How to Have a Baby on a Budget: Saving Money on Baby Stuff in Australia

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The costs of having a baby can add up! This article covers all the ways you can have a baby on a budget and save money on baby stuff over the first year of bub’s life.

Having a baby is an immense joy and a big responsibility. As new parents, we want the absolute best for our new babies. We’re excited and a little nervous, which makes us prime targets for marketers who tap into these emotions and try to convince us their product is a ‘must-have’ baby item.

As a parent of two, I’ve found a lot of the so-called essentials are not so essential, and there are plenty of ways to keep costs down.

Whether you’re buying baby gear, feeding bottles or nappies, I’ll show you how to save money without compromising on comfort or quality.

Raising a frugal baby goes beyond just saving money. By keeping things simple, not only are you reducing financial stress and clutter, but you’re also creating a more sustainable and relaxed home for your family.

How Much Does it Cost to Have a Baby in Australia?

It can be a bit of a shock when you add up all the potential costs of having a baby.

Research conducted in 2020 indicates that the average costs of pregnancy and a baby’s first year are $5552. This assumes public healthcare and does not include private healthcare costs. 

The good news is there are lots of ways to save money on baby items. 

Having a baby budget and saving beforehand can make your first year as a parent less financially stressful. Here are some costs to consider:

  • Reduction in income
  • Medical costs
  • Childcare costs
  • Baby gear

Below I break down these costs further so you know what options you have and the different ways you can save.

Reduction in Income

Having a baby usually means some time out of the workforce for either you or your partner or both. If time off is unpaid, then a reduction in income is a significant, albeit indirect, cost of having a baby. 

There are things you can do to reduce the impact of unpaid leave. For starters, you may be eligible for paid parental leave (see below), which is paid at the minimum wage. Your award or agreement may also offer paid parental leave. Another option is to use your annual leave to help cover costs. 

There are also other government support options to help cover the costs of having a baby, outlined below.

Government Support

Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for government support that can help cover some of the costs of starting a family. Available support (2022) includes:

  • Parental Leave Pay
  • Dad and Partner Pay
  • Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement
  • Family Tax Benefits
  • Childcare Subsidy
  • Parenting Payment

For information about available payments, services, eligibility requirements and what you need to do to register, check out the Services Australia website.

Medical Costs

If you’re a public patient in Australia, you will likely have few or no medical costs. Routine care and tests are bulk billed, which means you don’t pay out of pocket. So, the first way to save money on your baby is by using the public system. But keep in mind that if you choose to have shared care with your GP and they don’t bulk bill, you may have to pay the cost of the visit.

According to BUPA, if you’re a private patient, out-of-pocket costs can range from $1725 and $7392, or sometimes more [source 2021]. If you opt for a home birth, the costs can vary widely – between $3,000 and $5,000. As private medical costs vary, it pays to shop around for both insurance and doctors. 

If you have private health insurance, check with your insurance provider to see if you are covered for pregnancy and birth. Find out what costs are covered and what out-of-pocket expenses you’ll have. Also, check to see if your baby is covered from birth in case they require medical care.

If you need medical services after having a baby, the free healthdirect helpline (1800 022 222) is invaluable, especially if it’s late at night and you’re not sure what to do. 

Depending on where you live, you may also have access to an after-hours home visit doctor that bulk bills. This is an excellent service for those late-night illnesses that crop up, and it helps you avoid long waits at the hospital emergency department.

Childcare Costs

Childcare is another cost to factor in if/when you plan on returning to work. Childcare costs vary depending on how many hours a week you use the service, what the provider costs are, how many children you have in care and what government subsidies you’re eligible to receive.

Long day care that charges around $105 a day translates to around $28,000 a year for full-time care. If you receive the maximum subsidy, you can expect to pay approximately $13,000 a year for full-time care [source].

You can find more information on childcare subsidy eligibility at the Services Australia website. Changes to the childcare subsidy that help with affordability will take effect on 1 July 2022.

Baby Gear

The other main cost of having a baby is the gear you need. 

There is a LOT of baby stuff available to buy. And as research shows, it can add up to thousands.

The good news is that most of it you don’t need and of the stuff you will need, there are plenty of ways to save money, as outlined below.

How to Save Money on Baby Gear – General Tips

Before we get into specifics, here are some general ways you can save money on the cost of baby stuff:

1. Have a baby shower. Getting baby necessities as gifts can reduce the cost of buying them yourself. A gift registry can help people pick things you need. If you don’t feel comfortable with a formal gift registry, have a list of ideas ready if people ask you what you need, or suggest a gift card so you can choose what you want.

2. Borrow or hire. Have any friends or family had babies recently? You may be able to borrow items and save money. An alternative is to hire things you’re only going to need for a short time.

3. Keep newborn stuff to a minimum. Babies grow quickly, so you’ll probably need less newborn stuff than you think. Start with a few infant nappies and clothes, and stock up on the older sizes as well. 

4. Look for items that grow with baby. Rather than buying things for each stage of your baby’s growth, opt for a car seat and a pram that goes from baby to toddler, and cloth nappies (if using) that are resizable.

5. Look out for sales. Sign up to store newsletters and look for deals or discounts on new baby items. Aldi has a twice year baby sale when you can bag some great buys, including more affordable cloth nappies.

Should You Buy Second-Hand Baby Stuff?

Buying second-hand baby gear is a great way to save money on baby stuff. 

Because babies change and grow fast, you can get second-hand items that have been very lightly used. 

Having said that, items like infant car seats, cots, mattresses, baby gates and breast pumps should be bought new for safety reasons

Items you can safely buy used include clothes, baby baths, toys, prams, furniture and changing tables. Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping second-hand:

  • Check that the model number, safety label and instruction booklet are available.
  • Check that the item meets current Australian Safety Standards by locating the safety code on the label.
  • Check that the product hasn’t been recalled (you can find a list here on the ACCC website).
  • Check that the item is complete, with no worn or missing parts.
  • Check that there are no broken or sharp edges.
  • Check that the product hasn’t been altered.
  • Make sure the item is solid, sturdy and in good condition.
  • Look for loose bits, chipped paint or potential choking hazards.

Finally, you can recoup some of the costs by selling what you no longer need. Only sell items that are in excellent condition, haven’t been recalled, and that retain tags, labels and instruction booklets. And make sure you clean them beforehand!

How to Save on Essential Baby Items

Walk into any baby shop, and you’ll find an avalanche of baby items to purchase. And because shopping is fun and you’re excited about having a baby, you can walk away with a tonne of stuff you don’t need and won’t use. Here are some essential things that you can’t live without. By the way, nappies (diapers) and feeding get a section of their own later.

Maternity Wear 

At some point, you’ll need maternity wear. 

You can save money by making your clothing last as long as possible with the old ‘hairband through the jeans’ buttonhole trick, or by using a belly band and bra extenders. Clothing styles that are naturally roomy or have empire waists can also be worn during pregnancy.

Other ways to save money on maternity wear include:

  • Looking for second-hand clothing in thrift stores, garage sales and online
  • Buying clothes on sale
  • Keeping your pregnancy wardrobe minimalist
  • Borrowing clothes from friends or having a clothes swap

Infant Car Seat

According to national child restraint laws, you need to use an approved infant car seat when transporting your bub in the car. 

When buying a new car seat, ensure it meets Australian safety standards. You can, however, save money by purchasing one on sale.

It’s also a good idea to get it professionally fitted. Ask at your prenatal clinic if there is a local service they can recommend. For more information on choosing a car seat, check out CHOICE’s car seat guide.

Sleep Space

Bub will need a safe space to sleep.

For many families, that means buying a cot and placing it in the parent’s room for the first six months. Because a second-hand cot is not recommended, save money by shopping around for a cot on sale. All cots must meet current safety standards.

If you do buy a cot second-hand, ensure that it comes with instructions and a safety standard code label, that it hasn’t been recalled and that it meets all current safety standards.

Keep in mind that wooden drop-side cots are no longer recommended for safety reasons and are banned in the US.

Cot bumpers, mattress paddings and quilts are not recommended for safe sleep, so these are expenses you can cross off your list. A safe, high-quality infant sleeping bag that fits properly and has no hood can be a great alternative to consider.

Co-sleeping is another option parents may choose, but it can increase the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI). If you decide to co-sleep, it’s important to follow safety guidelines and best practices. 

Baby Prams 

A pram is a convenient way to transport bub when you’re not driving. Here’s how you can save on this essential item:

1. Choose a pram that grows with baby. This will save you money because you will only need to buy one pram. 

2. Choose a pram that suits your needs. Will you use it regularly or not? Will you be jogging with the pram (you might need something sturdier) or using it in the shops (you might prefer something light and foldable with storage space)?

3. Make sure it fits in your car before you purchase. Some prams can be super bulky. As well as making sure it will fit in the car, make sure you’re able to lift it comfortably.

4. Borrow or hire a pram. If you’re lucky enough to be able to borrow a pram, that’s a great way to save money. Alternatively, hiring one can be cost-effective if you’re using it for a short time.

5. Keep an eye out for sales. If you start looking early, you may come across a sale and save money. The downside is that you might not know what you want or need until after baby is born.

6. Opt for a budget brand. All new prams must meet Australian Safety Standards, so you don’t need to buy the deluxe Rolls Royce of prams. Choose one within your budget.

7. Buy a second-hand pram. As with every second-hand purchase, make sure the pram is labelled with the current safety standards, there’s no wear and tear on the straps, it’s clean and sturdy, and there are no loose parts.

8. Accept hand-me-downs. Free stuff is great. Just make sure hand-me-downs meet the same criteria as second-hand items (above).

Baby Carriers

A baby carrier is a great option to use with or instead of a pram. A carrier keeps baby close and is super convenient for hands-free shopping. There are many brands and styles of carrier, including slings, wraps and modern carriers. 

If you can, borrow some carriers to test them out before making a purchase and find out which one suits you best. We personally loved the Ergobaby carrier, but it’s important to find the right option for you. One option is to join a local babywearing group. Like the other items, keep an eye out for sales or purchase second-hand, making sure the buckles, straps and fabric are in good condition.

Baby Clothes

Because babies grow so quickly, it pays to save as much money as you can on clothing. Here are some money-saving tips:

  • Keep newborn sizes to a minimum.
  • Shop with a list (See essentials checklist at the end of this article).
  • Choose gender-neutral clothing. You can also pass them down to future siblings if you decide to have them.
  • Buy second-hand. Thrift stores and online sellers have oodles of lightly worn clothing for a fraction of the price of new clothes.
  • Keep clothes to a practical minimum. You need a few changes of clothes but probably not as many as you think.
  • Keep it simple – onesies are practical, easy to put on and comfortable for bub. Comfort should ALWAYS trump style.
  • Invest in some bibs if your baby spits up a lot (my first baby did – these were a lifesaver). Bibs will reduce the number of changes.
  • Make sure nappies fit properly to reduce leaks and blowouts.
  • Buy items on sale.
  • Have a clothes swap with other mums.
  • Accept hand-me-downs.
  • Let grandparents splurge if they want to.
  • Avoid the fancy and expensive brands (unless you can get them second-hand). They look stylish but, in my experience, they’re fiddly and restrict baby’s movements.
  • Look for second-hand baby markets/fairs/car boot sales. You can bag a bargain at one of these.
  • Join local Facebook baby groups to find online bargains.
  • Don’t buy seasonal clothes in advance in case your baby doesn’t fit that size anymore.
  • Avoid shoes. Babies learn to walk better on bare feet. Soft booties and/or socks are good to keep the baby’s feet warm. Onesies also keep toes warm without extra socks.

How to Save on Non-Essential Baby Items

Some people swear that the following items are essential. Others never use them. For example, we didn’t use a changing table for either of our children, but I know people who find tables easy on their backs. 

High Chair

While you can save money by holding bub on your lap while feeding them, it’s easier when they can sit in a high chair.

A simple high chair without all the bells and whistles (that still meets safety standards) is not only cheaper, but it’s also easier to clean. Reduce the cost by purchasing it when it’s on sale. 

High chairs can also be purchased second-hand. If you choose to do this, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Is the chair sturdy and robust? Does it collapse when you put weight on it?
  • If it is foldable?
  • Does it lock securely without collapsing?
  • Is it easy to clean?
  • Does it have a five-point harness in excellent condition?
  • If it has wheels, do they lock?
  • Does it have easily detachable parts?For more information on highchair safety, check out the Australian Product Safety Guide.

Changing Table

  • A changing table is another item where you can save money by buying second-hand. When buying a changing table, here’s what to look for:
  • A sturdy table with storage
  • Roll-off protection (although you should always have one hand on bub when changing nappies – and never leave them unattended)
  • Strong locking devices that prevent the table from collapsing or rolling

For more information on changing table safety, check out the Australian Product Safety Guide.

Baby Bath

You can get by without a baby bath, but they are certainly handy to have. This is a great item to buy second-hand (you may even be able to find one for free). Our large thrift store has dozens of baby baths.

Look for one that is clean (not mouldy) and has no cracks, breaks or sharp edges.

Baby Activities

While not essential, if you’re staying at home to look after bub, baby activities are invaluable for getting you out of the house and connecting with other parents.

And while there are a lot of options available (baby gym, baby music, baby sensory classes), you can usually find free activities run at your local library. These may include baby rhyme time, song time, storytime and other activities. Playgroups and Mainly Music are great low-cost options to consider if available in your area.

I’m a little biased, but I think baby books are essential. Reading to your baby is great for their development as well as a wonderful way to snuggle together and bond. Discount stores like Big W stock a range of quality baby books for a fraction of the cost of book stores. Babies don’t really need toys, but because reading to your baby is so beneficial, it’s great to stock up on some books.

Other Non-Essential Items

Depending on your circumstances, the following may be useful:

1. Nappy bag. Save by using a bag you already have. A beach tote works perfectly.

2. Baby monitor. If your baby sleeps in a cot in your room, you won’t need a monitor. But if they’re in another room and your home is large, a monitor may come in handy. This is a great item to pick up second-hand.

3. Car sunshade. A tea towel over the window is a free alternative to a sunshade – just make sure it doesn’t dangle in bub’s face. Non-branded shades that slide over the window are an affordable option. 

4. Potty. A plastic potty can help be easier to use at toilet training time than the regular toilet. Keep an eye out for a second-hand one.

How to Save on Nappies

Nappies (diapers) can be a significant recurring cost over the first couple of years of a baby’s life. There are, however, ways to reduce the cost. 

Whether you choose to use cloth or disposable, here are some tips for saving money:

Cloth Nappies

Cloth nappies are generally cheaper than disposables over the long term, although the upfront costs can be high. 

The price of a disposable nappy can range from 15 cents to $1, while the cost of a cloth nappy can range from $1 to $40, depending on the style you choose. However, unlike disposable nappies, this is a one-off cost with a nominal ongoing laundry cost.

The cheapest variety is the terry-towelling flats or terry flats at around $1–2 each. This is the type of nappy I used with my two children. Terry flats are cheap, can be folded in different ways to grow with baby and are easy to wash. They’re also quick to dry and can be used (when clean) for other things, like a burp cloth. 

When we bought our terry flats (2010), they were $1.70 each and lasted for both kids. At the time, we added up the cost of washing (electricity, water, detergent, etc.), and it came out at approximately 30 cents per wash or 2.14 cents per nappy. Adding in the cost of purchase and incidentals (liners and covers), we calculated that the total cost per wear was 6 cents – less than half the price of the cheapest disposables. 

Modern cloth nappies mimic disposable nappies. While easier to use than the flats, they can be more expensive.

Here are some tips for keeping the cost of cloth nappies down:

  • Look for cheaper brands
  • Keep an eye out for sales
  • Buy second-hand cloth nappies
  • Accept free hand-me-downs from friends
  • Get adjustable all-in-ones that grow with baby
  • Add modern cloth nappies to your baby shower wish list
  • Wash in cold water with minimal detergent
  • Avoid using a dryer.

If you’re looking for second-hand nappies, check out baby markets/car boot sales, eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree. Ask how they were washed and cared for and check elastic, snaps, Velcro and fabric for wear.

Another way to mitigate the cost of cloth nappies is to sell them once you’re finished – if they are in good condition.If you’re handy with a needle and thread, you might also try your hand at making your own cloth nappies. To get you started, check out this roundup of cloth nappy patterns and tutorials.

An alternative to buying cloth nappies is to use a nappy delivery service – if there’s one in your area. This isn’t cheaper than disposables, but it gives you the eco-benefits of modern cloth nappies without the large upfront cost and the hassle of washing nappies yourself.

For more information on the variety of cloth nappies available, check out choosing cloth nappies

Disposable Nappies

If you have multiple children in nappies, or you’re juggling work and parenthood and don’t have time for cloth nappies, you may prefer to use disposable nappies (either part-time or full-time).

Here are eight tips for reducing the cost of disposable nappies:

1. Use cost per unit (nappy) to compare prices. It’s easier to compare costs between brands and sizes when looking at the cost per nappy. Here’s one example: The Huggies seem more expensive based on the sticker price, but the cost per unit makes it cheaper. Knowing what you pay per nappy makes it easier to compare brands and recognise great sales.

2. Have a few favourite brands. You’ll save more money if you have a few favourite brands to choose from when nappies go on sale.

3. Consider home brand/cheaper brands/Aldi brand. Generally, more affordable brands are just as good as the more well-known brands, but at a fraction of the cost. If you’re unsure about buying a large pack of nappies you may not like, check out reviews from other mums or see if you can try one from friends with babies. This is where a mother’s group can come in handy. You could have a nappy swap one day to try out different brands.

4. Look for sales. Once you know which brands you like, keep an eye out for when they go on sale. Chemists and discount stores like Big W also stock nappies, so check their catalogue sales.

5. Stock up when on sale. Avoid paying full price by stocking up when nappies go on sale. But don’t just stock up on newborn sizes. Stock the next size up so you don’t end up with extra nappies that don’t fit anymore.

6. Keep the smaller size as long as practical. You don’t want bub to be uncomfortable or risk leaks and blowouts. However, the longer they can comfortably stay in the smaller nappy, the more you’ll save as there are fewer nappies per pack as they get bigger.

7. Buy in bulk. Usually, buying nappies in bulk (biggest packets) will be cheaper than smaller packets. Always check the cost per unit because sales on smaller packs can be cheaper. Don’t forget to check online for bulk buys.

8. Consider Amazon Family. Amazon Family gives you 15% off nappies (and other baby items) when you use their subscription service, and they offer a variety of brands within this service. You can also find bulk buys here too. This can bring the cost per nappy down but not always. It’s worth comparing price per unit with other retailers, especially when there are sales. An added benefit to a subscription service is reducing the stress and hassle, which can be worth the extra dollars when you have a newborn. 

How to Save on Feeding

Breastfeeding is the healthiest option when feeding your baby – and it’s also the cheapest. But if you formula feed for whatever reason, I’ve got you covered too. Here are the typical expenses for breastfeeding, bottle feeding and feeding solids, followed by tips for saving money.

Breastfeeding

While breastfeeding can be entirely free, you may have outlays depending on your circumstances. For example, if/when you choose to go back to work, you may need to supplement breastfeeding with pumped breast milk.

Some costs may include:

  • Maternity bras
  • Breast pads
  • Nipple cream
  • A feeding pillow
  • Breast pump
  • Bottles
  • Freezer bags for freezing breast milk

It’s a good idea to wait until after your baby is born to buy most of your breastfeeding items. This saves you from spending money on things you don’t end up using. Save on bras, pads and cream by shopping around and looking for sales. You may be able to get free samples from your hospital as well. 

When expressing breast milk, the free option is to do it by hand. This is great if you’re not expressing a lot. It is, however, more work than using a pump.

The next cheapest option is a manual pump, which will set you back around $30–60, while an electric breast pump can cost anywhere between $130 and $300, depending on what brand you buy. To reduce the cost, shop around and look for sales. I don’t recommend buying a second-hand breast pump due to the risk of bacteria building up in the pump. 

An affordable option may be to hire a breast pump from your hospital. You’ll need to buy new parts to go with it (around $50). Ask your antenatal clinic if you’re interested in hiring a breast pump.

Formula Feeding

Formula feeding can be a significant cost in a baby’s first year. Some costs may include:

  • Formula
  • Bottles
  • Teats (the sizes change as bub grows)
  • Bottle cleaning brush and sterilising equipment

These tips below will help save you money on formula:

1. Use regular formula. Unless otherwise recommended by your paediatrician, Infant Feeding Guidelines recommend formula made from regular cow’s milk, which is cheaper than specialty formulas. Obviously, consult your doctor for individualised advice.

2. Use powdered formula in the can. Skip the pre-made formula or formula sachets. Powdered formula in large cans is the cheapest way to purchase it. There are minimum standards that all Australian infant formulas must meet, so cheaper brands are just as good as the expensive ones.

3. Buy on sale. Keep an eye out for deals and purchase extra when on sale. There are limits on how much formula you can buy in one shop, but you can buy two cans at once when it goes on sale, resulting in significant savings over the year.

4. Look beyond the grocery store. Baby formula isn’t just sold at the grocery store, so keep an eye out for sales at your local chemists and variety stores like Big W.

5. Skip the toddler milk. Toddler formula is expensive. The Infant Feeding Guidelines recommend regular milk rather than toddler formula after 12 months of age, except in the case of known allergies or if your paediatrician advises otherwise. Consult your doctor if you have any concerns.

 Tips for Saving Money on Bottle Feeding

  • Avoid the tiny newborn bottles and go straight for the big bottle fitted with the newborn, low-flow teat. You can mix small amounts of formula in the large bottles, and the bottles are large enough to grow with baby. Simply upgrade the teats as necessary.
  • Start with a few bottles and buy more as they go on sale.
  • Some people suggest trying a couple of brands to see which one baby prefers. If you want to do this, buy one or two different bottles before going ‘all in’ on a particular brand.
  • A microwave steriliser is inexpensive and saves a lot of time and hassle compared to boiling bottles. Check out Raising Kids for more information on sterilising bottles.
  • Make life easier by prepping several bottles ahead of time. Fill sterilised bottles with the correct amount of cooled, boiled water and store the sealed bottles in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Then add formula right before feeding and warm if desired. See more tips on preparing formula safely at Raising Kids Network.
  • The cheapest option for formula feeding when out and about is to take a bottle of cold, boiled water (keep it insulated) and the formula powder in a separate container and mix when needed. You don’t need to warm the bottle if your baby is happy to drink it cold. 

Solid Foods

Transitioning from milk to solids is an exciting step! First foods might include iron-fortified rice cereal or pureed meat.

Ways to save money on baby food include:

1. Make your own food. The best way to save money is to make your own rather than buy store-bought baby food. The simplest way to make baby food is by steaming plain vegetables when cooking your own dinner and finely mashing or pureeing them. For convenience, freeze mashed vegetables and fruits in individual portions. Ice cube trays are the perfect size for babies.

2. Serve small portions. To reduce food waste, give babies and toddlers small portions and give them extra if they are still hungry. Babies and toddlers have small stomachs and don’t eat as much as you might think. Three servings are better than one big serving that mostly gets smushed into their hair and thrown on the floor.

3. Use face washers rather than wipes. When cleaning up, save money and the environment by using flannel face washers rather than disposable wipes. Rinse them and throw them in the wash with the towels to clean.

4. Save on cutlery by keeping it minimal. When starting solids, one or two baby spoons (which you can buy on sale) and a regular bowl are all you need to get started. Once bub transitions to finger food, it’s worth using the highchair table as a plate – it will be one less thing that ends up on the floor.

5. Always carry snacks. When you go out, bring appropriate snacks and water. They can keep cranky toddlers happy and save you from making extra purchases. 

For more information on transitioning to solids, check out the Department of Health website.

Conclusion

When you’re expecting a baby, it’s easy to get carried away with all the available baby products. However, most of them are unnecessary, and you probably won’t use them at all or for very long.

To save money, focus on core baby needs: a safe environment, loving attention from caregivers, and the freedom to grow, move and explore safely. Fancy toys, contraptions and designer clothes are all expenses that can distract from these core needs. Instead, you can save your money for those expensive teenage years. 

Just kidding … sort of!

Baby Essentials Checklist

Here’s a downloadable checklist of items you may need for your baby’s first year.

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18 Comments

  1. Would like to add that when we were first time parents, we to said “never shall we pollute the landfills with disposables”, we have had to back down from this noble statement from time to time when disposables were the best option all round ie travelling, day long outings lifes to short to be carting dirty nappies around so have some around just incase.

    As for the breast feeding, purchased two bottles as a just in case option along with newborn formulat and sachets – were also able to hire a breast pump from the local chemists, they also stock the various other bits that you need – abit more pricey but one stop shopping.

    Regading the cot – please make sure that it is upto standard (choice website has what to look for from memory) and the paint is not leadbased – horror stories all round from friends who looked at second hand cots… also must buy a new mattress – the little blighters tend to leak abit and who would want their precious babe to sleep in anothers yuck….

    1. Ta for the advice. So much to learn! Yes, I could imagine times when we would need to use disposables, like travel.

      We came across a free cot the other day, but knocked it back. The wood in the base was mouldy, it looked about 50 years old so I was worried about the paint, and the vertical bars were little bits of dowel about head size width apart. Seemed too dodgy to go there, even for free.

  2. I strongly recommend you get a fairly new cot and a brand new mattress. Ikea has a good one. Fitted cot sheets are a life saver too, Accept any offers of a change table or set up a small table for this purpose. They do save a lot of strain on your back. You will be changing 8 or more nappies a day initially and that is a lot of bending over. Even though you are having a summer baby you will need some long sleeved tops and leggings for cool nights. Op shops are full of almost new baby clothes as they grow so quickly at first. A hat is also essential if you are using a sling. Socks are useful as their feet get cold. For gifts ask for muslin wraps, bibs, winter sleepers with feet, baby toys, wraps, face cloths, baby towels, baby bowls and soft spoons, some fitted nappies, and nappy covers. You will need the covers if you are using terry squares. Have some of the more environmentally friendly disposables on hand for when you go out or for emergencies. Cloth nappies dried on the line can be quite stiff and hard. You can put them in the dryer for a few minutes to soften them. I personally think a dryer is essential. We spent our first winter with our first baby with drying nappies draped around the heated living room.
    You will need some kind of bag to carry a couple of nappies and a change of clothes when you go out. I used an ordinary back pack.
    I am a baby wearer but you will eventually need a stroller as the baby gets too big to be carried all day.
    You do not need all the stuff you see in baby gear shops. Once you have the baby you will have a much better idea of what is essential and what is an unnecessary luxury.
    Jeanette

  3. We also use cloth nappies in our house. I fully intended to use them from birth but found with learning the skills of breast feeding, sleep deprivation and the sheer enormity of a newborn the cloth nappies were put on the back burner until we had a handle on things. I would recommend buying some disposables for those days when things are just too much! (I eased my conscience by buying bio-degradable – these are expensive so were an incentive to return to cloth.) As you are dabbling in sewing have you thought about running up a couple of modern cloth nappies yourself?

    Co-sleeping is an alternative to buying a cot straight away. It’s not for everyone, be aware of SIDS guidelines for safe sleeping. I wish I had co-slept earlier as I believe I would have got more sleep (it seems to go well with breast feeding).

    I have a friend who didn’t buy a cot and her baby slept in the bassinet of the pram for the first few months. The advantage of this was being wheeled from room to room. The baby also slept well when out in the pram as he was used to sleeping in it.

    I know you don’t intend on buying a pram/stroller straight away, but I would think carefully about it. We carried our son in a sling for the first few months. He put on weight very quickly and also got hot in the summer being against us – we had a pram with a bassinet so could alternate when he was getting heavy for us or if he was hot.

    For us, buying a good pram was invaluable. We walk a lot so we have got our monies worth. If you buy a second hand pram be very careful, they go through a lot and aren’t always treated with care no matter how clean and shiny they might look.

    We had a baby bath, but ended up using the bathroom sink for a while as it was much more convenient. We did use the baby bath for a while, but our little man grew so quick he was put in the ‘big bath’ quite soon or had showers with us.

    It sounds like you are being very organised and have most things covered. Jeanette’s suggestions pretty much covers most things. I would add buying a dummy. Even if you don’t intend on using it, it saved our sanity one colicky night. Also, an in the ear thermometer and some baby panadol are good to have around. You wont be able to use the panadol for a few months, but will be there when you do need it.

    I would just like to say I love your blog. I came across it by accident while researching some home made cleaning products – you’re are an inspiration!

    1. Thanks Rachel and Jeanette for the advice. It’s awesome to hear from you.

      I’m trying to balance practicality with reality – we have very, very limited funds. There are a few things that you have mentioned that I hadn’t even thought about, so they will go on the list. I realise I’m probably being overly idealistic, but hey, I think you have to at least aim high, then deal with reality when it hits. My conscience really suffers at the thought of disposable nappies, but they will probably be a sanity saver every now and then. I just keep telling myself that my mum and DH’s mum did it, so I should be able to too, right? Hmm…

      I’m glad you like the blog. Your’s is the first bit of feedback ever, so you have made my day! :)

  4. I know what you mean about our mother’s managing with cloth nappies, but sadly times have changed and things are different. I for one am living miles away from family so the ‘community’ which helped my mum and her sister’s raise their children doesn’t exist for us. ( I’m sure my mum would have used disposables given the opportunity!)

    I think the bottom line (in all aspects of parenthood) is you have to do what is right for you at the time.

    *blush* I’ve just noticed my spelling mistake on the previous post it should have been you’re not your!

  5. I LOVE my cloth nappies!!!!
    And my 6 week old baby loves them too!
    I bought mine from http://www.real-nappies.com.au. I got the birth to potty pack.
    I have been using them from day one with my little one and they are far easier to use than I thought they would be. I only have to wash them every other day and they clean up so well with the homemade laundry liquid I make with a little vinegar added to the rinse cycle. I do however use disposables if I am out (not very often) and I have had a few issues with them leaking which the cloth ones have not. A dryer comes in very handy on rainy days when using cloth.
    I still found I had plenty of time with a newborn to do all the washing, cooking and cleaning myself, unfortunately my husband had to go back to work the next day and I managed fine without any help, however it would have been good to have had someone to call on if I had needed any.
    I also use cloth wipes which I use with a solution I make myself.

    Ebay is a great place to buy baby clothes. They are mostly new or in near new condition and you can get them really cheap.

    The best thing I did was to have a baby shower! I got soooo many gifts that I hardly had to buy anything myself :)
    The things we use the most that we did have to buy would be our cloth nappies (of course), bassinet, car capsule, change table and bouncer. The things we still haven’t used are the pram, cot and baby monitor.

    1. Thanks Louise. Your comment is very encouraging. I checked out your link – looks like another awesome resource. What do you use instead of a pram? I’m still umming and arhing about a pram. Thinking a wrap will do but it’s so hot at the moment – its going to be even hotter in Feb / Mar QLD.

  6. We have just been using the capsule when we are out or just carrying her on her own. She is still only little and quite light to carry for now.
    I probably would have used one of those baby slings if I had got one. I think it would have come in handy when I was hanging the washing out or doing the house work so I still would of had two free arms.
    I dont think there is an escape from the heat no matter what sort of carrier you put bub in. I wouldnt want to be in any of them around this time of year!

    Thanks for your site, its great to find someone who is like-minded and giving an Australian perspective too:) SO hard to find sites that are in AUS dollars and use products that are available here.

    1. Ta, my friend said capsule too. The QLD Ambos hire these out and professionally fit them, which is great.

      I’m eventually going to get round to doing a blogroll and I’ve got a few other Aus blogs, but they are few compared to the thousands of American ones.

  7. Hi Melissa…don’t worry about buying bottles – new mums always worry about being able to breastfeed, and sometimes it can be hard and hurt at first but of course you will be able to do it! Also you shouldn’t really express for the first 6-8 weeks anyway until your milk supply establishes so I wouldn’t bother getting bottles or a pump until later if you need them. Also you can go on the avent website and request free samples – they will send you a bottle, dummy and breastpads. I never found I needed a dryer for my cloth nappies, that may be a disadvantage of the modern cloth nappies, maybe they take longer to dry? But you should be fine with the squares. I was suprised at how many maternity pads I needed after the birth – might be a good idea to start stocking up on some. And breast pads were great for leaking milk for the first 6-8 weeks or so. Disposable ones at first – as soon as I ran out of free samples from my bounty bag I bought cloth ones which worked ok. Muslin wraps are useful – to wrap baby, cover them in the sun, baby vomit, discreet breastfeeding etc. I didnt use a change table, just a wipeable mat on the floor I got from big w – great cause could have it in loungeroom during day and take it up to bedroom at night. A torch or night light for breastfeeding/changing baby at night is essential. Stock up on some soft washclothes or even chux (washable) to use as wipes. We had a baby bath but never used it – laundry sink then into big bath worked well for us. Hope this helps! Goodluck and congratulations :)

    1. Hi Alice, thanks for the encouragement. It’s great to hear from women who have already been there. I was just thinking yesterday about a nightlight for night time breastfeeding. I’ve seen wipeable mats you mentioned in Kmart as well and thought they would also be good to carry around also, because they fold up pretty small. Changing bub on the floor seems so much easier – my chiropractic friend has been having kittens at the thought though :).

  8. Buy clothes from ebay – but buy them in bulk lots, not individually, postage costs really stack on the price!

    I’m on terry flats -100% of the time, just carry some plastic bags to store your used ones in to take home. Knit your own soakers, or get wool jumpers from op-shop, shrink them and sew soakers that way. Or big w have cheap pilchers.
    Also if you end up with bucket-loads of bunny rugs, use some for flannel nappies too.

    You can get any old bucket with lid, don’t get sucked into the special nappy bucket idea, but get several, so you can get a whole washload built up. I have 2 buckets, 3 would be better for me but I don’t have the room in the bathroom.
    And I have about 60-80 flats too, so I can get through a few days and let them build up. I also bought all my flats from op-shops, nothing a good washing can’t kill!

    Yes get bottles, can hire pumps from hospitals if need be.

    We co-sleep, have a wicker bassinette from ebay only 30 bucks, and a cot from ebay only 10bucks with waterproof mattress.

    We did waste a bit of money on a safe-and-secure sleeper but it’ll make a nice present for someone one day I guess!

    If you get a pram think about the future. I got a pram before we had bubs, and thought the rubber platform on the front was a toddler seat, but it’s just a footrest! And ours the seat lies flat, so the bassinette isn’t really necessary either. We’re selling that now, and have just picked up from layby the strider plus, which accomodates 2 kids.

    If you are really hard-up, go to Salvo’s and Anglicare, and St Vincents, they will all help you with necessary baby items and also give you vouchers for their stores so you can buy clothing for free. My sis in law got brand new cot that way, and we’re getting a new car seat that way. Don’t be embarrassed, that’s what they were set up for, helping people who need it. If you get a car seat, get the convertible ones, capsules are waste of money as only usuable for 6 months, if that.

    Laundry trough for baby bath, or take in the shower with you.

    Make your own baby wipes, and use chamomile tea (cooled) or sorbolene with water for keeping them moist.

    Save on buying a nightlight, put a low watt bulb in the normal light, we have a 15w in the bathroom over the change table and it’s fine. Sleep with just the normal bedside lamp on too, same again, low watt bulb.

  9. Melissa, another handy item from when we brought home baby was a wireless doorbell – sounds abit quirky but it helped tremendously when doing the night time feeds, sick baby etc to be able to bingbong DH from the lounge or where ever I happened to be sitting if I needed help – we had it it place until our boy was about 2yrs old. We kept the noisy bingbong bit in the bedroom (in a drawer so not to completly freak DH out by the noise) and had the button part next to the cot , easy to pick up both baby and button unit at the same time. We certainly don’t have a big house, but trying to wake a sleeping adult and not a dozing baby by shouting is impossible.

  10. we were given a bath at our baby shower but when we go holidaying (and its too much to take it) we just use a sink to bathe bubs or if its just an overnighter we top and tail her…

  11. Hi Jackie, thanks for leaving a comment. Our bath got short use. We just use the normal bath now and lay him down in an inch or so of water. Now we have to work out what to do with the bath. :)