Do you have a Boppy? The newest bassinet? The most effective swaddle? The pacifier that beats all other pacifiers? Do you? Do YOU? DO YOU!?
In the Western world we are CONSTANTLY being told that what we have is outdated or not as effective as the newest greatest whatever. This can be REALLY hard to handle as a first time mama on a budget.
I would know. When we got pregnant with our first baby, I was a waitress, my husband was a line cook and we were both going to school full time. It took months to create a registry because I was so overwhelmed.
All of us want the best for our kids- but what do we do when we can’t afford “the best” of this and that? Does that mean we’re not good parents? That our kids won’t be as capable or successful? Are we holding them back? What are the long term effects and is it all my fault?
A thought that brought me a lot of peace was that for thousands and thousands of years, what we have access to now did not exist. Einstein, Charles Dickens, Harriet Tubman, Michelangelo, Jane Austen, Amelia Eirheart, Bach, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Jesus– NONE of their parents had access to all that we do. Our children are not limited by our possessions or materialism. Regardless of what we have, they have the potential to change the world, and cultivating that belief in them is much more valuable than anything we could order from Amazon.
That being said, of course there are many items that exist to make our lives & our baby’s more stimulating, educational, enjoyable, safe, convenient, practical-etc, and there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of past parents experience & ingenuity.
Here are some practical budget friendly tips to keep in mind!
- You do not need to buy toys! Remember, EVERYTHING looks like a new toy to an infant. Depending on how old your baby is they can be entertained by a cup, a water bottle, a balloon, a spatula, grass, your foot, ice cubes, water– the list goes on! Just make sure whatever item they are playing with is age appropriate, safe (not a choking hazard or sharp) and always supervise their playtime. Babies don’t play much with toys, they play with PEOPLE who are holding toys. Your interaction with your baby is the most important part of playtime.
- Also, second hand plastic toys can easily be sanitized and are found in almost any thrift store- but stay away from stuffed animals.
- There are FREE playgrounds, splash pads, nature trails, and city sponsored activities EVERYWHERE! This is one of the main reasons I started this blog to help get the word out so we can all take advantage! Follow your cities Facebook Page & search Facebook Events to find a plethora of free fun events!
- People are always giving away clothes! 80% of the clothes we have came from other mamas in the area. Most cities have a “free page” or “give away” facebook page, so just search facebook and join one. I guarantee someone will post a picture of a huge garbage bag full of clothes and ask if anyone wants it before they go to Goodwill.
- Another great place to find clothes cheap is Once Upon A Child. SO many clothes sold there are brand new because kids grow so quickly that they often don’t even get to wear half their wardrobe! This store also BUYS back gently used & new clothes, so take care of them and just sell them back when you’re done! Double bonus! There are SIX stores in the ORLANDO area (Oviedo, Altamonte Springs, East Orlando, Orlando, Florida Mall, Ocoee). LINK: Find Once Upon A Child Near You
- Many insurances provide a free beast pump these days. You can either apply for one yourself, or if you don’t qualify you can search for one online from one of the moms that did. Because so many women get one for free, a lot of them don’t end up even using it and aren’t allowed to resell it. Even if they could sell it, most moms who receive something for free give it away for free to another mom. The motherhood communities in general I’ve found to be very generous and wanting to help one another.
PACK n PLAY
- Rather than getting a bassinet or a crib, we used a pack n play with a bassinet attachment the first couple months. This was a more economic option because the pack n play can continually be used as a portable safe play space for your baby when they outgrow it as a sleeping space. It is also another one of those items that families are constantly giving away for free (often in new condition). Eventually you will need a crib (often the transition is around 6m old, but depends on the baby) and can find a crib second hand on FB marketplace usually. This is the exact one we have had for 2 years, and 2 kids later it’s sill like new. Graco blue pack n play
DRESSER vs CHANGING TABLE
- Rather than purchasing a changing table, we just used a dresser that was wide enough to comfortably fit a changing pad on top, organize diapers, wipes, diaper creams, lotions- etc. This is not only more economic but a huge space saver since you can store all of baby’s clothes in the dresser too! You can either use a dresser you already have, find one second hand or at a furniture outlet store. We found our perfect dresser at IKEA. LINK: https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/malm-6-drawer-dresser-black-brown-70360466/
DIAPERS & WIPES
- A great way to get diapers & wipes is by having a “Diaper Raffle & Wipe Raffle” at your baby shower. It is explained on the Baby Shower Invitation that anyone who brings a box of diapers or bag of wipes will be entered into a raffle to receive a gift. Then at the shower the diapers and wipes are collected, and everyone who brought them gets a raffle ticket. Towards the end of the shower a name is drawn and that person gets the gift and you have hopefully a mountain of diapers & wipes! It’s fun, its exciting and I cannot express how helpful it is financially. I usually do two different raffles, one for the diapers and one for the wipes- but do however you feel! I recommend asking for diapers in size Newborn, Size 1, Size 2, or Size 3. If your baby grows out of a size, you can exchange unopened boxes for the correct size at most stores!
CHOSE COLORS THOUGHTFULLY
- If you are considering having more than one kid, you may want to consider getting “gender neutral colors”, for big ticket items. That is purely preference! Personally it’s not a big deal. We had a girl first and almost everything ended up being pink and purple. Then we had a boy and it felt silly to not use items I already had because of the color- but it was a little annoying to constantly correct people when they thought he was a girl because our baby carrier is purple… I didn’t care enough to buy a new baby carrier but in hindsight I wish I purchased more tans, blacks, red, yellow, green, blue- etc. The Baby swing, bathtub, pack n play, play mat, baby bouncer, baby carrier, baby sling, baby swaddles, baby clothes, & baby bibs are items you’ll use for multiple kids. It’s a small detail but it could end up saving you lots of money.
DON’T PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET.
- Classic mistake. Things are often cheaper buying in bulk- but resist the urge UNTIL you’ve tried it on your baby first. No baby is the same. It’s crazy that the tiniest newborn already has strong preferences. Often a baby will only take a specific type of bottle, pacifier, diaper, wipe, wear a certain type of outfit- it’s best to have a few different options and figure out what works best for your baby before going ALL IN on a brand that ends up giving them a rash or uncomfortable. Babies will let you know real quick and real loud if something isn’t working for them, and if you have multiples- what worked for the first is not guaranteed for the second! Give them grace and don’t be upset, they’re not intentionally trying to be difficult. It’s a big strange world and anything to make the transition smoother & more comfortable will help you both adjust.
Items Easy to find Second Hand
- Baby monitor, Owlet Sock, White Noise Machine, Rocking Chair, Blackout curtains, Swaddles, Hats, Socks, Stroller, Baby Carrier, Baby hangers, Books, Plastic Toys, Bouncer, Play mat, & Shoes.
Items I would NOT suggest getting second hand unless NEW or like new (for sanitary reasons).
- Diapers, Wipes, Any type of Medicine, stuffed animals, car seat, changing mat, diaper pail, blankets, and any cloth toys.
All these products sure make life easier but generally speaking the most essential things YOUR baby needs are the same all over the world throughout history;
The love of their parents + A safe space to sleep & play + Fresh air + Sunshine + Milk + Positive Human Interaction + Cuddles + Naps = Which means mamas in the middle of the jungle can raise a healthy strong human, and so can you. You’ve got this mama, you are enough for your baby to live a very loved life.
The monetary value of all your valuables has zero impact
on your most precious treasure, your sweet babe.
I hope this post gives you the peace your mama heart needs & some practical tips to help save some serious cash.
What are YOUR budget friendly tips for a FTM? Share below!