Becoming a parent is full of surprises – not least of all finding out that, for such small beings, babies cause a lot of chaos and expense.
It's been estimated that new parents spend around $10,000 on their baby in his or her first year of life. Oh boy! Oh girl!
How can you reduce that expense to something more suited to your budget?
1. Get clear on 'needs' versus 'wants'
Walking into a big baby gear shop is overwhelming: what will your baby actually need? It's almost tempting to buy one of everything, just in case.
But don't rush into it; instead, take the time to get a clear idea of what you really need. For example, you'll definitely need a car seat, cot, cot linen, bath supplies, baby clothes and a pusher and/or baby carrier.
There are lots of other items that are up for question, like newborn toys (all they want to look at is you, anyway) and bouncers.
Everyone has their own idea of what's a necessity and what they can do without, so give some thought to what that means to you.
2. Buy small quantities of small sizes
Babies grow surprisingly fast, so don't get too many small sized clothes and nappies. You don't want to waste them – and, who knows, if you have a big baby those newborn nappies and 0000-sized clothes won't even get out of the cupboard!
3. Shop second hand
Even if you don't want to buy everything second hand, you can cut huge costs by getting a few big-ticket items this way. (Just make sure they meet Australian safety standards.)
There are so many places to find second hand items: baby markets, eBay, second hand groups on Facebook, local online parenting groups, and of course local op shops.
4. Borrow or use hand-me-downs
Baby hand-me-downs from friends are one of life's little joys. These items are passed on with much love and, because babies grow out of everything so quickly, are likely to still be in excellent condition.
Or, if you know someone who's between babies, they might have some items you can borrow. For example, a bassinet is worth borrowing because you won't need it for very long (it's only safe until your baby is rolling).
5. Create a list for friends and family
Baby gift registries – or even more informal lists of your requests – have become really common, and for good reason: they're practical. Your friends and family will want to spoil you and bub, so let them know what will be helpful.
6. Buy in bulk
There are some non-perishable items you can buy in larger quantities to save some cash, including nappies, wipes and breast pads.
7. Shop around
Impulse buying is your budget's worst nightmare. Instead, do your homework and compare prices at a few different shops. Better yet, find out when the next sales are on and hold out for that reduced price.
8. Think long term
If you want some big savings over time, think about things that will last past the newborn stage. That could mean getting a cot that later converts into a toddler bed, for example.
9. Make what you can
If you're crafty, then this could be your finest moment.
Making baby clothes, toys or blankets can save a bucket load of cash. Plus, your baby will have the chance to enjoy being swaddled in handmade love.
10. When in doubt, minimise
Just about every new parent has a load of stuff they bought in the excitement of being pregnant, but have never actually used.
Babies need very little aside from milk, warmth and love. If you're not sure, err on the side of minimalism – after all, you can always send someone to the shops (or buy online) if you find you really do need extra items.
This article is sponsored by CUA