Cheapskate Challenge [& Giveaway]: Bouncing Rocking and Swinging

Welcome to another Cheapskate Challenge. For the past few weeks we’ve been exploring quality baby product choices for those on a super-tight budget. We’ve covered cribs and accessories and “baby on the go” items. Today we’re talking baby entertainment on the cheap.

Scenario 1: You have $50 to spend on a swing, rocker, and/or bouncy seat (or similar entertainment/soothing item) for a new baby. What do you buy? Why

Scenario 2: You have $100 to spend on a swing, rocker and/or bouncy seat (or similar item for a new baby. What do you buy? Why

Think carefully. Choose items with the highest quality possible rather than simply choosing the cheapest items you can. All items must be new and in stock. Include shipping charges in your total. You can exclude sales tax.

This giveaway is now closed to new entries. Check back later to find out who won! Enter your items for scenario #1 and scenario #2–complete with item names, links, prices and reasons– as a comment below by tomorrow at 5 pm ET.

This challenge is also a giveaway! I’ll select a winner randomly from the comments that meet the criteria I’ve outlined here. The winner will receive a $25 Amazon.com gift certificate. You must be 18 or older to enter. One entry per household.

I’ll share some of your ideas in a post on Monday.

Good luck!

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.

Baby On the Go: Best Budget Picks for Travel Systems, Carriers & Diaper Bags

BC’s Cheapskate Challenges explore how to buy the very best baby items you can on a very limited budget. Here are the results of last week’s “Baby on the Go” Cheapskate Challenge.

About the Challenge:

Baby Cheapskate’s 2nd Cheapskate Challenge focused on items babies need when they’re on the go. I Issued the following challenge to readers and asked them to consider the quality of items as well as price:

You’re about to have a baby. You have occasional access to a car, but sometimes you take public transportation and have to walk a few blocks to a bus stop. You need the following (new) items:

  • A versatile stroller that will work for a newborn, but you’d like to be able to use it for at least two years. You don’t plan on buying another stroller until then.
  • An infant car seat.
  • An infant Carrier so that you can wear the baby on occasion.
  • A diaper bag (must include changing pad).

Let’s say you only have $330 (including shipping) to buy these items online today. What do you buy?

I received over 150 responses from readers, and I’ve compiled some of them below. You’ll find many more reader responses to the challenge, including reasons for the items chosen, in the comments here.

Reader Picks: (Mix and match to fit your lifestyle and budget:)

Note: I decided to list non-sale prices below to give this post some longevity. You should be able to find most of these items at significantly lower sale or closeout prices. In fact, some of the items were more than 50% off at the time of this writing. For that reason, I recommended looking at all of the options on the lists before you rule any out.

To save up to 50%, consider gently used items (except the car seat). Check your local consignment shop, consignment sales, Craigslist and other sources.

Travel Systems: Buying your infant car seat and stroller together as a travel system can save you money. Reader faves:

Note: If possible, upgrade to an infant car seat with a higher weight limit. If you look hard enough, you can find most of the Graco systems with the Snugride 35 instead of the 22. Expect the cost to be a bit higher.

Other stroller picks (Buy car seat separately. Make sure it’s compatible with your stroller)

Baby Carriers: $30 to $105

Even cheaper: Make your own Moby wrap using one of the tutorials online (just Google “Moby Wrap Tutorial”). No sewing necessary.

Diaper Bags: $20 to $55

Even cheaper: Skip the diaper bag in favor of a bag you already own. Time to bring that college backpack out of retirement!

My Picks:

My picks for the best budget buys, based on price, availability, product features, and reader reviews:

At current prices, I could pick up all of the above from Amazon for as little as $195.06 , shipped. Sweet!

***

So what do you think about my picks and about the other items on the list? Leave a comment!

Related: Crib, Mattress, and Accessories for Under $350? Here’s How

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Cheapskate Challenge [and Giveaway!]: Baby On the Go

Welcome to another Cheapskate Challenge.

Here’s today’s scenario:

You’re an average-sized woman about to have a baby. You have occasional access to a car, but sometimes you take public transportation and have to walk a few blocks to a bus stop. You need the following items:

  • A versatile stroller that will work for a newborn, but you’d like to be able to use it for at least two years. You don’t plan on buying another stroller until then.
  • An infant car seat.
  • An infant Carrier so that you can wear the baby on occasion.
  • A diaper bag (must include changing pad).

Let’s say you only have $330 (including shipping) to buy these items online today. What do you buy?

As of 1/21 at 5 pm ET, this giveaway is closed to new entries. Congrats to Annika! Think carefully. Choose items with the highest quality possible rather than simply choosing the cheapest items you can. All items must be new and in stock. Include shipping charges in your total. You can exclude sales tax.

Enter your list–complete with item names, links, prices and reasons– as a comment below by tomorrow at 5 pm ET.

This challenge is also a giveaway! I’ll select a winner randomly from the comments that meet the criteria I’ve outlined here. The winner will receive a $25 Amazon.com gift certificate. You must be 18 or older to enter. One entry per household.

I’ll share some of your ideas in a post on Monday.

Good luck!

See the results of last week’s Cheapskate Challenge: Crib and Accessories for $350.

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.

Crib, Mattress, and Accessories for Under $350? Here’s How

Last week I issued the following Cheapskate Challenge to readers:

Let’s say you only have $350 (including shipping) to buy the following 10 items online today:

  • Crib (full-size, fixed-side)
  • Crib Mattress
  • Two waterproof mattress protectors
  • 3 crib sheets
  • 3 swaddling blankets (actual blankets big enough for swaddling, not SwaddleMe, etc.)

What would you buy?

Think carefully. Try to choose items with the highest quality possible rather than simply choosing the cheapest items you can. What do you buy? It can be done! All items must be new and in stock. You can exclude sales tax from your total.

I received so many thoughtful, smart responses. Spending less than $350 on these items is very, very doable. Here’s how:

Tips:

  • Even though the challenge excluded second-hand items, buying gently used items is a great way to save up to 50%. Check your local consignment shop, consignment sales, Craigslist and more for gently used crib sheets, swaddling blankets, mattress protectors and more. It’s okay to buy a fixed-side crib second hand as long as you check for recalls and inspect the item thoroughly to make sure it meets current standards and is in great condition.
  • IKEA was also excluded from the challenge since their cribs and mattresses can’t be purchased online. If you’re lucky enough to live near one, definitely check it out. You can pick up a great crib for just $99 and a matress for as little as $35.
  • Bundles can offer fantastic savings. Last week Walmart offered a Graco Lauren crib plus crib mattress for $145. Other bundles throw in crib bedding, too.
  • DIY: If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can find patterns for crib sheets, swaddling blankets and more online. PrudentBaby is a good place to start. Etsy is a good place to look for handmade items at various price points.

To get you started, here are some of the items readers recommended. Mix and match to fit your lifestyle and budget:

Cribs:

Mattresses:

Mattress Protectors/Pads:

Crib Sheets:

Swaddling Blankets:

You’ll find many more reader responses to the challenge, including reasons for the items chosen, in the comments here.

**The winner of the Cheapskate Challenge? Danae!**

What do you think? Leave feedback and recommendations in the comments!

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.

Cheapskate Challenge [& Giveaway]: Crib & Accessories for $350?

Last year I helped a teen mom with no income and very little family support prepare for her baby’s arrival. It was an interesting exercise because it forced me to think about what’s really essential and what’s not.

Are you up for a similar challenge?

Let’s say you only have $350 (including shipping) to buy the following 10 items online today:

  • Crib (full-size, fixed-side)
  • Crib Mattress
  • Two waterproof mattress protectors
  • 3 crib sheets
  • 3 swaddling blankets (actual blankets big enough for swaddling, not SwaddleMe, etc.)

What would you buy?

Think carefully. Try to choose items with the highest quality possible rather than simply choosing the cheapest items you can. What do you buy? It can be done! All items must be new and in stock. You can exclude sales tax from your total.

This giveaway is now closed to new entries. Enter  your list–complete with item names, links, prices and reasons– as a comment below by tomorrow at 5 pm ET.

I’ll select a winner randomly from the comments that meet the criteria I’ve outlined here. The winner will receive a $25 Amazon.com gift certificate. You must be 18 or older to enter. One entry per household.

I’ll share some of your ideas, along with the list of items I came up with, in the post that announces the winner.

Good luck!

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.

Q&A: Stores with Good Customer Service?

There are stores with good customer service, indifferent customer service, and really bad customer service. When I find a store with good customer service, I’m eager to do business with them again. I also find myself recommending them to others. A couple of stores I’ve had good experiences with lately are Diapers.com and Gilt.com.

Readers, what are some online stores that have gone above and beyond for you?

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.

Q&A Giveaway: Best Parenting Book You Ever Read?

‘Tis the season for summer reading lists. Let’s make one of our own!

What’s the best parenting book you ever read? It could be about baby care, discipline, sleeping through the night, shopping for baby, development, etc. Leave a comment with the name and author.

This Q&A is also a giveaway (sponsored by yours truly)! Next week I’ll randomly select one of the relevant comments below this post. The author of the selected comment will win a $50 gift certificate to Diapers.com. One comment per reader, please. This giveaway is now closed to new entries. Congrats to Krissy, who liked Vicky Iovine’s The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy. Krissy, check your inbox for an email from me.

Note: If you’ve never left a comment on BC before, your comment will be held for moderation. It’s a one-time thing that really helps cut down on spam. No worries, though. I’ll send all the relevant comments through before the contest ends.

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.

Q&A: Backyard Water Parties on a Budget?

Reader LaKeisha writes,

I want to do a late summer water party for my son and his friends. I want to purchase a few simple “banzai-brand like” waterslides and some splash pools. These waterslides are upwards of $200! I don’t want to spend that much. The party is for some preschoolers, 3 – 5 year olds. Any ideas on how to do a fun water party and not go broke doing it?

Readers, do you have any advice for LaKeisha on how to have a fun water party without soaking your budget?

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.

Q&A: Any Recs for a Great Baby Monitor?

BC reader Lisa is looking for a good non-video baby monitor.  Any recommendations?

One popular monitor, the Graco Ultra Clear II 49MHZ Baby Monitor is 34% off with free shipping at $26.54 at Amazon. See more monitors on sale at Amazon.

See more Q&A posts at Baby Cheapskate. Got a question for readers? Email me!

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Q&A: Best Store Brand “Pull-Ups”?

BC reader Becca wants to know, “is there a good off-brand Pull-Up”?

When my son was potty training, we had good luck with Target brand disposable pull ups and later with those old-fashioned cloth ones with the waffle weave. Those premium training pants with the “cool” gel or “wetness indicator” just didn’t do a thing for my son. I’d say that what will work for you depends on what stage of potty training you’re in. If it’s the early stages, where your toddler still pees in them, you’ll want something absorbent. If it’s the later stages, and you’re dealing with the occasional small pee or poop accident, you can get away with something more like traditional undies.

What do you think, readers? Have you had any luck with store brand disposable training pants? Which do you recommend?

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.