My wife and I are expecting our first child. We were wondering if you had any tips that we could put into place now to start saving as we shop. And also if you had any websites that offer freebies for mothers, and any other good info you may have out there. -Jonathan
I often receive questions like the above from new parents-to-be and while I don’t feel like I’m the most-qualified person to talk on the subject, since we have had two babies (so far!) without spending much money at all in the process, I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far in this new series Having a Baby Without Breaking the Bank. I hope that those of you who have had children will also chime in and share what you’ve learned as well!
Despite what you often hear, having a baby doesn’t have to cost you an arm and leg. We had our first daughter when my husband was in law school and we were living on around $1000/month. By the grace of God and lots of creativity, we managed just fine!
There is often a tendency as soon as one finds out they are pregnant for the first time, to want to start buying things–baby things, maternity clothes, baby books, nursery furnishings, and on and on and on. My advice? If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.
There are so many things that pregnancy books and magazines and even friends will tell you are must-haves. And you can fork out hundreds (or even thousands!) of dollars on these items needlessly.
In my first pregnancy–when we were living on our very meager budget–we actually didn’t buy anything aside from a few maternity clothes, a few blankets, a few packages of diapers, and a few sleepers. Everything else we needed for the pregnancy and our little girl we either borrowed from some one, were given as a gift, or did without.
My mom had advised me not to buy anything since it was our first baby and she was pretty sure many folks would be generous in their gifts to us. She was exactly right. Though we were in a small town that was new-to-us and didn’t have a lot of local friends, we still ended up having three baby showers and receiving plenty of gifts. We didn’t have an abundance, but we had exactly what we needed.
The good news was that since we were living in a tiny basement apartment, we didn’t have room for much of anything either so if we had purchased a lot of stuff, we would have quickly run out of space to store it. And we also learned that you can survive quite fine and have a happy baby without all of the dozens of gadgets and gizmos advertised everywhere as the latest and greatest things for wee ones.
So if you are a first-time parent, I’d advise you to think twice before buying a lot of stuff before your baby is born. You might end up with being given almost everything you need–or even more than you need!
In the next installment, we’ll begin discussing the items I see as necessities for pregnancy and the first six months of a child’s life and ways to get these inexpensively or even for free. Stay tuned…
Watch WAGs and CVS for free or very cheap diapers. Brand new cloths are so cheap with the current economy. You can find $2-$3 items at Old Navy, Gymboree, Crazy 8, Jc Penney, etc.
My son is 4 and 4′. Our saving grace was purchasing sizes ahead. I received a gift card and bought him a jacket 2 sizes too big. He is still in the jacket.
You really just need a crib, high chair, swing, and possibly a changing table. I found a boope pillow helpful for naps.
Truly, the game is finding things on good clearance with a coupon where possible. Kids, indeed, are not as expensive.
My husband used to be a manager at a major baby store chain, and it’s amazing the “necessities” that they try to pawn off on would-be parents. He said that the first-timers — particularly the adoptive ones — are the ones they spent their energies on because they knew they’d buy everything. And it amazed me the new “necessities” that came out in the 2 1/2 years between kids!
Candace Prosser says
We just had our fourth child. The oldest girl is nine, boy six, girl two, baby boy. With each of the children I was pretty much starting out fresh due the time space between and the gender differences.
We have always been in the lower income tax bracket due to our ability to make it on very little. I get creative with my ability to acquire itmes for my babies.
Freecylce is wonderful, first of all. If you aer not a member of your local freecycle network as a parent you should be. I have given away so many items that we have outgrown or are no longer using that I cannot imagine the trips I would need for Goodwill.
I acquired from Freecycle, two cribs, I kept the one I liked better and freecycled the first. A Tiny Love floor mat/gym, A glider rocker and ottoman, a car seat (clean, smokefree, never been in accident), a bassinet, a bouncy seat, a baby papasan, a swing, clothes, cloth diapers, daddy diaper bag, baby born carrier, etc, etc, etc.
I also had a lovely shower thrown by the ladies at my church where I recieved handmade blankets, clothes, a monitor, my bedding collection, a mommy diaper bag, bath items, disposible diapers, etc.
I will not end up keeping all of these items actually. I did return a few new items for exchanges due to preferences or sensitivites. I do like the fact that I can have so many gadgets through freecycle to try and freecycle the ones that I do not want.
As far as what I know I need- diapers: cloth preferred (I stay at home and my kids are sensitive), food source: I nurse for 1+ years, but you might bottle feed, something warm to wear in cold weather, onsies for hot. Other than that the permutations for sleeping are up to you.
We cosleep most of the time because I nurse on demand for the first six months, then why the crib, you ask? I get a crib for naps. This can be used to gently train the baby to sleep on his own and fall asleep when put to bed, by the time he/she is a year old they fall asleep quicker when laid down in their own bed. Some of my friends have placed their one year olds from their bed to an older siblings bed that has rails- this was the practice for hundreds of years in Western Europe and early America.
I also wear my babies so a swing, bouncy, or papsan is not needed. Floor mats and gyms are not needed a blanket with toys placed on it works just as well.
As far as formula goes, I don’t use it. But if I did I would sign up with every formula company mailing list on the net. You get free cans as samples through the babies first two years of life, you get over 200 dollars worth of coupons as well.
Also go to Gerger, Playtex, Beechnut, Evenflo, Graco, Babies R Us, Target, Walmart, Hienz, and any other baby product company nad get on thier mailing list as an expectant or current parent…you get great eamil deals and valuble coupons.
I am rambling..So I will stop.
Michelle H. says
I recommend signing up online with the diaper and formula companies. I received a ton of samples/coupons in the mail for diapers, wipes and formula.
I breast fed, but the formula samples still came in handy when he decided to self wean at 9 months. Even if you plan to breast feed I’d get the samples anyway – you never know what might happen and it’s better to not need them than to not have them at all.
Unfortunately my son had a sensitivity to the formula brand I had the most samples of, but I was able to trade them to other mothers for their samples of our preferred brand.
And I second Donna’s advice – take anything anyone is willing to give you. Coworkers and friends were happy to get rid of their perfectly good baby stuff and loaded us up. We received so many hand-me-downs and baby equipment I wound up returning half the stuff I got at my showers for store credit. I didn’t have to buy my son any clothes for the first 18 months.
This suggestion can be emotionally tough for some, but worth considering. Leave the tags on every gift you receive and keep the gift receipt folded in with it. Wait until every shower has been held, every hand me down has been examined and then return, return, return.
Sort out by size and figure how many outfits per size range you really need. My first son had 28 outfits in the 6 to 9 month catagory — way too many to store, no less wear, before they would be outgrown. Consider how often you want to do laundry, how much you’ll actually leave the house (especially in the newborn and 0 to3 month timeframe), and be sure to factor in a few extras for accidents.
Of course, you’ll want to keep one from Grandma and Grandpa, one from Godparents or special friends. Just be sure to let those close to you know you really don’t want to overload on too many things early on. The baby will need clothes for years to come! Also, this may help you set the stage for limits on future gifts of toys, toys, toys. (OT — we eventually got our parents to give experience gifts like zoo memberships and gift cards to the home center so we could add on each year to our outdoor playset.)
But resist the urge to rip the tags off each gift, wash them and set them in the dresser the moment the shower is over. Instead, write your thank you notes and mention how kind it was for the giver to help welcome your new little one. Then wait. Remember that most people just want to share in the joy of your new addition.
We were able to choose a resonable number of outfits, blankets, onesies, etc. for each size range and return the rest. I kept those store credits and used them later for a second-stage car seat, disposable diapers, wipes, and a second stroller.
mom of three sons, 12yo and twins 8yo
I am expecting my first child in May, so I am excited to read any of your thoughts on saving money on preparing for this baby! Thanks so much for a great topic!
jen burden says
Garage sales! All of our nursery furniture for 2 nurseries (babies are 20 months apart) was either given to us or bought at garage sales. You save a TON of money buying used items: cleanable/washable toys, clothing, towels, blankets, etc. Shop ebay and craigslist.com if your Saturdays won’t allow a couple of hours of garage sale-ing, but expect to pay a little more.
Jenny M says
Thank you so much for this post. I am so looking forward to this series. My hubby and I are expecting #1, and are trusting God for His provision. : )
Amy s says
With our first child we bought a lot of used clothing. The local flea market had onesies for .10-.25 and sleepers too. Both my kids lived in those because I couldn’t see spending a ton on outfits just to get stained with spit up or poop. With our second I sold my daughters old clothes (she has tons of clothes) and bought clothes off eBay (in lots) and from other mom websites. I had over 50 onesies, sleepers, blankets, outfits and more (I think I had the first 3 mos) for less than 100. We also had a crib and changing table given to us, with my son we used a portable crib. If you plan on having more kids save everything! That was our mistake, we got rid of a lot of things from when our daughter was born either because of space issues or just thinking we wouldn’t need it. Its really not as expensive as people make it seem you just have to be reasonable and look for bargains and buy what you NEED not what you want because its cute etc.
Also, my cousin decided to BF and was having trouble with it and her doctor “prescribed” a Medela pump for her and her insurance covered it, 100%. If it’s a medical necessity for you, talk to your doctors, all of them, because anyone from an OB to a pediatrician to my cousin’s HAND doctor was able to write the prescription for her, what a life-saver!
This comment is in response to Sherri regarding used cribs.
The U.S. produced 4 million cribs last year and 1.8 million of them were RECALLED for safety reasons.
PLEASE, everyone – WHATEVER crib, pack-n-play, portacrib, bassinet, co-sleeper, etc. you decide to use – go to the CPSC’s website (www.cpsc.gov) and check by MANUFACTURER’s name and make sure your item has not been recalled. Doesn’t matter if it is new or used – CHECK IT BEFORE USING. It’s not just that the slats could be too far apart – many cribs have very cheap hardware used (screws that aren’t long enough to penetrate the wood and hold baby’s weight) and the mattress could collapse, trapping your baby’s head. Or, older pack-n-plays have been known to collapse, trapping the baby’s neck in the U-shape formed by the side rails. Also, there are straps hanging off the changing table attachments on pack-n-plays that have strangled babies. So, no matter what you buy, CHECK IT and make sure it’s safe! It only takes a few minutes, especially if you are getting it pre-owned.
And, please, just spend the money on a new car seat. They now expire after two years so they are only meant to be used for 1 child. Every new generation is safer than the last and you want the best for your baby, don’t you? I own a children’s consignment shop and we simply DO NOT CARRY cribs, and I believe we aren’t allowed to sell used car seats by law in my state. I tell grandparents who come in asking for them (and it’s usually grandparents who “don’t want to spend a lot because they won’t use it often” that for $40-$50 for a new one (yes, Kmart & Target have sales constantly on these and they aren’t that expensive considering it will be used for several years, that is about $2 a month for a new car seat – less than a coffee at Starbucks, folks!) that the baby’s safety is MORE IMPORTANT and they can be frugal elsewhere.
Thanks for letting me give my two cents on this!
We’re expecting our first this summer, and as I think ahead to having a baby shower, I would really like to make it known that we would love hand me downs and used items in good condition. We’d also register for some items. I was wondering if anyone had tried that or if anyone has any thoughts on how that might go. I’m a little concerned that we’d end up with a lot of things that we don’t need, with multiples of items, or without any of the things that we really do need.
I’m also wondering if anyone has any ideas for maternity clothes for tall women. I’m just shy of 6′ tall and have a hard time finding regular clothes, and there are even more tall options out there. I very rarely find anything used that works for me, and I’ve given up looking at thrift stores, consignment sales, etc. because I spend hours and hours and find nothing. Fortunately, my main need for maternity will come in the summer, so I don’t have to worry about long enough sleeves (God’s timing is perfect, isn’t it!?) but I’m looking at paying a lot more for jeans and pants that are long enough.
Sara Uppena says
Couldn’t agree with these comments more. I am soon going to have our fourth child. And we have gotten to this point without having all of the gizmos and gadgets–got rid of our diaper genie after first baby, have a changing table but haven’t used it hardly at all (just put a towel down on bed and change baby on that), never used a bottle warmer, we haven’t even used the crib past baby 2 because #3 sleeps with her daddy. You will save a tremendous amount of money if you choose to breastfeed–I’ve done with all three and I work full-time. It’s perfectly manageable with very little effort–just make sure you get support when you need it–lactation consultants are great! Also, to reiterate what others have said–wait to buy things. You’ll be amazed at how much you get from people as gifts and then there’s also an amazing supply of hand-me-down items. Also, they go through clothes so fast the first year that you don’t need to invest in a lot. And yes, borrow what you can because you’ll find children/babies have different things they will like.
update cloth v disposable-
Toni at http://www.thehappyhousewife.com/cloth-vs-disposable/ just did a comparison post today. If others had my question, it’s an interesting answer to the dilemma. Hope its ok to share this info here. I was surprised to find it after the question came up when reading this post.
This is so true. We had our first baby almost a year ago and if I didn’t wind up having to buy formula (totally unplanned and a story for another post) he would basically be the cost of wipes and dipes and that is it. I never bought a single piece of furniture, bedding, clothing, or toys for our son. All were gifts or handmedowns….or done without. If you have friends or family with older kids let them know that you would be interested in hand me downs. And you would be shocked how much you will get at a baby shower…I still have things unopened (I will use for our next baby).
I am sure people have also mentioned sign up for freecycle to get lots of free stuff. I got a free umbrella stroller, pack and play, little tykes picnic table, etc etc. And use Craigs List for the more important items that you want to get good deals on.
Babies really require very little. I know the media and magazines might make you think otherwise…they need love, warmth, and dryness, food.
I posted on this topic over at Frugal Friday on your other blog! I am 33 weeks, expecting my 2nd on March 13, and working on getting our home and family as ready as can be for the new arrival.
Here is my post:
Great topic!!! We are pregnant w/#2 and we do not know what we are having!!! Another surprise!! One suggestion to those first time parents that are finding out what they are having, maybe keep it to yourself until after your baby shower or until baby is born. Reason being is that most of us have a baby shower and when you find out the sex of the baby people tend to buy TONS of clothes in that color for baby. I could never have used that many clothes that some people receive. We did not find out the sex of our first baby, and at the baby shower we received EVERYTHING that we needed for the first couple of months. The only thing that we had to purchase was a car seat. And….now that we are having baby #2, we do not have to purchase anything for baby except diapers.
**Ways to save on SERVICES**
Some hospitals offer a discount if you’re preregistered with their ‘baby club’, and some offer a prompt pay discount.
If you are breastfeeding, and having trouble, La Leche League is a wonderful FREE resource of experienced and well trained moms who can help you get past many complications without incurring the cost of a lactation consultant. And of course, attending local LLL meetings and educating yourself before baby even arrives can help you avoid some problems altogether.
Get to know the quirks of your insurance plan – some will cover labs and even ultrasounds under the “Dr. visit” copay if they are done in a Dr.’s office, but will make you pay a percentage of the cost as an outpatient. ($15.00 vs. $300.00)
**Ways to save on STUFF**
Don’t hesitate to put stuff you think you’ll need on the baby registries. Many stores offer a percentage discount on any items on your registry that were not fulfilled before baby’s arrival.
You don’t necessarily need a “baby bucket” carseat. The basic model convertibles (like the Cosco Scenera) cost less than $50, and can hold infants as small as eight pounds. The biggest issue you have to watch for is that the shoulder straps go super low, since they have to be at or below your baby’s shoulders.
Church rummage sales practically give stuff away as they near closing (since most of them actually DO give away whatever doesn’t sell to another charity, and the more that is bought, the less work the volunteers have to do). We often get a bag full of clothes for a dollar, and our money goes to a good cause.
Co-sleeping eliminates the cost of a crib.
Elimination Communication (EC), while not for everyone, can help cut down on the cost of diapers.
Breastfeeding eliminates the cost of formula, can cut down the number of doctor visits, eliminates the need for electrolyte solutions if your child is ill, and can save you money on pads/tampons and even birth-control (YMMV) by delaying the return of your cycle.
And, of course, don’t forget: Babies grow. Fast. It’s easy to make do without, when something will only be useful for a matter of weeks, or at most, months.
It is smart to wait. We got so many things at the baby shower. Also, some of my friends were more than happy to lend me things that I needed.
We did buy a crib and a changing table because we were so excited and wanted to get the room set up!
In response to the question about saving on the hospital bill . . .
1. Shop around. Call your local hospitals (if you have more than one) and find out what it costs to have a baby. Be sure to ask about what is included and to make sure you are comparing apples to apples (one hospital quoted a price for a 2 day stay, the other for a 1 day stay, but they didn’t tell me about the number of days until I asked.) Take into account the facilities they have available. If you have a high risk pregnancy you will definitely want a NICU.
2. Work for the hospital. Even if you and your husband aren’t nurses, don’t count yourself out. My friend’s husband worked in the billing department and got the same 70% off discount as all the hospital employees.
3. Try an at-home birth with a mid-wife. Much cheaper and more private.
I have had success in negotiating a lower hospital bill by asking if they would give me a discount for paying in full, instead of setting up payments.
If you do not have insurance, ask what things cost BEFORE using those services. A hospital tried to charge me $50 for a little bottle of Tylenol and a little bottle of ibuprofen in a bag when I was moved to a recovery room with my first child. I bring my own tylenol now. Ditto for the maxi pads. Horribly expensive if you use the ones from the hospital. I always bring my own from home.
Always ask for an itemized hospital bill even if you do have insurance. Double billing and extra charges for services you did not receive show up more often than you think they would.
I have not tried, but have heard, that you can lower a bill by crossing out ‘usual and customary charges’ in the the mountains of paperwork they make you sign and replace with the words, “fair and reasonable”.
One way to save $ on medical costs is to have a midwife-assisted birth at a birth center or at home (as long as you are having normal preganancy, are not high-risk, and so on). I had my first child at the hospital, and I know their charges were through the roof over 10,000 (before insurance paid their part). I am having my second baby this summer with a midwife at a birth center (I couldn’t take the idea of a home birth for some reason) and it will cost less than half of the hospital route. And my new, not-quite-as good as before insurance will pay for most of those charges.
I would really encourage everyone to spend the money on a new mattress or at least register for one. I ended up using a gift card to pay for one. Some studies have shown that used mattresses can increase the incidence of SIDS, so it is one place you want to put your money. Of course, after we bought the mattress we decided we preferred co-sleeping until he was a year old. We finally put the mattress to use though 🙂
I agree! My sister had her first baby about five months ago, and most stuff has been loaned to her, given as Christmas gifts, or baby shower gifts. I would also look on Pampers.com and register there, because on their products they have codes you can redeem for even for stuff! Also, don’t get anything you don’t need NOW. As in, a high chair can wait a while, and you might get one as a gift/loaner later on. Breastfeeding is also a way to go. I know a lot of people don’t like it or can’t do it; but if you’re fine with it, you would save a lot by not purchasing formula
Hi! This is a great topic. We didn’t spend much either. We shopped second-hand stores and decorated creatively with things we already had. Like you, we were given generous gifts for many things. However, even with that, we realized truly, how little we really needed. When our son was 4 months old we both lost our jobs on the same day. We sold our house a month later in preparation to move to an at-the-time-yet-to-be-determined location. While in the interim, we stayed with family, worked odd jobs, and lived off savings. Because we were staying with family, we downsized all of our items to what would fit in 1 suitcase, 1 dresser and 1 closet. For baby that meant a safe place to sleep, a carseat, clothes, a foldable pad to put on the floor to change diapers, 1 small basket of toys and books, toiletries and food/bottle/diaper supplies. Period. That is all we needed. Period. Really, truly, that was plenty. We are settled in our own home again and the first thing I did was get rid of a ton of stuff from storage. Why? I realized I didn’t need it.
After having two kids, I couldn’t agree more with this post!
My little advice is to not purchase a High Chair but rather purchase a Transitional Booster Chair (with a tray). Although we have a very nice High Chair from our first child, our house is small and I decided to try out a booster chair for our second little one. Currently it sits on our table, but can be removed in a heartbeat and takes up very little space. Needless to say, our expensive High Chair is still sitting in our garage and I have no plans to bring it out of hiding!
I sure wish we had purchased the Booster Seat rather than the High Chair in the first place…it would have saved us lots of $$$$!!!
i would suggest to buy a outfit u like most , the first outfit the most beautiful for the lovely baby and take pictures ,the moment wont come back in ur life once again.
so true, so true
I agree with the one commenter that the biggest expense is the medical side. We have a VERY large deductible & my OB’s fee was close to $4,000. That’s just for pregnancy care and delivery. The hospital was about another 4,000 for me and the baby. This was our 3rd child and we’re planning on having more, but it kills us financially. However, that being said, God ALWAYS provides. I would encourage those who say they can’t afford more kids to look at the things they can cut out–cable, cell phones, and so many other non-essentials to be able to bring the greatest thing–LIFE–into this world.
PS- Some of my friends who also have high deductibles are going to a community health center for their OB care. Our’s employs a lot of medical residents, etc. I think they are paying about 1/3 of what we did for a OBGYN. And when they deliver, they may still end up with an OBGYN (whoever’s on call at the hospital). So this may be an option to look into for some…
I was especially worried about money before my 1st one. I got lucky and had people give me bags of clothes. Great clothes, babies grow fast.
Then I was given a couple showers. My friends were great to pass along “hints” of what I wanted along with what I needed. Then another friend held a “diaper shower” for me. She asked everyone to buy me diapers or wipes. She knew diapers were my main $$ worry. I got alot of diapers. If ds grew out of them before using I just took them back to the store and got the next size.
Please include your diapering experiences (or others, esp with cloth diapers if possible) and must-have stuff in this series. As a previous poster said every parent has a long list of must-haves but frugal opinions are ALWAYS APPRECIATED! DH and I disagree about whether or not cloth diapers will be worth it (esp if we don’t have our own washer/dryer and have to take them to be laundered as we do now) and considering how quickly kids grow. I’d be interested in your views. Most people have very absolute views on it… hopefully here on your site we can get some unbiased (good and bad in the same review) opinions!
As always, thanks!
I am expecting my 3rd baby in April!!! My first was a boy and my second was a girl and the third is going to be a (drum roll…………) BOY! I got rid of all my boy things after our daughter since I thought we were done (but the good lord had other plans for our family). I have gotten some good deals on things I will be using from Target in the past couple of weeks! I also bought some clothing lots on ebay. I got a tub on freecycle. I got a playpen at goodwill (eddie bauer edition) for $30. I like to bargin shop and since I am now a stay at home mom I have to budget for this addition. I look forward to this series!!
Shannon P says
First I would say that if you don’t have anyone say they are going to have a baby shower for you, then ask a family member to throw one for you as your wife gets closer to her due date. If you find out the sex and you tell everyone, you can bet that you will get a lot of clothes at the shower. If you don’t tell people they are more likely to buy stuff off your registry, so go register at Target, Babies R Us, anywhere you can and put the big ticket items on there! People will buy them.
I have 3 children and the following were gifts from family and friends at our baby shower: crib, matching dresser, bedding, high chair, travel system stroller with infant car seat, spoons, bowls, towels, toys, diapers, wipes, baby wash, onesies, neutral colored sleepers, boppy pillow, baby monitors. I couldn’t believe everything!
Next advice is, after you have the baby shop clearance at Old Navy, Children’s Place, Target, wherever, for the following year. I am shopping clearance right now for next winter. I have saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars doing this! My kids are all set for spring and summer because I bought whatever I could find last year in the sizes I needed for under $5 a piece, some were 97 cents. Sign up for their emails and you will befirst to know about clearances!
4 easiest ways to save money:
3. only go to the doctor when baby is actually ill
4. cloth diaper
We have 5 children, 14, 12, 11, 8,& 6 and another baby on the way. We have thought for the last few years that it was not in God’s will for us to have any more children and so we have slowly gotten rid of the things we had. We still have the cradle, changing table and crib, a few toys (for when others some over with little ones) and a few special blankets and outfits from each child. So, we are basically starting over.
Here’s some things we never had and never missed
1. high chair (we just used a booster that strapped on to the chair)
2. play pen (if we went out of town and needed one, we just borrowed a friends)
3. baby moniter ( we’ve always had small homes so if the baby is crying, everyone knows it)
4. swing (if the baby needed to be rocked, we sat in a rocking chair and rocked him)
5. walker or excerciser ( we just put our babies on the floor on a blanket to play)
What we had that I thought were essentials:
1. Good car seats at each stage (up until age 8)
2. Rocking chair (my father in law gave me a glider 15 yrs. ago when I was expecting my first child and we have used it every single day!)
3. Sling ( I loved carrying my babies, I did not carry them all the time or everywhere but when I needed to carry them and still have my hands free, say at the park, this was a great option)
4. Lots of time just holding and loving on them – I find that most of the things I found non-essentials would have been great to keep the baby occupied so I could do other things. However, the baby stage is just so short, I didn’t want that temptation.
I encourage everyone to check out freepeats.com and see if there’s a forum for your city – members offer and receive “gently-used baby, kid, and maternity items. Coupons and formula samples, too. It’s an easy, convenient way to clear clutter from your home and you’ll feel great knowing your items will be used by other families.” Lifetime membership in an existing group is only $1 if you sign up before the end of January!
I scored 20 onesies, 4 blankets, and several bottles of bath wash/lotion through my local freepeats forum. 🙂
This is such a fantastic topic!!I found your blog when i was pregnant and have been an avid reader since. My baby is now 5 months old and we have hardly spent a dime. I am breastfeeding and I saw in a comment where someone said they were going to be buying formula because they were adopting. Just wanted to through out there that you can breastfeed even though you are adopting!!!! It takes a little work, but if someone is interested I would love to offer advice!
One way we saved money was to not buy an infant car seat, you know, one of the portable car seats with a handle. Instead we purchased a convertible car seat that we could use for a long time. An infant car seat is not a must have item that so many people think it is. The convertible car seats are just as safe for a newborn.
Oh, and one more thing, I think newborn clothes are a waste of money. Some babies (two of mine, even though my heaviest child was 7lb 14oz) don’t fit them. And, if they do fit them, they grow out of them so fast, they’re just not worth it. The only time they’re worth it, is if your child is a premie. Otherwise…
There are a few things that were invaluable to me: sling, breast pump, swing (for number 2 & 3), cloth diapers-they save SO much money.
I do recommend keeping the receipts for EVERYTHING. We had a swing with our first. But, he had wicked motion sickness. He couldn’t use the swing. So, we returned it.
Here’s a great tip: Don’t tell people whether you are having a boy or girl. We didn’t find out with our first baby, and everything we got was usable either way. We used all the stuff with our first (a girl), then used it all again with our second (a boy). The only thing we had to buy for him was church clothing, since even all of our sleepers, socks, undershirts, blankets, etc. were neutral. I’m using it all again w/ the third. I still try to buy things that work either way, now that they are 3 and 4. If you put a girl shirt, girl shoes, and a cute pony tail with boy khakis or jeans, people will never know the difference. Or buying sweatshirts/windbreakers in colors like red or gray works, too.
Seems that we have less stuff with each baby (4). We didn’t even get out the crib the last 2 times. Highchair is collecting dust. I did LOVE the exersaucer, they can be found second-hand easily. I found strollers very useful and also some sort of carrier (sling, etc). Carseat, diapers, wipes, some blankets, sleepers, couple outfits and you’re really good to go.
Sarah D says
I searched yard sales from the moment I found out I was pregnant and mostly was able to get clothes for both of my boys for around $.25-$1.00, and I still do it. Either that or consignment stores, which aren’t as good of a deal, but they are MUCH better than paying retail. What always broke it for us was all the insurance copays, co-insurance, deductible, etc. My first baby, I had with Medicaid because I didn’t have a job that offered insurance and my husband was out of work, so we paid nothing. But when my husband got his job, and we started paying about $500 a month for insurance, our second baby cost us about $3,000 for a normal delivery. Still it is much better than paying private pay. The hospital bill alone, I saw, was over $12,000. Most of the gadgets are negligable, don’t get caught up in the baby fever of it all and think that you HAVE to have all of these things.
With our first we definitely kept it simple. We got lots of thrift store/garage sale finds. And baby shower gifts were abundant. Sleepers, pack&play, soft wash cloths, a baby bath, crib/mattress pads/sheets, car seat, diapers, wipes, nasal aspirator, and blankets are all you need to get started. A few additional convenience items would be a “boppy” or other such item (very multi -functional), and the new swaddle blanket that keeps baby snuggled up. Skip the diaper genie. To me that was the biggest money trap-fortunately we didn’t do it. The replacement bags are outrageous. Just put dirty diapers in a closed trash can after disposing of them in a walmart bag. If you breastfeed, I think you will find the diapers to be very mild-smelling or you can always take them to the outside trash can. And for maternity clothes a bunch of ladies from church and I swapped so if you do this you might only need to buy nursing bras (or just larger sizes for sure). I agree, that people love to give baby gifts and usually are very generous.
Crystal DuBois says
We are also having a baby soon. We are on a very modest income, and wondered where all of the necessities would come from for our precious little one. Through much prayer, God has provided abundantly for us. So far we have a beautiful crib (20.00), an infant carrier (FREE) a rocking glider and foot stool (30.00) and a jogging stroller ( 28.00) We have also stocked up on diapers at 1.50 a package or less. So far we have stocked up over 100 packs in different brands and sizes! For baby clothes, we scoured the clearance racks at Target and Old Navy throughout our pregnancy, and have found some really fantastic deals! Same with Maternity clothes. I was able to pick up about 10 tops at Kohls for $2-$3 a piece! All together we have spent about 200.00 (including the diapers!) Of course, you save tons by nursing. Our baby is due in 10 weeks, and I have already had many mothers recommend local groups of nursing mothers to help if I run into any problems! So even this is a problem solved…provided that it will even be a problem! It is so amazing how God will fulfill our needs in such creative ways! So my biggest piece of advice on how to save for a baby is PRAYER!!!
I think what helped us not break the bank is not knowing what we were having. So often I found myself roaming through the infants department while pregnant, and had I known what I was having, I am sure I would have snatched up adorable clothing ahead of time. However, not knowing what we were having forced me to wait and saved us money for sure!
Need A Nap2 says
A lady from church would give everything away wanting to bless others, she said she was always given plenty for the next child. I admit I’m not that giving! 🙂
Place everything out and keep a reasonable amount considering space/necessity. I try to keep at least a week worth’s of clothes per season (summer, winter with maybe 1-2 extra shirts being fall/spring), pj’s, 1 coat, 1 light jacket. I’m finding some things are easier to buy again (socks, underwear). Look at affordability, it might be worth it to keep a $40 coat but give away and replace pj’s later.
Decide how much space you have for saving (what containers, where they’re going to go) and then store ONLY what fits. HTH!
Need A Nap2 says
Definitely take the time to register at a store near you (or where your baby shower(s)) will take place. Look for durable items not just “cute”. Register for gender neutral items, that way they can be passed down to the next baby regardless of gender (I HATE seeing a pink carseat – a boy would look ridiculous in it). Register for different clothing sizes so you’ll have necessities up to age 1-2 YEARS. Some people just register for newborn/size 0-3 months and then don’t have anything when the baby reaches 6 months or grows out of the newborn sizes very quickly. (Same with diapers if you plan to use disposable, keep 1-2 newborn packs then exchange the rest for size 1 or 2, you get more diapers in the package and you don’t need very many newborn diapers usually. You can always exchange again if you need to.)
Don’t open anything or remove the tags unless you’re absolutely sure you’re using it! That way if baby grows quickly you can exchange things.
I hate to be a downer but things happen, plan for the unexpected.
Maybe buy a few gift cards for eating out so you’ll have $ set aside when things are crazy or you can get a date night. 🙂 Babies don’t need much just the absolute basics – to be clean, clothed, sheltered.
This is a wonderful topic. So many people think babies will cost you a fortune but it is simply not true. We have three kids with our oldest being three and we are due to have baby four in March. We had our first three children while my husband was finishing up his degree. We saw God do amazing things during that time including provide us with a four bedroom house for the same rent as a two bedroom apartment. When God blesses you with a baby he will provide you with what you need (needs and wants are different) to care for that baby.
Katie L says
Can you also write about or “ask the readers” about the balance between saving things (clothes, toys, gizmos) from one baby to the next and living a simple, less cluttered life? I was blessed with so many clothes and toys as gifts, but I held on to all of it after baby #1 (girl) was born. I just had baby #2 (boy) and am feeling overwhelmed with all our STUFF. On the other hand, I don’t want to get rid of clothes only to buy more for baby #3. Help?
When we found out we were pregnant I would purchase a pack of diapers in different sizes every few weeks. It has been wonderful having a closet full of diapers already paid for!
Here are my suggestions- take or leave 🙂
Wait for your shower to see what you get. Second hand stores are great for baby clothes because they grow so fast. But I also got my crib, stroller and high chair at a second hand store “nearly new”. Those cute theme nursery crib sets are the BIGGEST waste of money there is! All you need is a fitted sheet for the crib. In the winter use warm sleepers like blanket sleepers. If you are going to use disposable diapers- sign up for huggies or pampers website you will get coupons. Ditto if you are going to use formula- you will gets coupons plus lots of free samples.
Let me add, under VERY good to have on my previous post
4. Baby sling, such a slingling, or a maya wrap ring sling
5. A changing pad (no need for a changing table), or washable changing blanket, yo protect your carpet/bed/couch/ wherever you change diapers.
You’ll want a diaper bag, but if you are not picky, you can make due with the freebie from the hospital.
I’d make a registry with everything above (all 10 or so items), plus a few smaller things that you like (maybe more outfits, or diapers, or small chewy toys).
Emily Mitchell says
In addition to my previous post –
I would also suggest seeking out as much help as possible to be sucessful with breastfeeding. Not only can you avoid paying for formula but you may just avoid extra doctors bills too – since the breastfeeding provides antibodies. Not to mention having to buy (and wash) lots of bottles/nipples.
I have an 8 year old and a 1 year old. Always take everything that anyone will give you, by as little as you can, and have as much fun as possible. All of the toys that we have where gifts and I have 2 playrooms with nothing but toys. Most of the clothing were given to us from friends with kids, ir what ever I had from my oldes. I Bfeed for as long as I could… then when we needed formula, I was lucky to find 20 cans on clerance at 75% off at a local store. I bought it all and never had to think about it again. For diapers – wait till CVS or any other store has a GREAT sale and get as much as you can in all sizes. If you have CVS, us the ECB and you never pay for diapers again. I try to have atleast 3 months of diapers at home at all times. Saves you a lot of money by not having to run out for a $10 pack.
Emily Mitchell says
I would strongly suggest investing in some quality cloth diapers and learning about different types of diaper systems out there and reading up on a Q&A type site like ivillage on cloth diapering. I used/am using the pocket-type diaper with a stay-dry fleece liner. When my daughter was old enough to talk she told me that she liked wearing them better than the paper diapers. Bottom line – we spent a lot of money up front buying these but we saved a lot more money by only buying a pack of paper diapers once a month or so. This savings really adds up over the diapering life/time of two kids!
Also – I second the advice on buying used things for the kids. When they are so young, clothes are barely worn, items are barely used – you can get some real quality items for a fraction of retail cost.
I like to go to garage sales too in the nice weather – people are practically giving the stuff away – pack’n’plays, bassinets, highchairs, clothing, bedroom decor, cribsets ect… Way cheaper than at a second hand store. I have found that freecycle in my town is a bit sparce with the baby stuff…
Well, congratulations – good luck!!!
Our first child is 19 months old! We are just starting to have to buy him clothes. We recieved many gifts. Wait until after your baby showers to buy the things you need. I wish I would have thought about pacifers and bottles we recieved several and he would only breastfeed not even pumped milk in a bottle and never would take a pacifer. I never heard of freecycle so thanks!! Be prepared for the unexpected. I ended up having a C-section and then our baby had some medical problems. We were able to pay everthing right away by saving beforehand. One of the best gifts we recieved was gifts cards to buy a video camera. There is nothing like watching your baby as a newborn and as they grow. This was esp nice for us as all of my family lives 2500 miles away. Babies just need love and more love!! Pray for them everyday and hold them as much as you can!
Great article! One of the best tips that I got and put to use was to put a little bit of money onto a gift card every week. If I saved money in one category, say groceries cost 10 dollars under my budget that week, I would load that 10 dollars onto a gift card at Target or Walmart-really you could do anywhere that they have gift cards! Then after my showers and my son arrived, I knew exactly what we needed (a bunch of diapers!), and we had the money put aside on the gift cards, so I wasn’t going over budget!
When we had our first son we didn’t buy anything until we had our shower and I bought 1 outfit for him. With my second son I bough a bouncy seat I never could afford with my older son that was it.
Also I didn’t know about newborn clothes so my poor son came home in clothes a tad to big. I made sure I had them for my second son and he was over 10 lbs and never wore them!
maybe if baby #3 ever comes along we will finally use them!
I would also agree with so many posters. I have three children and we were able to do without a lot. We bought a used crib for $25, but I did purchase a NEW matress (this is for SIDS reasons). I think that other than a car seat and stroller, a couple of sleepers, and diapers, you are good to go. I borrowed many things from friends and bought used when I could. I also haunted the clearance at Target. One of the things that I have learned with three, is that an item that might save your sanity with one does not always work with the next. That is why I so recomment borrowing or buying used. I borrowed a bouncy seat for my first one. It was a saving grace! I was able to keep him where I was and he was content, but for the second and third, I did not need it.
I also received a beautiful swing for my first from a baby shower. We used it a total of perhaps two hours all together for all three of our children (they just didn’t care for it). I ended up giving it away. Needless to say, I was so pleased that I did not personally pay money for it. If you borrow, and you like it, then you can always decide if it’s worth getting it.
One thing we have done at our church is start a “Mom Store” where people can bring the baby clothes and supplies (bottles, toys, books, diapering supplies, car seats and related supplies, blankets, slings, maternity clothes…even cribs and crib mattresses) that they no longer need, and other moms can take what they want. People even bring in formula samples and coupons that they don’t use. It is a completely free, completely voluntary program for our members. All you need is a space in your church to store it. We’ve actually had way more donations than withdrawals, since so many people are ready to get all that baby stuff out of their house, now that their kids have grown out of it. It has been a great help to our church, and it is a great way to utilize the community of believers.
Amanda K says
Thank you so much for doing this blog. My husband and I will probably start trying in the next year and this will help us so much! Thanks again!
A good book to read before you let yourself succomb to the madness of baby shopping is “Parenting Inc.” by Pamela Paul. Marketers realized about 20 years ago, and today it’s true more than ever, that new parents are a great demographic to target — we are insecure, we lack the support that past generations had, and many of today’s parents have disposable income or at least tons of credit.
So many things you don’t really need, and the ones you do can mostly be had very cheap used or will be given to you. For example you don’t need to buy the full “stroller system,” almost any stroller is built to hold a car seat nowadays. And besides your baby will be happier in a sling or a Baby Bjorn (which is one of the few products I will say is worth the high price tag).
The only think I would advise buying new or like new is your main, workhorse stroller. Especially if you plan to have more than one, if you live in an urban area where you may walk a lot, I think you’ll find that you will put more wear on that thing than any other baby item you buy. Most baby items are only needed for a few months, but a good stroller will be useful for 3 years or more. Even now, my 4-and-a-half-year-old rides in our “sit-and-stand” stroller every day, and while some may say, “That’s terrible, make the kid walk!” The fact is that with her riding, I can get much more ambitious errands done on foot that I would have skipped if I were limited to the distance a 4-year-old has the stamina to walk.
The “Wait!” advice given here applies to nothing more than the stroller. You really don’t know until you’re bopping around town with your baby just how you will want to use a stroller. Do you need one narrow enough to get in and out of tiny neighborhood groceries? Or is your priority a huge basket so you can do a week’s shopping with it? If at all possible, borrow your first stroller (or pick up a Kolcraft carseat carrier for a few bucks used) and use the advantages and shortcomings of that to figure out what you really want in your own.
Great post! Wish I had read it before baby girl made her appearance! Am now in the middle of pricing tons of gently or never-used items for a garage sale!
You’ll probably get a lot from friends/family.
My list of “must haves” are:
1. A car seat. There are expiration dates on these (usually 6 years). The reason being, not only do they come out with better/safer models, but PLASTIC BREAKS DOWN. think of a plastic lawn chair that’s been sitting out in the sun. We had some, yearly we’d wash them and let them dry in the sun. After a few years, they started to break when someone would sit down. This is NOT where you should go used. However, a decent one doesn’t have to be too expensive.
2. Diapers. We like cloth (fuzzi Bunz). If you go the disposey route, the store brand works just fine.
3. Some sleepers. Our babies lived in these the first 6 months. Again, you’ll probably get some as gifts.
4. Gentle baby wash.
5. Place for the baby to sleep (we co-sleep).
VERY good to have:
1. A baby tub. These aren’t that expensive.
2. Baby size blanket or two
That’s what I’d get for the first couple of months if I had to keep in to the minimum. Then, just buy things as they are needed.
The most expensive part of having a baby is the medical side. This is, of course if you choose to have a baby traditionally/in the hospital! I am saying this b/c my husband is self-employed and we pay for our insurance out-of-pocket. We want to have another (#3) but this is our big obstacle right now. Any suggestions about that? Yes, I agree–WAIT until after the shower to buy ANYTHING! Also, just remember that people LOVE to buy baby stuff SO, don’t hold back when registering, etc, if it’s something you need/want. You definitely want a really good breast pump (if you get a breast pump). Also an expensive monitor does NOT mean better. Just a few tips…
Money Saving Mom here: I’m going to be talking more about saving on medical costs in a future post–we’ve done a variety of things there and I’ll share what’s worked for us and how we’ve saved money that route.
If you have family (or very close friends!) around the country ask them to check their local craigslist and freecycle for items for you (or you check the sites yourself and after checking if they would pick the items up for you!)
My sister got me almost a complete maternity wardrobe off of freecycle in her city hundreds of miles from me.
My parents got us a crib from there and friends from my parents church gave us some baby items.
A lot of people asked us what we needed for gifts and we told those that asked diapers and wipes – my first son was 9 months old before I had to pay for any diapers for him!
My second son is now 6 months old and we haven’t paid for any for him yet either.
Great article, I look forward to the other installments! We have a 21-month old and are contemplating having another baby (in this economy??) – so this is helpful. Having been through it, I can attest to not needing much and/or purchasing used. thanks!
Exactly right. You’ll find you don’t need what you might think you do, so only buy the essentials (crib, carseat, stroller, diapers). Also, shopping the sales for diapers to stock-up ahead of time is a good way to save money, as well as buying some things used (rummage sales, Craigslist, etc). Hold off on toys and clothes until after your shower, then fill in the gaps. As far as toys go, you really don’t need much, and babies can’t use them right away anyway.
Another voice saying don’t buy everything that the “experts” tell you to buy. I didn’t even buy a diaper bag immediately – the hospitals (at least in my area)usually send you home with one filled with samples of formula etc… Well, we used this bag until we determined what I felt I needed in a diaper bag (ie: the pocket size, the bottle capacity etc…) Good thing, because the bag that I liked because of its looks, would have been a horrible fit for my needs.
Buy a pack of newborn diapers and a pack of small diapers (and keep the receipts) You don’t know how big your baby will be so you don’t want too many small sized. You can always run out and buy more. Keep the receipts just in case they are too small already so you can return/exchange for a larger size. Also – if you find out that you hate one brand – you don’t want to have a stockpile of hundreds of diapers that leak or you don’t like their fit….
Another source of inexepensive and good quality maternity and baby clothes and items are the many HUGE consignment sales that happen around the country. They usually hold them twice a year (spring and fall). You can not only take your previously used (still in good condition) items to sell, but you can buy items. A good source to find one in your area is a national franchise called “Just Between Friends” and also google search for others in your area.
Crystal you are the best! We are 6 weeks pregnant, and although it’s very early, we are very excited! Any moneysaving tips you can provide will be greatly appreciated. We have reviewed my husband’s health insurance policy and we will be paying out thousands for baby #1. Thanks for your help in keeping our financial sanity and security.
Christina @ Northern Cheapskate says
I agree – wait until after your baby shower to buy stuff… you may be surprised at the generosity people have for babies! 🙂
Before the baby gets here, you really only need a few things – crib, carseat, a few outfits and pajamas, and burp cloths. Everything else can be bought (or borrowed) later.
I also discourage new parents from buying a lot of stuff before the baby arrives because you don’t know exactly what your child will be like. They may be 9 lbs, 11 oz, and never wear newborn clothing. They may be 5 pounds and need lots of newborn stuff. They may be super fussy – about everything from pacifiers to bottles to even blankets… Better to wait and get to know your little one a little bit.
Besides – you’ll want to get out of the house a little bit!
I buy clothing in advance at the end of the season, I shop the clearance racks and stock up on bigger sizes, then make sure that the closet is CLEARLY labeled so I don’t forget about the nice long sleeve shirts I’ve bought.
Another big expense with boys is once they start crawling and wearing one size longer, they go through pants like crazy (at least my 2 do!) My biggest life saver here is Sears, they have a KidVantage program, where if something rips, they replace it FREE as long as the child is in the same size. I’ve replaced easily 10 pairs of jeans this year alone for my oldest son!
I was unable to breast feed both my babies so we had to formula feed. We were just (like a few dollars literally) over the income limit for wic so I was stressed! God provided though and we made it through with out much trouble. Both my OBGYN’s office and the pediatrician gave us formula samples each time we went in (luckily both could tolerate any kind). The companies sent us coupons and “formula checks” that helped a ton as well. With the first I hadn’t discovered the art of homemade babyfood so coupons, coupons, coupons worked wonders. The second I made a lot of his food. Oh, we “traded” services for one of our aquaintances as well. My husband is a police officer and at the time we both lived way out in the country. He husband traveled a lot and she was left alone at home with 3 young kids. My husband would go check her gates and make sure they were locked and patrol by her house a few times a night to check on things and she gave us formula every chance she could. 🙂
Thanks for this series! I’m looking forward to reading new ideas on saving money with a new baby – we are expecting our first in May (a little boy!).
One thing I want to mention is the baby registries. While in general, I don’t care for the gift registry, everyone has been asking us to create one. so we decided to do it. My parents have a lot of friends who never had children and don’t really know what we might need, and they are throwing us a shower so there will be a lot of guests who either didn’t have kids or haven’t had them for a long time.
The Big Chain Baby Store gave us a list of hundreds of “necessities” and suggested we choose at least 450 items. We scaled it down to about 65 things we felt were either really NEEDED, or would be very useful and re-usable. We decided that anyone who wants to pick out clothes or toys would surely prefer to pick out something themselves that they like.
We thought this would help steer people toward more practacle items, but of course we’ll be appreciative of anything we recieve. And if we are lucky enough to have friends and family purchase a lot of the things we picked out, we can always add a few more things. Some people really prefer to shop from a list like that anyway.
I say just buy the basic basic basic stuff before the baby is born- I had baskets full of stuff I never used! I had 7 packages of pacifiers and my daughter never took one for a minute. Have ONE pacifier on hand and if your baby likes it- buy more. You will also know what kind the baby likes because it seems to vary.
All those little “baby gear/novelty” things are negotiable as well. Mirrors for the car, special swaddle blankets, ect. I would just wait and see what you need. If you are driving around for a week wishing you had a mirror in the backseat- go get one or see if you can borrow one.
Each baby is different- yours might sleep great while your sound machine is collecting dust… but then making a giant mess when they eat and you are sitting there wishing for about a million more burp cloths or bibs.
Or you might have a neat eater who needs a fancy swaddle blanket and a sound machine and blackout curtains to sleep.
Just wait. wait wait wait. you won’t end up two years later with boxes of stuff you never used regretting all that money you spend (or others spent).
I second the suggestion to WAIT! I alleviated my “wanting to buy” desires by registering for the things my friends told me I would need and the things I liked. I am so glad I waited to buy things (even clothes) because I received plenty at my 2 showers.
I encourage you to save the $$ you can and make a list of things you definitely want/need. By saving your money, you will have the cash to buy whatever you need after receiving gifts. By making a list, you know exactly what to tell people you’d like when they ask.
You’re friends are essential at this time. Other parents will help you adjust to family life with a baby and can share their tips for inexpensive baby items in your area. I encourage mom to find a group of moms, like MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) in your area, to socialize with other young mothers.
My first baby is 2 years old and I’m expecting my second. Life with children is so fulfilling. There’s always a challenge and husband and wife are able to work together to meet each challenge.
It’s nice to have a few things stockpiled before the baby’s arrival (diapers, wipes etc.), however between breastfeeding and then making our own baby food from vegetables in our garden we saved tons of money! Also, second hand stores are great places to find things. Generally baby items are in very good condition b/c they don’t get used for long periods of time.
We’re due with #2 in a few weeks and since we let other family members borrow so much of our baby stuff we’re finding that we now have to replace items we once had. Thankfully, through the goodness of friends we are actually borrowing many of the bigger items so there isn’t any expense!
Just step back and realize that a baby truly needs very little in the way of gadgets & gizmos, and really just needs the essentials–plus lots of love!
We started thinking about items for the baby before I was pregnant. (we were praying for our son for 5 years, but…) This helped, but so many of our items we now have are free from freecycle.org. As others have said, many baby items only get used a few times and so are in very good shape. We got a pack and play, high chair, bouncy seat, activity center, not to mention many toys (and the opportunity to get many clothes) that way. (and probably other things I can’t remember) All for FREE. When our son was born, we were showered way beyond what we needed and received any of the rest of the necessities and so many non-necessities which we rarely use.
So, freecycle is a great means to get started at least.
I’d like to recommend freecycle and craigslist for those who don’t have access to hand-me-downs from family. And I’ll ditto the thrift shops- save your money for a quality carseat rather than on $30 baby outfits!
Prior to my baby shower, I went to a baby superstore to register with two seasoned moms. They were so helpful in letting me know what items were necessities and what weren’t. They didn’t always agree (no two parents will) but their advice was great. Those baby superstores have an item that is meant to address every single issue that you can possibly have with a baby. It can be overwhelming! Take a buddy with you.
Great topic! Chrystal do you know the sex of the new baby? We are pregnant with number three too. The first two were girls and as you said, we had to spend very little really. Now, with number three on the way, as much as we desire a boy (we don’t know if it is yet), I am petrified about having to find boy clothes inexpensively! Our second daughter just wore all of our first daughter’s clothes which were primarily received as gifts. I would just assume that the ‘gifts’ of clothes are going to be less abundant on baby number three. Does anyone have any experience on this?
Money Saving Mom here: We do know what we’re having–for the first time ever we found out! But we’ve decided to keep it a family secret. 🙂
At any rate, since we’ve not known either of the other two times, I have collected the basics for both boy/girl each time. So no matter what we’re having, I’m in good shape. You might consider doing that–if you’re able to in the next few months. Thrift stores and garage sales are great sources for finding clothes inexpensively.
You could also see if you have friends who have had boys who might be willing to loan you some of their clothes if you have a boy (if they aren’t currently using them). We’ve swapped clothes with other friends in the past before and it works pretty well so long as no one is terribly particular if clothes get a little worn or stained in the process!
I’d also check out your local Freecycle group and Craiglist. You might be able to get some clothes there for free or very inexpensive.
I have that lil’ high chair too! It’s so much nicer, because when company comes after he’s in bed, it is much easier to tuck away.
We used Chicco chair that clips on to the table, babies like to be with the rest of the family, this chair is washable except for the frame.
I also got a breast pump for free- I donated my extra milk to a milk bank and they send me a complimentary pump. I also use sandwich size ziplock bags to store my milk.
In response to another post, there is no reason why a crib or car seat must be brand new. My “babies” are 11, 11, and 2, and only the older ones had new car seats (because they were gifts). Friends and family loaned/gave us the 3 cribs we used and the last car seats came from a friend as well. And we passed those car seats and cribs on down to someone else when we were done with them.
You do need to be careful with VERY old cribs that may have slats that are too far apart or peeling paint. There are dates printed on car seats now, supposedly they are unsafe after that. I’m sure Crystal’s husband could confirm that the date probably comes from the legal department rather than research. They are just covering their behinds b/c of our litigious society. It’s a great way to get people to buy more car seats, too. As long as a car seat has not been in an accident or otherwise abused, there is no reason why it can’t be passed along. If you want to use one after the “expiration date”, then you do can some research and make that choice for yourself.
We are expecting baby #3 in June and I agree — most of the stuff you really don’t need. The one thing I would *absolutely* buy new, though, is the car seat. Sure a lot of people sell their old ones, but you can never know for sure if it was in an accident or not. There are so many places you can skimp, but safety is not on that list 🙂 One other piece of basic info I’d like to mention is to call your insurance company and *completely* understand what your liability will be. With baby #2 we were surprised by a lot of bills and that created some stress. This time, we have a good idea what we will need to play and my husband was able to include that money in his Flexible Spending Account for the year.
Helen Forster says
Love this topic! We have a 17 month old in a 1000 square foot house and I have received many questions and comments about the lack of space in my house. We don’t feel it is small. He doesn’t actually require all that much space. He has a crib and a dresser and a box of toys. Living in a small house sure helps you decide what is a necessity and what you can do without. A small house is also a great way to save money, for babies and otherwise, because it makes you ask the question “Do I really need this? Do I really have space for this?”
Deborah G says
With our first baby almost 12 years ago, we started getting things as soon as we knew we were pregnant. We had so much stuff that we quickly ran out of room. With our second 3 years ago, we knew not to go all out. Even with that we ended up with more stuff than we knew what to do with. I am curious to see what you think are necesseties.
Having kid does not have to break the bank. We lived in a one-bedroom apartment until he could walk (and now we’re back in one but that’s another story) and did without a change table and a diaper genie. I borrowed a small crib but ended up co-sleeping. I used cloth diapers and wipes and breastfed exclusively for the first six months (finally weaned the Bean at two-years old). All his clothes are hand-me-downs and I buy his shoes and boots at the consignment shop.
I bought a Fisher Price high chair at Wal-Mart when he was around six months old and starting to eat homemade solids. We used it until his second birthday, and then gave it away to another single mom. I have used the same car seat since birth, a Cosco Scenera that I bought at Wal-Mart with gift cards from my baby shower. Also found a nursing cushion indispensible which was purchased with gift cards.
Life is actually less expensive now because I don’t have time for costly leisure activities 🙂
For some reason, my comments never get posted. i am using firefox and i wonder if that’s the problem….Anyway…is there anyway you can save $ for hospital bill????
We moved a couple of months before my third baby was born and I donated more than half of the baby “stuff” I had put away from the other two littles. We got along just fine without purchasing anything new. I was so much more at peace with the simplicity of the nursery (that is the only place I have baby things). Bright colored gizmos and piles of clothes and blankets stuck in every corner of every living space does not make a happy mommy or happy baby.
I am expecting my third too! I am to be induced on Feb. 4th if I don’t go naturally before then. I have always been amazed at how God provides what we need and even what we don’t need! We would’ve been satisfied to cushion a suitcase bottom or dresser drawer and use it temporarily for the baby’s bed till we could afford a crib or cradle, but we didn’t have to do that. Cribs, cradle, bassinet, mattresses, changing table, dressers, bedding, clothing, toys, gift certificates, diapers, and more were showered down onto us in such abundance that we had to take several trips to goodwill to turn in the items that we didn’t need. And we had to return some of the new stuff to the stores too! Diapers were expensive for the first baby, but that was before I was aware of the cloth diapering option or CVS diaper deals.
Our biggest cost was maternity clothing, but even that was very very small. I purchased sale items at Motherhood Maternity or J. C. Penneys and I made sure that the clothing was durable enough for more than one pregnancy, that it was basic and classic in style, and that all tops and bottoms were interchangeable with each other so that I wouldn’t have to worry about lots of outfits. I had three basic skirts and one dress for my teaching job, a few pairs of basic pants for working around the house and garden, and maybe a total of ten tops of varying degrees of casual to formal styles.
Thanks for starting this series! I look forward to future posts! We are in the process of adopting our first child, so while I’m thankful I don’t have to buy maternity clothes, we have plenty of other expenses (agency, attorney, home study, etc), as well as formula once the baby arrives. Also, since this is our first child, I’m still trying to figure out what I must have from day one, versus all the gadgets and gizmos every other article seems to say are absolutely necessary!
I have a 10 month old and a 10 year old, so I did have to start over with this second baby. I save money by using cloth diapers and wipes, and I buy all his clothes now at consignment shops or thrift stores. I save tons of money this way and now I gasp at looking at the prices at the stores. The clothes are just as good and have gotten many compliments on my son’s outfits. They just grow out of them so fast, why spend the money on new? Plus this leaves me money to spend new on my older son, since finding him good quality used is a little harder.
Barbara P says
When I had my first child I didn’t have to buy a thing. I was given a traveler system, crib, portable crib, cradle, swing, enough clothes till my daughter was 2(really!). I didn’t buy diapers till she was 8 months. I didn’t even pay for her first pictures. I was fortunate to have a big brother(my daughter calls him dad), sisters and family friends who would supply me with everything I needed.
Even when you think your going to do without god will make a way.
One piece of advice I always give expecting parents is to not get a big high chair. Just register for one of the portable ones and put it on a chair. I have used the Fisher Price one with both of my children. It is awesome as a high chair, a booster and great for traveling to grandma’s house! Much more economical and such a space saver!
Crystal, this is great! I’m so glad you’re doing this series because we just found out we’re expecting our first baby! I can’t wait to see what other pieces of advice you have to offer…
What a great topic Crystal. This will also be great for people who have been *putting off* having a baby because they think it will coast too much money. Hurray for coupons and God’s provision!;)
Great post! A lot of baby items are inexpensive second hand and usually in great shape as babies are not babies for long, so the items are not used very much. Of course, items like cribs and car seats should be brand new, however.
It is so true! We have a 9 month old, and i have hardly had to stretch the budget for him! The grandparents love buying him clothes, and BFeeding and making my own food for him, has made it very managable even on our one income! Look forward to seeing what else you have to say on this!
Yup, hold off buying much at all until after the baby shower (if someone throws you one). I have found it to be very helpful to buy things as i need them for Baby instead of stock piling a bunch of things that i might not even use (unless they are mega cheap and even only then when i give it lots of thought). I did pick one item to splurge on for baby (my choice was a sling) and now we have in our budget to buy the baby one item each week until he has everything he “needs”. I have enjoyed not having an abundance of clothes too, that way i really get to enjoy the few really nice outfits that he has and get our money’s worth.
Amen! Less is more… Even if you CAN afford to purchase anything you want, most of the gizmos and gadgets out there are just a waste of money – you end up using them once or twice and then they sit, collecting dust. Babies need very little “equipment”. It will be fun to see what’s on your list of essentials.