Baby Prep On The Cheap
There are some layette items you will need right away: you will need diapers, a mattress and fitted sheets, soft washcloths and towels, several blankets, a few t-shirts and nightgowns and booties. If you are using cloth diapers, you will need to purchase a diaper pail and safety pins.
If you are nursing, you will need a good nursing bra and a breast pump. Don't buy a diaper bag. A backpack makes a great alternative. It holds more, and it's easier to carry when you have a baby in your arms.
Some new parents use cloth diapers to save money and also to help the environment. There are pros and cons. If you have ever lived through two years of dirty diapers, you know all they are not your best housemate and probably think that disposable diapers are the best invention since ice cream!
Cathy Henry, of National City, California, raised three children as a single mom and had two babies in diapers at once. She decided to use disposable diapers. "The best thing to do is... buy in bulk, use coupons and watch for store sales. It becomes a challenge. But be aware that babies grow fast! Before your baby is born, buy only one package of newborns and one or two package of the next size," she says.
Stacy DeBroff, author of The Mom Book, 4,278 Tips for Moms and founder of MomCentral.com, provides some great tips for saving on baby clothing, diapers and other layette items.
Saving on large purchases
*Note: Always consider your baby's safety first when purchasing a bed and other baby furnishings.
The most expensive purchase will you will need to make will be a car seat. Choose a good one and place it on layaway at your local discount store.
Another big purchase is a baby bed. Put a crib or bassinette, sheets and bumper pads on layaway. Of course, babies don't always arrive on time. If your baby comes before you have a bed, you may need to make some temporary sleeping arrangements. Any kind of a safe, comfortable surface will do. For example, your baby can sleep in a large basket for the first few weeks of life. Purchase a basket with the lining sewed in snugly and obtain a soft, well-fitting pad for a mattress. This has the added advantage of portability. You can move a basket easily from room to room without waking a sleeping infant.
Feeding your baby
Breastfeeding is free and research shows breastfeeding protects against colds and contains natural antibodies that immunize babies against infections. If you choose to bottlefeed your baby, decide in advance what you want to do about sterilizing baby bottles. If you opt to sterilize bottles the old-fashioned way, you will need a large boiling pan, a bottle brush and pair of metal tongs, in addition to the bottles, nipples and formula.
Samples, freebies and coupons
Send away for as many as you can find! You can save on formula by surfing the web sites of major manufacturers and take advantage of their freebies, special offers and programs. You do not need a fancy coupon organizer. Clip your coupons and put them in an envelope. Keep them in your purse.
"You can save money on baby items by going to garage sales and resale establishments," says pregnant mom Mary Beth Ray of Chula Vista, California. "I also plan to buy a blender and make my own baby food. "
If you meet the income and family size requirements, be sure to take advantage of the federal Women, Infants and Children program. It is a great boon to a budget! Visit www.fns.usda.gov/wic for more information.