Babies grow fast, but styles don’t frequently change, so it’s easy to find bargains on the essential baby gear. Those trendy diaper bags being carried by celebrities may not be available for a steal, but you don’t need that, so let other people be the fools who pay $400 for Posh Spice’s diaper bag.

Baby Product Reviews and Bargain Recommendations
First, I recommend buying the book Baby Bargains. Buy the most recent edition available. I also use Consumer Reports to back up those reviews in major categories like cribs and strollers. Consumer Reports is $30 a year, and well worth it. Baby Bargains gives honest reviews about a wide range of products and explains what you do and don’t really need. The downside is that Baby Bargains is a print book. Even though it’s updated every year or two, product categories may experience major recalls or safety standards updates in the meantime. For example, the crib we bought gets an F from Baby Bargains, but a buy recommendation from Consumer Reports. Safety standards for cribs were updated in Cribs in mid-2011, after the last edition came out. The standards were important enough that all cribs were redesigned to meet them, so reviews prior to fall 2011 are not valid.  In addition, Baby Bargains can’t do safety tests, so trust Consumer Reports for products where safety really matters, like cribs and car seats.

Used/Consignment Sales
Get Gymboree clothes without paying Gymboree prices. Look for consignment sales/stores for items that are safe to buy used. (Don’t buy cribs, car seats, or breast pumps used.) Craigslist is an obvious choice. eBay, too. If you happen to live in the Los Angeles area, check out this massive bi-yearly set of sales: LA Kids Consignment. Many other areas have year-round consignment sales hosted by Just Between Friends. Garage sales are another source of gently used baby gear.

Hand-Me-Downs
These are the best for babies! Since they only wear their clothes or use their toys for a few months, most hand-me-downs can be used for 3-4 babies, and moms are always happy to share the wealth with new moms. So far, at least four people have offered me hand-me-downs. My sister’s baby will be 15 months older than my baby, so I’m borrowing some of the short-term items like a baby food maker and baby swing from her. Since this only gets used for three to four months, why spend $100 on a convenience item that I can borrow and give back?

Register at Amazon
Many of the most expensive baby items like car seats and strollers are cheaper on Amazon. In addition, you get a 10% completion discount 30 days before your due date. I set my due date two weeks early, to allow six weeks shipping time. I will inform shower guests about the Amazon registry, and have some affordable options on it, but I don’t expect anyone to buy me a $150 car seat. The key to this discount is to make sure the item is sold by Amazon. You can usually tell it’s sold by Amazon if it qualifies for free shipping, but some fulfillment items also get free shipping, so read the item description to be sure. The 10% discount may not apply on items sold by someone else and fulfilled by Amazon, and definitely doesn’t apply on items sold in the Amazon marketplace.
Take Advantage of Registry Completion Discounts and Gift Bags
Most registry stores offer a completion discount as well, so calculate the discount, sales tax, and price, as compared to Amazon, and buy each item at the best price. Registries also offer free gifts and coupons when you register. You’ll find that many people  who give gifts won’t buy off the registry, but it’s a handy way to remember all the specific brands you’ve chosen so you can use the completion discount on them.

Shop Discount Stores and Use Coupons
Costco and Sam’s Club are great for disposable diapers and formula, if you use the brands they carry. Otherwise, hit up Target for deals. Amazon also has deals, but sometimes Target will have a better sale. Target sells an assortment of baby goods, and often offers items on clearance. Other stores like Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby offer discount coupons to help you save on single items. For example, in addition to producing its own coupons, Buy Buy Baby will accept unexpired coupons from Bed Bath and Beyond. According to one mom, Babies R Us will also price match other brick and mortar stores.

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