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Budgeting For Baby: The Nursery

Updated on March 24, 2013

How We Outfitted Our Baby's Nursery for $340 by Shopping Online and Buying Used.

Is budgeting for baby dampening your excitement about the new addition? New babies can cost a lot, especially if you are buying everything yourself. However, if you shop carefully and creatively, you can save a bundle on buying for baby.

When we found out I was expecting in 2010, we were delighted and unprepared. Our five older children were all teenagers, and aside from a few cherished handknitted sweaters, we didn't have any "baby stuff" left.

Once the euphoria wore off, our thoughts turned to practical matters.We sat down and made our new baby checklist, beginning with cheap baby furniture. As cute as they are, babies and all the equipment they require are expensive. As I'm always looking for ways to reduce costs and boost our savings, buying retail wasn't in our plans.

By searching online and visiting our local second-hand shops and consignment stores, we were able to outfit our baby's nursery for just $340 - one quarter of the retail price of $1500!! Here is how we did it.


Research Baby Item Prices Then Go Online

The first rule of getting a good deal on anything is to educate yourself. Find out what the retail costs are. A used crib for $200 may seem like a great deal until you see the identical new crib on sale at Walmart for $199. Prior to buying anything we spent some time looking up the costs of all things baby related. Look in flyers, and online at retail sites. We started with Sears, Toys'R'Us, and Walmart to familiarize ourselves with the price of cribs, car seats, change tables, etc. We also read reviews from other parents and Consumer Reports, and paid attention to recall notices as they appeared in the news.


Buy Baby Furniture From the Manufacturer and Cut Out The Middleman

My husband is an old pro at buying items at auction both in person and through eBay. As we did our research on creating and decorating an inexpensive baby nursery, he began to watch several new cribs listed on eBay directly from the manufacturer. After a few weeks of bidding on cheap baby furniture, he eventually bought a gorgeous designer baby crib. It retailed for $600, and his winning bid was $150. Shortly after that he purchased a beautiful brand new baby crib bedding set, including bumper pads, comforter, fitted crib sheet, storage pockets, diaper hanger, and valance, for a total of $30, also on eBay. We liked it far better than the $150 sets we saw at Sears.

There are literally thousands of new and used baby items for sale on eBay. We saw listings from individuals, from small manufacturers or home based businesses, and from liquidators. Our crib and bedding set were bought from two separate manufacturers. We decided to make the one hour drive to pick up the crib from the manufacturer so we could save the shipping fee. The bedding set was purchased from a location in the United States and shipped to my sister-in-law's home in Michigan, and we simply picked it up when we visited at Christmas.

4 Points to Keep In Mind When Buying For Baby

  1. Be mindful of shipping and handling fees - some of them can be downright expensive! Read the information carefully, and factor this into your calculations to determine if your purchase is still a great deal.
  2. Watch out for "pick up fees". Usually less than shipping and handling, these can be levied by sellers who allow you to pick up your purchases directly from a warehouse or factory instead of having it shipped. Once again, take them into consideration when working out your savings.
  3. Safety comes first when it comes to furniture for your baby - check EVERYTHING carefully for flaws that could be dangerous to your child. While missing items (such as screws, or a crib sheet) can be easily and safely replaced, stay away from goods that are damaged enough to compromise a little one's safety.
  4. Instruction sheets and manuals for products from well-known brands can almost always be had! If you are looking at a new or slightly used purchase that is missing a manual, don't panic. Search online for the make and model - if the manual itself can't be downloaded, call the toll free customer service line and request that the information be sent to you.

Scratches, Dents, & Missing Manuals Mean Big Savings on Baby Furniture

Buyer Beware is a phrase to remember when you are looking for deals on cheap baby furniture online, but if you are handy and creative you can save a bundle. Many of our brand-new purchases were from a liquidator selling on eBay. Their overstocks, returned items, and scratch-and-dent items are available at a fraction of the retail price, though you have to check everything carefully for missing or broken items.

My handy husband is almost always able to replace small missing screws, etc. or make minor repairs. One of our best buys was a new dark wood baby change table with three drawers, retailing for $199.00, which we purchased for $30.00 (I liked it for the added storage and the fact that it was stained the same dark shade as the crib). It was advertised as a "new return", and was still in the box as it needed to be assembled.

While the instruction manual was included, the flat top of the change table was not! A quick trip to our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore yielded one matching dark piece of wood for $1.00. It took five minutes to cut it down to size and it fit beautifully. Even better, when we called the liquidator to complain about the missing piece we were given a $5.00 credit. Our change table cost a grand total of $26.00 - a savings of $173.00!

I was also pleased with the crib mattress we purchased from the same liquidator. It was a Sears O'Pedic Medium-Firm Support Crib Mattress, which retails for $69.99. It was brand new, and still in the plastic, however there was a small tear in the cover. By using a small piece of fabric tape and ensuring that that side of the mattress faces down, it isn't noticeable. Our cost? $15.00...for an additional $55.00 savings.

Another great deal was on a collapsible playpen. It was brand new, but missing the sheet to cover the bottom, the carrying case, and the manual. The sales listing online said that it was difficult to fold down. We searched the make and model, found the instruction sheet which explained a trick to fold it down, and decided to bid on it. (I figured that I could easily make do for the sheet, and we didn't need the carrying case). The playpen which retailed for $109.00 was ours for ninety nine cents plus 10 minutes of internet research.


Online Classifieds Help You Save Money On Used Baby Items

Craigslist, eBay, and Kijiji were all sites that we checked daily for gently used baby furniture. The baby items that I am willing to purchase as "gently used" are things that don't get a lot of wear and tear or require frequent washing. However, used baby things are popular sellers, and more than once we found that we were too late and the item had sold. Sometimes the item was already sold within an hour of being listed - you have to move quickly once you see something that fits your needs. We did have some luck through our local Kijiji site, where we were able to buy a Kids Line Musical Mobile - the African Dream model, for $10.00 from a woman whose children had outgrown it. The same mobile retails for $59.99 at Toys'R'Us. As mobiles don't tend to get a lot of hands-on use by babies, they are a great second-hand buy as they look brand new. And at a $60 dollar savings we were thrilled!

Shop Second Hand for Deals on Baby Things

Value Village, Once Upon a Child, and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore are all second hand shops in our home city of Burlington, Ontario that we visited in our quest for great deals on baby items and furniture.

Value Village is a great place to shop for clothes, but we were also able to pick up a beautiful Teddy Bear lamp, two matching Teddy Bear cushions (for a rocking chair or for the floor) and a framed Disney Poster for $25.00.

Once Upon A Child is a consignment store that has a good inventory of new and gently used change tables and nursery decor in addition to it's well-priced used clothes. One visit yielded an Ikea Hanging Storage Net for stuffed animals that was priced at only $2.00. The same item is listed at $6.99 in the Ikea catalogue. By shopping at the "end of season" sale in November, we were able to buy summer clothes for $1.00 a piece. Several of these still had the store tags on them! Baby Gap, Children's Marketplace, Snugabye, Carter's, and OshKosh were all in the bag that I brought home - twenty pieces for twenty dollars!

The ReStore is a regular destination as we renovate our house, and we soon discovered that it has bins of wallpaper and nursery border, paint, lamps, and baby-themed electrical switch plates at a reduced price. Keeping with our teddy bear theme we picked up three rolls of "A Teddy Bear's Picnic" border for a total of $15.00.

And remember to return to the consignment stores and charity-run shops with the furniture and baby things your child has grown out of. It will benefit your wallet or a deserving charity.

What Do You Think?

Would you buy or accept second-hand baby furniture?

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And Finally, a Word about Hand-me-Downs and Loaners

Friends, co-workers, and extended family members whose own children have outgrown their baby equipment, furniture, and clothes, are also a great source of used baby things, either at a great price or for free. One of the ladies that my husband works with gave us a gorgeous glider-rocker and footstool that had been a gift she had only used once. We saw it online for $250.00. She also gave us an extra change-table pad that she had never used, and saved us another $20.00.

A family acquaintance was finished with her Evenflo exersaucer and her Graco wind-up swing and dropped them off with a bag of baby clothes. If you are lucky enough to be the recipient of such generosity, remember to send a heart-felt thank you card. An important point to keep in mind is that safety standards change over the years, so ensure that any hand-me-downs are still compliant with the safety standards for your province or state. Second hand cribs, car seats, high chairs, and strollers are all items which should be carefully assessed prior to placing your babies in them.

Baby bassinets seem to be one item that are often loaned amongst family members and friends. They are used for such a short period of time, and at a stage where the babies can't move around enough to cause much damage, so they get very little wear and tear. If you are using a "loaner" bassinet, ensure that you return it in the same condition you received it in.

And there you have it. By doing our homework to familiarize ourselves with the prices, keeping alert for deals, using elbow-grease and a screwdriver when needed, and accepting hand-me-downs from friends and family, we were well prepared for our baby who arrived this past spring. The twelve hundred dollars we saved is a fantastic start to her education savings plan. We did it, and so can you!


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    • SallyTX profile image

      Sally Branche 4 years ago from Only In Texas!

      Excellent tips and ideas and lovely personal photos! Voted up, useful and awesome! ;D

    • Avamum profile image

      Sarita Harbour 7 years ago from Yellowknife, Canada

      Congratulations, Hudlife! Looks like you already have a real cutie on your hands. Welcome to hubpages (from another newbie, of course!)

    • hudlife profile image

      hudlife 7 years ago from South Carolina

      Wonderful advice! We are expecting our 2nd child now, so this is especially timely info for us.

    • heart4theword profile image

      heart4theword 7 years ago from hub

      Great job, on the savings...preparing the babies room. Congratulations, to you all! Sounds like it was quite the surprise:) Enjoy your new journey! You have plenty of helpers:)

    • Avamum profile image

      Sarita Harbour 7 years ago from Yellowknife, Canada

      Thanks for the kind words, Ign Any! Glad you found it useful.

    • Ign Andy profile image

      Ign Andy 7 years ago from Green Home Office

      Great share! very useful for new mom and dad. I think smart spending is the key.