New baby essentials on a budget

Considering the average family spends around £3,000 a year on a new baby, it's not surprising that expecting parents panic! Don't worry – if you're a savvy spender, you can get everything you need for under £300. Here's how:

What you don't need

Don't waste money on things that aren't essential. Babies don't need a bouncer, designer clothing, wet wipe warmers or a musical toy, which plays Mozart's Serenade in G major.

What you do need

  • Nappies
  • Babygrows
  • Vests
  • Blankets/sheets
  • Maternity pads
  • All-in-one snowsuit (for cold weather)
  • Hat/mittens
  • Car seat (always buy this brand new)
  • Cot and mattress (mattresses should be bought new unless you know their full history. Make sure they conform to British Safety Standards and are at least 8cm to 10cm deep).

Comes in handy

  • Steriliser and a breast pump if you're breastfeeding (buy these new).
  • A pram is also very useful. You'll need one that folds down easily and can be taken on a bus and into a supermarket. It's also best to get one with a carrycot attachment so your baby can lie flat too (for babies up to six months). Make sure it has the British Kite Mark.
  • Washable changing mat
  • A few toys – look out for a CE Mark. Don't worry too much about buying tons of toys as you'll probably receive these as gifts from friends and family.

Where to bag baby bargains

  • Friends and family are a great source of freebies.
  • Charity shops tend to stock smaller, less valuable items. NCT sales are the treasure troves of second-hand baby goods at prices around a tenth of something new.
  • eBay** **(you can have items delivered to your door) and Gumtree are worth a look as are car boot sales for picking up cheaper essentials, such as play mats and toys.
  • Suptermarket. Don't rule out your local supermarket for bagging a bargain. From wipes to bottles, milk to nappies, look for local offers or use your loyalty card points. Supermarkets often offer buy-one-get-one-free deals on nappies too, so stock up. You definitely don't need to buy brand-name nappies - Aldi, Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury's etc. do their own versions. Your baby isn't likely to care which nappy they poop into, though your wallet might (though we don't suggest letting them use that, either).

Website offers

Even if you stock up, the cost of nappies can add up. Website compares the cost of nappies for you – finding the cheapest and special offers.

Reusable nappies or disposables?

Today's reusables look just like disposables, with elements that can be washed. Consider if they're right for you because although they work out cheaper, they are more hassle.

The average baby gets through 4,000 disposables a year by the time they're potty trained, according to a recent study, which assumes they'll be potty trained at 30 months. A price comparison in the Guardian suggests that reusables will cost a family around £400 a year versus £1,000-plus on disposable nappies and upwards of £250 on the associated paraphernalia such as baby wipes, nappy bags and nappy bins.

Special offers

ELC's Big Birthday Club sends parents 20% off vouchers on a child's birthday, as does MyMothercare. Boots' Parenting Club offers 10 Advantage points for every £1 spent on baby items, while Asda's baby events include discounts on nappies etc.

Cheap classes and networking

Does your baby really need to perform yoga moves at two months old? If you find that you're joining pricey post-natal or baby activity classes simply as a way to meet new mums, check out Mush. It allows mums to search for other mums according to children's ages and interests of the parents. And it's free.

There are also free and very cheap local community classes for parents with children and babies at 3,000 Sure Start Centres nationwide.

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