My name is Lucy, and I am a bargain hunter.
Sometimes that can be a big time-suck for me! I have been known many a time to ponder for hours over purchasing even the smallest thing, making sure I am getting the very best value for money, and buying the cheapest version on the market. What a skinflint, hey? You don’t even want to know how many comparison sites I look at before I book a holiday!
When it comes to purchasing for a huge life-changing event like having your first baby, many prospective parents splash cash on designer prams, top of the range nursery furniture and every baby gadget going. According to the Money Advice Service, the cost of bringing up a baby in the first year could reach up to £7200. This is a very large investment, indeed.
I spoke to Merrill Edge Executive, Anna Colton, who added,“complicating things even further is the struggle to balance spending in the short-term with saving for the long-term, including your child’s college education and even your own retirement. However, with careful planning and budgeting, you and your family may be financially prepared to provide your baby with everything he or she needs in the short-term, while also balancing saving for the future goals.”
When we had our first baby, my husband and I had to save like mad to afford the prospect of me not working for a period of time. We didn’t feel that buying lots of full price baby equipment was an option, nor did I want to – because I get a thrill out of getting a bargain, remember! We didn’t go without anything we thought we ‘needed’, because, as most first time parents can testify, you think you need so much stuff that you actually don’t! I spent months bidding for things on eBay, visiting nearly-new sales and borrowing from friends. I was even lucky enough to borrow all my maternity clothes from friends.
It was basically a toss up between saving to have the longest time spent with my firstborn we could afford, or having all the shiny things! Hopefully you can guess which option I chose.
That said, it turned out our beloved car blew a hole in it’s engine, so I had to return to work early in order to pay for the replacement engine, but that’s another story!
Why these parents only bought new for their firstborns
I was inspired to write this post when I recently saw someone comment on a facebook post that they “wouldn’t buy nearly-new for their firstborn”. This personally baffled me, and slightly got my back up, considering all the absolute bargains I have picked up in the past, saving a heap of cash along the way. I was wondering if I had not provided the best for my child by buying second-hand. I set about to ask a few mums about their reasons for buying all new baby equipment and clothing etc. for their firstborns, and I was actually quite surprised at what I heard…and how common an opinion it is, making me the minority.
According to those I surveyed, the common reasons for buying all new baby things included:
- Everything is clean and sterile
- Equipment is up to date and safe
- New things feels special
- Buying new = providing the best for the child = being good parents
- New things look good
- Things are being purchased by others, aka through a gift registry or baby shower
- The durability / longevity factor
- The excitement of building the new nursery
- It’s easier to hit the big baby shops
- It’s a thrill to go out and buy the items
“I was terrified of germs, wanted my baby to have the very best of everything and I felt like if we looked clean/new/tidy people would ‘think’ we were good parents. We spent thousands on brand new, beautiful and sometimes unnecessary things all in the name of ‘being great parents’”
“When I had my first baby I only bought new, I didn’t accept any hand me downs for some weird reason. I felt she couldn’t have used items, almost like they were not clean enough for a new baby (weird right). The crib, all the way down to the hair bows. You rarely see magazines talking about how great hand me downs can be ;)”
Britanny Arnold of CatchieConcepts.com
“I bought everything brand spankin’ new and shiny (and expensive!) for my first. I spent a lot of money in preparation. I felt this overwhelming excitement to provide the best and prettiest for him.”
“Aside from the fact that I have a serious germ phobia, it was important that nothing was previously used. As a first time parent I desired everything to be as perfect as possible. To me it was my way of wanting to protect my child whereby making sure all things concerning him was the best to my knowledge. Furthermore it allowed me to dote on my child which I totally enjoyed.”
Ophelia Uke of Soul Empowerer Enterprise
“I bought everything new with #1. Just being amongst all things baby was such a thrill as a first time mum. I needed that experience. It was almost like an initiation into a club, a rite of passage.”
How buying habits change for second babies onwards
I now find myself pregnant with my second child, self-employed (so no maternity pay for me), not able to save even a penny due to huge childcare costs, and again, we’re looking to acquire the equipment we need very cheaply. The very prospect of spending anywhere near the £7200 just seems ridiculous to me now. And the same opinion seems to be echoed in the majority of second-time parents – even the ones who bought all new the first time around.
“My second one had hand me downs and used items. As for my third…who needs a crib?! They end up sleeping with you for the first year of life anyway right?! First time round, I could have saved so much money and had the same type of child haha!”
Britanny Arnold of CatchieConcepts.com
“With my first, I bought all new everything, from his clothes to his crib. He wore outfits maybe once or twice and had so many new pairs of shoes. My daughter came around and I bought everything second hand because I realized how much money I wasted on all new everything when they either ruin it, grow out of it or sometimes don’t even want to wear it.”
“If I knew that buying used would not only save my money, but also be able to afford a lot nicer things, I would have went that way in a heartbeat. Buying online has opened a whole new world for me.”
“My first child got the new crib, organic mattress, baby clothes pre-washed in baby-friendly natural laundry detergent and new car seat. The second kid slept in a used pack-n-play because he wouldn’t sleep in the crib, which was torn up from my older son using it as a teether. The second child wore whatever I could get my hands on at the moment and rode around town in a car seat that had been pooped, peed and vomited on. I can tell you this: neither child noticed one bit.”
Gaby Merediz of Makeyourperfect.com
For me, I realised very quickly – even though I didn’t spend much on getting prepared for my first baby – that the things you buy might go unused for various reasons or that you just don’t have the days in the month to change the baby into the 140 pairs of booties you thought you needed!
Why you should buy nearly-new for your firstborn
Common preconceptions are that second-hand baby gear isn’t suitable for a firstborn. But I’m saying IT IS! 😉 Here’s why:
- You can save a lot of money
- You can afford much better versions of items
- You can use the money saved for other things
- Pre-loved items are often very nearly-new, due to length of time used
- You can wash nearly everything!
“I acquired almost all of our baby items for free! You only use baby items for a short amount of time; it does not make sense to spend a large amount on new items that are only used for 3 months. Ten years from now neither you, nor your child will know the difference if you bought new or used. From my experience having children is only as expensive as you make it.“
Rachel Stephens of Totallypromotional.com
I think the main reasons for not buying used baby equipment, like cleanliness and sterility are valid, but due to the nature of the materials used in most baby products, they’re washable… heck, you can even boil them to make them sterile if you wish!
Tips for buying nearly-new baby items
- Wash everything!
- Buy new parts
- Use common sense
- Don’t trade safety for a good deal – check for expiration dates
“Parenting advice is so easily accessible in abundance, I think it is necessary to take a step back and follow your motherly instincts. You are going to find way too much advice if you Google it. I think there probably is a risk to some used baby products. There is also risk in taking your baby out in public, and everything else in life.”
Rachel Stephens of Totallypromotional.com
“I wanted to encourage you to touch on the importance of checking for recalls of baby items when shopping a secondary market. Online retailers are notoriously behind on pulling recalled items from their inventory. Data shows that of all recalls in 2014, 25% were for children’s products – and of them, 80% remained in consumer’s hands.”
Jonas Sickler of ConsumerSafety.org
The very best places to buy pre-loved baby gear
Pre-loved sales such as Baby and Children’s Market, are a great way to get all your baby essentials in one hit. Not only will you save a heap of cash, you’ll come away with some amazing, gently used bargains that you may not have been able to afford to buy new for your growing family.
Just search for your local area in facebook and join one of the many groups dedicated to swapping/trading/buying/selling. You can even pick up other people’s unwanted equipment and clothes bundles for free on the ‘freebay’ groups!
This article has also been published on Huffington Post