Baby Bits on a Budget

Warning: any views on the efficacy/awesomeness/otherwise of products is completely unfounded, as I’ll have to wait another 2 months to try them out!
Babies come with a lot of crap. I mean, obviously the don’t come with the stuff; they don’t (as far as I know) emerge from the womb with a little suitcase stuffed full of onesies and Lansinoh, but they do seem to need rather a lot of stuff.
And, if I haven’t mentioned it here, ooh….a hundred times already, I have real issues with stuff. Issues which I’m going to have to quickly find a way to deal with, or I’ll be driven mad. Because this baby is minus 9-ish weeks and she already has TONNES of stuff. Clothes and blankets and toys and nightlights and bath seats and all manner of other baby-related gubbins.
I’ve really tried to keep it to a minimum, and not clutter the entire flat up with things, but the spare bedroom is rapidly becoming overrun with baby guff. I still have more ‘essentials’ to get, and I haven’t bought half the stuff that’s marketed to new mums/mums to be that you’re assured you very definitely need to have.
Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned so far about kitting out your life for a baby, while not breaking the bank or turning your house into a brightly-coloured, plastic playground.
+ SECOND HAND. I can’t say that enough. Seriously, used stuff is amazing. Ebay is my very best friend, closely followed by a local mums group I’ve joined on Facebook. Baby clothes are super expensive, especially if you’re a bit of a brand snob like me and fall head over heels in love with cute outfits from Petit Bateau and The Little White Company and the like. Babies also grow like weeds. There is no way I am paying £30 for one sleepsuit, however cute it is, when it’s going to fit my baby for six weeks, and she’s going to spend most of that time puking and pooping on it. But here’s the thing – other people’s babies grow like weeds too! So there is a whole world of baby clothes out there that have been worn a couple of times and outgrown, at a fraction of the cost. This baby has pretty much everything she needs either from Ebay or…

+ Sales. This really is teaching your grandmother to suck eggs, isn’t it? The only new bits I’ve bought for the baby (with the exception of the things I talk about below, and some plain white vests and babygros) have been in the sale. I’ve had a long-running love affair with the website achica.com – I buy quite a bit of homeware and jewellery from there, and since getting pregnant I’ve been hitting up their baby sales too. Fabulous stuff, much cheaper than in the shops. Matt laughs at me for being such a cheapskate, because I refuse to look at the full price section of baby shops, but I don't care. It's not as if she's going to have the vocabulary skills to complain that I've dressed her in last season's styles. 

+ When you're buying those tiny cute clothes, don't forget about the seasons. Yes, as an adult you can buy a summer dress in October and wear it next April, and it will probably still fit. But buying a cute summer dress now in 0-3 months just because it's so adorable and tiny is madness when your baby is due in October. It's hard, because you're always buying in the wrong season (unless you literally buy your child's wardrobe as they wear it) and I keep going all gooey over those little broderie anglaise rompers with nappy covers, but then I have to remind myself that it'll be cold until she's at least six months old, so I have to buy bigger, or not yet. Our poor deprived daughter also doesn't have a Christmas-themed outfit. I'm sure she'd look totally adorable dressed as an elf or Santa or a reindeer but, unless we time all her siblings' births so they are also two months old at Christmastime, she is literally going to wear that once. Waste. Of. Money. I've also bought a lot of stuff that's fairly gender-neutral, so it can do any future boy babies we might have. 

+ Despite the ‘advice’ above, I’m not going to advocate getting everything second hand. For some reason I feel icky about second hand toys, maybe because I know how much time they spend in children’s mouths. Weirdly, I did not extend this principle to bathroom stuff, and have bought a second hand Angelcare baby bath support, which I know full well has been pooped and peed on A LOT. But that can be bleached, toys not so much. I’ve also got a new bouncy chair and pram, because I wanted some new, special things I can (hopefully) use for any future siblings that come along. And the obvious one – don’t buy a used car seat. However honest the person you’re buying from seems, you’ll never really know whether or not it’s been in an accident, or had a knock that was just that bit too hard and has compromised the integrity of it. That was one risk I just wasn’t willing to take.

+ Babies really don’t need much in the way of entertainment and toys. Everyone I’ve spoken to has said how vital a bouncer/similar is for keeping your little one safe from harm and occupied for those pesky times when mama needs her hands to herself – cooking, cleaning, the rare occasions you manage to take a shower… but toys probably don’t factor on their radar until their at least a couple of months old. We’ve got a few cuddly toys, mainly because I/Matt thought they were cute and couldn’t resist, but nothing much. I’m not sure the poor deprived child will be getting much in the way of Christmas presents either, given she’ll only be about ten weeks old… I'm thinking I may just get her what every two month old baby wants, a junior ISA. 

+ Try to double up on uses for things, and don't feel the need to buy baby or nursery specific things. Yes, a changer top chest of drawers is cute, but is it really any different to putting a changing mat on top of a chest of drawers you already have? No, it is not. A baby bath? Why not use...your normal bath or sink? I bought a bath support to save my back and free up an extra hand, but plenty of people do without. And it's much smaller and easier to store than a full baby bath. At the moment I'm getting very confused by the idea of baby towels. Why don't people just use a small normal towel? I'm going to try it my way and let you know in approximately 9 weeks whether or not I'm a naive idiot. I am also confused by the idea of kids wardrobes. For a start, I don't think she's going to have anything nice enough for a hanger in a long time (baby clothes are mostly cotton and jersey) and...why not use a normal wardrobe? Yes, she won't be able to reach it herself, but I don't know many people that leave their toddler to pick her own outfit AND dress herself in it without some level of adult assistance. I have relaxed my stance on this point somewhat throughout my pregnancy, and caved to the moses basket (but only because we don't have room in our bedroom for a full cot until we move house) and changing bag (yes, I could use a normal bag, but I like the compartments and the way it can fix to the pram), but on the whole I'm all for the baby having things that can grow with her, and aren't specific to the baby stage. Also, a lot of the stuff marketed as 'baby' is about twice the price of the normal alternative. Why bother? 

I'm sure there are tonnes of tricks I'm missing to add to the above. Anyone fancy sharing their best baby money saving tips? 

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