Spending big on babies vs second-hand all the way. Here’s how some parents are doing it

 In Home News Section, Uncategorized

Having your first baby is a very exciting time, but the first little one can bring a lot of big expenses.

From cots, to prams, car seats and clothes — setting up a nursery alone can all add up to thousands of dollars.

There’s not much research about the cost of setting yourself up for the arrival of a baby, but according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, a first child could cost between $3,000 and $13,000 before it even turns one.

And that’s not even including the cost of childcare or lost income.

So we spoke to three new parents who have all done things a little differently —from buying almost everything new, to being given most things second hand.

‘We spent about $10k’

Baby Elliott is about six months old and most of the items he uses are brand new.

Parents Emily and James, who are in their mid-twenties, created a spreadsheet to list everything they needed to buy.

The couple live in the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne and both work in the finance industry.

“We’ve spent — not that I would tell my husband — we’ve spent about $10,000,” Emily said.

“It got a little bit out of control. I didn’t realise how expensive it would be.

“I didn’t have an issue with second-hand [items], it just worked out that we didn’t need to buy that many,” Emily explained.

“He was the first grandchild on both sides and everyone spoiled us with so many new items!”

He was also one of the first babies in their friendship circle — so no used baby products were passed along.

And when it came to their own shopping, their main reason for buying new gear instead of sourcing second-hand was safety.

“For us the first thing was safety. So, I really wanted to make sure the things that had particular standards I needed to follow, we were obviously going to buy those brand new,” Emily said.

For instance, KidSafe recommends car seats should not be reused if they’ve been in a car crash. And Red Nose Australia says if second-hand mattresses are soft and saggy, it can pose an increased risk of sudden unexpected deaths in infancy.

While most things they bought were new, they did buy a couple of items like a breast-feeding pillow and swaddles second hand.

“I didn’t really think about it at the time. Now we have all the stuff, when I have the next child, I won’t be going out in a hurry to purchase it all again,” she said.

And Emily has this advice for other parents to be: “My advice would be to enjoy the process but don’t go over the top – you will look back on it and think, ‘why did I buy my child seven of the same jumpers in different colours?”

‘We spent about $400’

Amy and her husband Tom live in the inner-west of Sydney.

When their baby Emma came along, they were fortunate to be given a lot of baby goods second-hand from their friends and family.

“We were very close to having everything we needed just from being given things. Everything else we were able to find through our local op shop or through Marketplace or Gumtree,” Amy said.

“Tom’s sister gave us the cot, change table, and lots of toys and clothes.”

And the rest they bought second-hand from op shops or online.

“I come from a long line of mad op shoppers,” Emma said.

“We bought a pram on Gumtree for $100 — it was a very expensive pram in close to new condition. We saved probably $1,000.”

They ended up spending about $400 altogether.

When Emma was just 10 days old, the couple bought their first house, so the money they saved has gone straight into the mortgage.

“I think our attitude was always to buy the minimum new,” Amy said.

Aside from saving money, they were keen to reuse and recycle goods.

“We could have afforded to spend more to be honest, but apart from anything else there is so much waste with baby stuff. It’s one of the things you see piled on council collection days.”

“Most things are used for such a short time, but people seem to have a real aversion to using second-hand baby things for some reason.

“If anything, we found we really didn’t need to buy anything new if we didn’t want to.”

One of the things they had intended to buy new was a car seat.

“But we were given one from a close friend, so we knew the history and we knew it was safe,” she said.

The only things they ended up buying new were some books and basic singlets.

Emma’s advice for new mums is pretty straightforward.

“Regardless of whether you’re going second-hand or new, people are going to give you so much stuff you’ll end up with more than you need. Particularly baby clothes — they go through them so fast,” she said.

“You don’t need to buy as much as you think you do.”

‘We will pay it forward’

Thom and Ben had their first baby in October.

They had already spent between $50,000 to $80,000 just to have a baby. That’s because their family was created through surrogacy.

The large expenses include medical procedures, counselling and parentage orders.

However, Australia has altruistic surrogacy — so that means they cannot pay their surrogate, Alison.

“For us the surrogacy is the most generous thing of all. Outside of that, the other really valuable thing we’ve been given is breast milk,” Thom said.

Friends have also rallied around the couple to give them their old baby gear.

“Most of our friends have also had their kids, so they just have a lot of stuff to give away,” explained Thom.

“We’re quite blown away by the amount of stuff we were given — it almost feels a little bit ridiculous.”

They’ve received all the big-ticket items — from the cot, pram and bassinet — to reusable nappies.

“As soon as people started to give us stuff we thought, ‘we’re not going to say no to things. We will find a use to these things or we will pay it forward,'” Thom said.

“We would have saved thousands of dollars. But our main motivation was really around carbon footprint and not wanting to contribute to the purchasing of new things that will some day all end up in landfill.”

Any other items they needed, they’ve found at op shops.

Their surrogate Alison is a keen op shopper and she influenced their buying habits as well.

“A lot of the stuff at op shops or on Marketplace is really untouched, unused. People get given things they find they don’t want or need,” Thom said.

Their first new purchase for the baby has been a change mat.

“We grew up in a generation where most of our clothes were hand-me-downs, both of our parents would make things for us which was much more common. More recently there’s been a culture of purchasing a lot of new stuff,” Thom said.

Thom’s advice for other new parents is simply about helping other parents out.

“People like to support each other. Look after the things you have so you can pass it on to some other family,” he said.

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By business reporter Emily Stewart (Original ABC Article)

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