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The Coupon Lady: Saving on items for baby

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Last week, I answered a reader’s question about how to coupon while unemployed or facing any reduction in income. This week, Gigina asks: “How can expecting mothers save on new baby expenses including diapers and wipes?”

Having a baby can be very expensive. It’s easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest things, but most of those things aren’t necessary.

The first thing you have to do is figure out what you need.

If you are a first-time parent, you are going to need a lot. If you plan on buying any of your furniture used or secondhand, be very cautious when you purchase or receive used cribs, car seats and mattresses. In the past few years, there have been several recalls on cribs, including entire styles and lines. Since 2006, many recalls have been issued for “drop side” cribs, a crib that has a side that slides down for easy access to the baby.

I had my own experience with a crib recall. My son’s crib was part of a recall shortly before my daughter’s birth. Thankfully, the manufacturers provided a repair kit, so if you do get a recalled crib you might be able to repair it.

Car seats can fracture with age, so be sure that those infant stroller and car seat combo sets are no more than three or four years old. If you buy a used seat, you take the chance that it could have been involved in an accident. A car seat should be replaced after any major fender bender. Car seats tend to have micro fractures in the frames that can be hard to spot with the naked eye. Most states prohibit consignment shops from selling used car seats and mattresses, but they can still be found in yard sales, on Craigslist or in flea markets.

A basic checklist for a baby’s first six months includes: five to six onesies, five to six shirts, five to six pairs of pants, two or three warm tops, two or three hats, five to six bibs, four to five pairs of booties, four to five receiving blankets, two baby blankets, a baby thermometer, medicine dropper, nasal aspirator, a diaper bag, and five to six bottles for formula feeding or one to two bottles for emergencies if breast feeding.

These items are perfect to request from showers, and you can ask around for gently used clothing. You’d be surprised how long some people hang on to clothes. I recently gave a family friend my daughter’s 2T outfits even though my daughter hasn’t worn that size in nearly a year.

So, how would I get ready for an arrival?

First, I would use coupons from the newspaper, manufacturer Web sites, Facebook and freebie Web sites to gather free samples and coupons. My couponing would focus on baby deals from Target, BabiesRUs, BuyBuy Baby, drugstores and supermarkets.

Once you are on the mailing list for BuyBuy Baby, they send out coupons for $5 off $15 purchases. You can also use manufacturer coupons there, so you can combine the $5 off coupon with other coupons. That helps you on the accessories, clothes and diapers.

Target frequently has sales on many baby items, and you can combine the store coupons found on its Web site with manufacturer coupons.

At BabiesRUs, you can register your preferences on a registry and create a shopping list. Once you’ve filled out paperwork and scanned the items you’d like to purchase, you will receive a kit full of coupons and samples. Often, that kit includes a free baby bottle (mine was an Aveda), which would be a perfect emergency bottle for a breast-feeding mother.

My favorite deals on shampoos, lotions, diapers and wipes would have to be found at the drugstores. By combining store sales, manufacturer and store coupons, and store rebates such as CVS’s Extra Care Bucks program, you can easily pick up a pack of diapers for just $3 to $4 a package.

My advice is to begin shopping as soon as you find out you are expecting. That way, you only have to pick up one or two packages at a time.

Building a stockpile before baby comes will affect your wallet much less than if you wait to purchase those items until you need them.


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