Penny Wise: Baby basics – to buy or borrow?

Sunday, 23 March 2008

A new baby means a lot of new stuff ñ diapers, bibs, baby food, strollers, toys and high chairs, just to name a few. Itís estimated that a new baby costs about $6,000, in the first year alone! Of course, you want to buy the very best you can afford to protect your most prized possession.

But what about buying for a friend’s child when you don’t have one of your own? We all have to attend a baby shower at some time or another, but how do you know what to buy when the closest you come to an infant is during your morning jog past the neighborhood daycare?

Parent or not, navigating your way through all the choices in the baby aisle is a challenge. Allow us to guide you through the maze of baby and kid stuff.

Baby Supplies

The first place to start is the gift registry at your local department store or kids’ store. Why buy when you can receive? Trust us – when you have a baby, everyone will want to give you something. So why not ensure that you get things you want and really need?

Whether you’re registering or making the purchase yourself, there are a few major items you’ll need before your bambino arrives. These include things like car seats, strollers, cribs, baby carriers and high chairs.

But before you go on a spending spree, ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I really need it?
Sure, a fancy changing table would be a nice addition to the baby room. But you can easily change the baby on the top of an appropriate dresser or on a changing pad that’s placed on the floor or on a bed or couch.

2. Can I borrow it?
Babies grow out of their clothes within three months. Most of the stuff you buy for your newborn will be in the garage collecting dust within three years (unless, of course, you have another baby!). All this means it’s an excellent time to put some thrifty measures into place.

Any experienced parent will tell you that it’s a good idea to borrow many essential items, particularly things like baby carriers and clothes. In fact, most of the mothers we’ve interviewed say they’re always exchanging baby and kid’s stuff with their friends and siblings who have children older and younger than their own.

3. Can we buy it second-hand?
While it is a great idea to shop for some baby and children’s things second hand, there are some items that prove the exception, or at least require an extremely detailed once-over, before you part with your money.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission discourages the use of used cribs and used car seats. But that’s not to say you can’t find safe products at a consignment store or through friends.

Look for the certification seal of the Junior Products Manufacturers Association on all such products to ensure they meet national safety standards. Regulatory standards vary from country to country and, in some places, the rules may not be as strict as in the U.S. So think twice before buying imported baby furniture, new or used.

So whether you’re toy shopping or stocking up on baby food, check out our tips in our Kid Stuff section to help you get the most for your shopping dollar.

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