Shopping for a baby registry is so much fun. Who doesn't love shooting that registry "gun" at everything from baby wipes to snuggly blankets to strollers and even cribs?
But in this tough economy, should you put those higher priced items on the registry? Shouldn't you just stick to the basics? When all you want is the best for your little one, how do you know when to scrimp and when to splurge?
Sandra Gordon, author of "Consumer Reports Best Baby Products," and a frequent contributor to OV Parent Magazine, has some answers for you. In a recent phone interview, she discussed several things on which it's worth spending the money and others that give you an opportunity to save your pennies for Baby's college fund, or groceries, whatever the case may be.
Averyana, 4 months, Wheeling
Speaking of groceries, while breastfeeding is the least expensive way to feed your baby - it's free - Gordon said when it comes to purchasing formula, you can save $600 a year by puchasing store brand formula as opposed to brand name. (If you breastfeed, you can save $2,000, she added.)
"The formula industry is highly regulated by the FDA. "(Store brand formula) is nutritionally equivalent" to the more expensive brand name formula, "because it has to be," she said.
Gordon is a fan of the baby registry, and she said not to be shy when picking items for it.
By the Numbers
- The average cost of raising a child: $250,000
- The average cost for first year of a baby's life: $10,000
- The cost of all the items listed on the typical baby registry: $950
- When the recession is completely over, 83 percent of moms do NOT think they will return to their previous spending patterns.
"You should maximize your registry. People want to buy you stuff, so why not let them pay for the things you want?" Gordon said.
When at the store with "gun" in hand, take your time and plan to make several trips to complete your registry. You want to be able to have time to test drive the strollers, for example, and most couples get tired of "shopping" after about an hour.
"Break it up into a couple one-hour sessions so you don't get burned out" and end up with items you don't want or like, which can cost you money in the long run, she said.
Don't forget the basics, like diapers and wipes, Gordon said, but also don't hesitate to put the big ticket items on your registry.
"Even though people are pinching pennies, they may go in together on gifts."
A few other tips from Gordon:
Save on clothing. Don't put clothes on the registry and don't worry about buying tons of new clothes for your baby. Get together with friends for clothes-swapping parties and frequent consignment or thrift stores.
"Buy secondhand. I'm kind of picky about secondhand with most baby products, but with clothes, no," Gordon said. "Secondhand clothes make a lot of sense" because so many of the outfits are worn only once or twice before the child grows out of them or that particular holiday passes. It's hard, but Gordon said you can save beaucoup bucks by not letting the adorable factor of those tiny togs "suck you in."
Save on crib bedding. Because of the possibility of Baby suffocating or getting overheated under blankets, "all you need is a crib bumper and a tight-fitting crib sheet, and that's it." Some safety experts even say ix-nay on the umper-bay because of possible suffocation or, when they're older, using the bumper as a ladder to climb out of the crib.
Save on a bassinet. If you have room, just put the crib in your room and "skip the whole bassinet." The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends "rooming in" with newborns, but nowhere does it say a bassinet is the only option.
Splurge on a crib. You don't want to get sentimental and say, "Oh, that was my husband's when he was a baby! No, you want to get the most up to date crib out there."
Splurge on a car seat. Don't buy a secondhand car seat because it's impossible to know if it's been in a crash already - and if it has, it is not fit to use, Gordon said. Used car seats usually come without user's manuals, as well, which could lead to improper installation and care. You don't want to be one of those statistics.
Gordon noted buying for Baby can be fun, but it doesn't have to be a budget-buster.