How to prepare for baby on a budget

Right, so this will probably be the only belly shot you will see of me... so enjoy ;) This is me at 36 weeks and as you can most likely guess from the crib and the background I am standing in the nursery. In june we moved to a new city because the mister and me both have new jobs and our apartment came with two bedrooms one of which now is the nursery.

One of the things that shocked us most when getting the nursery ready was how much people spend on it. Youtube, pinterest, blogs... a lot of people put more effort (and money) into their nursery than into the rest of their houses.

If you want to do this it is fine of course. Enjoy the process and go all in for it. However, this is not how we roll. Now I am not saying that we got everything for free but we certainly watched our budget and tried to be wise with our spending.

In the end, painting, furnishing and decorating the room AND getting all of the things baby needs (think stroller, clothes, diapers, wipes, bottles...) cost us: 1250 euros!!! That is 1378 dollars. Again, not cheap but in the Netherlands, this would be the cost of the stroller only if you buy one new.

Want to know how we did it? Here are a few tips on where to splurge and where to save.


Ok, let's get these out of the way first. We splurged on the following, meaning we got these items new and just bought what we liked without looking at the pricetag too closely.

- Changing table.

There is quite a height difference between the mister and me and the table has to work for us both. Also, we did not like either the finish or the style of any of the IKEA options (snobby us) so we bought one from a baby outletshop. It was not crazy expensive (215 euros, 237 dollars) but it was new. To be fair: YOU CAN SAVE LOADS by buying the changing table second hand. So if your budget is tight, definitely try that. Also, you do not need to buy a specific changing table, any deeper cabinet, dresser or table will do. Just go on Pinterest and get inspired.

- Rug.

I am highly allergic to dust and while a like a soft and plushy rug for the room, it had to be new or very, very well (read: chemically) cleaned. The rug is from IKEA and cost us around 100 euros (110 dollars).


Now on to the fun bit. How we saved hundreds, both in euros and dollars!

- Use your network!

We bought the stroller, carseat and a sling / carrier from friends of ours whose daughter had just outgrown them. I also got bottles, bottle sterilizer, and accessories for the breastpump from a friend who had bought them but never used them. By finding these items second hand, we saved the most. Buying from friends Do not be shy, ask around. People tend to keep a lot of baby items they did not really use or are finished with using and are happy to help out their friends with it. One tip though: ask if they want the items back after you are finished with them. You do not want to loose a friend because you tossed their baby carrier ;)

- Let the grandparents / aunts / uncles contribute.

We are the first in both our families to have a baby so our parents are in fullblown grandparent mode. Also, our siblings are nuts about the little one and he is not even here yet. My mister's mother had kept the crib that he and his father both slept in and beautifully restored it. My parents got him a swing and we received uncountable amounts of little socks and other clothing items from both sides of the family. Use this excitement of the family! If they want to give the baby a gift, this is fine. Another tip: plan the bigger gifts. In our case, all grandparents wanted to contribute one "large" item like the crib, the swing and a bikeseat. We made sure they knew who was buying what to prevent doubles. We also told the aunts that we have enough newborn socks by now so if they still wanted to buy gifts, it would be more helpful to buy bigger sizes for when the baby is older. They understood and were totally fine with it.

- Thrifting.

Yes, the clothes that we did buy for our little gem all come from the thriftstore. Not that one will ever notice, they are mostly "nice brands". See, the thing is that if people buy babyclothes as a gift, they will most likely buy "brand stuff". But babies grow out of their clothes really quickly and one cannot keep everything (at least most families will not). So they bring their outgrown baby clothes to the thrift store and voila!, you can buy really nice clothes for a fraction of the price. Prices I paid ranged from 0.25 eurocent (0.27 cents) to 1 euro (1.10 dollars). Another big saving right here!

- Outlets and sales.

A no-brainer. If you want to buy new things, do your research first! We have a chain of baby outletstores in the Netherlands which buy such large quantities from the suppliers that they can sell them on for a good price. This is where we got the bath, the nursing pillow, diaper bag and a few other items.
As for sales, we have a member card for our local hardware store and I check their website for special offers regularly after we moved. This way we got good deals on paint and painting supplies and also bought the lamp for the nursery with 70% off. 

- Repurpose and recycle.

Some of the items you can see in the nursery have been re-used. The IKEA Jennylund armchair which I will use for nursing comes from my old room at my parents' house. I bought it 13 years ago (!!!) but never really used it in the past six or so years. So I brought it to our new home and got a new cover from Ikea to match with the nursery. Just replacing the cover costs way less than buying a whole new armchair, so we saved money again. Same goes for the two beige wooden crates next to the armchair. They hold a few toys for the little one to play with when he is older. We used the crates in the kitchen of our old apartment because we had limited cupboard space. Now we have a ridiculously large kitchen and do not need them there anymore. So they moved to the nursery. Same goes for the curtains which were our old living room curtains. The beige looks so nice with the pale blue and again, it cost us nothing because we already had them.

- Registering and coupons

I know that in the US there is a tradition of having a baby shower and the mum-to-be can register with specific stores upfront, make a list of stuff she would like to have and the baby shower guests can then buy items from that list. VERY GOOD IDEA!!!!!! By all means, if you know there will be a baby shower coming up for you, then do register. Not only will that reduce the chance of having things double, it also makes life easier for the guests because they know what to get and that it will make you happy. Win-win situation.
However, there is another way of registering. I mean the part where you can register with a drugstore for babysupplies. I am registered for diapers and each time I buy a pack, I can save "points" which I can trade in for free diapers regularly. The drugstore also supplies moms-to-be with coupons and some of them help you save a lot on all kinds of things, from pacifiers to vitamins to nipple cream.

- Buy only what the baby needs

White noise machines, baby gyms, a bobby car... some people have it all and I just cannot understand why. A newborn sleeps most of the day and when he / she is awake can only see about 20 cm far. He / she is most content with being cuddled and held by the parents, being fed well and clean. There is no need to buy thousands of things at this point. Wait with purchasing until you know you need it. Does the baby have trouble sleeping? Ok, you may want to get a white noise machine. Is he older and more active? Get the baby gym. And in about a year, you can look around for that bobby car or whatever it is that the little one fancies. There is no need to buy it all now.

- Freebies? Yes, please.

Now this may be a Dutch special so this is why I put it last. Here, we can register for free "baby boxes". Our drugstore offers one as do two stores for baby / maternity stuff. Dutch readers: look for boxes from Etos, babydump and prenatal, they are the nicest. You register and they will send you a box full of free stuff. Of course, the box contains a lot of advertisements and they will contact you to see if you want to order a magazine or whatever, but you can easily say no and they will leave you alone. However, the freebies included in the boxes are really nice. They range from pacifiers (the good ones from Avent!!!) to diapers, clothes, storage containers for formula to magazines for us mums-to-be. And there will be coupons for anything from diapers to bathing oil to breastpads. If you can, register for those boxes. They are worth it.

So after saving and splurging here and there, this is what the final result looks like. A calm, clean and uncluttered nursery fully decked out to care for our little baby boy.