Bringing Up Baby on a Budget: 10 Ways to Save Money on Baby Essentials

“Poverty is hereditary – you get it from your children.” – Phyllis Diller… Yep, you get a lot of things from your kids. Sleepless nights – first, when they’re a newborn and require constant care, then again as teenagers, when you’re up all night worrying whether they’re safe. Wrinkles from worry, grey hairs from stress, and if you’re not careful – one heck of a hole in your budget! So many people assume that babies have to be expensive – but honestly, through experience, I’ve learned that does not have to be true. Keep reading to find out what I’ve learned, and how I learned it…

Bringing up baby on a budget: How to save big on baby essentials

My Story of learning to save

I’ve always been pretty careful with my money. Even in my early 20′s, when I made VERY little, I made sure to always keep at least $1,000 in savings – which is hard when you’re living paycheck to paycheck, and all of your friends are going out each weekend. But, my frugal habits served me well when I lost my job a few years ago – I was suddenly laid off with no notice, while still on maternity leave! I was 30, a full-time college student, with a newborn baby at home. I was in the biggest panic of my life! So, I quickly learned a ton of new ways to save on things that a new mom needs. I’m excited to share some of those tips with you – and hope you find some that help you get through the baby years without breaking the bank!

Bringing Up Baby on a Budget: 10 Ways to Save Money on Baby Essentials

One thing I want to mention… Saving on baby essentials starts before the baby arrives. You seriously do NOT need everything that you see when shopping the baby departments, trust me. Sure, a bottle or wipes warmer might be kind of cool, but it’s SO not needed. Abby had to share a room with me when she was a baby, which helped me keep things under control, since we had extremely limited space. And I never once missed all of those “must-haves” that people suggested. I’m starting a series on Baby to Toddler: What a New Mom Really Needs, so stay tuned for that…. But now, on to tips to save once baby arrives.

Looking for a way to earn money from home – while still spending time with baby? Get my 10 tips to earning an income from home.

  • 1. Everything does not need to be new. I am forever grateful to the friends and family that sent us their hand-me-downs! There are so many baby itmes – especially those infant outfits – that barely get used before they’re outgrown. Ask around to anyone with a toddler – I bet many of them have a ton of unused stuff that they’d love to pass down! And make sure to shop second hand shops {Get tips for shopping second hand effectively here} or yard sales, to stock up on clothing, furniture, gear, and more at big discounts. But when buying things like car seats or cribs, be sure to use an easy tool to check for kids products that have been recalled.
  • 2. Kids clothing doesn’t have to be expensive. I have always had plastic storage totes, labeled for the next two year’s sizes. As I find great clearance. second hand finds, or donations from friends – I store them in those totes. As seasons change or Abby grows, I can fill her closet with those totes, instead of rushing to buy new clothes at full price. This will save you hundreds! You can also use a site like Thread Up to make buying used kids clothes super easy, it’s like a consignment store, but all online – they sort them by size, style, price, and more, and have strict quality standards. You can also set up a free account there {if you use my link, you also get $10 bucks free to get started! Sah-weet} and earn money by sending in your used kids clothes. Another awesome site for saving on kids clothes is Cookies Kids – they have THE.BEST. search tools for kids clothes – size, style, and then from lowest to highest. I have gotten little girl designer dresses for only $3.99. LOVE it. Another site I use to search for super discounted kids gear is Zulily, where I’ve gotten amazing designer outfits for Abby at lower than Walmart prices. {See her adorable matching coat and hat in these holiday photos here. But be warned – you might die of cuteness :)} And, I love Fab Kids, where you can buy full outfits at a deep discount too! {More ways to shop for free online here.}
  • 3. Use coupons to save big bucks. Getting started with couponing is a lot easier than you might think, and you can seriously save a ton of cash with them. There are coupons available for just about anything you can think of, especially when it comes to baby essentials like diapers, wipes, foods, and baby care products. And make sure to sign up for the email lists for your favorite baby companies, to get alerts when they have awesome new promotions or coupons. {Here’s a specific coupon to get you started, for a product EVERY new mom needs – Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. Funniest baby product name ever :)}
  • 4. Save on babysitting expenses. One tip is to set up a co-op with other moms – take turns watching the kids for each other when you need to run errands, or go on a much -needed date night. Or, to find credible baby sitters at an affordable price, check out a site like Care.com, or ask your local community college for recommendations from their early childhood education students.
  • 5. Save when feeding your infant. Obviously, the best option for your family is to breastfeed. It’s best for their health and development, and it’s pretty much free. But, for many moms {like me} – things go wrong, and you’re not able to breastfeed for very long. Don’t worry – formula is still a very healthy alternative, and nothing to be ashamed of. But to save big, try some of the store brand varieties, they can be just as good as the brand names, at a fraction of the cost.
  • 6. Find free or cheap deals locally. Watch sites like Craigslist.com for great deals on gear for the baby, or even check to see if you have a local group on Freecycle.org, where people offer their unneeded things totally free to other people in the community who need them. This one is more hit or miss – but if you find something that’s a good fit, you sure can’t beat free, right?
  • 7. Reuse what you have. If you have an old dresser, give it a second life in the baby’s room – store diapers in one drawer, essentials like diaper cream and wipes in another, and all of those extra blankets in the lower drawers. Hang old baskets on the wall to hold stuffed animals. Convert an unused tackle box into a portable diaper changing station, easy to take from room to room. Have old picture books or outdated calendars? Frame pages from those as artwork in baby’s room. Take a look around the house, and you’re sure to find lots of things you can reuse.
  • 8. Make your own baby food. This is so simple, and does NOT take a lot of time, promise. Abby and I were big fans of the Baby Brezza One Step Baby Food Maker, and even had some of our recipes featured in their cookbook. If you grow even a little bit of your own fruits and veggies, you can save huge amounts over buying jarred baby foods, and you’ll be serving better bites to baby too. No time or room for a garden? No worries. You can still use the Baby Brezza {or other baby food maker} – shop at local Farmer’s Markets, stock up great produce sales at the grocery store, or even just use it to make your “grown-up” dinner baby-friendly. The Baby Brezza has a rice/veggie steamer, can blend up anything from meat to pasta, and makes it super quick and easy to turn your favorite dinners into baby food.
  • 9. Take advantage of freebies. Every brand out there wants to send you a free sample of their products – they want to give new moms a chance to try their goodies, in hopes that you’ll become a new loyal customer. There are so many ways to get freebies and samples, but here are a few of my favorites: free baby carrier from Seven Slings,  free carseat canopy cover, or free nursing cover – all with code ENBABY. Just pick what you want, use the code at check out, and pay only shipping – NO strings, I promise. I’ve done this many times. :) You can even order more than once, you just have to close the window and come back again. There’s also other coupons and free samples for baby here, or use MySavings.com for all sorts of cool freebies.
  • 10. Save big on diapers. It feels expensive to buy those great big boxes of diapers – but trust me, you’ll almost always save more per diaper when buying them in bulk! I recommend buying them online, so that you can partner those savings with cash back when shopping through a site like zuuzs.com or Ebates. {And don’t forget to sign up for rewards programs like the Huggies Rewards program, where you earn free stuff just for buying diapers!}


{Post contains some affiliate links to support this site. Photo credit: kelsey_lovefusionphoto via photopin cc.}

 

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Comments

  1. esteffani morales says:

    Cloth diapering saves a lot if money. I was unemployed and my husband wasn’t working that much. Id buy a few diapers here and they’re. Total we spent around 800 on 36 diapers sand wet bags diaper rash cream , wipes and soap. My baby is now 14 month and haven’t spent a penny on any more diapers.

    • I have breastfed and cloth diapered my daughter for almost 8 months.. barely spend any money on her! Our rent is all inclusive so I don’t pay for the bills extra laundry causes from cloth and the diapers were a gift! If this is possible for you I’d strongly recommend :)

      • Meagan Paullin says:

        I really wish I’d done this – I hear great things! But I was a pretty overwhelmed first time mom, and didn’t know anyone who had done this before, so had no clue where to start. Definitely a big money saver though!

  2. “that barely get used before their outgrown.”

    Should be “before they’re outgrown.” !!!!!

    Have someone edit your work before you post it, even if you have read it over a million times.

    • Meagan Paullin says:

      Thanks for catching that Natalie. I’m SUCH a stickler for grammar and punctuation, it kills me when I miss something!

    • Oh, gosh. Save your ridiculous grammar Nazi posts for your own blog, dear Natalie. One little mistake in the whole post and you’ve got your panties in a bunch. Please, please get over yourself.

      Excuse me for that, Meagan. I apologize if I insulted you. Now I’ve never once commented on a blog post or whatever you chose to call this but I thought your post was incredibly helpful. Most parents seem to think “new, shiny and new” the moment they get pregnant. I am hoping to have my first within the next year or two, and I already have the idea for making all my baby gear and clothes in neutral tones. A few very girly pieces or a few very boyish pieces will be in the mix but most will be neutral so it can be used when the second and third are on the way. I love second hand clothing and I think it’s always the best way to go, especially for rapidly growing youngsters! Thanks for reading! :)

      • Meagan Paullin says:

        Thanks so much Sara – I’m always surprised how negative some people can be on the ‘net. But – we all make a grammar mistake once in awhile right? {Speaking of, I probably should get around to fixing it. But now that I’ve been yelled at about it, I kind of want to keep it that way, lol} :)

  3. Two things I would change: definitely cloth diapers. They are SO much cheaper than disposables. My first was only disposables and we estimate that it cost close to 1,800 dollars to diaper her until she was trained. That’s not even including the outrageously overpriced pull-ups and swimming diapers. My second is cloth-diapered and it was a one time cost of 400 dollars. That’s it. The end. A good stash of prefolds and covers is less than 75 dollars. We used only those until we could afford the nice ones when a tax return came in. The only reason we left prefolds was because my husband was afraid of them (he couldn’t put them on right) and he was more comfortable with the button ones.

    Second, it’s actually expensive and unnecessary to make your own baby food. Those machines are not worth it!! With my first, we either made or bought baby food and it costs a ton! With my second- baby led weaning. I encourage everyone to Google it. Baby eats what you eat. And they are fully capable. Purees are a relatively new invention, and babies need to know how to chew and how to stop eating when they’re full. It has actually helped my whole family eat better. Best of all? It’s free! No gadgets, no jars, no baby spoons or storage containers. Free! Our 20 month old had tomatoes and steak with us tonight.

    • Meagan Paullin says:

      Well, for us the homemade baby food was a big help – we STILL use or Baby Brezza, even though she’s now almost 3 :) I could blend up a bit of what we were having to make it softer. It was simple to make steamed veggies or rice for her if we were having something she wouldn’t like. And I have a big garden, so I loved being able to quickly blend up some goodies for her each day, and know that there were no yucky additives. The Baby Brezza does more than just chop or blend – it steams amazingly. Love it!

      And disposables do sound like such a smart solution – although I know not everyone is comfortable with them, or finds them to be a practical solution. I didn’t mention them, since I don’t have any real experience with them myself. But I do understand how they could be a BIG money-saver!

  4. Thanks for the article Meagan. I found this very helpful. As for Natalie you could have emailed Meagan privately to point out her mistake, have a little compassion. I completely understood what she was saying, no one is perfect. Meagan you should view your emails first before allowing people to post nasty comments like this on your blog. Keep up the great work. I’m a soon to be new mom & it sucks when people attack others for not living up to their standards. Have a wonderful day and don’t let narcissists get to you.

    • Meagan Paullin says:

      Thanks so much Tiff :)

      I’m totally a grammar and spelling freak most of the time – But I also blog with a toddler dancing dinosaurs over my keyboard at times. I blog early in the morning and late at night. On planes, at parks. {Wait, is this turning into a Dr. Seuss book? “I like to blog while on a plane. I spell things wrong at times and don’t need to explain…” Lol.}

      I try to proof read, but I’m a one-woman show here, and things slip through the cracks at times. Thanks so much for the support – and congrats on your upcoming transition to mom-hood! It’s challenging, but as I’m sure you already know – SO worth it!!

  5. Wow, I’m glad I found this on Pinterest! We have a 4 month old baby girl and this sounds very helpful. She wasn’t planned so I had her smack dab in the middle of nursing school. I found out I was pregnant just a week after I found out I’d been accepted to the RN program, so I decided to still stick to my goals and accept the spot. For school, I had to quit my job, which made our income about $2200 less per month!! So raising our daughter while I’m in school has been very challenging and quite stressful at times. I’m looking forward to trying some of your suggestions. I already browse Craigslist daily :-) and I’m 25 years old and feel like an old frugal badger lol I’ve always refused to pay full price for almost anything! Thanks so much for this post! 10 months until graduation!

  6. Check with your local stores and see if they take competitor’s coupons. This is a way to “stack” coupons and save even more. In my area, Babies R Us almost always gives a $10 off Pamper coupon with a purchase. I can take those to my local grocery store where the diapers are much cheaper and save a ton. Don’t forget to add a manufacturer’s coupon as well! Before my little girl was born we were able to get two cases of diapers for the price of 1. She is 8 months old and I have yet to purchase any!

    Also, realize that doing things such as making your own food or breastfeeding do not have to be an “all or nothing” thing. I make my daughter’s veggies and fruits, but found it easier to purchase meats. It is also nice to have a couple jars on hand in case you are running low or need to feed while out of the house. Never be too hard on yourself and give up!

    Thanks for the great saving tips!

  7. Thanks for the tips, I’m always tempted to buy clerance clothes for the next few years, but I have a small house and no room for extra clothes and totes in a the basement (Duh) would work perfectly! This is a great blog. Excuse any grammar errors I’m reading and commenting while feeding a baby ;)
    I’m going to really consider cloth diapers and costco brand formula, I have a 9 year old, 2 dogs and a 4 month old God knows I have to save on what I can!

  8. I too, think this is a great article!

    I am pregnant with my second boy and am debating cloth diaper use as my son is 3 and has no desire to potty train yet! Might do a combo of the two….

    I would also recommend joining as many “swap and sell” baby/child groups as possible on Facebook. It is great for finding what you need as well as getting rid of what you don’t!

  9. Jennifer Kimberly says:

    “obviously, the best option for your family is to breastfeed. It’s best for their health and development” stopped reading after this ridiculous statement. there is NO obviously what is best.. sorry this is more pressure moms don’t need..

    • Meagan Paullin says:

      Well, I understand the frustration there Jennifer. I tried as hard as I could to breastfeed, and was really devastated when I just couldn’t seem to do it. My milk never came in, my baby girl was in the NICU for 4 days before I could hold her, and I didn’t know to ask for a pump right away. Then in pediatrics for a few days before we could go home, they gave her bottles. So we just kind of got a bad start. I did spend two months trying very hard – then had to give up.

      I say “obviously” because to me, the more natural the better, right? But then again – I didn’t have a “natural” childbirth – got an epidural. I used formula and felt NO guilt :) I’m just saying – breastfeeding is awesome for everyone, and is obviously a more affordable option too – but it’s NOT the only way to raise a happy, healthy, amazing baby. No pressure meant to anyone! I’m a big believer in supporting all moms and all choices. Sorry if it came across otherwise! <3

  10. If you decide to go with disposable diapers and wipes.. Be careful! With my 1st child I received tons of diapers and wipes as gifts. The majority was the Huggies brand. Wouldn’t you know it my daughter had sensitive skin and got a bad reaction from the wipes! Had to go restock all the wipes and diapers. Luvs and Pampers she had no problem with. Baby #2 will be here in December. I’m super tempted to stock up because I’m a newly single mom. Trying to support myself along with a 4 yr old and a new baby will be super hard $ wise. I have learned that if you buy diapers and wipes you can return them to store to exchange! Didn’t learn this till recently. Would have been real useful when I had my 1st child!! Lol. I

    • Got cut off!! I also love shopping at CVS. Saved tons of money buying baby essentials there. I spent probably a 1/4 of what I would have spent at places like Walmart. Extracare bucks are the way to save!!

  11. I was going to also add cloth diapers-but I see many others have beaten me to it. But, lots of people should think about cloth diapers, not just for the wallet and the baby’s bottom, but also the environment. Diapers make up such a horrible amount of garbage that doesn’t easily decompose. People have gone 1,000s of years without the manufactured diapers of today, they really are unnecessary.

  12. Blue Buddha says:

    I know this is a very old post, but I wanted to add my experiences with making my own baby food. I used a foley-food mill, which I got at a flea-market. I use this for all my canning prep as well. For me, I’m about efficient and frugal and this was way cheaper than a specialized baby food grinder. When I wanted something super fine (like turning store bought apple sauce into baby apple sauce) I used a bullet I had on hand. I would make large batches, after figuring out what my son liked, and freeze small amounts for later use. I also ground down my own rice cereal from brown rice in my coffee grinder. You have to cook it a LONG time though, unlike the boxed kind.