1) “Don’t be tempted to buy fancy muslin cloths, but look for cheap, plain white muslins in the supermarket,” says Becky Goddard-Hill, author of How to Afford Time Off with Your Baby. You can usually find cheaper muslin cloths in the cleaning section of supermarkets.
2) Sign up for shop loyalty cards. In Boots you get 4 points for every £1 you spend, and each point is worth a penny. Wait until they add up and buy your first supply of nappies in bulk.
3) Been given lots of newborn-sized clothes? “Take a few packs back and change them for the next size up,” suggests Becky. “That way you get more wear out of your freebies.”
4) Looking for a pick-me-up before b-day? Tesco has launched bargain beauty salons in several of its stores, offering hair cuts and waxing from £12.50 (www.tesco.co.uk).
Mum’s tip – “I hunt in charity shops for baby clothes for Mysti-Rae, and have found some real gems. I give them a wash before use and she always looks lovely, even though she’s in second-hand gear.”
Jules Harland, 44, from East Yorkshire, mum to Mysti-Rae, 2
5) There’s been a raft of changes to the benefit system recently, so make sure you get what you’re entitled to. “Do a five-minute benefit check at www.turn2us.org.uk,” says Archna Luthra from www.moneysavingexpert.com. “All you have to do is enter your details and the rest of the work is done for you.”
Mum’s tip – “I found bra extenders (try www.mumstuff.co.uk for a four-pack for £4.50) to fit to the hooks of my bra around the back, which meant I was able to wear them for that little bit longer, as my pregnancy chest grew.”
Margaret Claxton, 36, from Norfolk, mum to Jamie, 4, and Troy, 2 months
6) Buy a bellyband to get a few more weeks out of your trusty jeans, even if you can’t button them up. You may need a maternity pair later, but this way you’ll only have to buy one style for the last bit. ASDA does a two-pack for only £8 (www.asda.com).
7) A new baby means lots of washing, so look out for offers on washing powder and stock up. Opt for non-biological brands to avoid any irritations to your little one’s delicate skin.
8) “Before you buy new paint to decorate your nursery, ask a friend whose colour scheme you like where they got their paint from and see if they have any left,” suggests Becky. Friends will be happy to help, as they’ll be flattered that you want to copy their taste!
9) Don’t forget to ask your midwife for your maternity exemption form – FW8. Pregnant women are entitled to free NHS dental treatment and prescriptions until their tot is one.
10) Join your local library. You can borrow books, toys and find out about free singalong sessions. Find yours at www.direct.gov.uk.
11) There are loads of fancy stretch mark creams on the market, but if you’re feeling the pinch, try olive oil. A little goes a long way, and it’ll keep your skin soft and supple.
12) “Be open with family and friends about what you need, so they can help cut down your shopping list,” says Becky. Log on to www.amazon.co.uk and make a wish list, so nobody has to guess.
Mum’s tip – “My family got together to buy big items for my first baby. I then gave them to my sister-in-law, and got them back when I had Theo. Passing it around family means you know where it’s been.”
Nicola Spiteri, 34, from Cardiff, mum to Jacob, 4, and Theo, 1
13) “Before you buy things for your baby, make a list of the absolute must-have items that you’ll need, and cut out anything that you just want,” says Nicola. “You’ll be surprised what you save on non-essential items.”
14) Consider whether you really want to invest in a changing table, as they can cost up to a couple of hundred pounds if they don’t come as part of a storage system. Instead, buy a changing mat from Amazon for £4 and do nappy time on the bed to help save your back.
15) It’s estimated you can save more than £460 on all your baby needs if you shop around for the best deal first. “Using comparison sites can give you a benchmark price on your big items,” says Archna. Try www.idealo.co.uk which has a dedicated family section.
Mum’s tip – “When I was looking for a pram I called my local Mothercare each week and asked what deals they had coming up and when, so that I never missed a bargain.”
Tammi Brown, 24, from Staines, mum to Isabel, 6 months
16) “Have a dedicated baby money box and every day during your pregnancy empty your purse and put all the £1 and £2 coins in it,” suggests Nicola Cairncross, Pampers Village Parenting Panel Money Expert. “You’ll be amazed how quickly it adds up and you can spend it on one of your big items.”
17) Putting your tot in reusable nappies can save you £500 per child. Give them a try with the Miointro Kit, £24.99, from Bambino Mio.
18) Visit The Original Factory Shop Online at www.tofsonline.co.uk for massive savings of up to 50% on bedding, toys and every day homewares.
Buy secondhand or new?
Maternity gear – secondhand. You’re only going to wear it for a few months, so don’t splash out on a whole new wardrobe, just ask friends if their togs are in good nick and get borrowing.
Buggies – secondhand. If you can find a pre-loved set of wheels, check thoroughly for wear and tear first.
Baby clothes – secondhand. Friends are bound to have loads that they don’t need or that you can borrow. However, avoid any togs with loose or missing buttons.
Car seats – new. You never know if these have been involved in an accident. Head to a trusted retailer instead for advice.
Cot mattresses – new. If they’ve been used, these can harbour all kinds of bacteria and germs. If you buy privately, make sure the mattress is unopened with its wrapping still on.
Stairgates – new. These could have parts missing, so measure up your stairway and buy new.