Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How Much?

In High School we had a health teacher that would respond to every comment or question with two words: "How much?" I was reminded of dear Mr. Mazeall this past week when Jon and I sat down to create a list of needed baby items. In addition to hearing my husband pronounce new words like "Bumbo" and "Boppy," and wonder why on earth a little baby needs its own bath towels and washcloths, each new item we added to the list caused us to both wonder - how much is this going to cost??
According to the book "Baby Bargains" the following is a simplified list of the Average Cost of Having a Baby:

Crib, mattress, dresser, rocker ..... $1500
Bedding/decor ..... $300
Baby clothes ..... $500
Disposable diapers ..... $600
Maternity clothes ..... $1200
Nursery items, high chair, toys ..... $400
Baby food/formula ..... $900
Stroller, car seat, carrier ... $300
Miscellaneous ... $500
TOTAL ..... $6200

And that's just to prepare for the baby's arrival, yikes! But those who know me best know that I am a planner, and that I am cheap. So of course, it's no surprise that I've already started shopping for baby and that my favorite places to shop are thrift stores, yard sales and Craigslist. My husband is also a planner, but he's also very practical. So despite all my searching and shopping, I don't have much to show for it. Here is what we have amassed so far for the Baby J Collection:

1.) one Playtex drop-in bottle - I got this for free in a goodie bag the first time I bought something from Motherhood Maternity. It is so adorable, I just want to put it in a display case and hang it on the wall.
2.) one nautical flags newborn shirt - I picked this up while shopping in a thrift store last year. The whole nautical flag thing was too cute. Now Baby J can dress just like daddy!
3.) one Nuk pacifier - we got this from Uncle Jared as a joke two Christmases ago. Little did he know we would need it so soon!

Clearly, we're off to a roaring start! With so much to get, it's important to know the right places to look. Aside from the typical baby and department stores, here is my list of the best places to get baby stuff. Of course, there are some things that should be purchased brand new, but for everything else there's:

1.) Thrift Stores and Consignment Shops - my personal favorite is CHKD in Virginia Beach. Not only do they have the cutest baby clothes and great maternity clothes, but proceeds also go to the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters. I've heard good things about "Rock a Bye Baby" too but have yet to check it out.
2.) Yard Sales - I don't mean just any old yard sale, although those will work too, but just the other weekend I met up with some girls from work to attend the Tidewater Mothers of Multiples Club Consignment Sale. The sale started at 9, so we arrived at 8:55, only to discover a line around the church building. Because only 100 shoppers are allowed in the building at a time, we waited over an hour to get our bags and check out the goods. In the meantime, we had to stand in line and watch early-arrivers walk by carrying play-yards, bouncers, swings and strollers. So we were amazed to discover how much was still left after we got in. The nice thing about a Multiples Club is that if you see someone carrying something you want, there's a good chance there's another one out there, or two! This has to be the most organized sale I have ever seen. And I had just as much fun standing in line chatting it up with others mothers and picking out the best looking travel systems as I did actually shopping inside! I didn't get anything for baby this time around (although I did get some things for myself), but I'll be better prepared for the next sale in September, at which I plan to arrive an hour or so early!
3.) CraigsList - this only works in largely-populated areas. CraigsList is a great way to find specific items for cheap - especially big things like cribs and little things like Bumbos or clothing lots. But the good items go fast, so you have to check it regularly.
4.) Baby Showers - and I don't mean for getting gifts. I've attended three baby showers this past month and just watching the mothers-to-be open gifts has given me some great ideas. When attending a shower, I think the best move to make is to plant yourself next to a veteran mother and grill her for all she's worth. That's what I did last weekend. It wasn't my shower but I ended up walking away with: an opportunity to check out Ezzo's series on raising infants, a chance to borrow some maternity clothes in a few weeks and, my biggest catch, the business card of a fabulous natural childbirth trainer.

And that's the advice of a mom-to-be who's only in her 14th week of pregnancy, so take it with a grain of salt. It's a good thing it takes 9 monthes to create a baby, because clearly there is much to learn and much to be done in that short amount of time. Meanwhile, I look forward to watching Baby J's Collection grow along with my belly!

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