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Baby Checklist

50+ tips 'n' tricks to save with a baby or toddler

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Jenny | Edited by Steve N

Updated 27 Jun 2016

new baby checklist

Babies are as costly as they are cute. Your wallet starts to take the hit even before they arrive, so prepare your finances as early as possible.

We've 57 tips 'n' tricks to help you save cash, whether you're expecting a new baby, have a newborn, or have tots in tow already.

Protect your family's income

We know it's not something you want to think about as you welcome a new baby, but life insurance comes top of this list – and for good reason.

Sadly, one child in 30 loses a parent before finishing education, so it's crucial to consider the financial impact if the worst happened.

Level term life insurance pays out a set amount if you die within a fixed term. It's the simplest type of life insurance – it's based on two key factors:

family under umbrella
  • Term. The payout you get doesn't vary. It's always at a set amount regardless of when you die during the term, eg, £200,000.
  • Level. You only get a payout if you die within a fixed term, eg, 18 years.

While this is one policy you of course hope won't pay out, it's well worth looking into. But it's very easy to pay £1,000s more than you need to over the life of the policy – even if you get it through a comparison site – due to huge commissions.

We've a step-by-step guide to help you work out if life insurance is right for you with, with key dos and don'ts and tips for getting it the cheapest way. See Cheap Life Insurance for full help.

Ensure you're getting child tax credit

Tax credits are payouts made regularly into your bank account from the state to support you if you've kids, or if you work but have a low income. How much you'll get will vary widely, depending on your circumstances, but this could potentially mean £1,000s in extra cash to help.

The more kids you have, the more you could get. There are two types, and you can be eligible for none, one or both:

Child tax credits

Anyone with children, whether working or not, could be eligible

Working tax credits

Anyone who works, whether they've got kids or not, could be eligible

  • You'll need to renew every year. If not, your repayments could stop completely. Always tell the tax office if your circumstances change to avoid overpayment hell.

  • Check what you're entitled to. Find info on how to check your entitlement, how to renew your claim, and frequently asked questions in the full Tax Credits guide.

Buy neutral baby clothes if you plan to have more

Many splash out on a raft of traditional pink togs and accessories as soon as they find out they're having a girl – or blue for a boy.

But if you plan to have more kids, invest in more gender-neutral colours like green, white or yellow. Then you can reuse them for any more new arrivals.

Urgently check if your car seat's safe

baby checklistSeveral big high street stores that sell baby car seats offer to fit them for free, a huge draw for new parents worried about getting it right. Yet beware – shockingly, a 2014 Which? investigation found 90% of stores they tested didn't install the car seats correctly.

So be very careful when fitting your baby's car seat, and read the instructions fully. Fail to comply with car seat safety rules and you can be hit by a fine of up to £500 – and more importantly, your child may not be safe in an accident.

Only EU-approved baby seats are allowed in the UK, so check when you buy – look for the official symbol, a capital 'E' in a circle. You can find the rules for car seats on the Gov.uk website, while Which? has useful info on how to fit car seats safely. One forumite's tip:

Practise fastening car seat straps using a teddy or doll as a substitute, and practise putting the seat in the car a few times. It'll help familiarise you with what's required and stop a moment of panic in the hospital car park on the way home!

Urgently check childcare tax credit – don't miss out on £1,000s

Check if you're entitled to what's technically called the 'Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit' – this is NOT the same as Child Tax Credit.

You can usually claim it for children up to age 15, provided you pay for approved (Ofsted or equivalent) childcare.

Did you know? The average childcare tax credit payout is around £60 PER WEEK. That's OVER £3,000 per year!

The eligibility criteria are very complex, so we've tried to distil it in a simple rule of thumb – see Childcare Costs Help for full help.

To qualify for childcare tax credit you must:

Be a single parent working 16+ hours a week
Be in a couple both working 16+ hours a week

If that's you, and your total household income's under £46,000, you should DEFINITELY check if you're entitled.

Get hidden baby discounts at ELC, Boots, Asda...

As a new parent, retailers are super-keen to bag your custom with baby promos. Just make sure you only take them up on the good ones!

  • Early Learning Centre logo

    Early Learning Centre's Birthday Club

    Open to parents of kids aged one to five, its Big Birthday Club* is free to join. Sign up online or in store and you'll get a 20% off voucher, valid in store, online or by phone, for three months (see voucher for terms).

  • Boots logo

    Boots Parenting Club

    Sign up to the Boots* parenting club for offers, free mags aimed at your child's age group, and 10 Advantage points for every £1 spent on baby items compared to the normal one point.

  • Asda logo

    Asda baby discount events

    Asda* has regular baby discount events in store and online. These are hugely popular with MoneySavers, with discounts on items such as nappies, baby wipes, walkers and safety gates.

  • Supermarket baby clubs

    Big supermarkets have online baby and toddler clubs which send money-off coupons and free samples to members. To join, just sign up online on the Tesco* and Asda baby club sites. Sainsbury's often has discounts on baby products on its website too.

  • My Mothercare

    Register with My Mothercare for discount vouchers and sneak previews of their sales. Plus, when your baby's birthday comes around, you'll also get 20% off toys.

  • Emma's Diary

    Join Emma's Diary and get Argos money-off vouchers and a £15 photo book voucher, plus you can enter a host of competitions.

Nab discounts on Amazon baby booty

Amazon Prime* members (costs £79) can sign up 'free' to the Amazon Family* club. It's aimed at parents, though is open to all. Members get monthly discounts and 20% off nappies when they subscribe to regular deliveries (more below).

Confusingly, Amazon Prime and Family are essentially the same thing. The difference is Family members get Prime automatically, while Prime customers can get Family membership by clicking to sign up free to the club.

Get a free 30-day membership

Newbies get the first 30 days of Amazon Prime free as part of an ongoing offer – after that, it's £79 for a year.

Amazon's confirmed you can cancel any time during the 30-day trial and no payment's taken. So you can sign up, grab the discount, then diarise to cancel. Make sure you do, or it'll automatically take £79.

Tots judge gifts on fun factor, not cost

It's often said tots spend more time playing with the wrapping than the present itself. When Martin mentioned this on his TV show, he was inundated with people tweeting and emailing photos of their young children having great fun with cardboard boxes they'd been given for Christmas. See Martin's blog for the pics.

picture of new baby in box

Many will want to buy a present for their baby's first birthday, but you don't need to spend a fortune on a gift to make them happy. Young kids judge presents by how much fun they have with 'em, not the price tag.

To help, we've compiled a huge list of tried-and-tested gift ideas for under £5 from our Festive Fivers competitions. They're sure to put smiles on kids' faces.

New 'Tinder for mum-friends' app

picture of Mush app

Want to meet local parents of similar-age kids for support and playdates without stumping up for costly classes? A new, free Tinder-style app, Mush, allows mums to do just that.

To be clear, this is a nookie-free zone – it isn't a dating app. But, like Tinder, Mush lets you browse through profiles to select potential pals with similar interests. (It hopes to launch a similar app for dads at the end of the year.)

More than 15,000 mums have joined since the app launched in April. Mush says 40% of its users are in London, with the rest dotted around the UK.

MSE Jenny says:

I moved to a new area last month and was a bit worried about being a Billy No-Mates. I downloaded Mush and have already met a lovely mum with a little boy my daughter's age, only 10 doors down from me.

How to sign up

Just download the app from Apple's iOS App Store or Google Play Store. Connect the app to your Facebook and add your kids' ages. Select a few interests such as 'nature-lover' or 'bake-off queen'. Then you can browse other mums' profiles and message them to say hi.

Mush recommends that you always meet other mums in public places the first time.

What NOT to buy – don't get what you don't need

picture of baby in dinosaur costume

While promotions might be tempting, try not to go overboard. When out shopping, ask yourself if you really need those tiny Ugg boots, a 'wipes warmer' (seriously) or baby hammock. After all, babies want cuddles, not luxury outfits.

If it's your first pregnancy, you'll probably be a bit overwhelmed thinking about what stuff you might need. But if you're not careful, you could end up buying a whole load of gear you'll never use, before the wee one's even born.

To help put together your 'what I need' list, the NHS site has a handy list of recommended essentials, from bootees to bedding, car seats and cots.

If you need some advice on what baby items to steer clear of, check the Products you DON'T need thread in our forum. Here are some of the items on their 'don't buy' lists:

  • Nappy bins

    "Value nappy sacks do the job fine. If it's particularly stinky, just double-bag it."

  • Play mat

    "Bought it for daughter when she was three months – she'd outgrown it by five months. Much better with a blanket and a few toys on the floor. "

  • Door bouncer

    "She just didn't like and it got in the way."

  • Posh changing bag

    "I bought a changing bag, which was unpractical, so bought a normal bag. Addition of a portable changing mat did the job."

Disposable vs reusable nappies

Yep, we're talking poo. If your tot's nappy bills are more expensive (and more frequent) than Lady Gaga's costume changes, it's time to get tough. Whether reusables or disposables, it's possible to make big savings. See the Cheap Nappies discussion to read others' feedback and add yours.

Check who has 'parental responsibility'

If you die, responsibility for your kids goes to anyone with 'parental responsibility'. Mothers automatically have this.

Fathers usually have parental responsibility if they're married to the mother, but it depends on where the birth is registered. Here's a breakdown:

  • England and Wales. Dads automatically have parental responsibility if they're married to the mother when the child's born. Unmarried fathers of children born after 1 Dec 2003 also have it, if their name's on the birth certificate.

  • Scotland. Fathers automatically have parental responsibility if they're married to the mother when the child's conceived or marry her afterwards. Unmarried dads of children born after 4 May 2006 also have it, if their name's on the birth certificate.

  • Northern Ireland. Dads automatically have parental responsibility if they're married to the mother when the child's born or marry her afterwards. Unmarried dads of children born after 15 April 2002 also have it, if their name's on the birth certificate.

How to apply

If you don't automatically qualify, you need to get a parental responsibility agreement. The mother needs to agree to this, and you need to be connected to the child, eg, as their father or step-parent.

Fill out the forms, then take them to your local county court. You'll need the child's birth certificate and proof of your ID. If you want parental responsibility but the mother doesn't agree, you need to apply for a court order.

This is a complex area. There's a full guide to parental responsibility on Gov.uk.

If you die without a will and there is no one else with parental responsibility, the courts decide who looks after your child. See Arrange who'd look after them.

Get 20% off nappies with Amazon discounts

Combine two Amazon discounts and you can grab a big saving on nappies and wipes. Don't assume Amazon's cheapest though – compare first.

  • Step 1: Save 5% off with Subscribe and Save*.

    Amazon's Subscribe and Save service gives 5% off selected household items when you place a repeat order, including nappies and wipes. There's no minimum commitment, so if you want, you can simply cancel after your first delivery.

  • Step 2: Extra 15% off with Amazon Family* via Prime

    Amazon Prime* members (costs £79) can sign up 'free' to the Amazon Family* club. Join Family and you get an extra 15% off nappies and wipes when you subscribe, boosting the discount to 20%. Prime normally costs £79/year, but there's currently a free 30-day trial.

    Remember – don't forget to cancel your trial before the 30 days are up to avoid being charged, plus stop your subscription once you've got all you need.

  • How much can I save? At the time of writing, Amazon sold a 174-pack of size 4 Pampers at £20.08. This dropped to £16.06 with the 20% off, working out at 9p/nappy. The next cheapest was Sainsbury's at 11p/nappy.

    There's more on Subscribe and Save in our Amazon Buying guide.

Make sure you register the birth

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, births need to be registered within 42 days (in Scotland it's 21 days). If you don't register by this deadline, you can be hit with a fine of up to £200, so do it as soon as you can.

You can do this in the local registry office for where the birth happened, or it can often be done at the hospital before the mother leaves. If you can't get to your local register office, you can go to another and they'll send your details through.

picture of stork with baby

Once you're with the registrar, it generally takes about half an hour to complete the process. See Gov.uk for more info and for your nearest office.

Once you have registered the birth, your baby will be issued with a short birth certificate for free in England and Wales. If would like a more detailed one, there are extra fees.

The rules are slightly different for Scotland and Northern Ireland. See the National Records of Scotland or NI Direct for more info.

Most register offices have an appointment system and opening hours vary, so check before you go.

Free dental treatment & meds for new mums

Women who are pregnant or have had a baby in the past 12 months get free NHS dental treatment and prescriptions throughout the UK. It's a handy little freebie, so make sure you make the most of it while you can.

Remember to book a dental check-up before the end of your first year as a new mum, as MSE Jenny did:

I saved £260 on dental treatment, as I had a check-up the week before my card ran out. Woo woo!

Save £1,000s on childcare before it's too late

With childcare vouchers, you trade in pre-tax salary for vouchers to spend on childcare. For example, to get £1,000 of vouchers, you forgo £1,000 of salary. Yet after basic-rate tax and National Insurance, that's only worth £700ish in your pay packet, so you're £300 up.

Anyone can do this, even if their partner doesn't work, provided their employer offers it.

picture of crayons

However, from April 2018, this scheme ends for people who haven't signed up beforehand. After that, 'Tax-Free Childcare' starts. Working parents (if you're couple, both of you must work), can put £80 in an account to pay for childcare and £20 is added. The maximum addition is £2,000/yr per child.

Each scheme has winners and losers, so you need to decide ASAP which is best for you. See the How Childcare Vouchers Work guide for more information on the changes and how to work out what's right for you.

Sort your will out

If you're about to add to your family, make sure you've made a will. Everyone with any assets such as savings or a house, and loved ones they'd like to look after, should consider making one.

It's well worth tackling as soon as possible, both for your baby and for your peace of mind. A will has three main functions:

  • It names your executors. These are the people you choose to sort out your finances after you've gone.

  • It shares out your estate. A will lets you state where everything you own will go, from property to pets.

  • It helps sort out inheritance tax. If you die without a will, strict rules mean your assets may not go where you want them to. If you haven't planned for it, inheritance tax may take a hefty, unexpected chunk. See the Inheritance Tax Planning guide for help.

Don't leave a financial nightmare for your family. Even if you've already got a will, make sure it's current. Solicitor-drafted wills can be cheap or free to make or amend. Find full info on all the options in the Free And Cheap Wills guide.

Use forumites' tried & tested tips

Here are some tried and tested tips from forumites, share yours in the What you wish you'd known discussion:

  • Be a team

    "If you can, spread the load with your partner and family. Setting aside a little time for yourself can pay dividends, so try to give each other time off.

    "You will both be exhausted at times but giving each other a break makes the world of difference. We have a routine where every Saturday I get up early with our daughter. We sit in the kitchen batch-cooking food for the week while mum has a lie in.

    "Any little thing you can do to show that you still care for your partner will make for a happier home for your baby."

  • Try baby booty swaps

    "My little one is eight weeks younger than my cousin's. So I bought one item, she bought another (bouncing cradle and door bouncer). We just swap when we fancy a change!"

  • Babies love simple pleasures

    "I put my baby in her bouncy chair and would sit her watching me as I did chores or activities. I would narrate to her what I was doing or show her interesting things, but she was enthralled just watching me."

  • Listen to your instincts

    "Everybody has an opinion about raising babies and they feel the need to tell you. Take it all with a pinch of salt. Stick with how you feel and what suits your baby (and partner) best."

Arrange who'd look after your kids if you die

If you've a new baby on the way, or other kids under 18, make sure you discuss with your partner and family who'd look after them if you're unable to.

Don't put it off – making plans and provisions now will help to ensure they're safe and cared for if the worst happens.

When you discuss it, first make sure those you've asked are prepared to do it, as it's a big commitment. You can then name them in your will as legal guardians (see Free and Cheap Wills). But if, further down the line, they become unable to look after them, or if they refused, a court would appoint a suitable guardian instead.

Quickly compare the cost of your nappies

Nappies make up more than a wee part of your baby budget, so do your research before buying.

Bum Deal

Comparison site Bum Deal instantly shows big disposable nappy brands' cost at big retailers, including Tesco, Asda, Waitrose, Ocado, Aldi, Sainsbury's and more. It also compares baby wipes.

Select your preferred brand and size, and it shows where they're cheapest, plus special offers.

Bum Deal estimates you'll use more than 4,000 nappies in your baby's first two years. It found these cost £900 at the priciest retailer, compared to £400 at the cheapest, saving a huge £500.

Don't be tempted to buy designer baby clothes

Your baby isn't a brand snob. They just want clean, comfortable and safe clothing, not the latest labels and trends. So don't be tempted to splash out on designer gear.

They'll soon reach their teens and demand expensive goods, so save the cash for later (you'll need it!)

Similarly, while many want to splash out on a present to celebrate their baby's first birthday, they're at the golden age where pulling a silly face gets a giggle. Enjoy it while it lasts – see Tots judge gifts on fun factor above for more.

Get your full maternity pay entitlement

picture of new baby in sunglasses

If you've worked for the same company for longer than six months and take time off work when your baby's born, your employer's responsible for paying you at least a minimum level of salary.

How much will I get? For 2016, it's £139.58 per week or 90% of your average earnings, whichever is lower. Maternity pay is higher in the first six weeks, as you get 90% of your average weekly earnings before it's capped.

How long will I get it for? Statutory maternity pay is for if you're pregnant and employed (adoption pay has similar rules for those adopting). You'll be paid for up to 39 weeks whilst you're on leave.

The statutory level's the minimum you should get, but your individual contract may provide more.

Do I qualify? You must earn at least £112 per week and have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks by the time the baby's due-date is 15 weeks away (maternity and paternity pay both have the same qualifying rules).

How do I get it? Payments are made via your employer, so speak to your manager or human resources department. You'll need to give your employer proof of pregnancy in the form of a letter from your doctor or midwife, or a MatB1 maternity certificate.

See the Gov.uk pages on Statutory Maternity Pay or Statutory Adoption Pay. If you don't qualify for statutory maternity pay, you may be able to get Maternity Allowance.

Bag free pregnancy tests

OK, for many reading this guide it may be a bit late for a pregnancy test... but if you're planning on adding to your family, here's a quick tip to help.

For a stick you wee on, pregnancy tests can be surprisingly pricey. Yet anyone can get free pregnancy tests at family planning clinics, from your GP, or from some Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinics (plus Brook Centres if under 25). Search on the NHS website to find your nearest centre.

If you are going to shell out, don't assume pricier pregnancy tests are more accurate.

The Family Planning Association told us: "All the brands on the high street, including cheaper own brands, are extremely accurate. Just because a test is from a pound shop doesn't make it less reliable. The most important thing is for women to make sure they can understand the instructions and what they're supposed to do with the test to make it work."

Don't be afraid to ask for extra help

Caring for a new baby can leave you utterly worn out. Don't be afraid to ask for extra help from family and friends – whether it's doing the washing up or taking the baby out for the afternoon.

Here's a tip from the forums:

When people come round to visit the baby, have tea, coffee, sugar, mugs and milk ready – ask them to make refreshments.

I remember a group of friends from work coming round, chatting while I ran round making drinks. All niceties of being a host go out the window after little sleep, sore nipples and stitches!

For professional help, health visitors are registered nurses or midwives who are trained to carry out home visits. In England, all expecting parents and families with children under five have a named NHS health visitor. Make sure you've got their contact details in case you need them – your GP or local Children's Centre will be able to put you in touch.

Get instant help from specialist helplines

While your health visitor should be able to help with any questions you've got, some report problems with missed appointments. If you've any non-urgent questions (call 999 if it's a medical emergency), there are a range of specialist numbers to help:

picture of baby with phone
  • Parenting support. The National Childbirth Trust is the UK's largest charity for parents. It has a helpline, 0300 330 0700, for practical and emotional support in pregnancy, birth and early parenthood.

    It can help with all sorts of issues, including help with feeding, post-natal depression and more.

  • Breastfeeding. The charity-run National Breastfeeding Helpline is funded by the Department of Health. It offers a UK helpline on 0300 100 0212 for practical info and support for any breastfeeding queries.

  • Medical help. Only call 999 if it's a medical emergency – if you need other medical help fast, call NHS 111 service in England and Scotland or NHS Direct in Wales 0845 46 47. There are different sites for NHS services in England, Scotland and Wales. Parents in Northern Ireland should contact their GP.

  • Single parents. Charity Gingerbread has a freephone single parent helpline for one-to-one confidential advice and info. It only covers England and Wales, so alternatively contact One Parent Families Scotland or Gingerbread NI.

  • SIDS. Cot death charity The Lullaby Trust has a free helpline on 0808 802 6869.

See the NHS website for details of other useful parenting helplines available.

Get your full paternity pay entitlement

If you're a dad-to-be who's worked for the same company for over six months, and take time off work when your baby's born, your employer's responsible for paying you at least a minimum level of salary.

Uncover hidden 75%+ Amazon baby discounts

Amazon Discount Finder

We've built the Amazon Discount Finder tool to uncover massively discounted items on Amazon. Use these ready-made links to quickly search for discounts of 75%+ in its Baby* and Toys and Games* sections, or have a play with the tool to see what you can uncover across its other departments.

Know your maternity and paternity leave rights

The terms of your employment are protected when you go on maternity or paternity leave. This means you're entitled to any pay rises given while you're away, and you still build up entitlement to any holiday days while you're off.

Free and discounted cinema tickets for tots

A trip to the movies doesn't have to be pricey. There are often extra discounts available if you've tots in tow.

Discounted cinema tickets
  • Odeon

    If your baby is small enough to sit on your lap while watching the film, they can go for free. However, it does say it's at the manager's discretion. Odeon also runs 'Odeon Newbies' – special film screenings that have brighter lights and lower volume especially for parents and guardians with new babies. Adults pay for a usual ticket and under twos go free.

  • Cineworld

    Also offers free entry for babes in arms to morning or afternoon screenings with a U, PG or 12A certificate.

  • Picturehouse Cinemas

    Some Picturehouse branches run the Big Scream Club for parents of children under one. The club costs £5 and lasts until the baby is a year old. Parents get discounted tickets that are the same price as a member would pay, and babies go free. Picturehouse also runs Toddler Time screenings for pre-schoolers. Membership is free, tickets for the tots are £3 and parents go free.

  • Check for extra discounts.

    Cinemas can offer special rates for kids, teens, families, students and off-peak films, so do check with your local first.

See the Cheap Cinema Tickets page for the latest discounts, including school holiday deals, free previews and many more.

Batch cook before the baby arrives if you can

Time spent doing this early can be a huge help later, when you're exhausted from nappy changes and feeding. It needn't take too long.

If you've a little one on the way, here's a quick tip from our forums:

Stock up on ready meals and/or batch cook and stick some portions in the freezer. It's unlikely you'll want to cook much in the first few weeks, let alone find the time to.

Other popular suggestions from the forums include easy soup recipes, batch roasts, and even Once a month cooking if you're keen. See the Batch cooking ideas discussion for inspiration.

Max the interest on baby cash gifts

If your new baby gets cash gifts from family and friends, make sure their first bank account has the best interest rate possible. Many banks let you open accounts for your kids from birth. See the Children's Savings guide for full best buys.

Tips to slash the cost of prams, incl cheap refurbished models

baby checklistNew prams and pushchairs can easily cost hundreds, with some even over £1,000. Yet there are quick tricks to help bring costs down.

Define your requirements

Before you spend, do your research. Think about which features are most important to you. Is having a lightweight number more important than one with all the bells and whistles? Does it need to fold up as small as possible to fit in the car or hallway? There are masses of different types, so draw up a list of your priorities.

Also ask friends and family if they've any unused prams or pushchairs you could borrow – if you don't mind the type, it may save you having to buy one at all.

Check reviews and feedback

There are a huge number of different types available, so check reviews to help – you can ask questions and pick up tips in our Buggy advice forum discussion. Parenting site Mumsnet also has handy user reviews for each type, and you can find product reviews on Amazon*.

Quickly compare prices online

Once you've decided the type, use our MegaShopBot comparison tool to get the cheapest price from new as a benchmark. Then see if you can beat this – try eBay* and Gumtree, and even giveaway sites such as Freecycle and Freegle to see if you can pick one up for nowt (see the 40+ eBay Buying Tips and Freecycle & Freegle tricks guides for help).

Depending on the type you've got, it may even be possible to buy just the detachable carry cot if you've got the frame already, so check on the retailer's or manufacturer's website to see if it's possible for your model.

Grab cheap refurbished prams

Buying a refurbished pushchair can slash the price, and while they're preloved, they often look as good as new.

Mamas and Papas now sells its own-brand reconditioned pushchairs via its official site. For example, we found an Urbo2 pushchair for £219 – similar models were on sale for £500ish new elsewhere.

It sells buggies for 25% to 50% off their usual RRP, and says they're put through a 20-point reconditioning process.

Another way to hunt out reconditioned buggies is to search eBay, using the keywords 'reconditioned' and 'refurbished'.

Free sign helps stop cold callers waking the baby

No cold callers signUnwanted doorstep sellers can be hugely frustrating, particularly if you've just got your newborn to sleep. To help, we've a Free No Cold Callers Sign to print 'n' pop on your front door.

Some forumites advocate getting your baby used to noise early, yet it's still handy way to get some peace after a sleepless night. One MoneySaver reports:

I was getting very annoyed being disturbed by the doorbell when feeding my baby, as was she. I've only had one cold caller since the sign went up and felt fine about shutting the door!

Flog old baby equipment when you're finished

Don't forget you can make extra cash (and extra space) by selling old baby items online on eBay* and Gumtree when they're no longer useful.

If you've little time and heaps of similar small items, consider selling them as a bundle. This works especially well with baby clothes. But sell more expensive branded goods individually – don't bung Baby Gap in with Tesco Value.

If you're buying pricey baby equipment which you plan to sell after you've used it, forumites recommend hanging on to the boxes if you've got space. Selling items in their original boxes may help to fetch a better price, though only sell when you're sure you won't need the items again. See the eBay Selling Tricks guide for tips to help you get the best price.

Don't assume Junior ISAs are best

Junior ISAs are tax-free savings accounts that under-18s can save or invest up to £4,080 in this tax year. They're tax-free until their 18th birthday (often beyond) to build a nest egg for adult life.

But for many, they simply aren't worth it. As most kids don't pay tax, junior ISAs have limited benefits so are generally most helpful for more affluent families. See the Junior ISAs guide to check if your kids would be better off with a Top Children's Savings account.

If you save for your child in a junior ISA it's their money, not yours. When they reach 18, they can do whatever they want with it – including blowing the lot. Even cute toddlers can become rebellious teens, so you may prefer to save for them in your account instead.

Bag free baby booty on giveaway sites

Giveaway websites Freecycle and Freegle are thriving online recycling communities where people give away things they no longer use.

These are great for picking up freebies of all kinds, from toys and baby clothes to games and PCs. It's also a handy way to have a clear-out while helping others.picture of baby clothes

Share your finds in the Freecycle successes discussion, and see the Freecycle and Freegle guide for tips. Some success stories for inspiration:

I love Freecycle! I've used it loads to get baby things for my first which has been so helpful. We've given away a lot of things too.

We kitted out baby's nursery with a jungle theme from Freecycle, matching cot bumper, curtains, clock, cot mobile, washable play-mat, animal soft toys, toy boxes, moose rug, two bouncy chairs (which went back on Freecycle when he outgrew them), baby monitors, a breast pump, and moses basket/stand.

It's worth noting you should be wary of secondhand kids' car seats though, as they may have been damaged in an accident. See Gov.uk's car seat safety info.

Get paid for your opinion between feedings

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It's possible to earn £100s a year from home, without any special skill or talent. You could be paid to take part in online surveys, which are often short enough to fill in during breaks between feedings.

Some surveys can pay £1-£5 for just a few minutes of your time. Find the full list of top picks in the Top Online Survey Sites guide, as well as tips 'n' tricks to help you maximise your returns.

There's lots more you can do to make extra cash, even while at home looking after kids. See Boost Your Income.

Do a baby safety check on your hands 'n' knees

If you're making your home safe for a crawling tot (do it sooner than you think), don't rely on an adult's-eye view.

Here's one forumite's tip:

To make rooms more child friendly, crawl round on hands and knees, this gives a view of the world from their angle. Makes you realise corners of coffee tables etc are danger zones.

Here are a few quick pointers to get you started:

crawling baby
  • Cover corners and any crevices where little fingers could get stuck, eg, DVD player openings.

  • Remove anything that could be easily pulled over, eg, tablecloths and cables.

  • Ensure household appliances are well out of reach, eg, irons, hair straighteners and hairdryers.

  • Check any safety gates are fitted properly and tightly secured.

  • Secure any furniture units to the wall, so they can't be pulled over.

  • Remove any small objects – as well as ornaments, hunt for any overlooked stray coins or buttons they could pick up from the floor.

For more baby and toddler safety advice, see the NHS website.

Reduce the risk of SIDS – know the essential checks

While cot death is rare, there are simple steps that can help ensure you reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) for your baby.

Cot death charity The Lullaby Trust recommends you should place your baby on his or her back to go to sleep, never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair, and not let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby.

Don't overbuy clothes and toys – they're often gifts

Before you rush to the shops, remember to factor in any baby gifts – clothes and toys are common presents from friends and family for newborns, and mean you need to buy less.

Remember, babies grow rapidly. If you buy masses of newborn gear they may grow out of it before they've worn it all, so it's worth stocking up on larger sizes too.

Do a five-min child-benefits check

A treasure trove of extra cash is available to help families. To quickly see if you qualify, use the Benefits Check-Up tool. Just enter your details and it'll show how much you may be entitled to.

This'll help check your eligibility for all the main benefits, including council tax and housing benefit, income support and many, many more.

There are masses of benefits available to help families and those on lower incomes. Here are just a few...

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  • Maternity Grant. It's a one-off payment if you've had a baby or adopted in the last three months to help pay for baby equipment.

    From April 2011 this was restricted to the first child only, so you can't apply if you've already got kids under 16. However, if you've already got kids and are expecting twins or triplets, you might still qualify. If you're adopting a child or becoming a surrogate parent, you might also be able to get the grant. Make sure you claim before the baby is a year old.

    Amount: One-off £500 payment, but you could be entitled to more if you have multiple births.

  • Child Benefit. For parents with dependent children. It's paid until the 31 August following your child's 16th birthday, or until the age of 20 if they're in full-time education or approved training.

    Since Jan 2013, families where at least one parent earns between £50,000-£60,000 a year will only get a partial payout (stopped if over £60,000). See the Child Benefit cut to hit 1 million MSE news story.

    Amount: Eldest child £20.70 per week, other children £13.70 per week.

Find full info on all of these, and how to apply, in the Benefits Check-Up guide. Also see the Grant Grabbing article for more info on other funds available.

Get free parenting help at Sure Start centres

There are over 3,000 Sure Start children's centres in England, open to all parents, carers and kids under five. They offer a range of free services, including advice on breastfeeding, maternity help and parenting support. Yet they aren't just for advice – some have great free play areas and other activities for tots.

Free services vary depending on your area, and the centres also offer some paid services. Check what's on offer at your nearest Sure Start centre. One forumite says:

The centre I use is purpose-built, clean, light and has a good selection of toys. The food there is brill as Sure Start promotes healthy eating, so there's no rubbish given.

Do a proper family budget

baby checklist

A new baby is going to mean an extra strain on your finances, so it's crucial to make sure you're budgeting correctly. Use the free Budget Planner tool and guide to help you work out exactly where your cash is going, and where any baby spending fits in.

If you're expecting, do your budget as soon as you can and factor in how long you've got. So if your child's due in four months, that's four months to add to your savings for baby items, so cut your cloth accordingly. Even if the baby's already here, it's never too late to do this.

Next, give yourself a full Money Makeover. This guide overhauls your finances, taking you through everything from debts to utilities. It'll take time to work through, but it's time well invested for your family's future. Some end up thousands better off in a single day.

Seek out second-hand baby treasure

Buying second-hand's a great way to get quality, often little-used baby items for less. The obvious places to start are eBay* and Gumtree, where baby items are often sold together as cheap bundles.

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Nearly New Sales organised by the National Childbirth Trust are another treasure trove. Use its tool to find an event near you.

Also try local Facebook selling groups, where instead of eBaying second-hand goods, people harness the social network's power to sell to others in the local community. To get started, search for your area or postcode on Facebook, alongside words such as 'selling', 'sale' or 'buy'.

Do bear in mind these groups are run by volunteer administrators, so there's little comeback if you have problems.

See the eBay Buying guide for more second-hand buying tips. Here's one forumite's secondhand success story for inspiration:

Brand new "2012" version of the travel system I bought = £650. Secondhand version of the same thing = £120. The only difference is the colour! It's the little person IN the pram that everyone looks at, so ignore the peer pressure to be in fashion.

It's worth noting you should be wary of secondhand kids' car seats though, as they may have been damaged in an accident. See Gov.uk's Car seat safety info.

Try the supermarket downshift challenge

With nappies, baby food, new togs and more added to your shopping list, the cost of a family supermarket shop can be eye-watering. Yet you can easily save over £1,000 a year by doing the 'downshift challenge'.

picture of shopping basket

Over the years, supermarkets have hypnotised us into spending more and moving up the brand chain. Many people gradually buy increasingly more expensive versions of the same thing. The challenge:

Drop one brand level on everything and see if you can tell the difference. If you can't, stick with the cheaper product.

Drop just one brand level on everything and the average bill's cut by a third. On a £100 weekly shop, that's a whopping £1,700 a year less. Remember, supermarkets are experts at getting us to buy more than we need:

If you want to teach an eight-year-old about money, the best place to start is a supermarket. Ask them what they can smell: it'll usually be bread or a bakery. The scent makes us hungry and likely to buy more food, so the supermarket profits.

Plus don't forget to grab the latest Supermarket Coupons before you go. Find full info on the challenge and masses more tips in the Supermarket Shopping guide.

Look out for inclusive bottles

If you're planning to breast-feed your little 'un and are thinking of investing in a breast pump, forumites report you may not need to buy many bottles as breast pump packs often come with these.

Borrow and reuse where you can

Don't be afraid to politely ask family and friends if they've any spare baby clothes or equipment you can use. Often they'll be happy to see them put to good use again.

picture of new baby in knitted hat

If you've got clothing stored from previous kids, now's the time to dig it out and reuse. Think of it as 'baby vintage chic'. It can save a small fortune on kitting out your new arrival.

If you're after new baby outfits, here's a tried 'n' tested tip from our own MSE Andrea:

If you're buying for a new baby, choose clothes with pop-studs rather than buttons.

Buttons can be tricky to manoeuvre on a wriggling newborn, so anything with pop-studs you can just pull apart can be a huge time saver and a godsend!

Fill yer boots with baby freebies

picture of Freebie Roulette machineThe best things in life are freebies! Use the Freebies directory to get loads of everyday items for free, from nappies and baby food to teddies and tissues.

There are sections just for baby and family freebies, as well as free games and indoor entertainment to keep your little 'uns extremely busy.

Or try Freebie Roulette for a lucky dip freebie.

Swap Tesco vouchers for cheap family days out

If you've a Tesco Clubcard, here's a handy trick to cut the cost of family days out at zoos, farms, adventure parks and more. It's possible to triple or quadruple Tesco vouchers' value for days out, homeware and more via Clubcard Rewards*.

This lets you swap £5 of vouchers for £20 to spend at a huge range of family days out – attractions in the scheme include London Zoo, Colchester Zoo and Diggerland.picture of Tesco Clubcard

Plus if you've ever lost vouchers you can access the codes online for instant redemption, or get the vouchers re-issued.

It's fast and free to check your account for old vouchers. See the Get Back Lost Tesco Vouchers guide for a full how-to. Some MoneySavers found over £100 of vouchers they didn't know they had. One reports:

Almost £600 worth of vouchers going back nearly three years. I knew I had a lot and this new website saved me having to dig through piles of old paperwork.

Free emergency water if you've a newborn

Some water companies provide free emergency water supplies for vulnerable customers, including nursing mothers (eg, Anglian's WaterCare) in case your water supply's interrupted.

So you're worried about cut-offs with a newborn to look after, you can contact your local water company and ask to be put on its special assistance list.

There are no hard and fast rules on this, so it will depend which company you're with as to what's available. Many companies can register any special needs by phone or via a form, so check with your water company.

The Consumer Council for Water website also has a list of water company contacts – get in touch with it if you have any problems making arrangements with your water company. It's also worth noting that bottled water isn't recommended for making baby formula but if it has to be used, the NHS gives some guidelines. Plus see the Water Bills guide for full cost-cutting help.

Use Money Mantras before baby impulse buys

Shops are desperate to get you caught up in baby fever to make you spend, spend, spend, while trips out and coffee mornings soon add up.

One MoneySaver reports:

Beware, as a new mum getting out means you'll spend LOADS on coffee in cafes. Can't say I'm very MoneySaving with this, but now I know I do it I'm more aware and try to do other things.

So before you buy anything, use these money mantras to help keep your cash in your pocket. We've also designed a handy free printable wallet-sized version:

If you're skint, ask

Do I need it?

Can I afford it?

Can I find it cheaper anywhere else?

If you aren't skint, ask

Will I use it?

Is it worth it?

Can I find it cheaper anywhere else?

If you still find it difficult to keep cash in your pocket, there are plenty of ways to help. See the Stop Spending guide for full info on both pain-free and painful ways to halt your spending. Use the free Demotivator tool to learn the real cost of everyday habits.

Use free gym trials to get back into shape

Many splash out on costly gym memberships to tone up after having a baby. Yet before you sign up, many gyms offer free no-strings trials as well as short-term trial memberships so you can see if it's for you. For more info, see Cheap Gym Membership.

Gyms want you to think their prices are fixed – they're not. The gym sector's fiercely competitive, and most gyms employ a commission-driven sales team to sign you up. So if you decide to become a member, remember to haggle.

Free PDF booklets for new dads

Parenting charity National Childbirth Trust (NCT) has two handy free downloadable booklets, Becoming A Parent and Early Days With Your Baby, with advice and support for dads-to-be and new dads. The NCT website also has a range of useful info on all aspects of becoming a parent, from fathers and breastfeeding to birthing partner tips.

Use a shopbot to instantly compare prices

Our free MegaShopBot tool instantly searches loads of comparison sites to take the mousework out of online shopping.

It's a handy way to find cheap goodies if you're after baby equipment.

Just type in what you're looking for, eg, 'baby monitor', then select your category and it whizzes across a range of sites to find you the best price. Always make sure you pay the right way to get free spending protection – check out our Section 75 Refund guide for more.

Make the most of free UK museums, galleries & festivals

The Free Museums and Galleries guide is crammed with over 150 venues across the UK that don't charge a penny. These are great for an educational (and free!) family day out.picture of knight

In it you'll find masses to choose from, with museums dedicated to everything from Roman forts and railways to forensic science and footie. To find your nearest, click on your area on the in-guide map for full listings, plus opening times and more.

If you're after free outdoor events, check out the Free Festivals guide for a round-up of the top gigs nationwide. You'll find festivals across the UK on everything from jazz 'n' blues to carnivals and outdoor theatre, as well as area-by-area map listings.

Stop smoking!

The MoneySaving gain from quitting isn't just about spending less in newsagents. Many financial products are much pricier for smokers. The health risks are huge, plus if you've a baby the stakes are much greater.

picture of broken cigaretteQuitting may not be easy, but both your family and your wallet will be much better off.

You could easily save £30,000 over 20 years when you add up not buying cigarettes, plus savings on common financial products such as life insurance. One forumite reports:

Best decision I ever made – without it, my daughter would go to school smelling like a dirty ashtray. I'd smoked since I was 12, came from a house where both parents smoked even though we had no money for holidays, etc.

Share your tips on the Families forum

There are dedicated forum boards for MoneySaving Mums and MoneySaving Dads, so you can get support from others in the same situation.

You'll also find a wealth of other tips in the forums, from What you wish you'd known and Trying for a baby to support when Fostering. It's free to join in – get chatting!

And finally... enjoy every moment

Babies grow up so quickly, so try to spend less time worrying and more time enjoying yourselves together.

A final word from the forums:

You will fret over vaccinations. You will smell of vomit. BUT when they give you a smile it is the most wonderful sight in the world. Their first laugh is a sound you will never forget.

My son told me he had a surprise for me today. He'd drawn me a heart because he wanted to show how much I was loved. Kids are hard work, but the best thing in the world.