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Babies and budgets

Getting ready

Preparing your home for a new child is a rewarding time for parents that also involves making lots of important decisions. To help you as you prepare your home for baby, Your Energy Savings has lots of information on how to take practical action to save money and energy when moving, building or renovating as well as rebates that are available from the Australian, state and territory governments.

Woman with checklist for baby


Moving house

Having a baby can make you look at your home in new ways. You may even decide that you need to move in order to be in a more comfortable or functional home. If you decide to move house, Your Home will take you through the process of choosing or building a new home, explaining what to look for and the important questions to ask.

Building and renovating

With a new baby on the way you may decide that you need to renovate to make your home more comfortable or functional. There's so much to consider when renovating, sometimes it's hard to know where to start. Whether you're planning a major renovation or just upgrading a family room, Your Home will help you get the most out of the process. You'll find helpful advice on creating a renovation that meets your needs and provides the best value for money, now and for a long time to come. Also see our guide to simple renovations for renters and homeowners for smart, energy-saving design ideas.

If your home was built before 1970, it may contain lead-based paints which can be hazardous if disturbed. If you're doing renovations, you need to take care to protect yourself and your family from even small amounts of dust from lead-based paint. The Lead Alert—Six step guide to painting your home and Lead alert facts: Lead in house paint factsheet has information on precautions to take and how to dispose of waste containing lead.

If you're renovating a home built before the mid-1980s, be aware that it may contain asbestos cement (AC/fibro) sheeting. Generally if not disturbed this is not a health risk, but make sure you seek professional advice before renovating and about removal. You can contact your local council or state health authority for advice.

Painting and decorating

Most parents enjoy decorating the baby's nursery but there are some decisions to make, and some things to avoid.

Expecting parents decorating room for baby


It is recommended that pregnant women avoid exposure to oil-based paints, old paint that may contain lead, and some latex paints that contain mercury. Most water-based paints can be used but always check the label for contents that could be harmful. Choosing paints with low or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) can improve indoor air quality. Painting should always be done in a well-ventilated area to minimise breathing in fumes. Wear protective clothing and gloves and never eat or drink in the painting work area.

Shopping and baby showers

Buying things for your baby can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of getting ready, but also one of the most expensive. The easiest way to save yourself some money is to avoid buying unnecessary 'stuff'. The main questions to ask are: What do I really need? What can I get second-hand or from friends?

Think about holding a non-traditional baby shower. You could ask for things like re-usable cloth nappies or for donations of second-hand items. You could have a shower without presents, where guests could be asked to record hopes and dreams for your child in a special book. You could also have a book shower and ask guests to bring a copy (new or used) of their favourite children's book.

Buying second-hand items can help to save money and reduce waste. There are many good quality baby products available and most are safe to buy second-hand. However, for safety reasons it's not advisable to buy second-hand car seats and older cots and cribs, as these may be unsafe, damaged or fails to meet current mandatory safety standards. If you buy or are given second-hand electrical items, it's advisable to have them checked by a qualified electrician before use. Surveys have shown that recalled products still end up for sale second-hand, so it's also useful to check before you buy. For tips on choosing and using infant and nursery products safely, you can view the keeping baby safe videos and download the free iPhone app.

Going to the library provides a great outing for families and provides variety without the need to purchase large amounts of books, music or DVDs. Toy libraries are available in many locations, and good second-hand toys are readily available. Most babies are as intrigued by toys you can make at home such as a jar filled with rice or a cupboard full of pots and pans than any toys