From diapers and daycare to luxury strollers and irresistible pint-size fashions, a new baby can cost a bundle. Of course, there are ways to stretch your budget—and plenty of not-so-smart ways to save too.
In my book, “Save a Bundle: 50+ Ways to Save Big on Baby Gear,” I tell parents to put these cost-cutters on the no-no list because they can jeopardize your baby’s health and safety, which should always be your top priority.
Buying a used car seat. Although there are many baby items you can borrow or buy secondhand, don't make a car seat one of them if you can avoid it. A used seat may have been in a crash or recalled. The manufacturer's instructions may be missing. You’ll need them to install the car seat properly, which is crucial for keeping your baby safe on the road.
Getting a great crib deal on Craig’s List. Sure, you can probably a get used crib for next to nothing from a secondhand seller. But a crib that’s not new may not meet the latest safety standards. Updated federal crib regulations stopped the manufacture and sale of drop-side cribs, made crib mattress supports stronger, the hardware more durable, and safety testing more rigorous. To ensure that your baby sleeps safely, buy a new crib, made after June 2011. By law, it must have stationary sides, with no moving parts that can potentially malfunction.
Selecting the cheapest crib mattress. Babies need the support of a firm mattress for their growing bones and to reduce the risks of SIDS. But many parents just buy the cheapest crib mattress they can find, which tends to be mushy. Don’t go with the lowest priced. Aim to spend around $150 on this item, either foam or innerspring.
Stretching infant formula with extra water. Diluted formula won’t meet your baby’s nutritional needs and can cause water intoxication, which is potentially deadly. No cost savings is worth that risk. To save money, buy store-brand formulas, such as Walmart’s Parent’s Choice and Target’s Up & Up, and prepare them exactly according to label directions. Store-brand formulas provide the same complete nutrition as name-brand formulas yet cost up to half the price, helping parents save a lot of money.
For more baby safety tips, visit www.babyproductsmom.com.
Sandra Gordon is a consumer products expert, a writer, and a mother of two. She has appeared on NBC's Today Show and as a baby safety expert on The Discovery Health Channel's “Make Room for Baby.” A Consumer Reports author, her latest book is Save a Bundle: 50+ Ways to Save Big on Baby Gear.
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