Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Baby Bargains

My blogger friend MominIsrael put up a post entitled "How to spend virtually nothing when you have a baby." It is a great post and you should check it out. There might be some ideas that could work for you there.

In the meantime, I thought I'd add some of my own "Baby Bargain" ideas and have readers contribute their own ideas. Not everything will work for everyone (I don't use cloth diapers, and as much as I would like to be able to exchange occasional babysitting with other mothers, I've found it a near impossibility), but the more information people have the better.

We too have found that babies are not nearly as expensive as they are made out to be. However, mothers have to be strong because the marketing for children is INTENSE. I know the first time I set foot in a baby superstore, in preparation for my own baby, I was OVERWHELMED. I couldn't figure out what I needed, what was a nice product to have, and what was completely extraneous.

And, did everything need a baby label to be appropriate for a baby, or safe for a baby? Did I need to have special laundry detergent for my baby at $10 a pop, when I normally bought laundry detergent on sale for $2.50. Was my bathroom stool good enough for a baby, or did I need a special stool designed for a baby? (The answers: not everything needs a baby label. Babies that don't have super-super-sensitive skin don't need special detergents, and my bathroom stool is just fine).

Like I said, the marketing is intense. And even a frugal wife (that would be me!) can get confused. My best piece of advice: talk to experienced mothers before you pull out your credit card and listen to their advice. While I'm not as experienced as MominIsrael, I think I have enough experience I can offer some of my own advice. And, I'd love to hear your tips! .

Feeding a Baby:

*Nursing: Nursing is fantastic and virtually free. I have found nursing to be great on so many levels: cost, convenience, bonding, and more. But, if you choose not to nurse, the formula companies will send you "checks" that you can apply to formula purchases. Some of these checks have significant value. And, nearly every mother ends up receiving these coupons, whether they are using formula or not. So see if you can take the checks off your friend's hands.

*Baby Food and Table Food: Like MominIsrael points out, babies can often go straight to table food. A walk down the baby aisle in any grocery store will make you believe that you are depriving your child when you skip the tiny jars of baby food. But under ordinary circumstances, you should be able to skip the baby aisle. On top of the savings involved, the convenience of feeding table food is huge! Nearly everything that you make for the rest of the family can be adjusted for your baby. Vegetables can be pulled from the soup and mashed up, pasta can be set aside from the regular dinner for the baby, and frozen vegetables can be shared.

*Baby Labels: Nearly every food with a baby label has a replacement. YoBaby yogurt costs an arm and a leg. But, if your pediatrician insists on whole milk yogurt, look up and look down Chances are you will find a whole milk replacement that is a lot less expensive. (The cost of food marketed to babies rivals the cost of sushi). If you are really lucky, the doctor will not insist on 4% and you can just serve the same yogurt everyone else is eating. My rule of thumb is that if the product is being marketed for babies, it is time to search for an alternative.

Portions: Toddlers are notorious for wanting everything their eyes see. And, after you have served up a full meal, they get distracted by something else. So, try not to overdo the portions. Serving more later will mean less waste now.

*Need? Not every piece of equipment is necessary, although it is easy to be convinced that they are. Every piece of equipment will take up valuable space in your home. So, while you will want to buy a new car seat for safety purposes, you might want to borrow other pieces of equipment.

*Market Research: Don't rely on your eyes alone when choosing a stroller, or other piece of equipment. I have a number of friends with expensive stollers that hate their stroller. They complain it is too bulky, too heavy, too unwieldy, etc. But, they were convinced that this stroller was a must have because everyone else had one. So, before buying, talk to friends and find out if they would buy the same thing again, before pulling out your credit card. Also, before convincing yourself that you need x, y, or z, find out if your friends have the same needs as you. If your friend is an avid jogger, it makes sense that they have a quality jogging stroller. But, if your idea of exercise is walking from the parking lot into the mall, you will probably find that fancy jogging stroller a complete waste of money (and space).

*Comparison Shop: Once you know what you want, comparison shop. I've found the internet is a great way to find out who has the best price before heading out. Oftentimes, last year's model is available at a big discount.

*Baby Clothing: Depending on the weather, your laundry situation, your baby's propensity to get sick, etc, you may find that you need quite a bit of clothing. I personally enjoy picking out cute outfits and dressing my dolls (oops, I mean children). But, I have also found that 1) new clothing can be bought at excellent prices (yes, even below consignment store/thrift store prices) if you shop the clearance racks and 2) that hand-me-downs are great for filling in the wardrobe.

*Some other tips: Neutral clothing is great for the basics as it can be passed from kid to kid. Even I'm not frugal enough to put a boy in pink, and my husband would definitely object. :) Unisex socks in one style are a smart buy because the laundry machine eats socks. If you buy fun socks and loose one, the other is trash. Consignment stores are great places to buy baby linens. Even if you want to buy new for the nursery, you will probably still need extra sheets for accidents and extra blankets for sick days.

*Shoes: Talk to your pediatrician before taking my advice, but I have yet to buy a pair of shoes at Stride Rite.

*Maternity Clothing: Consignment stores and gemachs are a good place to start, and you can often find very nice clothing in these places. Borrowing from friends of a similar size is also a good idea, especially for clothing that you will only wear once or twice (like a suit for a simcha). Unfortunately, maternity clothing doesn't hit the clearance rack like other clothing. So, the chances of finding a bargain by walking into your local store are slim to none.

*Some tips: Diapers are probably the biggest ongoing expense of babies and toddlers. Knowing your prices, cutting coupons, and shopping the circulars are key. Once your little one isn't growing like a weed, I highly recommend stocking up (if you can afford to do so) when a really good sale hits. You will save yourself time and money in the long run.

*Generics: Many of my friends will only use one brand of diapers. We have found that some generics are perfectly acceptable, so don't rule out the possibility of generics, even if you have had a bad experience with a particular store brand.

Kids at Play
* Toys: Nearly everyone I know has more toys than they need. Gifts from friends and family, hand-me-downs, and a few purchases of your own will overstock your collection. So, go easy on the toys. Chances are your baby will want to play with your stuff anyways.

*Books: At least in this house, unlike toys, it seems that no matter how many books we own, every one is used and loved. But, buying at your local bookstore will cost you a lot. My advice is to check out garage sales, library liquidation sales, thrift stores, and consignment stores. Chances are you will be able to buy books anywhere from 3 for a $1 to $2 a piece. And, skip ones that are easily destroyed.

Before laying out the big bucks for mommy (or daddy) and me activities, or family activities, network and search the internet. There are free public concerts, free reading and music programs at public libraries, and free story and craft times at commercial businesses, and more.

Saving for College:
When it comes to saving for a college education, I like to say there is no time like the present. But, on that note, I will leave this important subject for the future.


Orthonomics said...

Mike-Thanks for your comments. In our house, we don't eat sushi. But, that would be terrible to mix up the platters.

I agree with you not to skimp on books. Books are so important to a child's development: memorization, vocabulary, identification, scanning and searching. In our home, books are the most used "toys."

Another good place to shop for wooden boys in Marshall's or Ross.

And, we buy clothing ahead too at dirt cheap prices. Very little has gone unused. But, that which does go unused can also make great gifts.

Thanks for being the first to share. I will probably post some of the better tips!

Selena said...

I would suggest not buying any baby stuff until the baby is a month or two old and then buy as you need. I was tempted before my first baby to buy a pack and play and a lot of other things. In the end, I didn't buy them, but I didnt' need them either. I borrowed one for this baby and also used it only twice.

Craigslist is a GREAT place to get baby stuff like cribs, strollers, and bigger toys like excersaucers (really a lifesafer for us).

And don't forget hand me downs. I have yet to buy a crib, excersaucer, or any other big purchases.

SaraK said...

eBay is great for books and I have also seen toys (unopened or used once) there too. And you can get maternity clothes at Target, Gap, Old Navy pretty cheap.

Orthonomics said...

Great comments. I forgot about Craigslist and EBay. Although, I usually find the shipping on Ebay prohibitive.

Esther said...

I agree with everything Out of Town said - I bought my son a full Little People train set for $8 from craigslist. About 90% of our clothes are second hand.

I also agree with not buying things until you are sure you will use them. Definitely experiment with diapers to find the balance between cheap and leaky - you won't save any money if you have to change them three times as often because of leaks and ruin clothing. (In our case, we were like the family who lived and learned and then got Luvs.) I also put extra effort into my laundry process - spraying stains and washing smilar fabrics together - so that the clothes will last longer.

Maternity clothes - depending on your shape, you can sometimes buy bigger sizes of regular clothes (at least for everyday wear.)

Baby clothes - realistically, how much time are you planning to spend dressing your squirming kid in tights or fancy outfiits that they are going t throw up on? If someone gives us something cute, we are thrilled. but the only clothes we have actually spent mon ey on were onesies and pajamas.

Anonymous said...

I agree with a lot of what you said.

For feeding, you're still using formula, get the huge ones from Sam's Club, Costco, or BJ's. And at BJ's you can use coupon's, so its even cheaper.

If you're using the baby food, stage 2 is the same as stage 1, just in a bigger jar. In Baltimore, Save-A-Lot (next to Shabsi's) sells the stage 2 for a LOT cheaper than at the local grocery stores. Combined with coupons, you get a really good deal.

Regarding strollers, I agree 100%. We saw one we really liked, but when we went to try it out, it was like the Incredible Hulk. We are very happy with the one we have. I was pushed to buy the $300 Zippy )which doesn't even include the infant seat) but opted for a Travel System for $200 that includes a stroller, base, and infant seat. And the more expensive Zippy doesn't even have cup holders! Mine has four.

Diapers: They say that each diaper fits differently with each kid. We found that Target brand works just fine, and it is a lot cheaper than the name brands, even with coupons.

Lastly, shop at Garage/Yard sales!! We have found excellent quality things for dirt cheap. Many things still had the tags on them! (for example, a used only once activity mat for $3!)

Somewhat Anonymous said...

Good Advice - although I disagree that saving for college should be a priority, especially if one is scrimping on everything else. Its nice if you can do it, but there are very cheap CUNY schools that give a perfectly good education.

mother in israel said...

Thanks for the link!
You make a great point about how so many toys and foods marketed to babies, like sweet teething biscuits, are not really appropriate for them. A wonderful and very humorous resource on infant nutrition is My Child Won't Eat, by Carlos Gonzalez.
Making your own yogurt is another option.

Anonymous said...

IIf you have to use formula, generic brands are as good as Enfamil or Similac. The target brand is made to imitate Enfamil and it costs half of the price. My daughter seems to like Similac better than Enfanil so I'm torn between buying cheap target brand vs. spending a lot of money on Similac

Orthonomics said...

Somewhat Anonymous-Let me work on the college savings post. It has a lot more with how to pick up "free" savings money with a small investment of your own. You are correct that college savings should not be a priority when you are scrimping.

In fact, I would save for retirement first.

Mom-Glad you like it. Some of the baby foods are just ridiculous. I'd love to know how to make your own yogurt. Maybe you can make a post on that and I'll link again.

Aishel-We use Target Brand too, although not exclusively. The Care Bears bring me back to the 80's.

Many of you-Thanks for all the extra formula advice.

Ezzie said...

This is all good stuff. Carriage advice if people want: The Graco car seat and the stroller it snaps into are really good, light, and easy to use. They're not nearly as expensive as most of the other ones that people seem to buy, and a bunch of our friends (I've noticed) have the same one as us and they all like it as well. I don't know how much it is because we got it as a present, but it's definitely no Buggaboo... :)

BJ's has diapers for a good price (in bulk). We didn't start Elianna on food until 6 months, but Serach immediately decided that it's much cheaper (and better) for her to make it than to buy it. Elianna loves it.

We used Similac for formula, but a lot of people said that they switched to Enfamil because Similac made their babies gassy/uncomfortable. That's been true with Elianna as well, so we're going to try Enfamil too - especially as it's cheaper than Similac.

With both Similac and Enfamil, especially the latter, make sure to register on their websites. They'll send you "checks" that you can use to buy formula which will save you a TON of money. That's true with Pampers as well, I believe, and probably other products too. (Pampers also has their 'points', which really add up quickly - make sure to not throw out your bags until you've gotten your points!)

Thanks for all the books/clothing tips. If people are buying you gifts and want to know what you want, always go for clothes (unless they want to do diapers!). Everything else you can get cheaper, clothes you can't always and it's a much bigger shlep to do. We have never yet bought Elianna an article of clothing, if I'm not mistaken. And she has a wardrobe to rival Serach's!

Ezzie said...

Link for Graco travel stroller: Stroller and car seat.

60 + 70 = 130 dollars. That's not bad.

Anonymous said...

Ezzie, that is what I was referring to earlier when I mentioned travel system. This is the one I have. This is good because once the baby grows out of the car seat, s/he can still use the stroller. And it only costs $200, and it includes the stroller, infant seat, and car base for the infant seat.

Selena said...

I also had the Graco Travel system for my first. For my second, we use a snap and go for everyday and a sit and stand ($125 at Target) for times when my 4 year old might get tired.

I also got a double umbrella stroller at a garage sale for $5 for the zoo, etc.

If you walk far on Shabbos, strollers are really important. If you mostly stay home, I think you can get away with a snap and go and an umbrella for the mall, stores, etc.

Selena said...

Oh, and as for book, libraries often have sales on books and you can get great ones for a real bargain (for mom and dad too :))

Ezzie said...

Aishel - I think I may have been mistaken, and we have the same one as you, because I believe ours turns into a stroller as well.

JJ said...

It's so easy to make your own baby food. Once a week or so I would cook batches of veggies, meat, etc., puree them, pour into ice cube trays and freeze. When the food cubes were frozen, I'd pop them out and put each type (beef and broccoli, chicken and carrots, etc.) into a separate freezer bag. When mealtime came around, it was so easy to just take out a few cubes and defrost.

So much cheaper than jarred baby food- though we did keep a few jars on hand for emergencies or if we were going somewhere and needed something portable. But for the most part, it was homemade. SO much cheaper!

mother in israel said...

Yes, MKG, you will get more coupons by lying. You can justify it by the fact that 1) formula companies are among the most unethical around and use the same tactics as cigarette companies, except that their victims are infants and not teenagers, and 2) since you will be buying a lot of formula anyway, getting the checks/samples might cause you to try out a brand you wouldn't otherwise. The companies target breastfeeding mothers because formula-feeding mothers tend to unnecessarily stick to the same brand their babies got in the hospital. They expect a better return from a breastfeeding mother who is having trouble. As an example, they send literature at an age when a new baby is likely to increase breastfeeding frequency because of a growth spurt.
At any rate, unless your pediatrician tells you otherwise (keeping in mind that s/he has probably attended several ritzy seminars sponsored by formula companies), there isn't a significant difference between formulas and there's no reason to buy a more expensive brand or to stick to a particular brand. For instance, formula companies have been adding DHA to higher-priced formula because it is known to be an important component of breastmilk. But no one knows the proper amount to add, which formulation is appropriate, and whether it is absorbed the same way by the bottlefed baby.

Kiwi the Geek said...

Food: Wasting is like a cardinal sin in our household, so Sweetie was only allowed one food at a time. She had to finish the carrots before she got cereal, or whatever. If she was full and there was some left, we put it in the fridge for later, whenever possible.

Toys: Buy ones that encourage creativity/imagination; they give a lot more mileage. Toys they can do 500 different things with, like legos and play-doh. Simple classic toys, like a top and yo-yo. And the less TV they watch, the more they'll be able to entertain themselves with WHATEVER they find, even stuff you throw away.

Orthonomics said...

MaryKayGal-I emailed you. I'll be collecting checks for you.

MominIsrael-Thanks for the extra info.

Kiwi-I agree that you get more mileage out of traditional toys.

mother in israel said...

I think that there is something to be said for putting several different foods on a toddler's plate at each meal, so that s/he can choose the nutrition that he needs. Giving small portions helps avoid leftovers. By age 4 or 5 they got pretty good at calculating how much they would eat.

Kiwi the Geek said...

We let her choose what she wanted first, unless it was something all in one dish, like hamburger helper.

Anonymous said...

You are all cracking me up with these 'money saving tips' for households with children. If you save $1000 by not buying a few dozen jars of baby food, borrowing an exersaucer, and buying tights on sale, is that going to make a dent in your $10K a year tuition bills starting at age 4? I suggest all of you who have not started to pay tuitions yet look at your local day school's tuition schedule before deciding how many children to have... just because you can afford to raise them from age zero to three on half the budget, doesn't necessarily mean your local school is going to be offering a 50% discount on tution in a few short years.

Orthonomics said...

MRN, you are correct that you there are basically no big tuition breaks. But, a lot of young people go into hawk well before tuition.

As it has been said. . . compound interest is the 8th wonder of the universe. Compounding interest on credit card debt is probably the greatest horror of the modern world.

In a post way back about the price of working vs. staying at home, I suggested "home schooling" pre-school and do-it-yourself camp. Some people didn't like the idea. But, there is my many thousands of dollars of savings. And, I don't think we are any worse off because of it. :)

mother in israel said...

MRN, I have three teenagers and believe me they cost a lot. Even without American day school tuition. The purpose of my post was not to encourage people to have more children by omitting how much it costs to feed and educate them as they get older.

Anonymous said...

SephardiLady -- homeschooling for preschool is an excellent idea for mothers who are not working outside the house. But if a person is working alot of hours, why make her feel guilty for buying jars of applesauce instead of boiling, milling and preserving apples in her spare time. Where is this person going to find a daycare or even a nanny who is going to accept cloth diapering? One of the solutions to the financial crisis in the frum world is to have more people out there working outside the frum world, both men and women.

MominIsrael -- I'm not going to even respond to you since some of the things you suggested in your blog are known to pose a health risk to your child and family, such as co-sleeping in the same bed (lowest SIDS risk is same room /different bed), or washing cloth diapers in a household washer without appropriate temperature/soap/rines etc. Also, it is well know that chareidi mothers choose to breastfeed at a much lower rate when they are on the government programs such as WIC, which provides free formula but not free food for nursing mothers. You are free to post whatever you want on your blog of course but my comment wasn't on your blog.

Orthonomics said...

MRN-I used MominIsrael's post as a jump off for my own post.

When it comes to food, I was making the point that many people believe babies can't eat regular food and that is not true. Making baby food doesn't even need to be an effort. It certainly hasn't been for us. We just take plain pasta out from the pot, or vegetables out from the soup and mash them up. No need to peel, mill, etc. (Baruch Hashem, allergies are not an issue here, which helps). My point regarding food was not to spend a lot of time making special baby food, just use what is available and AVOID baby labels like the plague. The generic unsweetened applesauce costs a third of the price and is the same thing as Beechnut or Gerber.

We don't use cloth diapers and I specifically suggested trying generics, using coupons, and checking the circulars to "double up" savings.

One of the solutions to the financial crisis in the frum world is to have more people out there working outside the frum world, both men and women.

Interesting comment. But, it is NOT always profitable for both parents to work if there are young children in the house (this is a baby post, isn't it). And, there are spiritual/emotional trade-offs to leaving children in day care, especially for long periods of time.

This is a discussion for another time. But, my personal opinion is that "solving" the crisis (if it isn't beyond repair) requires a look at both the income and expense side of life. A dollar saved is a tax free dollar earned, IMO.

mother in israel said...

MRN, when you said "you are all cracking me up" I assume you meant my post as well.

I am eager to respond to your safety concerns. Would you like to post your comments at the original post, or shall I quote your comments in a new post?

Ayelet said...

I am a Pampers mom (as opposed to the Huggies variety). I found the CVS brand to be just as good and, if you wait for it, they sometimes have awesome sales like 2 for the price of 1. At that point I clear the shelves and then get a rain check!

Orthonomics said...

Ayelet, I agree that the CVS brand is excellent I wait for the buy one get one free sale also and use one of the extra bucks coupons or $4 of a $20 purchase.

And, I believe that you get a coupon for a free package of CVS brand diapers every 8 or 9 purchases.

But, you are AWESOME. I never thought of clearing the shelves and then getting a rain check. High five!!! You should write a guest post. :)

mother in israel said...


SL told me that she didn't mind if I responded here, but I decided to do it on my blog:


Anonymous said...

But, you are AWESOME. I never thought of clearing the shelves and then getting a rain check. High five!!! You should write a guest post. :)
Isn't that so ehrlich! What a Kiddush Hashem! I don't have time or space to tell you how much damage you are doing to the store and to other consumers. But like good ol'Lipa says - it's all about GELT!

Orthonomics said...

I just picked up the last orange juice in my local grocery that was on sale at a really low price.

I'm not sure if there was a number limit on how many orange juices I was allowed to purchase, but I imagine that there was.

So, I requested a raincheck. Stores generally ask how many more you want and will not write a raincheck for a ridiculous amount more. I was just in another store that had completely run out of the crackers that my husband wanted and they wouldn't let me take a raincheck for more than 10.

So, with the Orange Juice, I cleared the shelf of what they had and the store was happy to write a raincheck for more, even though they saw me take the last one.

While clearing the of a huge amount and asking for a raincheck doesn't seem too nice. . . stores generally impose limits on the number one is allowed to purchase and will only write a raincheck for a certain number of items.

If Ayelet (or I) buys the last 5 bags of diapers and the store is willing to write a raincheck for 5 more, I don't see this as unethical.

Orthonomics said...

I should add that until this incident this week with the Orange Juice, I was under the mistaken assumption that you could only get a raincheck if the store was *completely* out of the product.

For a long time I was just buying the last one on the shelf and walking away and hoping to return to a new stock before the sale would end.

This is the first week I have ever requested a raincheck on an item that was in stock, until I bought the last one.

Lying to get the item would be unethical. Informing the store that you want more after they see that you have "cleared the shelf" doesn't strike me as unethical. If the store is willing to grant you a raincheck despite seeing 5 packages of diapers in your cart, it seems to me that they believe it is good for business to allow you to take a raincheck.

And, I do believe (although I may be mistaken) that the club cards which track your purchases will not allow you to purchase more than the "limit" at the sale price.

I know that the store systems are becoming more sophisticated. In fact, I have a ton of club cards we only use on driving trips because stores will no longer give you the sale price without registering a card.

CVS, which has great coupons, will NOT even let customers use other cardholder's coupons. My neighbor once gave me a great coupon for CVS and I couldn't use it because my card didn't match the number on the coupon.

Anonymous said...

What about OTHER customers who are inconvenienced and who then watch you go for a raincheck? How do you think people view frum Jews when they see you do this?

In the town where I grew up, this kind of behavior is seen among ovdei avoda zara who just came off the boat from the third world. It is frowned upon and causes much inconvenience for more polite and decent shoppers. If I saw a frum person doing that, I would give them a dirty look to put it mildly. If I were the last guy in front of the shelf I would look to make sure no one else wanted the item before taking it all (unless there were just one left). I also would not abuse the store and cause them hefsed by asking them for more than is due after the sale period- what I would do is return for more if I needed it and it were restocked during the sale period.

It is the kind of thing that non Jewish shoppers complain about at the infamous Wal Mart in the Catskills as well.

And I am an international retail expert (if you could read Russian you'd be able to read my many quotes and links on the web) and I know how these sales are run. Sometimes the store makes a special purchase for the sale period, in which case the manufacturer may subsidize it. Sometimes the store takes a cut in profit on their own. But they agreed to do it for a certain period of time, and you got your share. If it comes back during the sale period - fine. You want to go to another branch of the chain store - OK. If not and you already got more than your share - you need to act lifnim meshuras hadin and not play games. And common decency says that if there is another customer who wants some and is nearby, it is time to share (and then I can understand getting the raincheck). It looks disgusting when someone runs and hogs all the sale merchandise left in store when others want it as well.

In the end, we'll all pay for your extra diapers in terms of increased prices and fewer or more regulated special sales.

Orthonomics said...

Grabbing everything you see while others are trying to get the same product is rude and uncalled for. It demonstrates a lack of derech eretz. I completely agree.

But, I don't see a problem with buying the last 5 bags of diapers or the last 5 boxes of tissues when nobody else is waiting behind you for the same items, and then proceeding to ask the clerk (who is is ringing your order up no less) for a raincheck because you really wanted 10 bags of diapers or 10 boxes of tissues.

The store can say no to your request if that is their policy, just like a store said no to my request for a raincheck for 15 boxes of crackers when they limit customers to requests for 10 items.

I shop at a number of different stores and each store has different policies which benefit them. Some stores limit the number of coupons you can use in one transaction. Some stores limit the number of items you can buy on sale with your club card. Some stores only allow you to use store coupons that match your club card.

Each store sets policies that benefit their bottom line. It benefits a store to keep their clientele coming back, and getting customers in the door with "loss leaders" does just that.

If a store believes that it benefits them to let a customer purchase another 5 boxes of tissues at the sale price at a later date, than why shouldn't a customer request that?

Anonymous said...

my tip on maternity clothes: check out the department in Kohl's where you can put together an outfit for $40-$50, or so I found 6 years ago.
I found jumpers, dresses, and sweaters. Another great option GAP's maternity line, and now Land's End has one (didn't exist when I needed it.)
For my first time around I had dropped hundreds at a Boro Park store -- some were on sale for $50 (this was 13 years ago but some were closer to a hundred. Nonsale prices ran close to $200 an outfit. A lot of the dressy outfits were not that useful. They were not machine washable (nor hand, for that matter, despite the saleswoman's indication to the contrary) and some of the wool ones would get uncomfortably hot.

Maternity hose are not necessary if you don't mind wearing socks and if the skirts you wear are long enough to cover knee-highs (so long as they don't cut off your circulation)