Babies need a lot, but that doesn’t mean you have to go drop a few grand on all the fanciest baby gear the minute that little white stick shows a positive sign.
There’s a reason why stores like Babies R Us are so successful, because it’s so easy for them to tap into our emotions as new moms and make us think we have to have this or that to protect, snuggle, and feed our little bundle of joy.
Newsflash: You can absolutely care for your newborn without ever stepping foot into Babies R Us. Here are my tips on how to prepare for a baby on a tight budget.
Save on Maternity Clothing
The days of hiding your pregnancy under a muumuu and over-sized boxy shirts are (thankfully) over.
Pregnancy is now celebrated and shown off, and for good reason. Baby bumps are adorable, soon-to-be moms have that “glow” about them, and people love pregnant women.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I couldn’t stand to think about shopping for a bunch of new maternity clothing that I wouldn’t even be wearing in a year. I stepped foot in one store and guffawed at the prices.
I seriously wanted to buy one pair of pants and one shirt and wash them every day so I wouldn’t have to buy anymore clothing. (Luckily it didn’t come to that!)
Instead, I opted to buy regular sized knit clothing, which worked especially well since I was hugely pregnant in the dead of summer. I bought a knit skirt and a few nursing bras, and that’s all I bought new.
Shop Your Closet (I’m Not Kidding!)
I also shopped my own closet for anything that was knit and stretchy. I had several summery knit dresses that stretched perfectly over my pregnant belly — whether I was 4 months along or 9.
I even had one stranger come up and tell me how beautiful I looked when I was wearing one of my non-maternity knit dresses. (Talk about making a hormonal woman’s day!) To top it off, I can still wear those very same knit dresses and skirts today (without looking like I’m pregnant!).
Start a Baby Fund
A coworker gave me some great advice when I told him I was planning on having kids one day. He told me to start contributing to a savings account specifically for having a baby.
The fund should be used for any surprises along the way, and will stand to help as a sort of baby emergency fund to help you stick with your budget if you run into some unforeseen baby expenses. I thought it was a brilliant idea, and it didn’t need to have thousands of dollars in it.
If you start this targeted account early enough, setting aside $ 50 a month adds up before too long. For example, if you start saving two years before you have a baby and contribute $ 20 a month, you’ll have almost $ 1,000 to help you out come baby time.
Double Check Your Insurance
In order to avoid any unpleasant surprises to your budget, find out ahead of time what you’ll owe to the hospital once you have your baby. Many places even require your bill to be paid in full by the time you’re 7 months along with your pregnancy, before you even give birth. I wasn’t pleased when I found that out myself, but many places will allow you to set up a monthly payment plan if needed.
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Breastfeed If You Can
Breastfeeding is a weirdly controversial topic among moms-to-be, but if you’re aiming to save money on your newborn, breastfeeding is the way to go.
Not only does formula smell disgusting, but it’s also ridiculously expensive. Breastfeeding is free, and it’s good for your baby, so if you can handle it, it will save you a ton of money.
Accept Hand-Me-Downs Graciously
There’s a stigma attached to buying used instead of buying new for your baby, but even new stuff is covered in chemicals (yes, even new clothing), so shouldn’t that stigma be attached to buying new?
If you ask around, a lot of parents will gladly give you their old baby items to reuse because it helps them declutter, and it’s a great thing to do for the environment.
When I had my baby, there were a few moms that were more than happy to unload some of their baby stuff to me that they no longer needed. I know we saved hundreds of dollars thanks to all of our hand-me-downs.
I’m not talking just baby clothes (of which we were given plenty), but we also received a used crib, a bath seat, toys (oh the toys!), books, shoes, and everything in between. You name it, we probably got it (for free!). We seriously could have gotten away with buying nothing for our newborn for the first few months.
Graciously accept any and all hand-me-downs, especially items that you may only use for a few months. If some of the items are things you won’t use, pay it forward by passing it along to someone else.
I’m excited to get hand-me-downs even now that my daughter is three. I am absolutely fine with letting someone else spend the money and am grateful anytime I get even one bag of hand-me-down clothing for my daughter.
I actually get excited to go home and go through it all, as if I just went shopping for all of it. But the best part is that I didn’t have to go shopping for it – I have all of my money still in my wallet.
Not All Used Cribs are Obsolete
We scored a used baby crib from a friend of ours who no longer needed it. I know there is a stigma attached to using old cribs, but as long as you check to make sure the model hasn’t been recalled, then you are good to go.
The crib we used even turned into a toddler bed as our daughter grew, which saved us even more money down the road.
Shop Yard Sales
Clearly I’m no stranger to bargains, and that includes shopping at yard sales for baby items. If you can get over your feeling about yard sales being undesirable, there are some great deals to be had, many times on new items.
We bought several sets of new-with-tags outfits for our newborn at yard sales as well as our changing table ($ 15) and baby swing ($ 35). I later found that same exact baby swing at Babies R Us for $ 175. (It was definitely a proud moment!)
Ditch the Changing Table
While I opted for a traditional changing table (only because I got that great deal at a yard sale), another good option is to use an old dresser and simply outfit it with a contoured changing pad on top to ensure your baby’s safety.
This way, when your baby is too old for diapers, you can continue to use the dresser and remove the changing pad on top.
Local Pop-Up Consignment Sales
The majority of our baby items came from the biannual consignment sales we have locally. I’ve seen them in other cities, too, so I’m sure you probably have a few in your area. They typically run for a week at a time in the spring and fall.
Due to low overhead and the fact they run for such a short period of time, they’re cheaper than actual consignment shops, and you can find some steals there on anything kid-related. The best deals will be found at those sales.
I like to buy clothes at these sales and then resell them when my daughter outgrows the clothing. No one has ever realized my daughter wears used clothing (except when I tell them, because I’m not ashamed of it). Your new clothes are used after the first time they hit your washing machine. Let everyone else buy new!
Items You Will Want to Buy New
You may want to splurge on new items like bottles, a breast pump, a car seat, and cloth diapers if you decide to go that route, although I have heard many a rumor of parents buying used cloth diapers on Craigslist. (No shame if you don’t use cloth diapers, though — I didn’t.)
The bottom line is, try not to go overboard with all the cute baby items. You’ll receive so many gifts, you could probably go 6 months without having to buy a stitch of clothing for your baby. People love buying baby items.
If you do have some well wishers asking what you need, be honest and tell them — whether it’s for diapers or simply gift cards. It’s better than ending up with 10 pairs of baby shoes that your baby will never wear.
What are your favorite budget friendly baby ideas? How did you save money on the cost of your baby?