Our first baby (pictured above and is now 6) was born during finals week in our senior year of college. As full-time college students growing a family, to say we were financially tight in that season of our lives is a tremendous understatement. Yet, I look back on that time and feel incredibly blessed to have afforded all the necessities. We had all of the baby items we needed, and didn't go broke doing so.
Baby stuff (even affordable options like cloth diapers) isn't always cheap and the costs can really add up. So, whether you're on a tight budget or just looking for ideas to keep those baby costs under control, here are a few ways we've saved the most while preparing for now three babies.
Saving Money on Baby
Tip 1. Reevaluate "Needs"
Get ready to hear lots of must-have recommendations--from family, friends, advertisements, and even well-meaning strangers. The story will likely go that they just could not have survived parenthood without fill-in-the-blank. You think, Well, they had a baby, so they must know. You stock up on fill-in-the-blank and as it turns out, baby hates it, or you hate it, and it gets pushed aside and rarely used.
Going into baby prep it's easy to think everything is necessary. And it's not until after you've gone through it yourself that you realize maybe babies really are born with basic needs. I mean, keep them diapered, fed and rested, with lots of love and some age appropriate sensory play--and they will be living like royalty.
The bottom line: Rethink what is truly essential for the baby.
See and print my "just the essentials" list >> here.
We never had a bottle or wipe warmer, we almost never used our baby monitor, our diaper genie became a nuisance within a few weeks (when we used disposable diapers), and our babies were content with a simple bouncer, not 50 different seats/play stations/swings.
Of course, some people swear by those products, but it's a matter of choosing what makes sense and what's important for you. Choose a couple cool gadgets you're interested in and make sense for your personality, then forget the rest. You can always change your mind later.
Tip 2. Shop Short-term
As you think about what you need, start especially with the first 3-6 months in mind. As you get a hang of your own parenting style and preferences, you'll likely add to that (or neglect some of it) as you go. No need to shop for the whole first year before baby shows up--you'll end up with more than you'll ever need or use.
Remember, what one parent considers a must-have, another parent will never use. Start with the basics (diapering, clothing, feeding, sleeping), then go from there. Better to leave room to add later as needed. Or, you just might be pleasantly surprised how content you are with just the essentials.
Tip 3. Reconsider Secondhand
Thankfully, secondhand items no longer have quite the stigma that they used to. Reusing is a good choice for everyone, because it's not only budget-friendly, it also reduces waste. We've had a lot of hand-me-down baby products with our kids, and most of it has been like-new. Babies grow out of things fast, sometimes within a couple months, so secondhand can often still have lots of use left.
There is also the added bonus that depending on how much use you put into it and how long you use it, you could sell the same item for close to what you paid for it. It's nice to know there's not a huge loss in value just because you took something out of its packaging.
Some good sources for reusing:
- Family and Friends
Used items from those you know could cost you nothing if they are offered or lended, or they could be affordable from a source you trust.
Browse the "Baby+Kid" category or type specific brands/products in the search bar.
- Local Facebook consignment group
These seems to be growing in popularity. Ask around and find out how to get added to your area's local consignment group. Often there is one specifically for baby items, sometimes even divided by gender.
- Ebay or Amazon
These sites seem to be featuring more and more new stuff, but there are still great discounts to be found, and even secondhand if you appreciate the value of reusing.
- Baby-Focused Secondhand Stores (like Once Upon a Child)
Most areas are now opening these secondhand stores especially for kids clothing and baby gear. They're organized better than the average thrift store, and have a wide range of brands and such.
- Garage Sales
The Midwest is big on garage sales. And young neighborhoods especially tend to sell lots of baby stuff this way. This option can often be far cheaper than secondhand stores that have a business to run.
If you start looking soon enough, you'll likely even be able to find some of the high-end products and brands for an affordable price. Unless you have family or friends that like buying nice gifts, start shopping around for the bigger, nicer items, and save the smaller items (clothes, smaller gadgets, etc.) for your registry.
Bonus Tip. Buy Discount
Okay, I'll wrap it up with one last tip. For anything that you decide is a "need" and you plan to buy new, wait to buy on discount. We generally don't buy too much brand-new. But of the items not weeded out in tip 1 or not available through tip 3, we make our best effort to not spend full-price.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but here are a couple ways to not spend retail:
Stores like Target run sales all the time on all sort of items from diapers to clothes to larger items like carseats. Wait to buy items from your list until they're on sale.
Coupons can come from the store or from the manufacturer, and sometimes from both. When you decide on brands and products, do a quick search online and see if you find any sources for coupons. Pair these up with sale prices and you get an even better discount.
- Registry Discount
After you've had your shower and after people buying you gifts has slowed, buy some of the remaining items yourself with 10% off. Target and Amazon are two registries that do this, but some others likely do too. Even if this is a subsequent pregnancy, go ahead and make a registry so you can use that discount on a big purchase.
Okay, now I'm done. And now it's your turn...
What helped you save money on preparing for baby?
also check out:
New Baby Checklist (with printable)