You can save yourself a small fortune by shopping secondhand for baby clothes, crib linens, and other baby-related items. Just make sure that you're shopping at a reputable secondhand store — one that will only accept products that comply with current safety standards — and that you've done your homework so that you know which products are and aren't worth purchasing secondhand. Note: Most safety experts advise that you avoid purchasing secondhand car seats because there's no way to know for sure whether or not they've been involved in an accident, and something as simple as a low-speed fender bender can twist a car seat's frame and make it unsafe for use.
A dresser is nice to have, but it certainly isn't a necessity. You can get away with using plastic storage containers if you're trying to keep your costs down. And as for buying a change table, this is yet another item you can definitely live without. All you really need to change a baby's bum is a waterproof change pad and a flat surface.
Look for items that will grow with your baby — clothes with "grow cuffs" that can be rolled down as your baby's legs get longer, and change tables that can be converted into dressers or desks. The longer your child is able to use a particular item, the more bang you'll get for your buck.
Chances are you'll receive an extraordinary number of gifts — some from people you barely even know. The goal of your pre-baby shopping expeditions therefore should be to ensure that the bare necessities are covered — not to fill up your child's dresser and toy box in one fell swoop. And if the unthinkable happens and you don't end up being treated to baby shower after baby shower, relax: you or your partner can always pick up any baby items that you're missing later on. (Trust me: you'll be fighting for the chance to run a baby-free errand!)
Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site, having-a-baby.com.
Copyright © Ann Douglas. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org.