My wife and I didn’t find out the gender of either of our kids until the moment they were born. And while part of me would have liked to have one of each, there was also a part of me – the fiscally pragmatic side – that hoped for and was happy when our second was also a little girl. Why? Because we’d be able to reuse all the crates of baby clothes we stored away as our oldest daughter outgrew them with our second.
There’s no getting around it; kids are expensive to have. But there are ways to keep costs down – particularly important during that stressful first year when Mom or Dad may be off work on maternity / paternity leave, with little or no income.
Beg and Borrow (Just Don’t Steal)
Rahul and Anna, proud parents of a toddler, are expecting the imminent arrival of their second child. And, as they did with their first, they plan on relying on their network of friends for borrowed clothes and other gear. Lucky for them, many of their friends had a jumpstart on the couple’s own personal baby boom. “It was ideal being late to the game because a lot of our friends were generous with hand‐me‐downs, loaners, as well as free advice. All sorts of toys, clothes, swings, chairs, harnesses, and other baby‐related equipment made their way to our home from friends and neighbours,” says Rahul. “We are very aware that babies grow extremely rapidly, outgrowing clothes, seats, swings, and toys,” he adds. “They are too young to know or care if any of it is used or new, and therefore, as much as we can, we’re keeping all the new purchases to diapers and baby food.”
There are at least two things to be cautious about borrowing: car seats and cribs. Federal regulations require them to be stamped with an expiry date (which varies depending on the make and model of the seat). While I used to cynically think this was just a sales gimmick, the reality is that the plastic in the seats can degrade over time – particularly in Canada where they spend half the year parked in a sweltering car and the other half in a freezing one. New parents (and some veterans) may have also missed a spate of recalls relating to drop-side cribs. There have been reports of children being injured and many cribs that were legal when sold are no longer considered safe.
Rahul also knows to not make one newbie mistake they made: “The company that sold us the crib did a good sales job on the bumper, and we only realized later that any such item in the crib is a huge risk factor for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).” (According to Health Canada, such products can limit the flow of oxygen-rich air to the infant, one suspected culprit behind the syndrome.)
Keeping It Simple With Consultations
Parenting, particularly the first time around, can be a frightening, stressful challenge. Recognizing that, there’s an entire industry of consultants out there keen to capitalize on newbie parents’ fears: breast-feeding coaches, baby proofers, sleep training experts, and so on.
Your local public health department can arrange free consultations with lactation consultants and advice on safety around the house, and your pediatrician will offer some tips of getting your baby to sleep. But most important of all, ask those other parents around you. Rahul agrees. “The best part was the instructions and advice that came with the stuff [we borrowed]. We were advised on the best way to use the items, what babies love most in their experiences, and most importantly: what not to do. My favourite advice that I now offer new parents is: don’t waste money on that.”