How to Navigate “Baby Land”

May 22, 2012 Guest Blogger 1 comment

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When preparing for the arrival of a little one, a trip to your local baby store may easily leave you excited, but overwhelmed. If you talk to ten different new moms, you’ll likely get ten different opinions on what products to buy, avoid, etc. So you may find yourself wondering, where exactly do I start and how do I navigate the “land of baby items”? Here are some tips that I hope will steer you in the right direction:

  • Visit a few stores or websites without the intention of making any purchases. Use this time to see what kind of products are available and get a feel for the ones you think you may need.
  • Make a list of “must have items” vs. “would be nice to have items” (think needs vs. wants). If you plan on having a baby shower, it’s a good idea to create a baby registry online or at local stores that reflect these items. This way your friends and family members will know exactly what you need, nursery decoration themes, etc. (You’ll also get coupons and/or gifts when you register!)
  • Buy (or register for) a variety of clothing sizes. Consider the estimated size of your baby. If you and your partner were both large babies, you probably don’t want to have an abundance of newborn size clothes (most them max out at 8 lbs). My son was 8 lbs, 8 oz at birth and we had a drawer full of adorable clothes that he never got to wear.
  • If you plan to have more children, consider purchasing neutral items that can be used for boys or girls. This can be especially useful in baby gear items, like car seats or strollers.

Tips to save money along the way:

  • Consider your parenting style and instincts. Do you plan to wear your baby? If so, then you may not need a stroller right away. (Learn more by reading our blog posts on the benefits of babywearing and types of baby carriers). Do you plan to co-sleep? If so, you may not need a crib at all. (Make sure you read our post on how to co-sleep safely). From personal experience, we have co-slept with our son since birth and for the first six months or so, he napped on us in slings and wraps. The crib and bassinet that we bought during pregnancy were only used a couple of times. If I had not allowed myself to be influenced so much by expectant friends, stores, and advertisements, maybe I could have stepped back and considered what our unique needs were going to be. And if co-sleeping hadn’t worked for us, then we could have purchased those items and saved ourselves a lot of money.
  • If you need to purchase a breast pump, see if it is covered by your health insurance plan. Also, if you have a flexible spending account (FSA), you can use those funds to purchase your pump and pump accessories. (Read our post on how to choose the breast pump that is best for you.)
  • Sign up for membership or frequent shopper cards at the baby stores you shop at the most. You will usually receive coupons via mail or email and/or be notified of upcoming sales.
  • Think about items in realistic ways. For example, products that help to prevent your little boy from urinating on you during diaper changes may seem like a good idea, but do you think your 3 month old will lie still long enough for a cup or cover to stay in place? Probably not. Avoiding the temptation to buy items such as these will save you lots of money.
  • Compare items and their versatility. For example, many infant car seats cost as much as convertible car seats, but cannot be used for nearly as long. (Most infant car seats max out around 20 pounds, while convertible seats can go from newborn to toddler size or larger, often accommodating weights ranging from newborn to 65 pounds.) It may be more economical in the long run to go ahead and purchase one seat that grows with your child, rather than several different seats.
  • Consider shopping at seasonal consignment sales in your area. These sales usually occur twice a year (in the late summer/early fall for fall and winter clothing and late winter/early spring for spring and summer clothing). Most sales have a screening process for items before they can be sold, so the quality of clothing is generally very good, and the prices are even better – most clothes are priced at 1/4 to 1/3 of the original price. This is where I have purchased almost all of my son’s clothing. I can spend around $100 at a sale and have an entire seasonal wardrobe for him. The sales generally have children’s clothing from newborn to juniors sizes, baby gear (i.e. strollers, diaper bags, infant bath tubs, crib bedding, etc.), toys and books. Some larger sales even have maternity clothes and nursery furniture.  Use this link to search for upcoming consignment sales in your area. Some sales are better than others, so you may want to visit several in a season to find the best products.
  • If you are looking for more savings explore things like:

The internet is full of ideas to help you organize your ideas and save money on your journey to parenthood. Try not to get overwhelmed by all the choices and decisions in “baby land” and above all, have fun planning for your little one’s arrival!

Images credit: Baby With Blocks by Rotorhead, and Baby Clothes by Carin

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  • Another perspective on car seats/strollers…

    I always advise pregnant friends to buy the infant car seat, and instead of a stroller, to get a stroller frame such as the Snap-N-Go. My son always fell asleep in the car but I was never able to transfer him out of his car seat and have him stay asleep. With the stroller frame, I could simply lift out the car seat and put it on the frame. When he was around 4 months (able to sit supported) we bought an inexpensive umbrella stroller that is rated up to 50 lbs. My other piece of advice is to skip the bulky, expensive “travel systems” altogether!