KELLY MCCARREN: 'Here's exactly what I'd tell any new parent to spend and save on.'

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Having a baby is... expensive. 

I mean, not the pushing part, if you do it through the public system in Australia, it’s basically free. But the sheer amount of STUFF such a teeny human requires in that first year is wild. And maybe need is a strong word, your baby probably doesn’t need some things, but we (the parents) do, in order to make our lives that little bit easier. 

Like this one, hear me out. One of the first things you can do is make sure you’re signed up to Everyday Extra from Everyday Rewards, because the benefits and subsequent savings will make a MASSIVE difference over that first year, which is well worth the annual plan. 😉

There are plenty of benefits, like getting 2x Everyday Rewards points on every shop at Woolworths and BIG W, in-store and online (which means you get $10 off your shops in half the time). Plus, you get 10 per cent off every month on one shop at both Woolworths AND BIG W, in-store or online. That is HUGE with these sorts of shops you probably spend hundreds (or thousands) in per year! 

So my first tip for new parents is to do one big online Woolworths order a month, use your 10 per cent off and then just buy fresh food and things as you need throughout, making sure you link that card so you get 2x the points. This is the shop where you’ll include nappies, wipes, formula, etc – it all adds up, so trust me when I tell you that the $70 annual fee (currently only $35) will be well worth it. 

On average, babies go through 2,500 nappies and 10,000 wipes in that first year. If I average out the cost of these items (depending on brand/sales, etc), that’s about $1,500 per year on them. If you ONLY used your 10 per cent discount on this alone (I'm looking at you, bulk size nappies at BIG W!!), you’d still have saved way more than you spent on the subscription. THANK ME LATER.


But you won’t only be using your Everyday Extra benefits on your household items and groceries; you’ll also be shopping smart and using them at BIG W. 

Here’s my (hopefully) helpful little list of everything else I'd tell any new parent to save on, and exactly where I'd recommend investing more dollars.

Save on: Ridiculously cute but expensive outfits for your baby.

You will get a few things as gifts and take pics of those (cute, yes, thank you). But you will not use them, and babies a) poo and throw up on everything (often so catastrophically there’s not enough will and Napisan in the world to save the item); and b) they grow SO FAST. So don’t waste your money on little outfits and silly shoes.

Onesies and basics are what you need. Frills, buttons, ties and fussy fabrics will end up embedded with poo, and you’ll pull your hair out while you try to wrangle teeny little limbs at 3am. Look for zips and press studs, and always size up when you’re shopping so you get a bit more wear out of them. They go up in size every few weeks to months in that first year, so don’t fall into the trap of having dozens of newborn options ready to go because the baby will quickly be in the next size up after milk-guzzlin’. 


Dymples Baby Bodysuit 3 Multi Pack, $12


Dymples Baby Singlet Singlets 5 Multi Pack, $14

Bonds Baby Dragon Print Zip Wondersuit, $29

Image: BIG W.

Spend on: A night nurse or sleep consultant.

If you’re struggling with sleep and getting your baby into a routine, I would recommend saving up and allocating money towards a night nurse or sleep consultant. It was the most money I’ve ever spent on a service, and I’m forever grateful. My baby went from sleeping in 10-30 minute increments on top of me for 7 months to sleeping in his OWN room. I got my sleep and sanity back, and that is priceless. 


Save on: Toys they'll have for 5 minutes.

Newborns are potatoes. Screaming, poopin’ potatoes. They don’t need dozens of toys. In fact, research shows too many ‘things’ can overstimulate them when they’re small. You are entertaining enough! So, I really wouldn’t recommend filling your home with baby toys when they’re small. I swore by these 3 things, and that’s it:


1. High contrast black and white book. Newborns see things differently, and a contrast book is great at engaging their developing eyesight and strengthening their cognitive abilities. They will look at each page for YONKS once they’re ready; you don’t need to show them heaps of different options. 

2. A rattle. Just one rattle is sufficient in those early months. Once they express an interest, you can show it to them, and then once they can grab it, they will take it from you and spend just as long staring at the fascinating thing as you spend watching them.

3. A cuddle toy is always nice, I would carry it around in my top so it smelt like me, and then place it near the baby so he thought I was nearby, even if I’d nipped to the loo. There’s no point getting loads, though; they can’t sleep with them and won’t cuddle them for a LONG time. 

(I’ll also add that the dancing contrast fruits on YouTube, or baby sensory playlist on Spotify always worked a treat at entertaining.)


Aussie Farm Babies (Black and White for Babies Book, $6

Bright Starts Rattle & Shake Barbell, $9

Jiggle & Giggle Bunny Comforter Teething Blanket Plush Toy, $28.80

Image: BIG W.


Spend on: Food delivery and a cleaner. 

Anything you can afford to outsource that will make your life easier in those first few months of parenthood, should be without an iota of guilt. 

Save on: Designer... anything.

Whenever I see someone’s registry, and there’s a fancy change mat or big cumbersome change table with all the bells and whistles on it, I roll my eyes. Because I was that girl who spent a stupid amount on a fancy designer change mat, and why? It isn’t exactly a display item, and they all end up covered in tears (yours) and poo (theirs). You don’t need to spend astronomical amounts on a change mat or table, just something that's ideally portable and works for your space will nail the job. You’ll end up changing the baby's nappy everywhere around the house that's most convenient, so a mat I found so much easier. 



Billie Baby Travel Change Mat, $18

Dymples Changing Mat, $45

Valco Baby Pax Plus Change Table Changing Bench, $116.95

Image: BIG W.


Spend on: A trike for all the walking you'll be doing.

You knew you’d need a pram, but did you know you’d need a trike? From about 6 months old, your baby can sit in one of these and be pushed around, and I can’t tell you how much they will love it (well, I can guess, and it’s a LOT). At nearly two, Lenny and I have used his trike way more than the pram. He has always enjoyed being pushed in the trike more (I think because he thinks he’s controlling it), and there’s less chance of him falling asleep in it on a walk (the bane of any parent who is trying to get a kid in a good sleeping routine).


Huffy Canopy Aqua Trike, $129

Little Tikes Perfect Fit 4-in-1 Teal Trike, $199

Image: BIG W.


Save on: Anything just for the aesthetics.

One of those silly mobiles. You know the thing that hangs above the baby's bed, and it turns and has music and funny little animals attached to it? Yeah, you absolutely don’t need it. In fact, I’ve never spoken to a sleep consultant, doctor or another parent who actually recommended them, because they are over-stimulating and distracting when the baby is in bed. Cute and aesthetic? Yes. Needed? Absolutely not. 

Spend on: Baby skincare. 

I know I’m biased (as one of the hosts on Mamamia’s beauty podcast, You Beauty), but I do think what we put on our baby's skin is very important. And I personally just wouldn’t use cheap rubbish on their precious skin, it can react SO easily. I love the Gro-To range and love that you can get it at both BIG W and Woolworths so that I can use my Everyday Extra benefits on it, too. 


Gro-To Skin Wizard Body Oil 150ml, $18.20

Gro-To Super Softy Body Lotion 150ml, $11.90

Gro-To Sud Bud Body Wash 400ml, $15.60

Image: Woolworths.


What would you add to this list? What do you think parents should save on and spend on? I have SO many more. Don’t let me get started on the wall decals.

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Feature Image: BIG W/Woolworths/Instagram/@kelly_mccarren

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