Having a baby is one of the most precious and life-changing journeys you can go through. But it’s no secret that little ones can be as costly as they are cute! From the never-ending nappies to feeling overwhelmed with the marketing of must-buy children’s products and then there’s also the adorable clothes they keep growing out of, it can begin to feel like an uphill battle for parents and their budget. You begin to question how one tiny person can mean spending so much money.
At Kiddies Kingdom, we’re committed to being with you every step of the way, even in the hard times. That’s why we’ve put together these money-saving tips ‘n’ tricks, some of which are first-hand from parents we’ve spoken to, to help from the moment your bundle of joy is born through to their cheeky toddler years.
Newborns and Babies: Money Saving Tips
Remind Yourself of What’s Important
That ever-so-special moment of bringing your precious addition to the world is a moment you’ll never forget. It can be easy to get lost in the excitement and want to buy absolutely everything there is available. The shoes you’ve seen in the shops may be irresistibly cute and teeny tiny, but let’s face it, your newborn can’t really move much, let alone walk anywhere. You may also spend every waking moment designing the picture-perfect nursery for a little one who’s too young to appreciate the effort. Plus, it’s recommended that the safest place for your newborn to sleep is in the same room as you until they’re 6 months old.
What matters in those first few months is contact and bonding with your little one. Instead of overwhelming yourself with things you think you need to buy, think about when your baby is going to first curl their teeny tiny fingers around yours, or when they’ll first show you that beautiful smile that makes you fall in love with them all over again. Talk and sing to them as much as possible during this time, noise and interaction in these early months will set the foundations of how your baby communicates and interacts in the future. After being squashed up for so long in mummy’s tummy, in the first few months they’ll begin to realise they have mini arms and legs. This is an exciting time so make sure you do all you can to encourage development. You can do this by putting a rattle or toy in their hands so they can begin to learn how to grasp objects.
Whilst it’s nice to go all out and spoil your new addition family, they’re not going to be able to make sense of much at their tender age, and they’re going to grow out of a lot of products at lightning speed. Instead, focus on creating that special bond that will last them a lifetime.
Focus on the Essentials
It’s easy to get carried away with online shopping but resist the temptation or you’ll end up with a bunch of stuff that’s not necessary or that your little one will soon grow out of. Make a list of the must-haves instead. Here are the key things you need to think about:
- Child’s car seat
- Cot bed, Moses basket or crib
- Feeding equipment if you’re planning to bottle feed
The Breastfeeding Experience
If you decide to breastfeed your little one, there’s no need to spend all your baby bucks on specialist nursing equipment. Breastfeeding can be challenging, tiring, and sometimes overwhelming but it can also be a beautiful, intimate, and rewarding experience. There are of course things that will make breastfeeding more comfortable. For example, nursing bras, pillows, cushions, and breast pads to help with leaking. And muslin cloths are not just handy for spillages but they’re a one-stop shop for many other scenarios such as:
- Covering up if you want privacy whilst feeding in public
- Shading your baby from the sun
- Doubling up as a lightweight blanket
- Doubling up as an impromptu changing mat
- Cleaning up baby burps and sick
But one thing’s certain – you don’t need to go buy a whole new wardrobe dedicated to nursing your baby. Anything with easy access in your wardrobe, tops, and dresses with buttons, zips, or wrap fronts, will be your best friend. And hold off on buying a breast pump until later – unless you’re planning to express milk from the start or go back to work within a few weeks after giving birth. In fact, health professionals recommend breastfeeding for 6 to 8 weeks after birth before expressing milk.
If you have questions about breastfeeding, we spoke to Breastfeeding Mentor, Danielle Facey, who offered her expert breastfeeding tips to help ease you into the wonderful journey.
Choose Experiences Wisely
It’s no secret that family days out can cost a small fortune. But let’s be realistic, your littlun isn’t going to remember the days out you splurged on. If you don’t believe us, then take it from the parents we spoke to:
“Don’t waste money on expensive days out that a baby will not remember, a trip to the park will give the same experience.”
You can have just as much fun on family days that don’t cost a penny such as a trip to the park to feed the ducks, the beach, or even a stroll on a lovely summer’s day. Save the fancier days out for when they’re old enough to remember the experience. Even then, to save money, you could limit the more expensive days out for special occasions like birthdays and school holidays, or as a special treat.
There are plenty of other budget-friendly ways to get out of the house too. Why not check out your local Sure Start Children’s Centre? Lots of them run baby sensory or massage groups, especially for parents with little ones. You could even have a cinema day! Cineworld runs ‘Cinebabies‘ film screenings for parents and babies. Don’t worry, they’ll also dim the lights and lower the sound so you can have a no-stress movie day with your babe in your arms. And if that wasn’t enough, they’ll even store your pushchair and provide nappy changing facilities (not available in Brighton) – happy days!
Watch Out for Baby Marketing
No, you don’t need that special baby laundry detergent or special baby body lotion. Fragrance-free gentle detergent is exactly what your little one’s delicate, gentle skin needs. In fact, everyone’s skin could benefit from it! So, why not switch to a fragrance-free gentle detergent overall and wash the whole family’s clothes at the same time? That way you won’t have to buy separate products for separate members of the family, and you can make some savings in the process. The same goes for soap and body lotion as well. You should always buy gentle, fragrance-free brands that will be kind to your baby’s sensitive skin.
One of the parents we spoke to also warned mums and dads to not fall for buying an expensive changing bag:
“…I spent over £300 on a designer changing bag, which was so bulky and heavy.”
A hefty price tag doesn’t always mean good quality! There are lots of affordable changing bags to fit your lifestyle and get the job done, from stylish multi-functional options Maxi Cosi offer to practical solutions with pockets and pouches for all your baby essentials.
Be Smart with Baby Food
You don’t need to buy expensive jars of baby food to get your littlun’s tastebuds tingling! Think about doing baby-led weaning instead, where babes six months plus munch away on finger foods instead of purees. We’ve even got tasty weaning recipes that will be sure to introduce your baby to the wonderful world of food in the best way!
You could even make your own baby food in bulk from leftovers or fruits and veggies, and then store it in the freezer. Life hack – freeze the purees you make in ice cube containers. Once they’re frozen, just pop them in plastic bags, and when it’s time to eat, defrost them in good time and heat up – voila!
Our tips ‘n’ tricks don’t just stop there when it comes to baby food! Sign up as a friend of Ella’s Kitchen and you’ll be rewarded with vouchers for lots of yummy freebies like veggie pouches and melty puff snacks. There’s also a free wallchart and superhero mask for your bub included! And mums or dads on certain benefits (see full list) can bag themselves an NHS Healthy Start scheme card – money is popped onto it every four weeks to swap for goodies like milk, fruit, and veggies. The vouchers can add up to as much as £442 per child and they’re valid at 30,000 shops in the UK including supermarkets and corner shops.
The Nappy Debate
Becoming a parent will make you realise how many nappies such a tiny human can go through in a day. If you really want to get your money’s worth, try ditching the disposables and go for reusable nappies instead. In fact, the government’s Money Advice Service estimates that using reusable nappies can save you more than £1,400 throughout your little one’s first two and a half years. Of course, any reusable product requires an initial investment, but over time you’ll get that back, especially when you can reuse them when you decide to add another little cutie to the family!
Some councils offer free reusable nappies in the form of free starter packs or vouchers/cashback to help your family save on the cost of buying them. Plus, it reduces the amount of waste going to landfill at the same time, so you’re not only saving baby bucks but you’re doing it in a greener way too! Check with your local council to see if they offer a similar incentive scheme.
If you don’t want to use reusable nappies and you’re planning on going down the disposable route, make sure you swot up first before buying. Comparison site Bum Deal is a great place to do your research as it instantly shows you disposable nappy brands’ cost at retailers like Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and more. You can also compare the price of baby wipes on there too.
Kiddies Kingdom Top Tip – dry reusable nappies in the sun to get them squeaky clean and free of stains that won’t come out in the wash.
Research Potential Perks Before Your Baby Arrives
If you’re a mum-to-be, or you’ve just had your little one in the past 12 months, you can get free NHS dental treatment as well as prescriptions – a handy little freebie, right? So, make sure you make the most of it while you can!
Remember to keep an eye on websites like Latest Free Stuff, where they round up freebies that retailers are offering in exchange for signing up to newsletters or liking them on socials.
Free Emergency Water
Some water companies offer free emergency water supplies for vulnerable customers (for example Anglian’s WaterCare) in case your water supply is disrupted. This includes mums-to-be or those with little ones under 12 months old. So, if you’re worried about cut-offs when you have a baby to look after, contact your water company and ask to be put on its special assistance list.
Consumer Council for Water also has a list of water company contacts – just get in touch with them if you have any issues making arrangements with your water company. Don’t forget, bottled water isn’t advised for making baby formula. But if you have no other choice, NHS Choices provides all you need to know on what to do.
Toddlers: Money Saving Tips
Choose Baby Gear that Grows with Your Child
Some highchairs convert into seats for cheeky tots and older kids – and Tutti Bambini offers this and more. And that’s not all! Some cots can be turned into toddler beds so you can save on having to buy another bed as your baby grows up. When you’re on the hunt for baby products, look out for products that have 2-in-1, 3-in-1, or bundles included in the name. A little research goes a long way! It can mean buying items that your cherub can enjoy for far longer than you anticipated.
Look for Budget-Friendly Days Out
When your not-so-little one becomes a cheeky tot, if you want to mix things up a little more than the usual walk in the park to feed the ducks, you could look for church playgroups in your local area. They’re not always free, but you can generally get in for a couple of pounds – plus most of the time the entry fee includes free tea and biscuits too!
Focus on the Fun Factor, Not Cost
We all love receiving presents. But all tots care about is how fun and entertaining their presents are going to be, not how much they cost. This is tried and tested as it was a common theme with parents we spoke to, with one saying:
“Toddlers are not bothered about ‘the latest toys’ so don’t be caught up in the hype. Toddlers soon forget.”
You may even find your little one playing with the gift wrapping more than the present itself! In fact, Martin Lewis put this to the test after he mentioned it on his TV show ‘The Martin Lewis Money Show’ – what followed was a sea of mums and dads tweeting and emailing photos of their littluns having a blast with cardboard boxes they’d been given for Christmas. And the proof is in the pudding on his blog where you’ll find lots of smiley-faced tots with boxes!
A lot of parents want to splash out for their baby’s birthday, especially their first birthday. Yes, it’s one of the most special days, but you don’t need to spend a fortune to put a smile on their face. Studies have shown that “children who expect many and expensive gifts can suffer negative social and emotional ramifications that extend well beyond their childhood.” Of course, that’s not to say you shouldn’t buy them any toys, but instead why not consider presents that are going to have positive impact? For example, little ones need lots of quality play to develop fully. Research highlights that through play, tots learn to understand the world around them, enhancing the development of their cognitive, emotional, social, and physical skills, as well as their health and well-being. A toy xylophone will teach them cause-and-effect as well as build their motor skills. Or if you want to wow them with one big (and very cool) present, balance bikes and trikes fall into this category. They’re super fun and they help with physical development, balance, and coordination.
Above all, it’s not about how much you buy your child or how much it cost. There are lots of affordable tried-and-tested gifts that are sure to put a smile on a little one’s face.
Set Up Swaps with Friends
Set up clothing and baby gear swaps with your other mummy friends or mummy-to-be buddies. You could meet up at one of your houses or upload photos to a private Facebook group between you all if you can’t get together. Your friend who’s expecting may love your baby bathtub and newborn clothes, and you may be able to snap up toys and clothes in your tot’s current size. Everyone wins!
Preparing for What’s to Come: School
Your little one may be cute and tiny now but before you know it, they’ll be catching up to your height! Let’s look at some money-saving tips you can keep in mind for when that time comes:
Join School Forums
If you need a helping hand when it comes to school gear, many schools now have forums where parents can buy and sell school attire and equipment in good condition for a fraction of the original price. Not only will this mean more money in your pocket, but you’ll also be minimising waste too – everyone’s a winner!
As little ones get older, they’ll probably start to look at what their friends have, and no doubt they’ll be itching to get home so they can ask the mum and dad to purchase it for them. A smart way to manage such expectations is by teaming up with your child’s friends’ parents for a swap shop. Your child and their friends can exchange toys between them – not only will they be able to play with the same toys they were eyeing up, but it means you can make some savings too.
In fact, one of the parents we spoke to even makes sure that between them and other parents, they try and buy similar toys. This helps them to refresh play so that families don’t feel the pressure that they need to buy the toys that other children are playing with:
“As a group of friends, we’ll buy toys which are similar so when they go round each other’s houses they can do swaps.”
Another of the parents we spoke to uses the pocket money method to manage expectations:
“Our children recently started doing chores (cleaning out the pets, getting their own clothes ready for the day, making sure they tidy up) and for this, they get pocket money once a week. They can choose to save this up to buy their own things.”
Teaching the Value of Money
Remember – every little one grows and matures at a different rate. But once they’ve grown out of their cheeky toddler phase and they’re off to school, it’s a good idea to start teaching them about the value of money so that the bank of mum and dad is utilised sensibly. One of the parents we spoke to shared how they’re planning to teach their child good money habits:
“When we start to give our children pocket money, we’ll give them the opportunity to understand what that money can be spent on and the value of that money.”
Reduce the Chaos to Improve the Quality of Play
Most children have an excess of toys and if their play area is too packed, there will be no room for them to play. Several parents and experts have said that having your home chock full of too many toys can actually make children more bored. And one of the parents we spoke to echoes this:
“We rotate their toys and have a selection out, so they have space to play. It’s about refreshing the toys, so they respect them. We find the kids play with the toys more when their play area is tidy, and then they are able to have a real focus on what toys they want to play with.”
Making Christmas Special for Children
With the most wonderful time of the year coming up and the rising costs, you may be worried about how to make sure Christmas is everything and more for your little ones this year. The parents we spoke to have their fair share of solutions to save money over the festivities but still make it just as special:
- Teach children about the values of Christmas rather than the commercialised side of the festive season.
- Get little ones involved in choosing decorations for the house, and even their bedroom (if it’s safe to do so).
- Cut down on the noise on presents that get forgotten about and buy one feature present instead.
- Give your children experiences or create Christmas traditions that will give them lasting memories.
Children are wonderful little beings, and you should be able to enjoy every moment of parenthood. Of course, we understand it can be difficult with the current circumstances in mind. But it’s important to remember that at the heart of it all, we just want the best for our children – and there are ways to give your little one the best without spending insane amounts. And more importantly, enjoying every moment you have with them without the fear of having to re-budget over and over again, especially as the chillier months set in. Even the smallest of steps could make a big change in your family. After all, every little helps! And don’t forget, Kiddies Kingdom will be behind you every step of the way.