With the average parent owning several prams before they find the one that works best for their family, the average baby using 6,000 disposable nappies, and the average baby expo being filled with hundreds of amazing new and innovative products, it’s no wonder parents worry about the affordability of having a baby!
You might ask, "How am I going to afford this baby?" or "How will I manage the costs of this kid?" - and that would be fair.
I was there once too. I was 18 when I first fell pregnant and shopping was a challenge - we were on a budget and I was worried I'd forget something essential. I needed to know what was basic and essential, and prioritise how we spent our money preparing for baby. It was hard to get that information.
Five years later we had another girl, and then three years after that a boy. By this point in our lives we were comfortable. It was very different buying things for my son. But even then, I found it hard finding the right advice and support when purchasing baby products.
This is what motivated me to start Baby Box. So, now I'm a retailer of quality baby goods, I've established relationships with some of the best suppliers of baby goods in New Zealand, and I'm a fully trained and certified Child Restraint Technician. Am I going to keep what I know now from those who need help with this stuff? Heck no!!
Read on, and I will share my best tips and tricks that will help you save money and manage the costs of having a baby. What I want, is to help others avoid some of the common traps, and actually ensure you have fun as you prepare for your baby.
How do you avoid wasting money on car seats?
We've had parents visit our shop for new seats, because they've suddenly realised the car seat they bought online or in a big sale wasn’t fit for their vehicle or their family.
There's a reason we train our staff to be Child Restraint Technicians: it's a skill. One that can save your child in an accident, but also save you money too!
A car seat needs to be able to be installed into your vehicle - the problem is some car seats have special connection points (isofix, anchors) or can only be placed on certain seats (angles, spacing, fit, diagonal belts).
On top of this, you need to account for other passengers - can dad fit his legs in the car? Or are there other children also in the backseat who also need a diagonal seat belt?
I like to spend time with families working out what’s going to suit them best and I believe this bit of time can save families a lot of wasted effort.
How can you protect your investment in car seats, in the event of an accident?
If you are in an accident you must dispose of the car seat. Some car seats cost over $1000 to buy and you’d be surprised at how your insurer’s view of whether the seat should be covered can be at odds with your own. It’s a grey area between Car Policies and Contents Policies. On top of that, some insurers only pay the Market Value. Call your insurer and ask what their view is.
At Baby Box we stock Maxi-Cosi car seats, and one of my favourite things about that particular brand, is that they offer a 10 year accident exchange for customers. If you are in an Accident within 10 years from date of purchase, they will swap your seat to a brand new one for free.
If the average family goes through 4 strollers - how do you ensure you're not an "average family"?
When parents come to us for a new stroller, often their reason for buying a new one relates to their lifestyle rather than the stroller itself. They may have bought a stroller that’s great off-roads for example, then they realise they actually need something small and easy to navigate around cafes!
We really love playing with the strollers and consulting with new parents around the options on the market. The best way to sell a stroller to someone is to get to know them. If you know the person, you know what kind of life they are living now, what kinds of hobbies they have, and what their goals are as a family, then you can help them select the very best option. One that makes life easier, not harder. One that fits their family, not someone else's.
Strollers genuinely do equate to freedom for some young families - it's the ability to get out and about. It's the ability to socialise. It's getting out of the house when you're on the verge of post-partum depression. It's something we take very seriously.
We condensed some of that process, into an article recently, all about how to buy the stroller of your dreams. It's worth checking out - or at a minimum, read through our comparison articles on our blog to help you decide between different options.
6,000 nappies per baby - how much does it cost to use disposable nappies in New Zealand?
Have you heard of Kate Meads? She’s brilliant - she travels New Zealand and she talks about how we can all reduce waste. One of her missions is to help New Zealand parents cut down the amount of disposable nappies going into landfill every year.
She had it estimated that the average baby goes through 6,000 nappies in the 2.5 years before toilet training.
Our family went to Countdown and checked out the prices of nappies yesterday. For $15 you can get 50 Homebrand nappies. So that’s 30 cents a nappy.
So that is $1,800 on nappies. Excluding wipes, excluding rubbish bags, excluding the chocolate bars that fall into your trolley when you’re on a nappy store dash. And this is assuming you would buy Homebrand - a lot of parents don’t just buy the cheapest nappy.
At Baby Box we sell an admittedly higher end brand of cloth nappy. And if you were to kit yourself out with everything they recommend for full time cloth, the total cost would be around $650. That’s a huge saving compared to the cheapest disposables at $1,800!
But do you want to know the best part? The best part is that cloth nappies often can be used for more than one baby!
If that sounds like too much work though, I encourage you to think about just swapping one nappy a week for cloth, or to consider using cloth wipes instead of wet wipes.
Ask for help - how Work and Income can help you cover your baby car seat, stroller, breast pump, or other essentials
At certain times in my life, I have had to sit in the Work and Income offices and ask for help. It can be hard, but sometimes it’s necessary.
Brilliantly, a couple years back, the New Zealand government launched a website that called SmartStart which sets out the types of supports available for young families. I wish this existed when I had my eldest! Be sure to check it out.
At Baby Box we offer Work and Income quotes, so have become familiar with what other people are getting help with when it comes to baby gear. Primarily, Work and Income seem to support breast pumps and car seats (at least from our shop). You may also be able to get support with cots, buggies, and clothes - so always talk to your case manager about your options.
What we've noticed when preparing quotes for Work and Income on car seats
We have noticed that it seems to make a difference when parents have a WINZ quote put together by a Child Restraint Technician. I’ve prepared quotes before were we have quoted for 2 or 3 seats, but explained how the slightly more expensive seat is going to last longer so cost per year is less. The parents were able to get the midrange option instead of the absolute cheapest, because the case manager could see the reason for that.
What we've noticed when preparing quotes for Work and Income on breast pumps
There are a few different ways people are eligible for assistance with breast pumps.
Usually, mums who have children with health issues or ongoing disabilities, are more likely to be eligible for assistance with breast pumps. In this sense, the breast pump is considered a medical or health item. Talk to your midwife and seek their support if this is you.
Other times, a mum is starting employment, and is eligible for assistance with a breast pump as it is a "return to work" item, much like clothing. Although, honestly, in our opinion, a breast pump can be more essential than clothing when it comes to enabling a woman to get back into the work force.
If you are a breastfeeding mum, and want some support or advice around what questions to ask your case manager please feel free to call me, messenger me, instagram me, email me, or come in store and chat to me. I am super super super passionate about this because you shouldn't have to decide between feeding your child, and earning an income, just because you're a breastfeeding mum.
There are also other new ways to pay for baby gear these days: Partpay, Afterpay, and Laybuy - and we offer all of these at Baby Box.
Did you know that you can save money and better budget for big items by using services like Partpay, Afterpay and Laybuy?
Afterpay and Partpay allow you to purchase an item, like maybe a 10 pack of cloth nappies, and then pay it off over the next 8 weeks in fortnightly instalments. You take the item from the shop right away and benefit from having it for that period of time. As long as you keep up with your payments each fortnight, there's no interest or additional cost for you as a consumer.
Laybuy is the same kind of thing. This New Zealand based company allows you to pay off your purchases every week across 6 weeks. The best bit is you get to take the item home with you right away and don't have to wait the full 6 weeks before you can use it. Totally cool, aye?
Don't forget your family. Grannies and Pops love buying baby things!
Set up a baby registry, and have a baby shower. You're worth celebrating. New life is worth celebrating.
If you aren't sure what to ask for, download our free essentials checklist and give it to the organiser.
Sign up to the Baby Box loyalty program
At Baby Box we’re always trying to find ways to further support our customers, and have developed a tonne of free resources - from our essentials checklist, to buyers’ guides on our website, through to our in store loyalty program. I encourage you to check these out and to talk to our team.
How do you buy second hand gear for babies, safely?
My advice is to prioritise your list into items that you can easily and safely buy second hand, and items to buy new.
Things that are easy and safe to buy second hand for baby:
Where do you find this stuff? Look on Trademe, go to Plunket or Parent Centre Second Hand Sales, ask your mum friends, or shop at Save Mart.
What do you need to be aware of? Buy from mums or dads if you can. Ask if they are a smokefree home, and be sure to wash everything before you use it.
What items do you need to be careful about when buying second hand for baby:
- Sleep spaces - read our article on how to buy a cot so you can make sure it is up to date with our latest safety standards
- Car seats - read our article on buying car seats second hand and things to really be conscious of.
Most essentially, be aware that car seats actually expire. Some degrade after 5 years, some degrade after 10. An expired carseat is no longer safe to use and manufacturers will tell you to dispose of it. Not everyone realises this, and I find it so sad when parents spend money on second hand car seats, just to find they are expired or have damage which means they cannot be used.
Hire a car seat
Which segues to: why not just hire a car seat? Good idea, yes or yes?
Want more tips and tricks: Talk to us!
And finally if you haven't realised by now - we love and live for our customers. Helping you is what we do best. EVEN IF you aren't buying from us today because funds are tight and you're getting everything second hand. Talk to us. See if we can help. Ask us things.