How to Save Money on a Baby
In this article I am going to talk about 15 ways that you can save money on your baby.
15 Easy Ways to Save Money on Your Baby
Congratulations! You’re about to begin an amazing new chapter of your life. I’m sure you’re super excited, but you might also be a little nervous. There’s a lot to worry about as a new parent, including how you’re going to pay the new expenses that will come with your dear little bundle of joy.
But even though there is a lot of gear and clothes and accessories that come with having a baby, it really doesn’t have to cost that much. Below I’m going to share 15 tips for things that we did ourselves with our three little ones to help save money just before or after having a baby.
Here are 15 simple tips to help you save money on your baby!
1. Buy second-hand maternity clothes.
Believe me, I know that maternity clothes can be super cute—but they will be just as cute from the thrift store or eBay or the woman you buy them from on the local online classifieds. And they will cost a lot less.
Given the fact that you will wear them for probably only four or five months each pregnancy, and you may be pregnant only one or two or three times, it makes more financial sense to save the money to buy cute outfits after you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight! (Or better yet, to save even more money, buy second-hand clothing then, too! :))
2. Call to find out beforehand what the hospital will charge extra for.
Unlike some stories that I’ve heard by those at other hospitals in other places, we were fortunate enough to not have a ton of unexpected extra charges from our hospital stays when having our babies. But there were still things that were much more expensive (even with insurance) than they would have been otherwise. For example, with our first daughter I took the pain killers and medicine (like my thyroid medicine) that the hospital gave (sold) us because they said that was their standard practice, but with our twins, I brought my own medicine and let them know I planned to use that instead. Paying $9 for one dose of a medication that normally costs $4 for a 90-day supply is just not OK in my book!
Some other things you will want to be aware of is if they charge extra for a private versus a shared room or for using the television (our hospital, fortunately, did not) or other amenities. Our hospital even included as part of the delivery cost (so of course you’re paying for it one way or the other, but it was still nice to feel not completely nickel-and-dimed) for one meal for one guest, and all meals for the mother were included in the price of the stay.
But again, if you want to save money, find out about the cost of meals beforehand, and if they charge extra for them, you might choose to have someone bring in at least some of them from home or a grocery store or an inexpensive restaurant. Or even bring some simple things from home when you go, such as fruit and fixings for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the like, which we did do to have food on hand.
3. Save up for the labor and delivery, and offer to pay your portion in cash for a discounted price.
I never thought to do this because we have good insurance and so our bill wasn’t that high, relatively speaking (we have a 10 percent copay and no deductible), but my brother and his wife called and found out the estimated price of their labor and delivery and arranged to pay it beforehand for a discount, even when they had insurance. I wish I would have thought to do that! So give it a try—you’ve got nothing to lose!
4. Breastfeed if possible to save a ton of money on your baby.
Breast is best—for your wallet. If you are able to breastfeed, you could save $80 a month (that’s how much we spent on formula for my son, and that was supplementing what I was able to pump for him) or more by not having to buy formula. With my daughters I was able to breastfeed exclusively, and I breastfed them pretty much exclusively for the first six months (about seven months with my first daughter), including pumping after I returned to work when they were three months old.
With our son he wouldn’t breastfeed, despite meeting with a lactation consultant and trying diligently for over a month to get him to breastfeed, so I pumped for him and supplemented with formula as needed. If I had been able to work exclusively with him and give him more of my sole attention, maybe he would have eventually caught on, but since I had another sweet baby to take care of that divided my time and attention (his twin sister), I gave it my best effort, and eventually let it go.
But my sister-in-law’s sister’s son struggled with breastfeeding for three months, but she just kept being patient and trying and pumping, and eventually he caught on and did great with breastfeeding after that. So if breastfeeding is something you feel is important, don’t give up even when things are rough at the beginning. And don’t be afraid to get the advice and support and counsel of other moms—you’re probably going to need it.
Breastfeeding may be the most natural thing in the world, but it is also very difficult at the beginning for many women. (I was one of them, with my first daughter.) So study up beforehand, but also, like I said, get the help and advice of your mom, sisters, mother-in-law, nurses, lactation consultants, or other supportive and trusted women in your life.
If you end up using formula, try the generic brands. The law requires that they meet the same nutrition standards as the more expensive name-brand versions, so you’re not losing anything by going with less expensive options, but the savings can be significant.
5. Buy a used breast pump, or see if it is covered by your health insurance so you can get it for free.
With my first daughter, I bought a used high-quality breast pump from the friend of a cousin. If that seems odd to you, you can by new phalanges. But as long as you sterilize them after you buy them (though I would imagine the woman you buy them from will do that herself before she sells them), there’s no need to do that.
With our twins, Obamacare was in effect, and so we received a breast pump without having to pay any additional fees, courtesy of our health insurance. So definitely go that route if it’s available to you.
6. Make your own baby food to save money when your baby is a little older.
This is a no-brainer, I think. Making baby food is so simple, and it saves a ton of money. We probably used only about maybe 10 or 15 jars of baby food total for our three kids. And that was primarily for a couple of times that we were on the road and it just seemed more convenient. But when you have your blender, use it! (If you don’t have one, buy one for $20 or $30—it will pay for itself in just a couple of months.)
Using the blender you can easily make these baby foods (and many more): carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, zucchini, spinach, and broccoli.
There are also a lot of foods that you can give your little one that don’t require pureeing that you can instead cut into wedges and feed them, such as bananas, avocados, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, cheese, strawberries, cooked (very soft) carrots, soft pears, soft peaches, apricots, soft plums, cooked (very soft) potatoes and sweet potatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, mangoes, oranges, and kiwis.
Other great baby foods include (sugar free) applesauce, salsa, guacamole, hummus, mashed potatoes, refried beans, wheat elbow noodles, oatmeal, and hot wheat cereal (such as Cream of Wheat).
7. Use cloth diapers.
I know they require more work, but cloth diapers are so much cheaper than disposable diapers! Even if you only have one child, but especially if you have more than one child and so you reuse them, you will save a ton of money if you use cloth diapers. Don’t believe those articles where they try to say that between water for washing and laundry detergent you spend almost as much for cloth diapers; it’s just not true.
We spent a total of about $150 on cloth diapers between our three children (we used the same ones we had bought for our first daughter when the twins came, but then we bought that many again so that we had twice as many for the two of them), and even if you were able to find very inexpensive disposable diapers in bulk and spent only $20 per month, it still doesn’t take very many months before you break even, and then after that you are saving money every month.
Not only that, but with cloth diapers you have more of an incentive to do early potty learning (which is amazing!). When our first daughter was six months old I was walking through the library, and it was Earth Month (or at least they were celebrating Earth Day all month long), and I saw the book Diaper Free Baby by Christine Gross-Loh as one of the featured books on the display shelf. And I thought, what in the world? But being the avid reader that I am, and since it really piqued my curiosity and since I was motivated to get our sweet daughter out of diapers, I checked the book out and read it, and it was one of those life-changing experiences for me. (I also then checked out probably half a dozen more books on the topic because I love to get different perspectives on things and really study things that I find helpful, to get a balanced outlook.)
We bought a simple little potty and started helping her to sit on it every time we changed her diaper. And then we would try to put her on it every half an hour or so throughout the day, as well. Sometimes she was more receptive than others to the whole thing, and some periods of time went more smoothly than others, but by the time she was one year old she would go on the potty virtually every time we put her on it, and she was also consistently dry at night by that age. And by about 15 months she was pretty much potty trained, and she was completely out of diapers by 18 months. Did it take diligence and patience and effort? For sure! But so does wiping poopy bums for two or three or more years! Yikes!
With our twins it took a little longer for their potty learning than with our daughter, probably because it was a little more difficult to be diligent and give them quite as many opportunities to potty, but they were both potty trained right around the time they turned two. Now, that doesn’t mean our kids never had a miss (what I call an accident) after that, but it was rare.
And for you dads that are reading this article, you can do the early potty learning thing too! My husband has been our stay-at-home parent since our first daughter was born, and so he has changed even more diapers than me, and he was the one who gave the opportunities to potty while I was at work.
8. If you use disposable diapers, buy generic brands and buy them in bulk to save money on your baby.
If cloth diapers just won’t work for you, you can still save a significant amount of money by buying generic disposable diapers in bulk. If you have a scratch and dent store in your area, check it out, as well.
9. Buy used baby clothes.
Children go through clothing so quickly in the first year, and then pretty quickly in the second year, that to me it just makes more sense to buy most things that you need used. If you have a baby shower, you will likely get a lot of cute things there, and the rest can be gently used.
10. Buy used baby gear.
Same goes for baby gear. You’ll save a ton of money by buying used from thrift stores, yard sales, and online classifieds.
Don’t let your pride get in the way of saving your money! When you are able to use the money you save to instead fund your children’s college ESA or 529 plans, as we did, it will be well worth any initial discomfort you might feel. And when your children have no student loans later in life, they can thank you for your mindful spending. (Some call it being thrifty, but I call it being mindful. :)) Remember—clothing is a necessity. New clothes are not.
11. Don’t buy what you don’t need.
You can go completely over the top buying stuff for your new little one if you’re not careful and if you don’t weed through what’s really needed and what’s not. Some of the things that are not: bottle warmers, wipe warmers, changing table, and infant baby shoes.
You can change your baby just as easily on any convenient flat surface by laying down an old towel first (which is what we ended up doing, even though my sister gave us her changing table), and baby shoes may be cute, but until your baby can walk, they can actually impede the process of your baby learning to walk because they make balance more difficult.
12. Buy used toys, or let your baby play with odd items from around the house (free!).
Why buy all brand-new toys that will often quickly get lost or broken? Buy gently used instead. Even for birthdays and Christmas, it’s OK to buy most or even all of your toys used. Your young kiddos won’t know or care, and any adults who do (care), shouldn’t. And by the time your children are old enough to care, ideally you will have taught them why it’s important to be mindful in your spending and to reduce spending where possible, so hopefully they will thank you for having their best interests at heart! (OK, maybe they won’t go that far, but really, if you’ve taught them well the principles of contentment and intentional spending, hopefully they really won’t care.) For Christmas and birthdays we buy a few new items, but mostly used. And we don’t buy a ton of gifts for either. We choose to spend our money on things and experiences that will, we believe, have more lasting value.
13. Look for coupons to save money on your baby if there are items that you use over and over.
For things such as diapers and wipes and baby food (though, again, making it yourself is so easy and cheap!) that you buy over and over again, search for coupons. You can find a lot of coupons by searching online at the manufacturer’s website or by typing the name of the item and “coupon.” You can also get coupons from your local stores.
14. Don’t go out and buy a minivan or big SUV with your first (or even second or possibly third) baby.
Even though having a large vehicle is nice, you actually can fit three (of the narrower) car seats in the backseat of a regular car. When we learned that we were having twins, one of the first things my husband did was to measure the back of the car to see if fitting three car seats would be possible, and I Googled car seats to find narrower models, and it has totally worked for us!
We do eventually plan to move up to a full-size van (which we plan to purchase with cash), but in the meantime we continue to drive our car as our sole vehicle, and it has worked out well. Things are a little snug when we pack in our camping gear, but it is a hatchback, and we’ve been able to make it work. And it’s helped me to pack less stuff, which my husband definitely feels is a good thing!
15. Don’t upsize your house.
Similarly, don’t think that when you have a second child you need to immediately go search for a bigger home. Even if you are in a two-bedroom home and have a daughter and a son, they can share a room until the oldest is at least six or seven (and in an apartment they can legally share a bedroom till the oldest is eight, according to what I’ve heard). By staying in a smaller home or apartment—even though it may seem cozy or even cramped at times—and not upsizing, you will likely save thousands of dollars in interest or increased rent payments. That’s why we’re still in our three-bedroom, 1,300-square-foot home. Though it would be nice to have a bigger place, we’re planning to buy our next larger, newer, nicer home with cash (100 percent down plan!) in the next five to eight years, and so the wait and the little bit of what some might consider a sacrifice are worth it.
Babies are the best! (And when they get a little older, kiddos are the best!) But they can come with a hefty price tag if you let them. But they really don’t have to! Much of the stuff that they say you need, you really don’t. And all of what you do need you can find ways to save significant amounts of money on by following the tips above. Keep in mind, it’s actually parents who make having children expensive—it’s not the kids themselves.
If I can help you by answering questions you might have, please leave a comment below or ask your question on our new Families for Financial Freedom Facebook group page. I would love to help you navigate these new waters by doing my best to answer your money questions or whatever other questions you might have!
What have you done to be able to save money on your baby or your children? What information did I forget to include? I would love to hear what your family does as well to save money on baby, so leave a comment below and let me know!
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