Planning for baby

Going from two salaries to one and the costs of baby items can be daunting, but you can keep within budget.
Learn more

05.Shopping tips

For the first four years of your baby’s life you could spent on average over $20,000 on baby purchases with the bulk of the cost in the first 12 months.

Average spent per year for the first four years:

  • Furniture — $539 
  • Clothing — $1,564 
  • Nappies — $1,381 
  • Footwear — $35 
  • Nutrition & Food — $863 
  • Toys — $378 
  • Other — $534 
  • Total — $5,393 

Source: IBISWorld 2009

Shopping tips

  • Wait and see what you need: It’s wise to buy a few essentials and then spend carefully as the need arises.
  • Make a wish list for friends and relatives: Try to think ahead so you will know what you need when someone asks what to give you for a present.
  • Avoid buying expensive things your baby will soon outgrow such as size 0000 clothes or a bassinet.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of easy care, ideally you want to be able to throw the item in the washing machine and perhaps the dryer.
  • Think about renting or borrowing some items – for example, many libraries offer toys and children’s books and some councils and community organisations provide baby car capsules for hire.
  • Shop around: the telephone and internet are convenient for comparison shopping as long as you know the brand and model names of the products you’re looking for. Variety stores have regular sales, so with a bit of planning you can take advantage of them to save money.

Buying second hand

There can be some risks in using secondhand goods for children. For example, they might not be safe, or might be worn or damaged and therefore dangerous.

There are some products you shouldn’t buy second hand, for example car restraints that you can’t be sure they have not been in an accident. With other products such as cots make sure they meet current safety standards.

However, you can save a lot of money on other items such as children’s clothes which might have had very little wear.


Ebay ( is an online treasure trove of used and new baby products up for auction.

  • Just because it’s listed on eBay doesn’t mean it’s a bargain. Before you decide on your highest bid, check how much the item retails for on the internet or in shops.
  • Check the postage price as it can vary greatly.
  • Check that the available payment methods suit you.
  • Each seller has a feedback rating made up of comments and ratings from other eBay members who’ve bought from them. A high feedback score can be a good sign of a reputable dealer, but take the number of transactions into account as well.
  • Some sellers list items in US dollars or British pounds, even on the Australian eBay site. Double-check the currency. Many websites, such as provide daily exchange rates.
  • You can’t usually inspect goods for sale on eBay before buying. So, look for items with several clear photos so you can see the item at different angles, and the item’s description should indicate its condition. If in doubt, contact the seller before you bid and ask about the item’s age and condition.


Australians spend millions of dollars each year on mail-order products and services. The Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA) has a set of rules which forms the code of practice for its members. If the company is not an ADMA member the rules don’t apply.

  • If goods ordered don’t arrive in the specified time, under ADMA rules you have the option of continuing with the purchase or cancelling it and getting a refund.
  • If the goods never arrive, an ADMA member must trace or replace the missing goods, or refund your money.
  • If the goods are damaged in transit an ADMA member must pay to replace them, including postal charges you incurred when returning them.
  • Australia Post will compensate you if it appears the damage was its fault.
  • If you want to cancel the order, you can do this only before it’s reached the merchant.
  • Never send cash through the mail. If you pay by personal cheque or credit card you’ll have a record of whether (and when) the company received your order and payment, which is preferable to using money orders or bank cheques. If you use a credit card the bank will refund you if the merchant fails to provide goods or services (time limits apply).
  • If the merchant goes broke before filling your order, you become an unsecured creditor and have probably lost your money (using a credit card may provide you with some recourse).
  • Standards vary internationally, so a product deemed safe in one country may not meet Australian safety standards.
  • Check the wording in the advertisements carefully, taking note of ‘inspection without obligation’ periods, and check the goods thoroughly before using them.


  • As with mail order, a product deemed safe in one country may not be acceptable here.
  • If there’s something wrong with a product, you may find it’s not clear which country’s consumer protection laws will apply—ours or theirs. This can present a problem with returns, refunds or even enforcing warranty repairs. Ask the vendor for this information before you buy.
  • Shipping costs can add dramatically to the price of a product.
  • Remember that exchange rates vary, so check what rate you will be charged by both the vendor and your credit, charge or debit card.
  • Send an email to the vendor before you order to check its returns policy and whether the product you want is in stock.
  • Check the site is secure: look for the key or padlock symbol you can find in your browser’s URL or address bar. A broken key or padlock signifies an unsecured site while a solid key or padlock indicates that the data will be encrypted.
  • Make sure you get written confirmation of your order, or print out and keep a copy of your order and receipt from the internet.

Sign up to our free

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.

Your say - Choice voice

Make a Comment

Members – Sign in on the top right to contribute to comments