My husband and I have learned a lot about being practical when it comes to baby supply purchases. Diapers, clothes, formula (if you need it), and other incidentals can quickly add up. When you’re sleep deprived, it’s easy buy things impulsively and “worry about it later”. Except that you discover “later” means a negative checking account and some serious “WTF did I do?!” buyers remorse. And, all you got out of the ordeal was some dirty diapers. Which is the same thing as garbage. You spent thousands of dollars on garbage. I think we can all agree that this is something we’d all like to avoid.
Before I break it down, I feel obliged to confess that my husband figured out most of these money saving tips. In fact, he’s the one with the coupon binder. And, without him, I don’t know if I would be able to save as much money as we do. So, tip #1 from me would be to recruit your husband as the discount dispenser. For all the parenting things your significant other can’t do (see: lactating), this is something that he (or she) can absolutely help with. And, for us, that something happens to be couponing (and laundry. Admit, you’re pretty jealous that my husband does all the laundry).
The first thing to address is what baby store you should make your primary (if you haven’t registered yet, this is definitely something to consider). The two big, obvious choices are Babies ‘R’ Us and Buy Buy Baby. Both stores take competitor’s coupons, which means you can use any valid coupon from either store at both stores. A lot of where you shop will depend on proximity to your home or personal preference. We are lucky to have both stores approximately the same distance from our apartment, so, all things being equal, we much prefer Buy Buy Baby due to larger selection, more couponing options, and nicer shopping environment. However, I’ll go over how to maximize sales and coupon policies at both Buy Buy Baby and Babies ‘R’ Us, Target, tips for getting discounts on formula, and nursery furniture.
Buy Buy Baby
- You know those 20% off coupons you get in the mail from Bed Bath & Beyond? You know how you don’t need anything from Bed Bath & Beyond, so you throw those away? STOP DOING THAT. Current Bed Bath & Beyond coupons can be used at Buy Buy Baby. Notice that I said current. If the expiration date has past, though, you can still use these coupons at Bed Bath & Beyond and Harmon Discount stores. So, don’t throw these golden tickets away just yet – you’ll be able to use these for baby items. I’ll tell you how.
- Whenever possible, only use 20% off coupons for items costing over $25 (of which, 20% would be $5). If you have $5 off coupons from Bed Bath & Beyond OR Buy Buy Baby, use those first for lower costing items. It will save you more money.
- Use expired Buy Buy Baby, Bed Bath & Beyond, and/or Harmon coupons at Bed Bath & Beyond to buy things like Baby Wipes, A&D Ointment, Desitin, Boogie Wipes, Baby Bath Wash or Lotion, etc. Basically, anything used to clean the baby. This way, you’ll still be able to take advantage of the coupons, and, if you buy the generic brand, you’ll be able to get even more bang for your buck. But, don’t buy generic diapers. Or wipes. The things to buy generic would be A&D, Desitin, Bath Wash/Lotion, or Q-Tips. When it comes to baby wipes, Pampers Sensitive are best at removing the poop spackling that will, inevitably, cover your baby’s butt at some point in his brand new life.
- Buy Buy Baby’s return policy is fabulous. If you got something you didn’t like, had duplicates of, or have no idea where it came from, Buy Buy Baby will take it back and give you store credit.
Babies ‘R’ Us
- Current Buy Buy Baby coupons can be used at Babies ‘R’ Us (but Bed Bath & Beyond or Harmon coupons cannot be redeemed at Babies ‘R’ Us)
- Babies ‘R’ Us offers great diaper sales if you know what you need to buy. DO NOT purchase diapers in bulk (eg: more than 1 large box at a time). Although the unit price is substantially less, you’ll end up spending more because babies grow quickly, and you might have to throw away or donate more than half of a box. If you’re wondering about your baby going up a size in diapers, buy the smallest package possible and test the fit. My little one went from size 1 to size 3 overnight (also, ignore the package’s “weight”. The proper fit for a diaper is ANY SIZE that does not leak. Clark was wearing size 3 at 9.5 pounds, when the suggested weight is 16 lbs).
- Did you receive a gift you don’t want or need from Target, but did not receive a gift receipt? If you registered at Target, simply go to the registry kiosk and print out a “gift log” (or “gift purchase log”). Even if the item is not on the log, if you present the customer service desk with the gift log, they’ll scan it and take back anything purchased from Target without a receipt and give you the current shelf price. The advantage to this is that, sometimes, people purchase gifts you don’t want or need, but Target’s return policy stipulates you can only return $75 worth of merchandise per calendar year without a receipt (they swipe your driver’s license). However, if you print out the gift log, you can return unlimited goods without identification. This way, you’re not stuck with things you don’t need. My recommendation? Save the store credit (you’ll receive it on a gift card) for the necessities: diapers, formula, and extra yoga pants (yes, these will be necessary. Even if you lose all the baby weight, yoga pants are FANTASTIC).
- Target diaper sales are cyclical. Most often, Target offers diaper deals where you purchase 2 boxes of diapers and receive a $25 gift card. Guess how much diapers cost? About $25 (with coupons). This means that if you take advantage of the promotion, your next diaper purchase is free. Yes, you read that right: free diapers from Target. What could be better? Just make sure you hang on to the receipt, so you can return/exchange a large box if/when your baby goes up a size before your eyes.
- Whether you purchase Enfamil, Similac, Gerber, or some other brand, make sure you sign up online for the brand’s coupons and offers. Even if you plan to exclusively breastfeed (EBF), you should sign up for these offers before delivery anyway. Sometimes, circumstances beyond your control (latch issues, low supply, jaundice, etc.) will require that you supplement with formula. Or maybe you’ve decided not to breastfeed. No matter what the situation, you’ll want to make sure you get all the coupons you can because formula is expensive.
- Both Enfamil and Similac have programs where they send new parents a gift pack stocked with powdered formula. Enfamil sends ready-made liquid formula (2 oz bullets). These are super easy for night time feeds or when you’re on the go. You just shake and attach the nipple. However, after you’ve exhausted the samples, purchasing the Similac bullets seems preferable to Enfamil, because Similac includes a nipple and collar with each pack of bullets. Trust me, you’ll need extras.
- The $5 off vouchers you receive from formula companies (these look like checks) can be used in combination with manufacturer’s coupons and store sales. So, if you want to get free baby formula, you can use these things in conjunction.
Cribs and Nursery Furniture
- Do not purchase a nursery set from Buy Buy Baby or Babies ‘R’ Us. It’s a waste of money, and the quality and safety is no better than what you can get from other places.
- IKEA’s cribs have the highest rated reviews on Consumer Reports, AND they pass all U.S. safety standards. You can get a beautiful crib and mattress for under $200 from IKEA. Also, there are so many styles of dressers, nightstands, and other pieces that will match the crib, so the furniture you purchase will grow with your child. And, if you need something different, IKEA isn’t going anywhere: you’ll find pieces to match years from now. Let me say this plainly: do not drive yourself nuts searching for the “perfect” nursery set from a baby store. It is a waste of money.
- Rocking chairs are for squares. You don’t need one.
- The rocking chair rule applies to changing tables, too. It’s just frivolous.
If you’re a new or expectant parent, and you’re wondering what you really need for your bundle of joy, check back soon for my fool-proof registry list. I’ll be providing tips and tricks for getting the most for your money, while also having quality products that will last for future children (or resale, if you decide that one is enough).