Whether you began your pregnancy knowing that you would be a single mom or whether something went wrong along the way, being on your own and expecting your first baby can be daunting. There’s a bewildering array of baby goods in the stores, online and advertised in magazines. Moms’ forums are packed with people raving about the latest products for babies…and if you ‘re on a tight budget you might well be really worrying about how much you’re going to have to spend. Some moms seem to spend a fortune, but you know this isn’t going to be an option for you. If you are a single mom, struggling to cope on a low income, you really need a little help. Don’t worry, here’s all you need to know.
There are numerous ways that you can save money when preparing for your first baby.
- Breastfeed your baby: You can save yourself not only lots of work but also lots of money by choosing to breastfeed rather than bottle feeding. Not only do you save on the bottles and the formula, you also won’t need a sterilising kit, carry bags for bottles, bottle warmers and special bottle cleaning brushes. So if you can breastfeed (and most moms can, with a little of the right help and advice) it’s a really sensible choice. To get great advice on breastfeeding, and support after your baby’s born, take a look at La Leche League. http://www.llli.org/
- Check what’s good to buy secondhand: You need to be aware of what items you can buy second hand. It’s fine to get quite a lot of your baby equipment second hand, but there are some things that for safety’s sake you really need to buy new. Knowing what’s what can save you dollars and also keeps your baby safe.
- Shop online: If you live a fair distance from the shops, shopping for baby items online can save you valuable cash too. Bus fares might not be overly expensive in themselves, but they add up and you don’t need to be making trips that aren’t really necessary. Look for online companies that offer free home delivery.
- Get together with other moms: Join single moms’ networks in your neighborhood. You can often find details of these in your local church or community centre. These sorts of groups frequently have baby goods swap sessions or donate their old baby items for other moms to use.
Things you really do need
- Diapers/Nappies: Whether you choose cloth diapers or disposable ones, you will need a plentiful supply for your baby’s early weeks, months and first couple of years of life. The initial cost of buying fabric diapers can be off putting, but once you’ve bought them the expense is more or less over. However, before you decide, bear in mind that cloth nappies have to be washed…at a rate of several a day. So you need to factor in the cost of using washing machine, gentle baby safe detergent and maybe even a dryer. Still, research shows that it is less expensive than buying disposables, although there is more work involved.
- A cot or crib: Even if you are co sleeping with your baby, there will be times that you need to put your baby down to sleep when you can’t lie down with him to look after him: So, you need a cot, crib or baby bed.
- Basic baby soap: A good, basic baby soap will double as a shampoo and bath gel for the early weeks of your baby’s life.
- Basic barrier cream: A simple zinc and castor oil type barrier cream is all you need to keep your baby’s skin protected under his nappies. Exotic cosmetics are surplus to requirements!
- Bottles, formula, bottle brushes and a sterilising kit if you are bottle feeding.
- Nursing bras and breast pads if you are breastfeeding.
- A pram or stroller. In the first days, while baby is tiny, a baby carrier or sling will do, but as your baby grows you will find a pram or stroller more convenient.
Things you can buy second hand
- Blankets and bedclothes: There’s no reason at all not to buy blankets and bedclothes from the second hand store or charity store. You can also find them online on sites like Ebay or GumTree. Second hand blankets and bedclothes will be fine if they look in good condition and can always be rewashed and disinfected when you get them home if it gives you more peace of mind. You can save a lot of money buying these thngs second hand. Garage sales are often good sources of these items too.
- Babyclothes: The same goes for baby clothes. Most baby items are sold in an amost new condition, as babies grow so fast that many things are hardly worn. In fact, chances are you’ll find baby clothes that have never been worn or even taken out of the pack. This is because a lot of moms are given far more than they need at ‘Baby Showers’ and often have duplicate or too small clothes which they subsequently sell off. It doesn’t make economic sense to spend a lot of your hard come by cash on things that your baby will only wear for a week or two!
- Most equipment that has a recent safety certificate. It should have a certification mark that proves it meets required standards. If in doubt, get it checked by a specialist supplier, or don’t buy it.
- Highchairs. These are usually made of wood or solid plastic and can be throughly cleaned and disinfected so should be fine secondhand. Check before buying that the joints and folding mechanisms are safe and working smoothly.
Things you shouldn’t buy second hand (or things you should take care with)
- Baby car seat: Unless you really know the history of the seat, don’t make the mistake of trying to save a few dollars by buying a second hand baby car seat or back facing baby carrier for the car. There’s no way of knowing if the seat has been previously damaged in an accident, as this isn’t always evident from the outside of the seat. However, by all means take one from a family member or trusted friend who can assure you it’s undamaged.
- Crib: Actually, you can buy or use a second hand crib, but you do need to be careful. Safety regulations have become much more stringent in the last 20 or so years, as a result of research into baby and childhood accidents. If the crib is really old, make sure it meets requirements and safety standards. If in doubt, don’t buy it secondhand.
- Strollers: Yes, they can be bought secondhand, but should come with a safety check certificate. Ideally, stick to new.
- Comforters and rubber nipples for bottles. Sure, they can be sterilised, but they aren’t expensive to buy and, well, would you want to suck a second hand item?
- Electrical equipment. Once more, it isn’t a hard and fast rule, but generally it s safer to buy electrical equipment new rather than second hand.
Things you really don’t need!
- A Moses basket: Sure, these are real pretty and are great for the first few weeks, but the baby will soon outgrow them. You might as well start right away with a normal sized crib, cot or baby bed.
- Baby wipe warmers: Of all the unnecessary things, these take the biscuit! They cost money to buy and they cost money to run (elecricity) and really, you just don’t need them. A wash cloth soaked in warm water will do the same job.
- A baby bath: Honest, your baby won’t mind being bathed in the kitchen sink, if your budget doesn’t run to a bath. Like so many other things, baby baths are only used for the first few weeks. After that, your baby’s big enough to go in the same bath tub as you. So why waste your money?
- Designer baby gear. Whether we are talking about designer clothes, crib sets or wallpaper for the bedroom, your baby doesn’t need or want expensive designer gear. She’ll grow out of the clothes before she’s old enough to notice them, and by the time she cares about the decor in her bedroom she won’t appreciate teddy bears and fairies!
- Fancy toys. Stick to safe basics. Always make sure that toys that are to be given to baby to touch have safety certificates. However, when it comes to mobiles, babies will be just as fascinated by a home made mobile of shiny silver paper and coloured feathers as they would be by any expensive shop bought confection.
- Musical boxes and toys. In the early days, your baby would prefer you to sing to her. It proves to her that you are close, so it makes her feel safe. And, she loves nothing more than the sound of your voice! This is your chance to be the most popular singer on the block, so make the most of it!
- Baby bouncers or swings. While a little soft bouncy chair is inexpensive and great for baby, fancy swings and bouncers really aren’t needed. Playing with your baby, or popping her into a sling around your body will provide physical closeness and the gentle swaying motion she will find so enjoyable.
Most of the unnecessary baby items that you’ll see for sale are actually sad susbstitutes for a mom’s love and time. You can save lots of cash just by being with your baby, rather than expecting flashy toys to do th work for you. There’s no effective substitute for a mom, when it comes to a baby’s happiness and real needs!
So, save yourself cash and get even more out of the experience of being a mom at the same time.