When I became a mom for the first time in July 2012, I was so excited and overwhelmed by all the cute baby paraphernalia for sale I was extremely tempted to splurge. I had dreams of the fanciest baby clothes, travel systems, furniture and toys. However, once I actually had to lay out the hard cash, I came to realise this new baby experience is quite a money-making business. Advertising is often so good at catching you in your moment of excitement (like going grocery shopping when you’re hungry).
I started doing a lot of reading and decided to to set up my baby’s room in a clever way. I didn’t want to buy things that I couldn’t make the most of, or use later on when they were no longer needed in the nursery. Two big initial outlays were the compactum/changing table and cot. I was horrified that a new compactum costs anything from R2500 and cots up to R5000! In the end, I found a perfect workbench at a local hardware store, for R1400. A vibrant coat of paint and voila, a great changing area and when no longer needed for nappy changes, can be used almost anywhere in our home or garage. Second-hand cots are widely available, and most of them as good as new. Here I would recommend, rather make the initial extra investment and buy a bigger cot that can be used until the baby moves into a toddler bed. I made the mistake of buying a beautiful second-hand antique cot (for a cool R600), but my baby outgrew this at 8 months. Another great tip is to find a cot that turns into a toddler bed, which can then be used for at least a few years.
Prams and travel systems are brilliant to have, but can cost an arm and a leg. If you are insistent on purchasing a new one (which can obviously be used for baby number 2, 3 etc.), I highly recommend speaking to a sales person in the baby store you visit. A week before I bought my pram, a new model came out, which then classified the one I bought as ‘old stock’. I managed to pay less than half the original price purely because it didn’t have one extra cup holder. Second-hand prams are flooding the market and can be bought at most used goods stores or online at a fraction of the cost. Most prams come with removable fabric so a visit to the drycleaners can make the world of difference and you’re left with a pram good as new.
One thing babies cannot live without is clothing. I have to admit, my total weak spot! It is crazy how many cute outfits are available in stores but I’ve learnt it’s just throwing money down the drain. Babies grow incredibly fast and before you know it, have worn a new outfit a handful of times before it is too tight and needs to be replaced. Babies also need to play and mess as much as possible, so no point dressing them in the fanciest clothes. Think practically before buying clothes – how many times will he/she be able to wear this, is it comfy/warm/cool, is it value for money? I am also a firm believer in quality vs. quantity. I, personally, would rather spend a teeny bit more on clothes but ensure that they can be well worn and last a good couple of months. Clothes get washed countless times so important that they are durable and good quality.
During the past few months, I have come across some fantastic websites/businesses where one can buy second-hand baby goods. Most of the stock is as good as new and at a drastically reduced price. Some stores also offer a rental service, so if you know you’re only going to need something for a short period of time, it’s much wiser going this route. It is also a sense of comfort knowing that we aren’t filling our homes with more junk that will end up unused.
A few recommended sites/businesses:
- www.gumtree.co.za or www.olx.co.za – great for buying or selling second hand goods
- Baby bargains market (www.babybargainsmarket.co.za) – great for buying/selling or renting second hand goods. Branches in PE and Jhb.
- The mom and baby house (www.babyhouse.co.za) – sell and rent baby equipment. Based in Somerset West, CT.
- Baby Exchange (www.babyexchange.co.za) – baby equipment hire (top brands) and excellent quality second-hand baby goods. Stores in CT and Pretoria/Jhb.
What to do with your unused baby goods:
- DONATE – give to those who could use it. (Hospice, Children’s hospitals, daycares, orphanages) (www.charitysa.co.za/charity-shops)
- STORE – keep in storage and re-use if a next baby is on the cards.
- GIVE TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS
- SELL IT – great websites such as Gumtree or OLX
- SWOP IT – there may be something you have that a friend could use and vice versa. Toy swopping a super way of keeping up with your baby’s learning needs.
The bottom line is you don’t need to spend the earth to get kitted out to welcome the new arrival. Let’s all do our bit to REUSE, REDUCE and RECYCLE.
Natalie Fahy – Communications Coordinator