It’s a primal instinct to want to be fully prepared for baby’s arrival. It’s only natural to want the best of the best for our offspring. But the nesting urge (or perhaps it’s really a spending urge) is stronger in some of us than others, and in this day and age it can be hard not to make an instant association between a bundle of joy and a bundle of cash. Magazines full of designer nurseries set the bar high, and it can be tempting to want everything baby touches to be as brand spanking new as they are. But it’s really important to take a step back and consider how fast babies grow, ie, how quickly your baby gear will become redundant. It’s also important to consider your baby’s perspective. YOU will be their world. Your care and attention is all they’ll care about – not the latest products. Ultimately babies simply need to be warm and fed and dry. So, if you’re trying to budget for a baby, but you’re still tempted to keep pulling out your wallet, it’s well worth asking yourself a few hard questions, and directing your spending towards functionality over form. You’ll be so glad you did.
Is this something baby needs, or just something that you want baby to have? Sometimes we just have to ask ourselves the grown-up questions: Is this a nicety or a necessity? Is this actually in the budget? There are easy-to-use online calculators that will give you a feel for approximate child-related costs, based on the spending of New Zealand parents.
Can you buy it second hand, borrow it, or find an alternative? TradeMe has baby gear covered. And you’ll be surprised what friends and families are already harbouring when your needs come to light. Often families with older kids are so relieved to find a happy home for their baby gear they’re more interested having it picked up and taken away than receiving any cash. Babies quickly grow out of baby capsules, so they’re something you may be able to borrow off a friend before they need it back in time for their next one. They’re also something a lot of couples hire – but do the maths to ensure it’s not actually cheaper to buy one in the long run! A change table is a good example of something you can find an alternative for. Up-cycling a chest of drawers is a popular practice. Simply buy a new padded change mat for the top, and voila! The top drawer conveniently functions as storage for creams, wipes, and nappies. Just make sure it’s at a good height for your back, as you’ll be spending more time there than you think.
Is this love or infatuation? How often do we decide that something is the best thing since sliced bread – even worth blowing the budget for – and later find that there were actually wiser, more down-to-earth options that offered us everything we need. Have a cooling period, where you wait two weeks after ‘falling in love’ with a product before making a decision. Use this time to do a little more research. Check the results of the latest OHbaby! Awards to see if the product is ranked well by thousands of New Zealand parents, and for some practical advice and honest feedback have a flick through the OHbaby! product reviews.
If you’re planning to have more than one child, will you be able to use this product second time around? For example is it gender neutral? If you’re spending a lot of money on a buggy it’s worth considering whether you can just add an attachment for a subsequent child, or whether you’ll have to buy another buggy for B2. It’s also worth considering whether products have the capacity to grow with your child. For example there are many cots on the market that can convert into toddler-sized beds.
Can you buy it later? One way of going easy on your bank balance is to space out your purchases. There are plenty of baby products that can be waylaid – breast pumps, highchairs, baby bouncers, Jolly Jumpers, exersaucers ... You can even put off the purchase of a buggy if necessary, making do with Snap-and-Go wheels for your car capsule, or a front pack.