Kids are expensive little creatures. From the moment that they are born, they need stuff. Cots and car seats, feeding chairs and strollers – it never seems to end.
Many parents try to keep the costs down by purchasing used items or borrowing children’s equipment from friends or family members.
These can be effective ways to get all that kids need without breaking the budget, as long as parents keep a few things in mind.
The glossy parenting magazines would make it seem that babies and young children need an enormous amount of equipment, but there are really only a few pieces that are mandatory.
Car seats are required for transporting babies and children, and they must meet the standards set for safety.
Additionally, cots that meet current safety requirements are must-haves, and most parents would be lost without a feeding chair and a good quality stroller.
Those four pieces meet the needs of most babies and new parents, but there are certainly other items that can make those first months and years more convenient.
Changing tables, baby bathtubs, bouncers, walkers, and activity centres can come in handy, but most parents wouldn’t consider them to be necessary.
Keeping Kids Safe
The most important aspect of choosing baby equipment isn’t how cute it is (although much of it is adorable!), but how safe it is.
Parents should check to be sure that used or hand-me-down items have not been the subject of manufacturer’s recalls; a quick internet search will provide lists of recalled items so that parents can compare model numbers to be sure that their children’s products are safe.
Additionally, safety standards for items like cots and car seats have become more rigid over the past years, so parents need to exercise caution to be sure that their children are not at risk by using items that fall short of current safety standards.
Finally, older items may have lead based paint, proven to be highly dangerous for children. Lead testing kits are inexpensive and readily available, though, and testing for the presence of lead based paint is a simple procedure.
New and Affordable
While borrowing baby and children’s equipment is surely the most budget-friendly option, many retailers carry perfectly safe (and still cute!) merchandise for babies, toddlers, and young children that is brand new and quite affordable.
Parents who are not particularly brand conscious will find that they can equip their little ones in style without spending a fortune.
Discount stores are great places to find bargains, and even large department stores offer great deals for savvy shoppers who wait for sales.
Organising a Swap
While the cot from Grandma and Grandpa’s attic is likely to be considered unsafe by today’s standards, items that are just a few years old are probably fine.
Groups of parents with similarly aged children might want to consider organising swap sessions where they can trade items that their children have outgrown for those that they now need.
Typically, parents are invited to bring any children’s items (clean and in good condition) that they no longer have a use for and are then permitted to select up to the same number of pieces that are appropriate for their children’s current ages.
This works well for not only large pieces of baby gear, but for clothing, as well. Experienced parents often find that their children have outgrown their clothing long before it has worn out, especially special occasion items that may only be worn once or twice.
By swapping with other parents, all of the children can have nice things and their parents don’t have to dip into the kids’ college funds!
When shopping for children’s items, it can be tempting to buy everything in the store, especially for first-time, expectant parents. “Helpful” salespeople can make matters worse by giving the impression that babies and small kids need far more than they really do.
Kids are expensive little creatures, there’s no doubt about that, but if parents rely on their own good common sense, they can get everything that their children need without spending more than they can afford.