Updated: Feb 26, 2019
In the previous article, we have discussed about how you could save money during your pregnancy stage. In this article, we will share some tips on how to save money during your baby’s newborn stage!
Vaccination and development assessment
For babies who are Singapore citizens, all the compulsory vaccines are free at the polyclinics, and paracetamol is provided free as well for those vaccines that may cost fever. Even for those optional payable vaccines at the polyclinics, you can pay using your child’s CDA or Medisave account. If we compare the overall vaccination (compulsory + optional vaccines) and development assessment package** between private clinics/pediatricians and the polyclinics for the first 18 months of your child’s life, the private package costs around $1900, while it will cost only $834 at the polyclinics, with the polyclinic costs fully payable via Medisave/CDA. If you want to save even more for polyclinic, choose the 5-in-1 vaccine, with the hepatitis B vaccine taken separately, instead of 6-in-1 vaccine.
2x 6-in-1 vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis, haemophilus influenza and hepatitis B)
2x 5-in-1 vaccine (the above excluding hepatitis B)
2x MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)
Doctor consultations and development assessments
Other than vaccination, you can also bring your baby to a polyclinic for acute illnesses or common childhood ailments, where the fees for doctor consultation, medication and tests, which are heavily subsidized by the government, are much cheaper than those for a private pediatrician e.g. doctor consultation at a polyclinic costs $6.80 after subsidy. The first impression people normally have with polyclinics is the long waiting time. But this is no longer the case, with priority being given to serving babies, especially newborns, at the polyclinics. The first time we brought our newborn to a polyclinic, the waiting time was minimal (5 – 10mins). Having a newborn with us meant that we were allowed to skip all the queues and given priority service for registration, doctor consultation, collection of medicines and payment.
For older babies, you can make a polyclinic appointment online to also substantially reduce your waiting time at the polyclinic. Otherwise, visiting a GP is also usually good enough, instead of a private pediatrician.
For more serious and urgent cases, you can go to KKH or NUH A&E directly. The standard A&E bill for NUH is $115, which includes doctor consultation, basic tests and standard medication. For a private pediatrician, just the first consultation alone can cost around $100, and this does not include all the tests or medication, which can easily add another $100 to your bill.
If possible, try to breastfeed as long as possible to help you save money on formula milk. Breastfeeding may come with its own costs, such as on breast pumps, milk boosters, lactation massage, lactation consultants, supplement etc. But not all of these costs are necessary. For example, instead of buying a small jar of milk-boosting overnight oats at $9 each, you can easily prepare it for less than $1 per jar within 5 minutes <look out for our upcoming article on how to DIY overnight oats>. If you need help in your lactation, instead of engaging a private lactation consultant immediately, most of the hospitals do provide lactation hotlines to help you for free. Also, try to avoid over-pumping to reduce the risk of engorgement or breast inflammation (mastitis), which will cost you a sum when you seek help. As for supplements, these are not essential if you are having a healthy and balanced diet.
Finally, if possible, exclusive direct latching will help you further save money.
If you are breastfeeding, you will tend to look for nursing wear that is easy for you to breastfeed. But often, nursing wear that is nice for “outside wear” is often expensive, while those cheaper ones don’t look as good or stylish. However, clothes that are labelled only as nursing wear are not the only ones suitable for breastfeeding. Other clothes such as padded tank top, spaghetti, wrap dress and crossover tops are also great designs that allow you to wear in style and breastfeed easily. Unlike clothes labelled as nursing wear, which are priced at a premium, these other design types do not burn a hole in your pocket.
Unless you are using reusable diapers, disposable diapers can represent one of the biggest expenses on your baby. If your baby’s bum is not sensitive, selecting a cheaper diaper brand can help you save a lot in the long run. For example, switching to a newborn diaper brand that is $0.10 cheaper per piece can easily save you $30 per month, assuming 10 diaper changes per day for a newborn. One tip is that you can use a cheaper diaper brand during daytime, and a better, more expensive diaper brand during nighttime, since diapers are usually changed less frequently at night.
However, if your baby’s bum is sensitive, we will not recommend choosing a much cheaper, but unsuitable, diaper brand, with the risk of a bad nappy rash. The amount you will spend on diaper rash cream and doctor visits can be much higher than what you save from buying a cheaper diaper brand. We also do not recommend that you delay the time between each diaper change, just to reduce the number of diapers used. This would increase the risk of your baby contracting urinary tract infection (UTI), which is seriously not worth it.
One way of saving money on diapers is to delay the size upgrade of the diaper for your baby, as larger size diapers usually cost more per piece. The weight limits indicated on the diaper cover are usually just a recommendation. For example, our baby could still wear a NB diaper even when he was 5.5kg. Upgrade the size only when you see that the diaper is too tight for your baby, having leakage, or gets full very quickly.
Another way of saving money on diapers is to buy in bulk when there are discounts. However, parents may have the impression that a particular platform, which is having time sales/flash deals, has the best deal. They will then proceed to purchase from this particular platform, without checking and comparing with the prices on other platforms. However, this particular platform may not always be the cheapest. Sometimes, the time sales/flash deal prices of a particular platform are actually more expensive than the normal or discounted prices on other platforms. You can check out loviya to easily check and compare prices of the same item across different platforms.
Other than diapers, buying in bulk for other sales items will also help to save money. Moreover, buying directly from the bulk/carton purchase listing of a platform may not always be cheaper than buying in bulk from the individually discounted listing for the same item. In addition, the most popular listing on a platform for a particular item may not always be the cheapest.
Prepare earlier for the items needed. Things are generally cheaper online, with the opportunity to earn credits, vouchers, points etc for even more savings. But it takes time to deliver. Opting for express delivery or buying from your nearby shops can cost more. However, the prices of many baby items on online platforms can fluctuate like the stock market, and it can be hard to keep track of the prices. An item that is cheapest on Platform A today may be cheapest on Platform B a few days later. Even the cheapest brand you find today may not be the cheapest a few days later.
Other than comparing prices of the same item across different platforms, you can also use sites such as loviya to stay updated on price changes from your preferred platform.
More often than not, babies are more interested in the random stuff in the house rather than the expensive new toys you buy for them. Google “Random Stuff VS Baby Toys” and you can find lots of videos on whether babies will choose to play with the “random stuff” or baby toys. Most of the time, the babies will go for the random stuff in the house like empty water bottles, toilet paper rolls, pouches etc. While it may be tempting to buy that shiny, nice looking and expensive toy for your baby, resisting the temptation, at least once in a while, can be a practical way to save money. Alternatively, you can consider renting toys instead, especially with babies usually losing interest pretty quickly in them.
Educational books for babies can do wonders for their development and stimulation. The good news is that our National Library Board has a great collection of baby books for you to borrow for free! Not only will you save money, your house will also be free of clutter.
In our upcoming post, we will share on how to save money during your baby’s next stage, the weaning stage. Stay tuned!
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