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Kid's Stuff

Baby food

  • When our kids were over 1 year and had finished their last tin of formula but still having bottles we simply filled the old tin with regular milk powder and carried on as usual. They happily drunk powdered milk until we weaned them off their bottles. - A,  Dunedin

Car seats

  • Car seats can be expensive! Instead of buying a capsule, then toddler seat then booster, the best seat I have found is the Cosco Scenera. It goes from birth to 18kgs and can rear face till 16kgs, meaning baby/toddler can travel rear facing (and safer) for longer! Plus... it's only about $150! - Plingie, Christchurch


  • I have six children (and counting), and have found that lots and lots of baby items that you buy are pretty much a waste of time. There is nothing that your baby will like better than being in your arms (rather than those gadgets). Front packs and beds are good, but apart from that, I have found that even prams can be excess to requirements. Also if you’re cooking dinner, this is a really good time for a busy daddy, to get to know baby. Except for my eldest, all my kids have been out of day time nappies by 18 months and mostly out of night time nappies by two years. Good relationships make parenting easier - and children much easier to train. No equipment will ever replace that. - Anyway, Whangarei.
  • I have come up with the cheapest and most effective way to deal with messy baby spills! As the mother of a 16 month old, I was sick of cleaning the mess up after my son had been eating in his high chair. More food seemed to end up on the floor than go in his mouth! I couldn't find any good floor mats that could be wiped clean and re-used, so I made my own using a $2 plastic table cover from the local bargain shop. I got a large sized one which measured 152cm x 274cm and cut it in half. Now I have two re-usable floor mats for just $2. No more mess on my floor and they are easy to wipe clean, then fold up and store ready for mealtimes. - J.C.

  • I saved heaps on recovering my son's highchair. I was given a great highchair, but it had a cloth covered seat and as you can imagine, this was quite hard to keep clean as things would soak in before I could wipe them up. I decided to re-cover it but after checking out the price of vinyl per metre, I realised I needed to get creative. Instead, I used a cheap shower curtain and stapled it over the fabric. There was still enough left over to use under the high chair for any food that hits the floor. Fantastic, cheap and easy to clean! - K.B.

  • My savvy sister has saved me heaps on buying baby bibs. As the proud single mum of a beautiful nine month old, I was finding the costs were really adding up! So my sister (who has three children of her own) came to the rescue. She used some old towels, cut them up and made them into bibs! She just bought some 'cuffing' from Spotlight for around the neck, and some velcro to fasten at the back and they are great! Much better than the shop bought ones, as they soak up more of the mess and are much longer lasting and harder wearing. My sister jazzed them up with some little motifs sewn on the front and no one would ever know they were made from unwanted towels. I've had so many comments from people saying they look great and I always proudly reply 'my sister MADE them! - S.K.

  • Under 3 yrs old children, love playing with containers out of the Recycling Bin and a bucket of water. - G.B.

  • I made a Family Corner, at Home, outside, from things brought from the Op Shop. From cupboards to pots, pans and tables.  The children would set up shop with the containers/boxes out of the Recycling Bin. - G.B.

  • Save milk bottle tops, old boxes, cardboard tubes, magazines, anything you can think of, then get out the glue and scissors and have great fun making things. Keeps my three year old busy for hours on rainy days. - HM

Ice blocks

  • To make chocolate ice blocks that turn out exactly like the expensive store-bought ones, at a significant savings. First make a chocolate custard. Place 500ml milk in a saucepan (I use fresh whole milk, but you can use reconstituted powder milk for extra savings) and bring it to the boil. Then add a tablespoon of sugar, a tablespoon of cocoa, and a tablespoon of cornflour. Stir constantly until thickened, then cool. Second, pour the cooled chocolate custard into pre-moistened ice block moulds. Freeze for at least three hours. Cost to make one ice block (if using powdered milk): approx 6 cents. Cost to make one dozen: approx 80 cents. Savings: $27.60 per dozen (based on the price of a dozen chocolate ice blocks at the corner shop). - LTB, Auckland

Money, kids

  • Let kids save for their own college fund by encouraging them from a very early age to earn money by getting paid for what they enjoy doing! Our little boy who is now three loves dogs, so we offered to walk the neighbours’ dog for $5 a week. It makes us get out for exercise and gives the dog half an hour of much needed attention while their owner is at work. I know it doesn't sound like much but each year he earns himself $260 for his college fund so I'm calculating by the time he is 18 he will have well over $4,000 towards his college education - just from this hobby alone. Similarly our daughter enjoys baking so every week we invite her friends over to a baking session making simple things like scones, biscuits, raisin buns etc. They are learning something new and having fun. The mums are more than happy to contribute $5-$10 for the ingredients and the pleasure of not having to mess up their own house. We put half in the kitty for the ingredients and half goes to my daughter’s college fund so she can save between $10 and $20 each week. If we are able to do something like this every week until she is 18 she would have over $8,000! - Stephanie. 


  • Cloth nappies save thousands of dollars! Now days you can get a variety of different kinds and they are so effective. My complete set costs less than $500 (could have been less if I made them myself too!) and they have done my daughter who is now toilet trained, and my son now! I have saved over $2000 a year! - Plingie, Christchurch

Play areas

  • We made our childrem a play area using saw dust instead of sand and an old bath instead of a paddling pool - it's deeper and elicits louder screams of delight. - M.H.


  • Here's a playdough recipe. You will need: 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, 4 tsp cream of tartar, 2 cup water, 2 tbsp cooking oil, and food colouring of your choice. Mix dry ingredients together. Add water, oil and colouring. Blend until smooth. Stir over heat until mixture comes away from the sides and forms a ball. Tip onto board and knead well then store in an airtight container. This is really nice playdough. - Aliza, Dunedin

Racing car tracks

  • Use off-cuts from roof guttering (plastic) for a cool sloping track four your kids cars to go down. My son loves them, and they are free! – K.C.

School holidays

  • School Holidays... Can't afford a school holiday programme? Then get together with friends and start your own. If you can only get one day a week off work, then get your mates to do the same thing, (different days), and drop your kids at the appropriate house with their packed lunch. Arrange between yourselves different activities for each day depending on what each can provide. For instance one person may be able to take all swimming while another may not have the transport necessary, so maybe they could do art and crafts, video days, pizza making, board games, a wheel outing, (skateboards, bikes, skates or scooters). Remember to join the kids in the activities because the kids will appreciate it more especially if it embarrasses you or if you have trouble doing it. They then learn that nobody is perfect and that they too can participate in difficult challenges and enjoy it. - Mean Girl, Hastings

Sheets, cot

  • Don't bother buying cot sheets - they look pretty, but your child will outgrow the cot in a year or two. Instead, buy and use single bed sheets, which (if you buy the right ones) will last the child until it leaves home! Simply fold them in half when using them in a cot. - TwinMum, Christchurch.


  • Halve children's toys, and store in the ceiling for six months... then swap them over. - Betty, Masterton.

  • The best money I have ever spent on toys for my children is my annual toy library membership. Our toy library has no per toy charge. We get a wide range of toys and puzzles and they get changed every two weeks so the kids always have something new and interesting. The second best money I spent on toys were a set of coloured wooden blocks (a gift actually) which we added to until we have over 100. When my eldest girls were three and four they literally spent three hours per day for months playing quietly with them. Most days the blocks will be played with for some time. (I expect these children to grow up to be architects and engineers as a result!) – M.W.

  • Borrowing toys from toy libraries means that the children get to play with a variety of toys and the bedrooms aren’t cluttered up with rarely-played-with toys. - A.C.

  • Charities/Community Groups like Plunket, Parents Centre and Playcentre run courses for parents, to learn how to make toys. - G.B.

  • Community groups like Parents Centre, Plunket, Council Libraries, Churches and Community Centres run cheap Story Telling, Coffee and Music Groups. - G.B.



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