run groups, or private meetings. The operators can advise you on the different kinds of slings available. From stretchy wraps to woven wraps, mei-tais to Tulas, the main thing to be aware of is that baby should be close enough to kiss, facing Mum (whether worn on the front or back) and the legs and bum should form an 'M' position.
  • Car seat - This one really is non-negotiable if you drive (and some hospitals won't let you leave until they've seen the baby in a car seat, whether you're driving home or not!) but see below for ways to make the most of this investment.
  • Pram - Possibly the most cost-effective way to get a pram is to buy a car seat which clips into a pram base. Obviously, it's not advisable to buy car seats second hand as you don't know if they've been involved in an accident, but if you search summer/January sales, you should be able to find one at a discount. Then it's just a case of buying used pram accessories for your chosen model - ebay or Gumtree are good places to start, and you might even get lucky at a car boot sale.

    The pram also doubles as somewhere to put the baby if you're lucky enough to have one that will be laid flat without screaming the ears off every living soul in a thousand mile radius... unlike Daughter, whose aversion to being put down led to us giving our pram away and using the sling exclusively. This is another way to cut down on costs if you think you can manage it, by the way. If you have a good sling designed for the purpose, you can continue carrying your child well into toddler-hood. We successfully lugged Daughter around until she was two-and-a-half years old, at which point she refused to be carried any more. In terms of weight and height, even now at well past three years, I could easily get her back in the sling if she was tired enough to let me.

    In any case, though we'd initially planned not to bother with a pram this time, we were able to source one for free from Gumtree and intend to use in place of a moses basket for when baby is asleep downstairs. The moses basket, by the way, is the single biggest waste of money I came across when we bought things for Daughter.
  • Cot -  If you're not planning on co-sleeping (which is really useful if you're breastfeeding, but it's not for everyone) then you'll need a cot. You might have read that co-sleeping isn't safe but if you think it's something you'd like to do then look up ways of safely co-sleeping. Anyways, re. the cot, you can pick the frames up for free, or very cheaply on Gumtree/freecycle and then just buy a new mattress. Again, with my velcro baby I wished I hadn't bothered for the first six months, but now I'm glad I spent the money. I bought a second hand Stokke Sleepi which grew from a crib to a cot, to a toddler bed to a children's bed. Were we not putting baby 2 into it, Daughter could have been in there until she was 10 and following that, it can be turned into two chairs so we really will be getting our money's worth.

  • Bedding - I found baby sleeping bags a godsend when Daughter finally went into a cot as she's such a wriggler, but if you're not keen on those then in addition to the sheets you'd need anyway, a couple of cellular/crocheted blankets are great. I liked to have two of each (one on, one in the wash).
  • Muslin cloths - These save a fortune in baby wipes and kitchen roll! If you're using washable nappies, you can even use them as extra padding for night time use. Before you buy any, it's a great idea to ask on freecycle/Gumtree/facebook selling pages for used ones. Chances are that they'll be grotty, but often people are willing to give them away for the postage and they can always be thrown in the washing machine with a box of dye to brighten them up again.
  • Nappies/wipes/bum cream - Reusables aren't for everyone, but you can save a small fortune by using them and many councils offer a lump sum towards the purchase price as it saves them money on landfill. I picked some up second hand for £60. When I thought I wasn't having any more babies I sold them on for £50 so £10 for almost three years of nappies was awesome. There are used cloth nappy boards on facebook, but I find they're priced for fluffy bum addicts. Gumtree seems to be the cheapest place to go. If you're still not convinced, check out Phoebe's post about how easy it is to use cloth.

    Otherwise, Aldi nappies are cheap and very good. If you can stock up during their baby events then they're even better value for money. Reusable wipes are something I didn't know about last time round but I'm giving them a try now - a friend with an overlocker has run some old towels through it to make them for me and I plan to use them in cool camamile tea with a drop of tea-tree oil in. For nappy rash cream, I can't recommend Vaseline highly enough, or if you're breastfeeding, Lansinoh lanolin cream does an awesome job too (see below) and you're likely to have it in.
  • Nappy bag - If you're using reusables, then you need a few 'wet bags' to carry soiled nappies home in. Other than that, any bag big enough to stash nappies, wipes, a change of clothes for baby, a change of top for you if you're breastfeeding and space for a bottle if you're not, will do. Don't be suckered into expensive ones with compartments etc. - there's really no need. If you're brave, you could have a go at making one too - I did one which unzipped along the corners to become a changing mat and we really loved it.
  • Clothes - these are a 'blink and you'll miss them' sort of thing as they're grown out of so quickly. Check out charity shops and ask on freecycle/gumtree in case anyone is giving some away. If the ones you're offered are the 'wrong' colour then you can just dye them. For us, there was no point in spending a fortune on cute little jeans and things as they're such a pain to get on and off that they never got worn in the early months. We just had all in one suits until about six months old when things started to calm down a little and Daughter stopped screaming when she was laid flat.
  • Feeding - If you're planning on breastfeeding then Lansinoh cream is amazing for chapped nipples and I always got on better with reusable breast pads to stop leakage onto clothes, but the disposable ones from Lansinoh are great too, if a little pricey. Treat yourself to some lovely nursing tops and bras and don't beat yourself up if it doesn't work out. Breastfeeding is a skill, and again, it's not for everyone. If you decide to go down the bottle route, see if you can borrow a few different types of bottles from friends and when choosing a formula, buy a few pre-made cartons from different brands to see which baby takes to best. I made the mistake of buying a massive tub of one when I made the switch and Daughter wouldn't take it. I ended up using it in the bread machine for about a year later :P Once you know which make of bottles/formula you're likely to use, invest in around 6 bottles and teats, as well as a steam steriliser - I used a microwave one for speed and because I could keep it in the microwave when I wasn't using it. It was cheaper than a counter-top one and took up less space. Aldi/Lidl often have bottles in their baby events, or you could look for second hand, sterilise and then just buy new teats, but it depends on what you're comfortable with. 
And that's all I can think of for the baby stage.

What were your essential buys? 

13 comments:

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