Preparation For A Frugal Baby

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save money when having a baby

We’ve still got about three months left, but I’ve started preparing now for our first newborn bub. Here are a list of things that I’m doing to prepare, if you have any other advice, it would be much appreciated. The aim is to be as organised as possible so that things at home still flow as smoothly as possible after bub is born, and we’re not  spending extra money that we don’t have on things like takeaway because I wasn’t organised.

Purchase of Essential Baby Goods

My instinct is that you don’t need to buy a lot of stuff for a newborn baby. We are going to get:

A Cot – We sold an old TV for $100 so that’s our budget for a second hand cot. Even a cot, some people would argue is non-essential because if you’re into attachment parenting you can co-sleep or alternatively put bub in a drawer. But we would prefer a cot. I have some old sheets that I’ll cut up and resew as cot sheets and as I’m a quilter, I’ll splurge and make my own cute-as-pie cot quilt.

Cloth nappies – I’m in love with the modern nappies but I know that they are way out of our budget so I’ll probably end up buying the old terry towelling nappies and maybe making some pre-folds. I read that using cloth nappies can save you around $10,000 a child. Apart from the whole landfill issue, I don’t know how people even afford disposable.

Car seat – This is fairly essential I think. We are lucky here as the QLD Ambulance service actually hires baby capsules and car seats for $65 for 6 months and fits them for you to ensure that they meet safety standards.

Baby carrier – I’m going to go for a sling or wrap rather than a stroller. If I decide I really want a stroller instead, I’ll get one second hand after bub is born. When I imagine doing things like navigating supermarkets, I just think a wrap or sling makes so much more sense than a pram.

Clothes – Actually, I’m not going to buy any clothes. Mum bought some singlets and as I’m due in Feb at the hottest, muggiest time of the year, I really don’t think I’m going to need much more for a while. And there is also MIL wanting to buy stuff so I’ll leave clothes up to the nannas.

Bucket – As I’ll be using cloth nappies, I think that a bucket with a lid will be well used.

Do I need anything else? I’m going off the advice of parents who have done this before. Do I need a bath? I figure a wet flannel or the hand basin or a small plastic basin will do. Change table will be the floor or a towel on the bed, maybe a bit of vinyl tablecloth. Bottles, pumps and other paraphernalia? My instinct says no, particularly as we plan to breastfeed. But what if I can’t? Should I buy one bottle just in case?

What are some baby things that you think are essential?

Organising the House

De-cluttering – We’re making room for the new addition by getting rid of stuff that’s cluttering up the house. As I’ve mentioned, some things we’ve been able to sell, which has given us some extra income to buy baby stuff. Otherwise the rest is going to charity.

Cleaning – We’ve been in this house for 2 1/2 years and the curtains desperately need a wash. And the bedding. And the cupboards need cleaning out. I figure what better time than now.

Stocking the Freezer – I’ve begun doing some bulk cooking and stocking the freezer with pre-made meals. I figure that even if I’m exhausted, I can still pull out a container of something to reheat, and we will still be eating healthy, home cooked, tasty, inexpensive food. I’m freezing stews, stocks, savoury mince and curries in portion sizes for later.

What things would you do or get to get organised for a new family member?


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  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.

  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 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. :)