Sunday, 19 January 2014

Baby Stuff: Six Ways to Spend Less

When it comes to babies there is, seriously, just so much stuff you need. I'm not talking the latest Stella McCartney baby jeans (that will be £42 please) or the ridiculously cool, clear perspex cot Kim and Kanye have reputedly invested in for their little one. Nope, I mean the real basics; nappies, wet wipes, clothes, formula and bath time bits and bobs that you really couldn't afford to be without. And though, with my first baby, I pretty much just bought whatever I thought was reasonable enough in cost, I rarely looked at cheaper store-own brands or searched around for deals. I just popped them into my virtual online basket and there you have it. Done. However, this time around, I've tried to be much more frugal and endeavoring to shop smarter. Here are my tips - let me know yours.

1. Buy nappies in bulk
I've always bought my nappies (Pampers FYI) in my usual weekly shop and though I've kept an eye out for the 2-for-1 deals and all that malarky, I often miss them. I also do this a lot: run to my local pharmacy when they're out of stock at my supermarket and buy teeny packets which obviously ends up being much more expensive - and there are no snazzy deals to be had in such smaller, niche shops. And then I discovered Amazon. Brilliantly, they sell HUGE boxes of big name nappies for bargain prices (at the time of typing this, you could buy a box of 156 Pampers for £16.50 as opposed to £5 for a pack of 30 at Tesco - amazing!). I think Amazon also do a 20% of all nappies if you sign up to their Amazon Family service.

2. Try store-own wet wipes
I admit it, I won't buy any other nappies than Pampers but that's because I've tried every other brand and they're just not as good. However, when it comes to wet wipes, I've been a bit more experimental. I always look at the ingredients as I hate for mine to be fragranced (and some are even if they say they're for sensitive skin) and honestly, I sometimes test them on myself to see if they really don't sting. My latest find? Essential Waitrose Baby Wipes, £1.12 for 80, knocks spots off the others; they're super gentle, come out the pack separately and not in handfuls (which is so annoying) and, at £1.12 come in much cheaper than the £2 you tend to pay for most brands.

3. Search for bargain bath buys
I only use natural or organic bath products on my little ones and absolutely heart Burt's Bees Bubble Bath and Weleda Baby Calendula Cream Bath so much but, at around £9 each for both, I don't feel the same way about the price. However, take a little virtual trip over to Boots.com and the lovely Weleda Cream Bath is a teeny bit cheaper at £7.95. And at the moment, they're doing a 3 for 2 deal on selected Weleda products, so you could nab the brilliant Weather Protection Cream, £6.95 and the Shampoo and Body Wash, £7.10 and get the cheapest for zero. Deals like this come up a lot on Boots - always worth checking out.

4. H&M
I'm having a little bit of a love-in with H&M at the moment, having just bought another of their cute, 2-Pack Bodysuits, £4.99, (see left) and a Chinti & Parker-inspired striped body with pink heart emblazoned across the front. They are so worth stocking up at for vests and bodies that your baby outgrows super-quick (or completely ruins with an atomic poo) and are 100% cotton too. Save your bigger splashing-out sessions for lovely knits, jackets and coats that will last all season.

5. Be organised
In preparation for my second baby I carefully went through all my first child's old clothes, strategically chucking out, charity-shopping or holding onto and labeling bags of stuff I knew I could get a second wear out of. I was so organised. Or so I thought. This week I was GUTTED to find a whole box of immaculate, hardly-worn baby clothes tucked away in the loft that Elsie is now too big to wear. Other things I've never used? A set of Avent newborn baby bottles/a pack of 12 muslin cloths/completely girly OTT summer dresses. I'm still breastfeeding so the bottles and teats are redundant, I no way needed so many muslins and putting a newborn in a frilly dress just wasn't going to happen. It definitely pays to think (hard) before you buy.

6. Always look for deals
Top places to find deals are at good old Boots (often online only) and Amazon. I've seriously bought every last packet of cotton wool, nappies and wet wipes through these online stores rather - but only after I've done a little research and compared prices  first. It takes a bit more time but you can end up saving a huge amount.