Well nearly free anyway.
Having a child for free works well if you had a child before. Preferably two. My 3rd child has been nearly free right from the beginning, but my first child probably only cost us a couple of quid anyway. I am going to assume you are reading this as a first time parent, so I assume you own sod all. Not even a Next romper suit. Put away your pennies Hot Mamma…Here’s a little How To for a free child (for the first year).
- Get loads of ‘old AF’ clothes. Chances are you know a parent who is sick to death of the kids clothes filling up their loft space. All kids in the UK/US have more clothes than physically possible to wear (even with 5 costume changes per day) and many end up in black bags and stuffed in the attic still with their labels on. Ask your buddies if they have anything they want rid of. Chances are you’ll be tripping over barely worn F&F baby-grows before your kid pops out. People ALWAYS end up with too many bibs and scratch mits, so I promise you that you will not have to buy any of those.
- Try your bloody hardest to breastfeed. Breastmilk is free… who knew!? You don’t need to buy bottles, sterilisers, sterilising fluid, fancy bottle warmers etc etc etc. And remember if you start out determined to succeed, you will. There’s not many reasons why a woman can’t breastfeed her baby, so if you have any questions before or during your breastfeeding journey there is a wealth of information through your local Children’s Centre, the NCT and your midwife.
- Get free nappies. You heard me. I’m a huge advocate of using cloth nappies and cloth baby wipes, and there is a huge chance that just like the clothes, there are people wiling to give away cloth nappies. Ask your mum friends, or put a ‘Wanted’ ad on Gumtree or Freecycle. As for baby wipes? Cut up old towels. It’s recommended that you only use water and cotton wool / flannels on a newborn baby rather than baby wipes, so you need to do this anyway. Don’t buy cotton wool when there is an old towel just taking up space that can be cut into squares. Decent disposable wipes cost round £1 a pack, and you will use around a pack every 1-2 days if you use them for everything (like I used to). Making cotton wipes are washed and used again and again and wont have cost you a penny. Just throw them in the machine with your other items, as they don’t take up much room in the washing machine drum you won’t be putting on any extra loads.
- Facebook is your best friend. It’s not begging to post a little question on Facebook such as “Hey guys, Baby on the way in the next ** weeks. Does anyone have any old baby bits that they no longer need and just want to get rid of? Much appreciated!” and await the beautiful responses from your friends. This is how we got Moses baskets, a cot, high chairs, clothes and even odds and ends such as boobie-milk freezer bags! You will love how your friends are there to help, and I guarantee most of the stuff your given will be in amazing condition! Never be scared to ask, no one will think any less of you. In fact I love throwing outgrown baby items at my pregnant friends. It makes space in my house and I know our favourite clothes and items are going to continue being loved rather than forgotten in storage.
- Take the most of offers. If your mum asks to buy something for the baby, take it! A pram can be an expensive kit. You can get second hand prams that are beautiful and clean, so consider a second hand version over a brand new one. Car seats on the other hand are a bit different. You shouldn’t really buy a car seat that you cannot guarantee hasn’t been in a crash or been dropped. You can’t compromise on the safety of your children, so if the grandparents offer, don’t feel bad for saying “Yes please!”
- Don’t be a sucker for gadgets. Your baby does not care if their bouncy chair has 4 different vibrating functions and a choice of dingy dangly attachments. A nice soft and comfy bouncer chair will be fine, and I’m pretty sure someone will throw you one after you post your ‘wanted’ FB status.
- There are a few can’t-live-without essentials that you might not actually need, like a changing mat for example. OK, they may only cost around £5-15 but seriously, I owned one and it got used for the first few weeks, then was shoved under the sofa. We ended up using a towel after the first few weeks. It rolled up small, taking up way less space and didn’t take over the lounge. A baby bath is another great example. Our only child to get into a baby bath was our first born, and she only went in it around 3 times. After those 3 times, she bathed with me. My other daughters have always bathed with me from the very beginning until they got too old. Personally I think its more fun, creates better memories, and is safer. Baby baths are bulky, take up too much space and just gather dust.
At the end of the day, I’m not telling you all to not spoil your new baby. If you’ve got the cash to splash go for it!! I would have if I could have. But, many people really do not have much money these days. After bills, food and the cost of general living many people find themselves with not a lot of money to spare. A baby really does not have to cost the earth. As long as your baby is warm, has a full tummy and is given love that really is all that matters. Remember there are people out there who will always have much less than you, and they have happy children. Do not ever feel embarrassed about dressing your child in hand-me-downs. My 3rd daughter is now wearing the clothes that her 2 sisters wore before her. And 99% of those clothes were given to us second hand, many the previous wearers siblings had worn those items too. Making this lovely little outfit worn by 5 children in total. Doesn’t look that bad right?
We live in a very consumer driven society. There are adverts everywhere telling us what to buy and why it will make our lives amazing if we do so. A baby doesn’t know the world, so why would they care? Why throw money away on knickknacks that wont ever be used, when you could use that money on a special day out as a new family? Also, they less clutter you have, the less you have to tidy, thus giving you more time to play with baby and rest. Because believe me as a mum of 3 small children, I do not ever stop and soon my kids will have grown up and I will have wasted too much time picking up toys, rather than playing with them.
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