A reflection on my parenting purchases
Updated: Jun 6, 2019
My youngest has now turned six months. It's a big milestone in a baby's journey as they transition from that helpless newborn who can't move much into a curious and active explorer. They start eating and moving and seem to be growing daily before your eyes.
As I dug out the highchair to start our journey on solids I realised it was time for a clean out of her baby things. As this is my last baby I'm ready to get rid of things for good this time. There are certain things I'll hang onto and pass onto family when they're ready but a lot of things I just want gone. Thankfully there's a great website I know where I can sell the things I want to get rid of and rent out the things I don't need but want to keep for family (just a little plug for Live Love Lend there).
While sorting through the items I reflected on my purchasing decisions as a parent and wanted to share some of my thoughts with those who might be just starting out on the parenting journey.
I first became a Mum 4.5 years ago and in the excitement of becoming a new parent I didn't really think twice about the purchases I was making. I bought nearly everything new. I was the first of my friends or family to have kids so I didn't receive many hand-me-downs. I knew that we wanted 2-3 children so I figured buying new would mean things would last. Back then I was younger and much less conscious of the environment. I went to the Baby Show in Auckland when I was around 6 months pregnant and was overwhelmed with everything I supposedly needed and definitely made a few unnecessary purchases. To help you avoid some of the same mistakes here are some of my tips;
1. Don't buy everything before baby is born
One big piece of advice I would give first time parents is not to rush out and buy everything for baby before they are born. Of course you'll need the basics but in many cases it's best to wait and see what your baby is like. Some babies like to be held, others get reflux and might need to be upright more, some babies prefer to sleep in swing but you won't know these things until baby is born. I had relatively easy babies and they were all just happy to play on the floor in a play-gym, rendering the bouncer I bought completely useless. My first baby was the last to be born in my antenatal group, so as a result I had heard stories from other Mum's about colic and reflux leading me to purchase products like colic calm and gripe water in preparation. Three babies later and none of them used those products.
2. Borrow where you can or look for second-hand options
As I mentioned above I didn't have friends or family who were ready to pass down baby gear when I had my first child. I was given a second-hand change-table and baby bath and I rented a capsule but everything else I bought new. I never really considered buying second-hand and we were fortunate enough that we could afford to buy new. However, I look back now with the value of hindsight and know there were many things we could have bought second-hand. You can see in the picture attached that many of my items are still in excellent condition even after three kids. If I'd bought second-hand they would have been fine and still in good condition to gift to someone else.
3. Phases are short so try to borrow or ride it out, not buy
As a first time parent every stage a baby goes through seems to last forever and you think you need a miracle product to help you survive. What you quickly realise is that many of these products are only needed for such a short time that they're not always worth the money you spend. Things that you might panic about like a baby rolling over or standing in the cot usually only last a really short time, in some cases just a matter of days or weeks. This is where borrowing items rather than buying has a big benefit.
4. A perfect nursery is not necessary
There is a lot of consumerism around babies and you'll be bombarded with images of the perfect nursery with matching decor. While your nursery may look amazing before baby is born you can be sure that it won't continue to look like that after baby. You'll have piles of unfolded washing, nappies everywhere and once baby gets on the move they'll be pulling toys off the shelves and clothes out of drawers before you know it. Babies do not care if the cot and the change table match. Don't be fooled into thinking you have to have an amazing looking, themed nursery. If that's your thing then go ahead but you can still get good quality items second-hand so hunt around for a bargain.
5. Look for quality items that will last
My last piece of advice is to consider the quality of the items you are buying. We've been through our share of toys and clothes, purchased ourselves or been given as gifts. The key thing I've learnt here is to avoid plastic items and cheap clothes. If you want things that last sometimes it pays to spend a little more money. Plastic toys in particular are much more likely to break and just end up in a landfill. Wooden toys are a much better alternative and there are some great suppliers out there. Price does not need to be a barrier even Kmart has a good selection of cheap wooden toys. There are often great toys at charity shops and toy libraries (https://www.toylibrary.co.nz/) are an amazing resource for borrowing toys and giving your kids variety without cluttering up your house. There's a similar story for clothes. You can definitely get some bargains for clothes but price usually does represent quality. There are lots of Facebook pages and websites such as www.childer.co.nz dedicated to reselling good quality brands so you can often avoid the hefty price tag but still get quality.
If I had my time again I'd make a lot of decisions differently regarding my purchases. I hope my reflection gives you some food for thought and helps you in making your own purchasing decisions. Just remember what a baby needs most is attention and love not flashy items.