Monday 23 September 2019

Fiona Ness: Here's how it's possible to do new parenting on the cheap

Stock photo
Stock photo
Fiona Ness

Fiona Ness

'If you give a pig a party, she's going to ask for some balloons…" so the popular children's book goes.

It's also a warning to parents on how spending begets spending - especially the parents who, according to a new survey, are spending up to €15,000 (on average) in the first year of a baby's life.

Since when did you need to seek seed capital in order to have a baby? Is it really the babies who are expensive, or just our tastes?

Is a little newborn going to know if they are cocooned in a Mamas & Papas nursery suite, complete with hand-painted frescoes, or tucked into the bottom drawer of the tallboy? Why worry about decorating a nursery when they can't even see in colour?

Retailers prey on the insecurities of new parents, where every nursery item is a must-have. However, it is possible to do new parenting on the cheap.

First of all, when it comes to maternity hospitals, go public. It's the same care (honest) except you're in a bigger ward.

Next, step away from the Bugaboo, and all the other nursery paraphernalia (clip-on cots, I'm looking at you). Ask granny what her baby essentials were, consider buying them, and start accepting hand-me-downs.

I got a solid wood hand-me-down cot and changing unit from my sister, and her then 10-year-old Silver Cross "travel system" (pram, buggy and car seat combo). Yes it looked antiquated beside the latest ergonomic buggy, but the penchant in our family for "keeping things good" meant I got something that looked brand new and kept the baby warm and dry.

By the time I wheeled it round to the SVDP for a new owner, it was positively retro.

Friends will be only delighted to empty their cupboards, full of old baby clothes, into yours. But here's a tip: don't buy any baby clothes at all. All your newborn gifts will be of tiny clothes because other people can't resist buying them either, and you won't be putting them in anything other than babygros for the first six months anyway.

Avoid fancy creams, lotions or ointments. Sudocrem is your friend.

Avoid expensive formulas and sterilisers, and breastfeed instead - after all, you can't steam sterilise your nipples.

A colleague even offered to give me her old terry towelling nappies. "You don't even have to wash them after they've been weed on. Just soak them in a bucket of lavender water." It was a bridge too far.

Yes, babies are cheap, so enjoy that while you can.

By the time you hit the teenage years, apparently you're forking out for expensive brands, Spotify accounts, mobile bills and braces, lipfillers and €50 for a Friday night out.

If you give a pig a party…

Irish Independent

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