Save by Breastfeeding
Plan to breastfeed if you can. Pediatricians say that breastfeeding, when possible, is better for baby than formula, and, except for the gear, it’s free! Buying formula will average you about $90-$120 (or more depending on the brand) a month over a year. Breastmilk will cost you nothing except the supplies you need for storing/pumping it. However, I do realize this is not always possible for mamas, and I believe that babies will be JUST FINE on formula if need be. I was only able to breastfeed for 3 months and my baby is thriving. She is off-the-charts tall, strong, on-target developmentally, smart, and happy. (And adorable, just saying.) I also note the article “Switching to Formula: Why Breastfeeding Education Classes Desperately Need a Reality Check” which speaks frankly about how it can be hard to breastfeed. However, it works for many mamas and if it works for you, it can definitely save you money over formula.
As a financial side-note, you may need some donor milk to tide you over at first while your milk comes in. Consider putting away about $150-200 to purchase donor milk from your hospital. if you don’t need it, great! Some mamas have an abundance and some mamas take a while to get started and never end up with a great supply.
Save on Diapers
Consider cloth diapering to save big on diaper costs. If you buy cloth diapers pre-loved, the cost is way less over the course of your baby’s diaper years than buying disposables. See my post The 5 Things (Everything) You Need to Start Cloth Diapering for more information about what is entailed.
I got a bundle of 24 great pre-loved cloth diapers on Poshmark for $225! I already had 8 free ones, so that was all I needed. Due to some fancy snapping options, each diaper fits from newborn size up to toddler size. Mine are all-in-one (AIO) style that don’t need inserts. I compare the three brands I have in this post.
It will feel so nice to go in the store and can walk right past those expensive boxes of disposable diapers, which will cost around $30 a box or more. After about 8 boxes of diapers, my cloth diapers paid for themselves big time! (And you would need way more than 8 boxes of diapers over the course of your baby’s diapering months.)
In tangent, you can also easily make your own baby wipes that you can use over and over and wash the same way as your diapers. I go over these in my post Everything You Need to Start Cloth Diapering as well. They were super easy—I simply cut mine up out of a couple receiving blankets that I didn’t need anymore.
If you stick with disposables, there are brand-loyalty programs that will let you earn points to redeem for items. For instance, a member of my Oh, Hello Mama Facebook group says that she saves all her Pampers points and used the points almost every Christmas to buy her kids gifts basically for free. If you like a particular diaper brand, make sure to take the few extra minutes and log in all your points. Save them up and then cash them in for some neat stuff. She said she got a free Melissa and Doug music instrument set, among other things.
Save on Baby Clothes
Of course you should add some baby clothes to your registry, but I personally found that I did not get as much baby clothing as I thought I might at my baby showers. Perhaps it’s because everyone assumes you will get so much clothing so get you other things instead. Shop at yard sales, Goodwills and other thrift stores ahead of time for baby clothes. There are a lot of really good pieces in thrift shops because little babies simply do not wear items long enough to wear them out. I have found some amazing pieces and really good brands such as Lily pulitzer, Tea Collection, Nike, babyGap, and more. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting you dress your baby in worn out clothing! Many people who never shop second-hand picture it as all a bunch of worn out junk, but that is so not the case.
If you start ahead of time, you will be able to take your time and pick only the best pieces that you truly love. Never settle for worn out or schlumpy second-hand clothing that you don’t like when if you just keep looking you will find better items in great shape. Go ahead and buy pieces in larger sizes (ie, up to 12 months maybe) and stockpile your baby’s closet so that you won’t find yourself in a bind after a growth spurt needing to run out and buy retail. Wash them up and they’re as good as new! Personally, I really enjoyed doing this while pregnant. It was so much fun!
Save on Baby Furniture and Decor
Shop Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, or your other favorite resale sites for nursery furniture and decor. Again, I’m not saying to settle for anything that isn’t in good shape. I found wonderful pieces for amazing deals to outfit my entire nursery! The only thing in my nursery that I bought new was the rug and that was from Home Goods.
See my post A Thrifty Nursery Tour for a video showing the prices of all my great finds!
Save on Baby Food
Puree your own baby food! It is so so easy, honestly. I really do believe that this saves a good bit of money over buying processed jarred baby food. You do not have to splurge on organic produce to do this, despite what some people will tell you. Folks who have the money to buy only organic, that’s great, but if you’re reading this article you’re probably looking to save!
Consider the cost of a bag of baby carrots, apples, zucchini, etc. Not much. Produce is really not very expensive, and you can make a lot of baby food out of one bag of baby carrots, for example! You’ll save a lot, and it will be so much better because there are no preservatives or additives that you don’t want there. Just freeze your purees and you are good to go. See my post on Pureeing Your Own Baby Food for more on how.
16 oz baby carrots from Walmart= .98c.
16 oz Gerber puree from Walmart = $2.46.
You’ll be adding water to your carrots to purée them, which adds to the weight/ounces you will end up with.
Altogether you’re probably paying 4x as much for the jars, which adds up over time.
Save on Baby Gear
Go to yard sales as often as you can while you are preparing for baby. Yard sales are in my opinion the ultimate best place to find great deals on baby items! I found an excellent BOB jogging stroller at a yard sale for a fraction of the new cost (which is $600.) In some areas, yard sales are posted frequently on Craigslist, so you can take a look beforehand and see which ones advertise baby items. The good thing about yard sales with baby items is that once people are done with baby items, they’re done with them! So if they have any baby stuff, they often have a lot of baby stuff. And they probably don’t want to bring it back in the house when the sale is over!
Save by Buying Gifts Early
Buy Christmas and birthday gifts throughout the year when you see good deals rather than running out at the last minute to fill your cart and overpaying. Ross and TJ Maxx have great baby toys and books! Just look at the suggested ages of the products to make sure your little one will be the right age for the toy at his or her next special occasion. Besides Ross and TJ Maxx, since I resell items on Poshmark, I have also really enjoyed finding new cute toys (love Melissa and Doug and Manhattan Toy Co) and using my sale profits to buy presents.
Save by Asking
Consider asking friends or family for hand-me-down baby items that you need. Don’t be shy! They truly may just not have thought of it or may not be aware of what you need. I am a person who isn’t afraid to ask for things, and I have come to see that as a strength. If you feel uncomfortable asking directly, say something like, “If you have anything you think I’ll need, let me know—I’d love to buy it at the friends and family rate!” Or, “If you are ever getting rid of/selling XYZ, let me know!” They may just give it to you instead.
Resell Baby Items You’re Done With
You can resell gently used baby clothing and other baby and items at kids consignment shops or online. Donating or regifting is a wonderful thing to do, but if you need the cash to buy the next size of clothes, give it a shot.
I hope these ideas inspire your thriftiness as you prepare for your new baby! To me, finding great deals on the baby items I would need was a lot of fun, and thankfully, my husband enjoyed it too.