It’s no secret that Luisa was a little surprise, a happy one as it turned out but a surprise no less. Like a lot of 20 somethings faced with impending parenthood Matt & I had a lot of concerns.
Would we be up to the task, physically and emotionally?
Did this mean we’d loose our freedom?
Would we ever travel again?
How were we going to afford all the things a baby needs?
Three years later and it’s clear Luisa is exceptional, so we must be doing OK as parents! Sure, our social life is not what it once was but we have new kinds of fun now and, happily, we still travel just as much – maybe even more.
Once we’d gotten over the initial shock and then the excitement which followed soon after I started to think about the practicalities of having a baby. I knew my income would be reduced on maternity leave and that there was a LOT to buy before then. I decided to drastically cut my outgoings now, so that I had a little cushion of savings to supplement my statutory maternity pay.
I’d advise anyone else to do the same, you might not think you can afford to save much but trust me when you’re into month 6 every penny makes a welcome difference.
When it comes to ‘baby gear’ think really carefully about what you actually need and what can wait. Read reviews, speak to friends, visit shops and get a feel for the different items on the market. For example, if you’re considering a baby carrier head to a sling library and hire one to try before investing. There are also companies that hire items you only use for a short time – like birthing pools or bedside cribs.
It’s a good idea to stock up a little on essentials like nappies, wipes and toiletries. I always kept and eye out for offers and remembered to collect reward points when shopping in places like Boots or Tesco. It’s worth visiting the Aldi baby and toddler event too as they often have really heavy discounts.
Big purchases like prams and car seats can be a struggle to afford, everyone wants the best and it’s really hard to know what features are important to you. We were really fortunate in that my parents bough us a travel system for Luisa. Of course that’s not an option for everyone, I know I was very lucky. Considering a pram that’s suitable from birth to toddlerhood is price anywhere between £200 and £1000 it’s a really big chunk of most peoples budget. If you’ve already made adjustments to your lifestyle to save more and you’re still struggling to make this big purchase small loans could help.
Whilst it is tempting to buy lots of tiny baby clothes do try to show a bit of restraint. We got a lot of bits from secondhand shops and sales which helped to save a lot but we still ended up with far too much! Friends and family will buy your new baby a lot of clothes – trust me. It’s always a good idea to ask for gift receipts or even vouchers so that you can make sure lovely outfits don’t go to waste if baby grows too fast to wear them all.
Also – don’t forget to take advantage of all the freebies! Most supermarkets have baby clubs that send out vouchers and gifts. My friend Jade has a great post with loads of info about these offers.
In summary, it’s not cheap but having a baby doesn’t need to be the most expensive thing you ever do. Cut outgoings where you can and try not to be tempted by every bit of advertising you see. All your baby really needs is food, somewhere safe to sleep, nappies and weather appropriate clothes.