Having a baby can be one of the most joyful experiences in your life. But it can also be one of the most overwhelming. Especially when it comes to all of the costs that seem to start adding up fast, even before the baby arrives.
Having a baby on a budget isn’t impossible. While some costs are unavoidable, many can be minimized with some careful planning and a little extra effort.
Here are 10 money-saving tips when having a baby:
1. Be strategic with items on your baby registry
It’s so easy to caught up in all of the beautiful nursery decor, clothing, and accessories. But be sure to stack your registry with all of the must-have items.
Register for diapers in all sizes or if you are going the cloth route register for plenty of washable inserts. Wipes, diaper cream, car seat, bottles, and a monitor are a few of the essentials you’ll need for the first couple of years. But don’t be afraid to put some items on your registry for the toddler years as well.
A silicone bib is a lifesaver at mealtimes and toddler-friendly utensils are great as they start to eat by themselves. Safety items like gates, outlet covers, and locks for doors are also great items to put on your registry.
These might not be ‘fun’ gifts to register for, but they will help ease the financial burden of buying all of this at once.
2. Don’t purchase fringe baby products unless there’s a need
Every parent has that one baby item they just can’t live without. And if you listened to each of those recommendations you would end up with a house full of baby equipment you’ll never use.
I recommend buying the essentials and then buy additional products as the need arises.
For example, some swear by having a diaper pail to toss dirty diapers in to. Others find them to be more work than promised and just prefer to toss diapers in with the garbage.
Baby swings are another hot topic. One baby may love the $500 baby swing and the next is absolutely miserable in it.
Don’t buy too many of those items up front because you very well may not end up needing them based on your child and your parenting style.
3. Use your current budget wisely to stock up on essentials before the baby is born.
If you are planning for a baby or have found out you’re are expecting, start setting aside some money each month. Use this money to start purchasing items on sale or with coupons from that must-have list.
Even if it’s just a pack of diapers a week or a few jars of baby food (check for expiration dates when purchasing in advance), any little bit will help. Your budget won’t feel it as much in smaller increments.
Also, make sure you start taking advantage of some baby freebies!
4. Garage sales are a MUST for having a baby on a budget
There are some items I wouldn’t recommend buying at a garage sale, like breast pump accessories. But for most kid-related items, garage sales can be a huge help to your baby budget.
Clothes, many with tags still on them, are always popular and normally sell for an incredibly low price. Toys, highchairs, shoes, and babywearing products are great items to snatch up at a very high discount.
Look for items in great condition and if you aren’t sure on price just do a quick internet search to help you determine if it’s a good buy.
Clothing can usually be purchased in the $1-$2 range with other items ranging from 50-80% off! Parents just want to be rid of the clutter in their home so they are willing to sell these great condition items at such a discount. Here are some great baby closet organizer ideas to keep all your baby clothing organized.
Scour your local adds and find those deals! Even better organize your own garage sale to make some extra cash to put towards your baby.
5. Keep the toy purchases to a minimum
It’s tough to know what kind of toys your child will love, so purchasing too many before they are actually old enough to use them is a bit of a waste.
Start small with a few toys that are easy to handle for baby and then let their interests steer you in the right direction.
Plus, most kids LOVE non-toy toys. I’m talking pots and pans, wooden spoons, empty boxes, and tissues. There are plenty of DIY toys that you can create with many items you already have in your home!
6. Start setting aside daycare costs NOW
Daycare costs continue to rise and in many states, child care is more expensive than college tuition. It’s very important to budget for these costs ahead of time and if possible start setting aside that cost every month PRIOR to baby coming home.
This will help you manage your budget so you can make any necessary adjustments prior to you actually need the money.
Practice those adjustments now so it’s not a shock to your typical spending habits when baby arrives. Cutting out a few trips to Chipotle or watching movies at home instead of the theatre may make a big difference. Start practicing now and set that money aside!
And if you aren’t sure what child care costs look like in your area, this interactive map of the U.S. is a great resource to start planning.
7. Cloth diapers can be a budget saver
The upfront costs of cloth diapers are high but are returned quickly over the lifetime of their use. If you can get the majority of your cloth diaper stock as gifts or second hand, you will be well on your way in saving some serious cash.
Considering a baby will average around 2,700 diapers in their first year which can cost upwards of $550! And you are looking at two to four years of diaper duty per child so those costs can be very high!
If you are willing to take on the extra hands-on work that comes with cloth diapers, you will reap the financial benefits.
8. Look for free entertainment for baby
It won’t be long before you become eager to get out and start sharing the world with a baby. And there are plenty of baby-friendly or toddler-friendly activities available in most areas. But some cost a pretty penny.
Look for the free events and activities. You never know with young children if you’ll need to make a quick escape because of behavior, feeding, napping or bathroom breaks.
Don’t break the bank on activities while they are this young. Check out your local parks, libraries, and YMCAs for free activities. Connect with local parenting groups for playdates through local Facebook groups or other other apps.
9. Check with your insurance for a possibly FREE breast pump
If you plan on breastfeeding there’s a good chance that you’ll need the assistance of a breast pump at one point or another. And if you will be working outside the home, a breast pump is a necessity. And although they can be a bit pricey, your insurance may be able to supply you one completely free!
Dealing with insurance is never a walk in the park. I recommend checking with your provider as soon as possible to determine what steps you need to take to receive your free pump. But all the hoops you have to jump through will be worth it compared to purchasing a new pump at a cost of $300 and up.
Totally agree, we were able to get a free breast pump from our insurance with little to no hassle. – T$C
10. Make your own baby food
Babies love to eat! Once they hit the solid food stage you will certainly start to see an increase in your grocery bill. And baby food, in particular, is pricey.
You are paying for convenience when you snag those tiny bottles of pureed goodness. But if you can handle making your own baby food at home you will save some coin. Some foods are easier to make than others. And you’ll need to be careful that you don’t waste your savings on food prep equipment. But if you love to cook and have enough time to prep your baby’s food, this is a great way to save!
There’s no denying that having a baby means your budget may take a hit. Babies are expensive! But planning ahead and making some smart money decisions will ease your financial stress.
Andrea is the owner of Selfies to Selfless, a blog to help moms navigate life with kids. Her writing has been featured on Huffington Post, Scary Mommy and Badassery Magazine.