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Love isn’t measured by the amount you spend items for your new baby

PUBLISHED: 16:03 27 May 2017 | UPDATED: 10:28 28 May 2017

Newborn babies don't need lots of material possessions, says thrifty living columnist Sheena Grant, after a survey revealed parents say they wasted £195 on buying pointless baby items in the run-up to birth.
Photo: GettyImages/iStockphoto

Newborn babies don't need lots of material possessions, says thrifty living columnist Sheena Grant, after a survey revealed parents say they wasted £195 on buying pointless baby items in the run-up to birth. Photo: GettyImages/iStockphoto

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Those trying to sell us something we don’t need are adept at knowing how to exploit our insecurities and expectations to get us to part with our hard-earned cash, writes Sheena Grant.

And there are certain areas of life where we are particularly vulnerable to the message that in order to do something properly or enjoy it to the full, we must have it all - often with a premium price tag.

Anything associated with weddings springs to mind, along with parenthood, particularly new parenthood.

For nest-building mums (and sometimes dads) to-be, the list of must-have items (or should that be gimmicks) goes on and on. And often, nothing but the most expensive, brand-spanking new will do.

I speak from experience. After a recent clear-out of baby items that I really should have disposed of before now I offered a clean and complete steam sterilising kit and a pristine back-facing car seat to a pregnant friend. She didn’t want them, preferring to buy new instead.

I doubt she’s alone. And it doesn’t end with the items you do actually need. A recent survey of 2,000 parents with children under five found they wasted £195 on buying pointless baby items in the run-up to birth. The top three useless purchases were nappy bins, fussy baby slings and white noise machines. Other surveys have found the typical new mum spends £1,000 preparing for the birth of her baby but some part with as much as £3,000.

This is crazy, particularly at a time when many women are facing a drop in income as they give up work, at least for a few months, to be with their new baby.

The irony is, of course, that aside from a few essentials babies don’t need material possessions. Love isn’t measured by the amount you spend.

New mums and dads can save money with hand-me-down clothes, especially in the early months when children out-grow outfits alarmingly quickly and by making use of the large number of free or low-cost options out there.

I’d recommend National Childbirth Trust (NCT) nearly new sales to save a fortune (you can find your nearest forthcoming sale at www.nct.org.uk/branches/events/nearly-new-sales), along with buying from charity shops (which is where my rejected steam steriliser and car seat ended up), and classified ads. You can also get lots of free items from your local online Freecycle network, where people post lists of items wanted and items offered. The idea is that it saves people money and keeps otherwise unwanted items out of landfill. Everyone wins.

Unlike my friend, when my son was newborn I was more than happy to accept things offered from friends and acquaintances for free. I got a cot from a work colleague, which I later passed on to a neighbour, and bags of free clothes from another workmate.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I like to think that giving clothes or equipment your own children have grown out of to others is a part of that community ethos that is sometimes sadly lacking in modern life. And, let’s be clear, no-one needs a nappy bin.

Share your tips via email or Tweet her using #ThriftyLiving.

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