How to spend just £100 (*or thereabouts) on your newborn.
What? Is this even possible??
When I was pregnant with my first son, a male boss (who works in the finance department – you’ll see the relevance in a minute) told me that I shouldn’t spend more than £100 on baby goods.
Of course I chuckled politely – he was a boss, remember – but in my head I was laughing hysterically.
£100!! Oh, hahahaha HAHAHA. What century was this man living in? Most good travel systems are about five times that price and that’s just for starters.
Then there’s the Moses basket, cot, monitor, bath thermometer, room thermometer, Gro Bags, large muslins, small muslins, nappy bag……
After having our second boy – and with our money belts on the tightest notch – I started wondering whether it was actually possible to get the basics for baby on such a small budget.
So here goes
(* this doesn’t include nappies as that’s an ongoing purchase or formula as not every mum uses it.)
To make this a fair challenge, I haven’t included any borrowing from friends. If you’re really lucky, you might be able to borrow your whole nursery from friends and family but you might not be in this position so for this hypothetical challenge, I’ve decided to count lending out.
All my “purchases” are from local second hand forums and eBay. Prices correct at time of publishing.
“Don’t bother” items. These are the ones we’ve all bought but strictly speaking you don’t really need.
– Bath thermometer (our mums used their elbows, if it was good enough for them…)
– Room thermometer – keep check on your little ones temperature by checking their chest. Plus you’ll probably get given a free basic one by a midwife/health visitor/in Bounty pack
– Monitor. Ooh tricky one but if we’re going to be tied to such a strict budget then we’ll just have to keep the telly volume down and our ears pricked. (* My first monitor was only a tenner from a Nearly New Sale)
– Nappy bin. Use an ordinary pedal bin or swing top and nappy bags or old carrier/charity/freezer bags
– Nappy bag. Ahhh, this is problematic. One of the best things about late pregnancy is swooning over the lovely nappy bags on offer with all their useful compartments, then filling it and organising so it’s just so…. Only for it to be in complete disarray within days of the baby coming along. BUT, strictly speaking, it’s a luxury. Pretty sure you’ve got a backpack or a large handbag in your wardrobe that would do, even if it doesn’t have as many compartments as you might like.
– Bouncy chair. Um, well, this is very useful for being able to put a newborn down. This is getting hard now but it’s not an essential.
– Baby bath. Use the sink when they’re small enough to fit in it, then the big bath and simply hold them up. I used to lie the boys down in the big bath from about 2 months old, in shallow water that just reached their ears and they loved the freedom of wriggling around and kicking their legs.
– changing mat. Use an old towel on the bed or the floor.
Ok so, the main issue here is going to be the car seat as that’s an essential and the most popular brands (like Maxi Cosi Pebble) are going to take up more than your £100 budget.
To complicate matters, car seat manufacturers don’t recommend buying second hand as you can’t be sure if it’s been in an accident or suffered any internal damage which may affect its safety.
So, what to do?
Well, this one from Mothercare is currently on offer for just £45. It’s suitable from birth and goes rear facing and forward facing up to 18kg (about 4 years old) so not only is it a bargain but it will last you too.
That leaves us with just £55 for the rest. EEK!
But don’t panic. Newborns don’t really need that much stuff at all. Somewhere to sleep, some way of travelling, something to wear and you’re pretty much there.
I found this second hand Mamas & Papas Swirl pushchair on eBay in blue, including a footmuff, for £27.50, plus £8.75 postage. It’s suitable from birth but for that price, you’ve got to compromise – you can’t put a car seat on it and it doesn’t allow rear facing but it’ll last a long time. That’s £36.25, which takes us up to £91.25
And we still need somewhere for baby to sleep….. If only we lived in Scandinavia where new mums get given a cardboard box full of stuff for newborns, and parents can use the box for baby to sleep in for the first few weeks.
I could cop out and suggest safe co-sleeping, but let’s plough on.
Over on Freecycle, I found a cot in need of a good home. Yes it’s typical to put your tiny tot in a Moses basket or at least a crib, but there’s no reason they can’t go into a big cot – they might just look and feel a bit lost in there. Rolled up blankets or towels will make them feel more secure in such a big space.
It does however pose the problem of a mattress as it’s the freebie cot doesn’t come with one and it’s recommended you have a new one for each baby anyway.
The cheapest I could find was a foam one from Ikea for £15. (Personally, I chose spring mattresses for my little ones as I feel they’re more supportive but this is hypothetical …. and extreme!)
Plus: The Basics
And we still need some clothes. For the benefit of this challenge, I would say to buy no more than 5 vests and 5 sleepsuits plus snowsuit/coat depending on season, as that would be enough to get by for a few weeks, even though you would be doing a lot of washing, and the chances are that you’ll get given loads of stuff by wellwishers anyway. You can probably get the lot from a charity shop or nearly new sale for a few quid. Spend no more than £10 on these.
Try Asda or Tesco for a pack of two fitted cot sheets for £7 and a sleeping bag for £12. (Maybe put another sleeping bag on your wishlist from friends and family otherwise there will be a lot of washing).
Total for basics = £29
TOTAL = £135.25
If you can be absolutely sure of the history of a car seat – maybe by buying from a friend, or friend of a friend, or someone trusted on a local forum then you can look at second hand, which makes this a lot easier to stick to budget.
I found this Mamas & Papas travel system – including car seat and isofix base, plus rearward and forward facing options on the pram for just £50 on a local forum. Bargain!
I found a beautiful crib on eBay for local pick up, 20 mins drive from where I live, for just £15. Again we need a mattress. A foam Obaby one for £10 will be just fine.
Now we’ve spent £75 on giving junior somewhere to sleep, a way of travelling round and a car seat.
Add in the Basics for £29.
TOTAL = £104
This Nania car seat, suitable from birth, from Asda is £42.50.
Then maybe just forget about the whole traditional pram/pushchair dilemma and opt for baby wearing for the first few months instead. Taking your baby by sling is good for him/her as they feel secure next to you, and you won’t have to clog up part of your house with a big travel system, so it’s win win.
Join your local sling library and you’ll be able to hire a sling of your choice for a few pounds for a couple of weeks. At my local library, you can hire a sling for £5 for two weeks. So let’s say this challenge is to kit your baby out for the first two months, that’s £20.
Total so far: £62.50
I found a second hand Cosatto wooden crib, like this one, for £15 on a local forum. I think a crib is a more cost effective choice for a newborn as they grow out of a Moses basket so quickly. A crib can last six months if you’re lucky. Again we’ll need the £10 mattress.
Plus The Basics for £29.
Total = £101.50
WOOHOO!! We did it. Okay, we scrubbed a lot off the usual “must have” list but in reality a lot of those current “must haves” aren’t really so essential. And our baby will be wearing the same limited wardrobe for his/her first few weeks (until kind-hearted friends and family step in with their gifts). There’s going to be a lot of washing involved for their clothes and bedding, but the baby will be fine. It will be clothed, housed, have some means of travelling about and really that’s all you need.
Of course, like any expectant mum, I did indulge in such luxuries as a nappy bin and a couple of sleeping bags and I’m glad I didn’t have to stick to such a rigid budget … but I am surprised to see how much you really can keep costs down if you really want to.
Perhaps my boss had a point after all….