Sorting out the baby gimmicks from the essentials can be akin to learning a second language for new parents, especially when there are thousands of dollars at stake.
According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, a first child will cost between $3,000 and $13,000 before its first birthday – a marked difference between thrift and indulgence.
Reflecting the $10,000 variance in spend across all families, an AMP study found, unsurprisingly, that parents’ socioeconomic grouping helped determine how much they splashed out on their offspring.
Those in the low income bracket, with an average weekly income of $1,160, spent an average of $86 per week on their newborns, while those in a higher bracket earning an average of $4,984 per week, splurged an average of $231.
The Raising Children’s Network warns that, while it can be tempting to buy all kinds of stuff for your baby, there are only a few things that your little one absolutely needs.
“After you have these essentials, you might decide to do without or hold off on buying a lot of extras. Some equipment can be quite expensive, so it makes sense to base your decisions on what you think you’ll use, rather than what advertisers or others tell you.”
You won’t want make every purchase a used item, but hand-me-downs are a part of growing up and you can cut costs dramatically by shopping around.
Websites like Kidspot.com.au or eBay have a good range of everything from clothes, furniture and nappies. You can also look through parents’ groups, community ads, local markets and second-hand shops.
Another tip from the Raising Children’s network is to look out for sales and special offers on items like nappies and baby wipes, and stock up when they’re cheap (taking care to check the use-by dates).
But before you get to the sales, what do you actually need to buy? Here’s the list of newborn needs and how much, or how little, you can spend.
From – $79 for this model from Ikea.
To – $11,500 for the Fantasy Carriage Crib at Posh Tots. (Strictly for those who want to sleep their baby like a celebrity child.)
New babies don’t need a quilt or blanket – in fact, they can be dangerous.
From – $12 for two pack at all baby bedding stores.
From $10 – You can buy a single flat sheet for as little as $10.
To $130 – Like adult sheets, baby manchester varies in price.
Pram or stroller
From $150 – a standard stroller ranges from $150 – $1000.
Child car restraint
From $150 – $800 – The Infa Secure Luxi Ride is $370, but it takes your child from newborn to about eight years old.
Cloth nappy company Snappies estimates the cost over two years. Other issues also need to be considered with nappies, including environmental, time spent washing and the individual needs of the child.
From $750 – For cloth nappies.
To $2,917 – For disposable nappies.
You’ll also need one nappy bucket for disposable nappies, or two for the cloth option. They retail for about $20.
From $50 – Fisher+Price stock practical bags at Big W.
To $500 + – Storksak Sofia Bag in a soft treated leather. But there’s no limit when it comes to handbags, and if you really want to blow out, you can spend thousands on, say, a $2,200 Louis Vuitton Monogram Mini Lin Diaper Bag.
Singlets and rompers
From $12 for a four pack at Target.
From $5 – Large department stores like Kmart stock bright coloured cardis and jackets like these.
Mid-price – $29 – There are plenty of options like this blue fleece jacket with hood.
To $308 – Keep your kid warm in this Paul Smith junior Elroy Parka.
From $4 – Bonds stocks cute floppy hats with a multitude of prints.
To $35+ – For a more upmarket version, try this cute sunhat by Toshi Bell from David Jones.
From $4 for a two pack – You’ll find socks for a bargain at large discount department stores.
To $72 for a two pack – For feet destined for glamour, try these Stella McCartney tootsie socks for $72 for two pairs.
From $7 for seven – at discount department stores.
To $133 for seven – Little Marc Jacobs has Monday to Sunday prints for those who can afford to protect their baby’s clothes fashionably.
Three or more bunny rugs or muslin wraps.
From $15 – Basic white muslin wraps at Urban Baby.
To $34 + – For a bit more flair, these floral wraps from Toshi provide cute comfort.
From $13 – The Chicco Digi Pediatric Thermometer is a cheap alternative that takes a few minutes to measure your baby’s temperature.
To $120 – The Braun instant thermometer gives instant results and professional accuracy.
You’ll also need to buy soft towels and face washers; baby soap or wash; cottonwool balls; sorbolene and glycerine cream (for cleaning and moisturising); a soft hairbrush; and round-tipped nail scissors.
CHOICE has compiled a full list of optional of useful items including portable high chairs, playpens, day clothes and more. Check it out here.
What you don’t need
• Baby walkers – the Raising Children’s Network warns these can be dangerous
• Cot bumpers
• Quilts, doonas, duvets and pillows aren’t recommended for the first year
• U-shaped pillows aren’t recommended for the first two years
• Baby fruit juices and snacks
• Bottle warmers
For million dollar babies only
Baby Jacuzzi – $2700
If the concept of using a sink to bath your baby is outrageous to you, then this luxury item probably makes perfect sense.
Baby hammock – $275
The Hushamok is one of those baby items that’ll make you want to spam Instagram. While it’s a really gorgeous design, it only supports babies up to around 11kgs. We don’t call that cost effective.
Tiffany bubble blower – $205 (bubbles not included)
No child should be without bubbles, one of life’s simple and beautiful pleasures. Make it a glamourous affair with Tiffany’s Elsa Peretti Padova bubble blower in sterling silver. If that’s not enough, add in the Tiffany Chicks baby cup for $750, or frame your birth record with this $920 picture frame.