What you learn quickly as a new parent, is that your baby always seems to need something, and that something is usually expensive. I hadn’t even finished maternity leave before L had graduated from her swing to her play mat. I blinked and she had outgrown the play mat and has moved on to her jumper. Mere weeks after purchasing her Bumbo, we could barely fit her chubby little legs in it anymore. Could you get away without all the “stuff”? Sure. But for those of us who don’t always have an extra set of hands around, you need something to keep the baby entertained (and in one place) so you can shower, make something to eat, etc (you know, take care of yourself as well as your little one).
If you’re lucky, you’ll get a lot of the stuff you need from friends and family at showers, or even as hand-me-downs from other moms you know (we scored big with hand-me-downs from friends), but there will inevitably be gaps, and if you’re not looking to go bankrupt (assuming the cost of daycare hasn’t done that already), it will take a little time and creativity, but you can get what you need for much, much cheaper.
Here’s a little feedback from my experience bargain baby shopping.
Craigslist can go either way. We had issues finding a glider because we had something super specific in mind (it had to recline, it had to have an ottoman, and it had to have high quality padding that would be comfy and last a while), and after realizing we could NOT afford what we wanted if we purchased a brand new glider, we spent weeks scouring Craigslist. We viewed a LOT of very old, very ugly gliders, but eventually found a really nice one that was exactly what we wanted for 1/5 of the price of the new ones we had looked at. If you’re going to shop Craigslist, I’ve found that it requires diligence, patience, and it’s best if you only search for things that have a picture (taken by the seller, not a manufacturer pic pulled off the internet). Oh, and schedule pick-up for a time your hubby can come with you- just in case.
We also found a jumper on Craigslist. This was a bit easier to come by. The woman we purchased it from said her son had only been in it a handful of times because he didn’t like it. So it was practically new and we got it for less than half of what we would have paid new. Score! The best news of all is that L loves it!
Children’s consignment stores and sales are also a great place to look. Sometimes it’s hard to find what you need if you’re looking for something specific, but we have popped in a few times and found some really good stuff- a wipes warmer, a Baby Bjorn (this was especially nice because it gave us the opportunity to try it on, with the baby, before we bought it), a bouncy seat, etc. The nice thing about consignment stores is that most of them are pretty picky about what they’ll take, so you shouldn’t have to worry about getting something that’s damaged or doesn’t work.
Never underestimate the power of social media. One of my friends had remained Facebook friends with a previous business contact, so when he posted custom, handmade nursery furniture on his Facebook page, she sent the link to me because she knew we were looking. We scored big with this one because we got totally unique, well-made, custom nursery furniture for less than what we were going to pay for a brand new crib by itself. Let your friends know if you’re looking for something specific (but don’t be that girl and clutter people’s news feeds with super annoying “I need this!” posts).
And speaking of Social Media… another option would be to join or create a Buy/Sell/Swap Facebook group specifically for your community. You can get some really good deals on otherwise expensive baby gear in a less scary format than Craigslist, because there is usually a moderator for the group who controls who can join. I was lucky because someone recently created one for my community and I posted a few “ISO” (in search of) posts and had multiple responses that same day, and was able to acquire a Bumbo, shopping cart cover, and play mat for less than half of what I would have paid new. Most of my transactions were porch pick-ups where the seller left the items in a bag on the porch and I left money under the mat, which is easier (and less intimidating) than meeting someone at a specific place and time.
Also, a lot of small online shops and businesses will post giveaways on social media. Look for friends to post things in their newsfeed or follow businesses you like. Using a promotion code, I got a sling carrier and a nursing pillow (basically a Boppy knock off) for only the cost of shipping. This meant we had an extra nursing pillow to keep upstairs and it wasn’t a great loss when I tried the sling and hated it (my giant milk makers were too big and got in the way, and I never felt like she was secure enough in it).
So, there you have it. Buying baby stuff can be overwhelming, but a little creativity and patience will make things easier on your bank account!