Becoming a new parent is both exciting and overwhelming. Whether you are part of a couple, or you’re going it alone, the emotional rollercoaster you are about to embark on will change you forever. Alongside the difficulties of pregnancy and the long wait going faster than you anticipated, one of many things that new parents start to panic about is what their new baby will need in those first few months. But how do you ensure that you have all of what you need, without overspending in baby boutiques? And how do you know when to buy baby stuff? Here, we share our tips.
Discovering there’s a baby on board
When you find out that you’re expecting, especially if you are a first-time parent, you’re excited and it’s tempting to buy everything in the baby shop. However, this can be a very expensive thing to do and it isn’t just those first few months when a child will cost you. There are years of expense. I wanted to share with you some of our best advice. That way, you can ensure you stay on track, allowing you to enjoy this journey without the added worry of finances.
When to start buying baby stuff
You might be wondering when to start buying baby stuff, but in truth, there’s no right or wrong answer. If you’re super organised and like to have things prepared, then you might start early on in your pregnancy. If you’re worried about tempting fate, then you may be more reserved and wait until your pregnancy is further along.
There may be other factors that influence when you buy baby stuff. Perhaps you’re waiting to move house, or you’re hoping to complete a house refurbishment before buying. The pace you choose to go at is down to you. However, it’s advisable that you get your labour bag ready from 36 weeks. I have made a list of NHS hospital bag additions, which includes little extras that you’ll appreciate after birth. Make sure you check it out!
Are you finding out the gender?
Not all new parents want to find out whether they’re expecting a boy or a girl. But some people think that making this decision early on can help with your spending. Whether you’re team blue, or team pink, finding out may mean that you have some form of theme when it comes to your spending. However, you need to remember that the professionals do get it wrong! I have known parents to be, that were expecting little girls, only to give birth to bouncing baby boys. If you’re relying on a sonographer’s opinion, you can’t be totally sure of the gender until the baby arrives.
Personally, I don’t think you need to find out the sex of your baby to keep costs down and I decided not to find out the gender of either of my babies before birth. Instead, I bought essential gender-neutral sleepsuits and vests, as well as other items in green and yellow. I was quite happy with that, as I think there’s something beautiful about seeing a baby in a white outfit. I’m also not madly keen on the idea of dressing a baby in accordance to their gender.
In my experience, if you decide not to find out your baby’s sex, you’ll be gifted gender-specific clothing when baby is born. So don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you have to know the sex of the baby to keep your costs down, because that really isn’t the case.
Write a list and do plenty of research
Before you buy anything, take some time out to write down what you think you need for your new baby. Even if you aren’t sure whether it is essential, make a note of it. Once you have your extensive list, start some research and look online. Make sure you take the time to read reviews and to check safety ratings. This will help you to dwindle down your list to the essentials that you will need.
One important decision is the car seat and there are plenty of options to consider. Some choose a baby seat that fits with their pushchair system, whilst others just go purely on safety elements.
You will also need to think about where the baby will sleep, what pram you may like and how you are going to feed the new baby. I ended up exclusively pumping my first born; you can read about my feeding journey here.
Accept hand-me-downs and pay them forward
When friends and acquaintances find out that you’re expecting, then may ask you if you would like some of their child’s hand-me-downs. If they offer, then thank them wholeheartedly and offer to share your to-buy list with them. That way, you’ll avoid ending up with a pile of items that you don’t actually need.
If you decide to accept hand-me-downs, then make sure you find out what that person would like you to do with the items once you’ve finished using them. That way, everybody’s clear. Some people will ask you to pass the items onto another friend, others might tell you to donate them to charity, whilst some pals will ask for you to return specific items. Next up, make a list of who gives you what; you’ll be thankful for that note when it comes to clearing out the baby items that you no longer use.
If you do accept hand-me-downs, then it’s super important to ensure to pay that act forwards. Try and help somebody else out when your child moves out of the baby stage, or show an act of kindness is another way.
Purchase second-hand items where you can
When you have a baby, you don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds and buy all new things. Kids grow out of things quickly and your baby will never remember what type of clothes they were wearing, or what make of pushchair they used to sit in. As long as your baby is loved, fed, warm and cared for, they will have everything they could possibly need.
I always recommend that new parents look into buying a second-hand pushchair. But realistically, most things can be bought pre-loved. The only items that you should buy new are mattresses and car seats (unless your car seat is being passed on by a trusted friend or family member).
Ask other parents for advice
Finally, take some time to ask other parents for advice and tips on how what they think you may need in those early few months. Often, the information received from parents who have been in your position before is priceless and very informative. The books will tell you generic information, and whilst it may be useful, there is nothing that can compare to first-hand advice from people who have been on the same journey. Blogs and social media accounts are also really useful for this. You can check out my list of baby product recommendations here.
I hope these tips help you if you are about to become a parent for the first, (second, or third) time.