By making simple switches and smart product investments, new parents can save thousands of dollars in the first year, while still providing what is best for baby.
"Parents can get high-quality, safe products for their infant and spend less," says Sandra Gordon, national baby products expert and author of "Consumer Reports Best Baby Products, 10th edition." Here are her tips:
•Infant nutrition—go with the store brand. While breast milk is best and the most economical choice, for moms who choose to formula feed or want to supplement breast milk with formula, store brand infant formula is nutritionally comparable to national brands.
"As a mom and pediatrician, I recommend to moms who choose to formula feed to check out store brand infant formula," said Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg, M.D., a New York City pediatrician and author of "The Smart Parent's Guide to Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses and Accidents."
"All infant formula sold in the United States, national and store brands, must meet the same nutrient requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration so they are nutritionally equivalent." Visit www.storebrandformula.com for more information and nutritional comparisons.
•Don't buy a crib set. It may seem nice to have a beautiful, coordinated crib set, but certain accessories can make your baby's crib unsafe. Basically, bare is best. A tight-fitting crib sheet is all your baby needs. For warmth, dress your baby in a sleep sack instead of using a crib blanket.
•Skip the designer duds. Babies grow fast, so they won't get to wear expensive clothes for long. Watch for sales and scout for designer wear at secondhand shops. They can also be great places for holiday outfits.
•Buy a new car seat. If you get a used car seat at a garage sale, you won't know the age of the car seat or if it's been in an accident, which can compromise its integrity; car seats have an expiration date, typically six years. Car seat components can degrade over time. Also, the instruction manual may be missing, and installing the seat correctly is extremely important for your child's safety.
•Buy a safe, reliable crib. Crib safety standards are updated frequently. A new crib can help you be sure you're getting the safest one for your baby. It's money well spent, especially considering that babies spend up to 18 hours a day sleeping.
•Buy a quality stroller. Consider how and where you'll use the stroller most often to determine what kind to get and avoid buying multiple strollers. You can probably get a quality set of wheels starting at around $150.
For additional saving and parenting tips, visit www.babyproductsmom.com.