While you could spend $1000 on a pram or the latest convertible cot, most of us can’t afford (or want) to! Stepping into the baby goods store for the first time can be overwhelming. You’ll be wondering where you need to splurge, and how you can save. Here’s your 'experienced mums' guide to the baby essentials on a budget.
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The must-have highchair for today’s savvy mum comes from the mecca of all things Swedish – Ikea. Their most basic model, the Antilop, is only $24.99, has no hard-to-reach spots, and can be easily pulled apart for cleaning or transporting.
This is the one area you don’t want to go second-hand or cut corners – if the seat has ever been in an accident (even a minor bingle), their safety can be compromised. There are a huge range of brands to choose from, including Mother's Choice, Infa-Secure, Safe-N-Sound and Babylove. Shop around as there are frequent sales on car seats but you will be looking at a starting price of $170 and up. Whichever one suits your family budget, make sure it complies with safety standard AS/NZS 1754 - should be printed on the sticker label on the seat. Want more information? Kidsafe has a whole heap of practical and free advice around choosing and fitting baby seats.
If you’re planning on co-sleeping – which can mean sharing a room and not necessarily a bed – a bassinet can be a genuinely useful investment. More mobile and smaller than a cot, it will get a workout in bubs’ early days. Be aware your baby will probably outgrow a bassinet in six months’ time, so your best bet is to see if you can beg or borrow one. A bassinet with mattress and fitted sheet starts from around $129. A cot is an important investment, and will need to meet safety standard AS/NZS 2172, even if it’s second-hand. When buying second-hand, be aware that older models may have lead paint on them, which you don’t want (the odds of your baby chewing on the paint is high). You’ll need to ensure all parts are secure, with no loose bolts or damage, as these can cause injuries. A new cot starts from around $400 and mattresses from $49. Check out Product Review to get an idea of the different brands - there's a lot.
Next on the baby checklist – leaving the house! Portacots are excellent investments, as they can be pulled out everywhere from a friend’s place to a hotel room. Like bassinets, portacots can often be borrowed, or bought second-hand. Provided they have no rips or tears, and you give them a good wash, there’s no safety reason not to save some dollars on this item. Basic models start from $49 new.
The trick to getting the right pram is to figure out your budget, how often and how you plan on using the pram. For example, if you plan to go jogging every day, a more expensive three-wheel ‘jogger’ model with lockable front wheel (starting around $550) may be worth the investment, as it will keep bubs from tipping out as you run. If you’re planning on using the pram when out and about, but not necessarily every day, a second-hand pram that’s had a thorough clean can go for as little as $50.
Clothing is one of the most popular gifts people give new babies, so resist the urge to spend a fortune here. You can also save a lot of money by asking around to see if anyone has any old baby clothes, or hit up second-hand stores.
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