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Nothing stretches your finances like the arrival of a baby. But where to splurge and where to save?

New research says that, on average, parents spend nearly £1,800 in preparation for a baby’s arrival, with the nation’s wealthiest six per cent forking out up to £10,000. It’s hardly surprising. From feeding equipment and changing accessories to cots, car seats and state-of-the-art prams, even the most basic of baby checklists can add up.

Yet for first-time parents, the cost of a newborn can be a shock. The Money Advice Service recently conducted a survey to launch its Baby Costs Calculator, and found millions of parents are getting it wrong when it comes to the financial side of things. More than half of the parents surveyed admitted that they had underestimated how much they would need to spend.

The good news is that there are ways of keeping costs down, from checking price comparison websites to browsing the high street for special offers. We speak to four new mums about their pre-baby spendathons and ask them to reveal their bargain-hunting tips, their baby must-haves, and (because no one’s perfect) the extravagances they couldn’t resist!

Lottie, 33, mum to Louis, 6 months

Total spend: £2,500

The item you can’t live without: ‘Despite its hefty price tag, I bought the Bugaboo Cameleon because I knew I’d be doing a lot of walking with Louis and wanted a buggy that would go the distance. It’s great for strolls through city parks but also manages the beach and countryside, where we regularly visit family.’

>Best bargain: ‘My Tippitoes doorway bouncer was a complete bargain when you consider the mileage we’ve got out of it. Louis likes this more than any other toy and it’s great to occupy him towards the end of the day when he’s starting to get tired.’  

Surprise find: ‘I had my eye on a gorgeous White Company cardigan for ages and couldn’t believe it when I found a pretty much identical one in Mothercare for a third of the price. I loved it so much I bought one for when he was born and one to grow into.’

Biggest splurge: ‘I fell in love with Louis’ John Lewis sleigh cot bed as soon as I saw it. It was quite a bit cheaper than a similar cot I saw from a Swedish brand, and fits perfectly with our classic nursery theme.’

Idea you wish was yours: ‘The range of breastfeeding pillows at thrupennybits.co.uk is so great I’ve recommended them to all my NCT group. They’re not cheap but are the only feeding pillows I’ve found that actually support me properly and prevent backache.’

The outfit to die for: ‘I went to the children’s shop Trotters at eight months pregnant, not knowing whether I was having a boy or girl. They had a pale blue Liberty aeroplane-print romper I loved so much that I bought it anyway. I figured that if I had  a girl I could always give it to a friend.’

Money-saving tip: ‘I stocked up on all the essentials like wipes, nappies and muslin squares online before having Louis, as they were much cheaper. I also bought a stack of plain white vests and sleepsuits – what’s the point in spending lots of money on basic clothes that no one is going to see?’

Next on your wish list: ‘I’m saving up for an Avent steamer and blender system. I’ve heard it’s really easy to use – you simply put the vegetables or meat in the steamer, then flip the jar upside down to blend it. It will save on washing up a mountain of pots and pans. It even comes with a recipe book.’

Sarah, 28, mum to Errol, 6 months

Total spend: £2,200

The item you can’t live without: ‘I bought a baby gym by Taf Toys which Errol plays with for hours. It’s pretty garish but what it lacks in style, it makes up for in practicality. It has a multitude of chimes, mirrors, bells, squeakers, rattling fish and vibrating rings to keep him occupied.’

Best bargain: ‘I bought a half-price Avent bottle set from Mothercare. I was only six months pregnant at the time but knew I’d regret not getting it. I also picked up a bargain tub of Sudocrem at the same time, which has been a lifesaver.’

Biggest splurge: ‘I knew I wanted to decorate Errol’s nursery in keeping with the rest of the house – funky, neutral colours, and no tweeness. So when I spotted a cow hide carpet at The French Bedroom Company, I thought it would be just the job to set off the white cot we bought.’

Idea you wish was yours: ‘Errol goes to bed in a sleeping bag every night. We have a gorgeous version from Aden + Anais, and I recently bought a special travel Grobag that has cut-out sections to pass buggy and car seat straps through. It’s very clever and I plan to use it a lot.’

The outfit to die for: ‘He looks gorgeous in his Jimi Hendrix T-shirt and baby Levis, which I plan to keep and frame once he’s grown out of them. I also love his sleepsuits from Edamame Apparel. They’re made out of a special rose fibre, which blends soy and other grains together; they are so soft and luxurious.’

Surprise find: ‘We were in Paris when my husband and I saw a guy selling cute Babar the Elephant prints. I was only two months pregnant but we thought they’d look great framed in the nursery.’

Money-saving tip ‘As an editorial director for london-boutiques.com, I’m a dab hand at internet shopping. I often check out juniorstylesales.co.uk as it has all my favourite designer brands, such as No Added Sugar and Petit Bateau, at half their normal retail prices.’

Next on your wish list: ‘I’ve just ordered the Stokke Tripp Trapp highchair in white, with a matching baby cushion and tray. It’s an investment buy as the chair can be converted to suit older children as well.’

Molly 33, mum to Rafferty, 11 months

Total spend £1,300

The item you can’t live without: ‘My Aden + Anais oversized swaddle muslins are really practical and make a much prettier alternative to the plain white styles that you see around. I use them not just to swaddle Rafferty in at night, but also as an impromptu sun shield, as a picnic blanket and as a buggy comforter – he loves them.’

Best bargain: ‘Rafferty’s stylish oak Boori cot bed was an online find. It’s worth £400 but I got it for £100 from a mum who had only bought it a year ago. It looks as good as new and I really like its cool and contemporary style. We just needed to buy a new mattress for it.’

Biggest splurge: ‘I spent loads in Polarn O Pyret before Rafferty was born. As soon as I found out I was having a boy I went on a mission to find gorgeous outfits for him and fell in love with this brand as soon as I clapped eyes on it. The quality is great and it’s all really smart and functional.’

Idea you wish was yours: ‘If I had invented the Sophie the Giraffe teether, I’d be very rich. Almost every family I know has at least one in their house. For what is essentially just a rubber giraffe, it’s a really effective teether.’ 

The outfit to die for: ‘An H&M stripe T-shirt, Polarn O Pyret navy cords and a grey cardigan knitted by my mother-in-law. Before I had my son, I never realised how much fun it could be dressing up a boy.’-singing, all-dancing vibrating chair for £70 which Fred never took to. I sold it a month ago for £50.’

Surprise find: ‘I bought Moomin’s Lift-the-Flap Hide & Seek book from a charity shop for 10p. Of all the books Rafferty has, this one stood out as a firm favourite from the off. He loves lifting up the flaps, and I think I must have read it to him a hundred times.’

Money saving tip: ‘We were given a lot of things from family and friends, which helped keep the costs down. I also took advantage of all the free samples you’re given at the hospital. Changing to cloth nappies for a while saved me a fortune, too.’

Next on your wish list: ‘A Limited Edition Missoni hood and blanket set for my Bugaboo Bee pushchair. It’s currently sold out everywhere but I’m absolutely determined to track one down. It’s not cheap, but it is gorgeous.’

Written by Naomi Reilly

 

 

 resourceful mums handbook

The Resourceful Mum's Handbook, Baby on a budget, By Elen Lewis, £10, amazon.co.uk

 

best bets for babies 

Best Bets for Babies, By Brooke McKamy Beebe, £10.49, amazon.co.uk

 

 

Lottie's top 3 buys

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Cardigan £8, mothercare.com

 

 

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Bugaboo Cameleon, £680 mothercare.com

 

 

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Breastfeeding cushion, £33 thrupennybits.co.uk

 

Sarah's top 3 buys

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Avent newborn starter set, £13, mothercare.com

 

 

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Sleepsuit, £39, edamameapparel.com

 

 

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Stokke trip Trap highchair, £159, mothercare.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Molly's top 3 buys

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All-in-one, £16, polarnopyret.co.uk

 

 

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Bugaboo Bee Missoni accessory, £139.95 bugaboo.com

 

 

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Sophie the Giraffe, £12.95 mothercare.com

 

 

 

 

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