Planning for a New Baby: What Products Should You Spend Money On?
Tips For Moms on When To Skimp and When To Splurge for Your New Baby from expert Sandra Gordon
In today’s economy, parents may be concerned about all the costs of products related to having a new baby. I had the opportunity to interview expert Sandra Gordon recently, author of Consumer Reports Best Baby Products. After reading Shannon Harlow’s article in our November issue about all the new baby gear for 2012, it was great to have this follow up chat with Gordon about when to splurge and when to skimp. She has some great tips to share with moms and dads who thinking about having a baby or who are already pregnant and in the “Oh, no, what do I really need?” stage.
I remember being completely overwhelmed as a first-time mom by the quantity and difference in quality among products on the market. My cousin, who already had two boys, was a godsend! She walked me through the aisles of Babies R’ Us and helped me determine what to add to my registry, what I definitely needed and what I could live without. That was 12 years ago! Products, options and recommendations have changed dramatically in that time. I have never seen so many fancy strollers and my crib had a drop-down side, which has since been recalled. That being said, I am so glad to be able to share Sandra’s tips with you so that you can navigate the aisles of Babies R’Us or Pottery Barn with ease!
Here are a few statistics for you on the real cost of raising a child (this does not include college!) Babies are expensive and a big concern among moms, especially in this economy, is not having enough money to buy all the things they need for baby. According to the “Shopping Rituals” report by BabyCenter.com :
The average cost of raising a child: $250,000
The average cost for 1st year of baby’s life: $10,000
The cost of all the items listed on the typical baby registry: $950
When the recession is completely over, 83% of Mom’s do NOT think they will return to their previous spending patterns
According to Sandra Gordon, here’s where you should SAVE:
• Start with the basics. Check out store brands, especially when it comes to things like infant formula. She said that if you read the nutritional information, there is no difference between big name brands and generic brands. Formula is highly regulated by the government. You can save up to 50% by buying generic. Put formula on your registry, along with other items you are going to need and use right away.
•Host a clothes swap: You’ll want a splurge on a nice outfit to bring baby home in, but otherwise, embrace hand-me-downs! I thought this was such a fun idea. Gather your other Mommy friends and host a clothes swap. Everyone brings their gently used clothes and trades for what they need. She said to pay careful attention to the clothes and make sure they are in good condition. Watch for loose threads, buttons, etc.
•Don’t get hoodwinked into buying an expensive crib/bumper/comforter set: It may sound nice to have a beautiful, coordinated nursery set, but all you really need is a crib sheet. According to Sandra, this is not just a money-saving tip, but a safety one as well, bare is best. You don’t want extra piles of sheets and blankets or a bumper. Plus, remember that you will be changing sheets often! You are better off to have several inexpensive sheets. A good crib sheet retails for around $11.00
And here is where you should SPLURGE:
• Don’t buy a used car seat: It might seem like a nice deal to buy a car seat off craigslist or at a garage sale, but you don’t know where it’s been. If it’s ever been in an accident, the integrity is gone. There have been many recalls on these products, too, that you need to be aware of. Safety standards on car seats and cribs change often. Recalled products may linger in the second-hand market because people don’t know about the recalls.
•Buy a safe, reliable crib: A hand-me-down crib might seem like a nice option, but there have been so many recalls. With the danger of drop-side cribs especially, a new crib is money well-spent. Make sure the crib is put together correctly, ask for help to ensure this.
• Buy a nice stroller: This is a big purchase, and should be thought through carefully. Visualize how you are going to use it and what features are most important you – it will save you from purchasing multiple strollers. Start with a Snap-n-Go frame that fits your infant car seat so that you can buy yourself some time and really decide what kind of stroller will work best for you. The stroller is something you will use for four to five years. Ask yourself: how do I want to use the stroller? Do you need something compact, lightweight, great wheels, a jogging stroller? You can get a great stroller for $200-$250 dollars, you don’t have to spend a fortune.
Sandra Gordon also shared a great website for information on recalls: www.Recalls.gov. You can sign up for their email list and easily keep track of recalls.
Tips on buying clothes for your own baby or for a gift:
Don’t put clothes on your registry list, you will receive quite a few for gifts anyway.
Always buy up in size, double the age of your child. So if the child is 3 months, buy clothes for a 6 month old.
If you are going to use a resale shop to either sell or buy items, focus on clothes. Sandra Gordon says other items are just too risky to buy used.
Sandra Gordon is the author of the 8th, 9th and 10th editions of Consumer Reports Best Baby Products and the baby products blog www.babyproductsmom.com. Besides baby products, Sandra also writes about parenting, health, and nutrition.