The cost of raising a child from birth to age 18 is estimated at about $250,000. That’s a lot of money. And don’t even get us started on how the cost of a child’s first year of life factors in. Sure, you’ll be showered with gifts galore, particularly if it’s a first baby. But with a steady stream of diapers, formula (unless you’re nursing), creams, wipes, bottles, and more, it can put a pretty big dent into your wallet. Especially if you’re used to being a double-income household and now have to make-do on maternity/paternity leave pay for one person.
Luckily, there are many ways to save a few bucks, and be a little bit more economical about your purchase decisions when it comes to the all-important nursery. Sure, you aren’t going to (and shouldn’t) skimp and buy a cheap crib, or sub-par furniture. But you can pinch your pennies in strategic spots, and get creative.
Buy second hand, hand-me-downs
The most obvious way to outfit a nursery on a budget is to buy second-hand. While I’d never advise to buy furniture second-hand from someone you don’t know (you never know where it is coming from, and whether there have been issues in the home like bed bugs or cigarette smoke), there are washable items that are perfectly suited to buying used. This could include crib sheet sets, which can be fairly expensive new, decorative items, and crib mobiles.
Don’t hesitate to put the word out with friends and family as well – often times, parents have items that they’d be happy to part with knowing it will go to good use, like an old change table, diaper caddy, wipes warmer, or baby monitor. For items like a bassinet that you might only use for a short period of time, it makes sense to take a hand-me-down. My cousin lent us her wooden bassinet when my son was born. We quickly discovered that he far preferred sleeping in his own crib than the bassinet, saving us bucket loads of money had we purchased one new.
Pinterest your decor
If you don’t know what Pinterest is, you should get on there ASAP. There are plenty of ideas on how you can get a little crafty and turn everyday items into baby gear. For example, check out this awesome rustic DIY change table design, or this clever mobile diaper caddy idea.
But you don’t actually have to go to the trouble of turning into Martha Stewart or Mike Holmes. You can create a cute theme without having to fork out dough for expensive wall art and decorative pieces, or spending tons of time making your own. Instead, opt for wall decals. The Trendy Peas Foxes Fabric Wall Decals will instantly turn a boring paint job into a fun, animal-themed room. Apply them to walls, windows, or any flat surface. And the great part? Once it’s time to turn the space from a nursery to a preschooler’s room, you can simply remove the decals and re-apply a new set; and re-apply them to your second child’s room. When you’re ready to dispose of them, they’re completely biodegradable. Plenty of other designs are available, too, from monkeys to birds, teardrops to the moon and stars.
Seek out multi-function gear
Some parents get carried away with furniture, grabbing every piece they’ve been told, or think, they might need. Even if the nursery is large enough to accommodate it, don’t feel like you need every possible item under the sun. For example, instead of a dresser for baby’s clothes and a change table, consider a double-duty piece like the South Shore Cotton Candy 3-Drawer Changing Table, which has three drawers for storing onesies and blankets, sliding shelves behind a door for keeping diaper-changing essentials, and a change table up top, with a section on the right for diaper rash creams, wipes, and other small items. Once baby is out of diapers, remove the top portion and it’s a standard dresser.
If you’re comfortable with taking the leap, you could go for reusable cloth diapers, thus saving tons of money on diapers and wipes. Though you’ll need to prepare yourself for doing more laundry.
Look at convertible cribs that will help save money in the long run. Rather than having to pack it away once your baby starts standing and climbing, many convert first to a daybed, then to a toddler bed. The Baby Relax Aaden 3-in-1 convertible crib, for example, does just that.
Get a nightlight, music, and soothing imagery all in one device, like the Munchkin Nursery Projector and Sound System which can play back one of four soothing sounds, three lullabies, or Mozart compositions, can display three calming images to help soothe baby to sleep, like fishes swimming in water or sheep dancing among the clouds, and emit a warm glow of light. There’s even a voice activation mode that will respond should your baby begin stirring in the middle of the night.
While some dedicated baby monitors offer neat features like lullabies, you might find it more economical to invest in a standard portable camera, like the Nest Cam, and use that to monitor baby in his room. It offers all the key features you’d want in a baby monitor, including motion detection, night vision, two-way audio, and remote access from the mobile app.
Look for deals, stretch out purchases
It goes without saying that you should always look for the best deals, but from reputable sites. If you can, set up deal alerts for items that you have your eye on. You’ll receive e-mail notifications when they go on sale, and can take the plunge then, reaping the savings. Retailers like Best Buy let you order online and have the items, including larger furniture pieces like cribs and dressers, delivered directly to your home in a few days, making the decision to hold off until pricing or your budget allows, far more palatable.
Start off with the key items you’ll need: a crib and glider, for instance, and slowly add items as the need arises, or you see sales come up. You might find that there are some items you can actually live without, or others that don’t become truly necessary until a few months after the baby is born.
Check out many nursery ideas at Best Buy Online.