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Saving Money (and Sanity) by Stocking Up Before a Baby

Save money and sanity by stocking up on essentials before your baby arrives! This post is a MUST-READ!!

Guest post by Mary of Giving up On Perfect

I’m 30 weeks pregnant and more than a little panicked. The nursery isn’t set up. We don’t have a stroller. And, although we have all the bedding, blankets and burp cloths we used with our first daughter, it’s still packed away in the garage.

I could tell you how much time we’ve spent this year trying to sell our house, or demand that you cut me some slack after hearing about our plumbing disasters. But the truth is, I’m not really known for getting things done early.

Making lists and plans? Yes. I can do that. But actually working in advance and entering situations feeling peaceful and prepared? Not so much.

My only consolation at this point is a cabinet full of toilet paper and toothpaste.

I’m not really a couponer. Or a grocery shopping expert. I don’t have the space to be a hoarder (though don’t ask me how long it took to completely declutter my house earlier this year). But when I’m pregnant, I stock up on staples and paper goods like they’re going out of style (especially if they’re on sale).

When I was pregnant with my first baby, my cousin told me that she prepared by buying a pack of diapers every time she went to the grocery store. I thought that was brilliant, until my mom pointed out that I’d been seriously sensitive as a baby and perhaps my own child might not react well to certain brands or chemicals.

Fine. Maybe buying diapers, wipes, and other baby STUFF wasn’t the best option for me, but surely I could do something!

That’s why I decided to stock up on the everyday items we seem to run out of most often, the ones we can’t really live without and would force me out of my house no matter how much I dreaded facing the grocery store in my postpartum state.

The best part about stocking up early (aside from letting me off the emergency grocery hook) is that while filling my cabinet shelves with toilet paper, toothpaste, and tissues would cost quite a lot if I did it all at once, doing it over time doesn’t hurt my weekly budget and can actually save me money.

It doesn’t cost a whole lot to grab an extra package of this or that on each of my regular trips to the grocery store now, especially if I take a few minutes to check the sale papers and compare it to my “Buy Before Baby” list. Stocking up before our baby arrives will save me time, money and sanity — all rare commodities, if I remember those newborn days right!

Here’s what I’ve got in my pantry (or on my list):

  • toilet paper
  • paper towels
  • napkins
  • storage bags
  • paper plates
  • aluminum foil
  • plastic wrap
  • toothpaste
  • soap
  • shampoo
  • deodorant
  • laundry detergent
  • fabric softener
  • contact solution
  • cleaning supplies
  • dishwasher detergent
  • tissues
  • pet food and other pet supplies

If I’m really successful in stocking my pantry, I might even add extra jars of peanut butter, boxes of granola bars, bags of sugar, light bulbs, and batteries to my pre-baby grocery trips, too.

How do you prepare for a new baby or other big change in your family?

Mary Carver is a writer, believer, wife, mom and recovering perfectionist. She writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life at Giving up On Perfect. Get a free ebook about romance and real life when you subscribe to her blog.

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In this eBook, you’ll learn:

  1. How to create a grocery budget that fits your family’s needs and your finances!
  2. New systems to help you keep track of what you spend at the store!
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  • Icoupon says:

    I did the same thing. I’m now 10 days post partum and soooo happy to have all hay stuff on hand! Not only does it save trips to the store, but paying full price for everything as well.

  • Jessica says:

    Before my third was born (she was due 12/29/12), I made sure that everything Christmas was ready by Thanksgiving. That meant presents bought and wrapped, the tree up, cookies baked and frozen. I did hold off on cards though, because I wanted to include the info for our newest child. It worked out well- my daughter was born on Christmas Eve! We came home on Christmas day, right before a big storm hit our area.

    I stocked up on postpartum needs- pads, disposable underwear, ibuprofen.

    I also stocked up on breastfeeding supplies before my baby was born. Then when my thyroid disorder got out of control shortly after delivery, I was devastated to have to go to buy formula- my baby was diagnosed with failure to thrive because I insisted on continuing to nurse even though the milk was going, going, then gone. Seeing all that breastfeeding stuff sitting around made me sad about what we lost out on, having successfully nursed my other two kids.

    I was happy to have stocked up on meats in my deep freezer, as well as easy to prepare meals like chicken nuggets and mac & cheese that my husband could handle without my help.

    I also stocked up on diapers and wipes. I’m still using some of the diapers, in fact, and my baby is 11 months old now.

    • Oh YES, I’d thought of postpartum-type stuff…but in typical fashion since getting pregnant this time, I FORGOT. Going to add those things to my list now! 🙂

      Oh and I bet you’ll have such a fun Christmas season with your little one this year!!

    • Beth says:

      I had no idea that thyroid could mess with your ability to breastfeed. :-0 thank you for sharing that part. I thought I was just weird but it makes perfect sense now why I had the problems I did… I’ve got a really WONKY thyroid too.

  • Teresa says:

    best thing to stock up on is easy to make meals. Something the husband can handle with little to no mess. Also things like you listed that we use everyday. plus a new movie or two for the other kids to watch do mom has a little down time if needed.

  • Jennifer says:

    I’m 18 weeks along with my first baby and I’ve actually started doing this already. I stocked up on paper towel last week and this week I’ve stocked up on the Free & Clear laundry detergent for after the baby gets here. I’ve also stocked up on enough wipes to probably last me a year.

    I’ve been couponing for some time now and I have a good stockpile of the necessities for me and the husband so now i’m just making sure I have enough of the items the baby might use. I’ve managed to stockpile some diapers already but I don’t get too crazy or brand specific because I don’t know what will work for my unborn child. I really only stock up on them when it’s a super price. I’ve also been looking for baby stuff on when i have gift cards to use and also on Mom2Mom websites and sales for baby items. It’s a real comfort to know that when money will be tight while i’m on maternity leave that we will at least have everything that we need. For me it only makes sense to coupon!

  • Danielle says:

    I also stocked up on meals and pantry items. I bought lots of extra toiletries and household items, thinking I probably wouldn’t have time to do much shopping for a month after the baby was born. I also prepared toys and activities for my oldest daughter so that she could be occupied while I took care of the baby. I did stock up on diapers in the newborn size, taking advantage of sales at cvs. All the preparation really paid off. We didn’t need to cook or go shopping for groceries or anything actually for the first month the baby was with us. She is one month old now. We still have enough food and diapers and other supplies to last us another month at least. So happy not to have to worry about cooking or shopping during this time of sleepless nights and transition.

  • Heather says:

    For us it worked to stock up on toilet paper and make sure there was an extra bottle or two of shampoo and tube or two of toothpaste, but we don’t use many disposables at all. With baby two and three we splurged and bought one pack of paper plates to use for a few days after birth. What we really focused on was filling the deep freeze with premade meals and sides. I had casseroles, burritos, dump in crock pot type things, mashed potatoes, veggie side dishes, pizza crusts, bread, muffins, quick breads, cookies, and such. I do all the meal prep, but with my full freezer and a list I could send Daddy down to get the things I wanted for that day or the next. We ate our normal foods and were all well nourished during a time of big transition. We had no meals given to us and family that stayed with us were not cooking for us either, so this was a lifesaver! I even had 7 extra people on father’s day with a 3 day old and it came together…it was not something I would recommend, but with two big lasagna’s in the freezer and a loaf of bread that was turned into garlic bread, and a bag of frozen green beans it worked without much work. Stocking up on what your family needs makes the transition a lot easier!

  • Jennifer says:

    My 2nd was born earlier this month and stocking up in advance ABSOLUTELY saved my sanity. One of the most important things you can do is stock your freezer full of meals because figuring out dinner is the last thing you’re going to want to do when you have a newborn. If you are a couponer, stock up on pantry items and paper products so you don’t find yourself forced to pay full price when you have no time or energy to coupon/shop deals.

    • Congratulations on your baby!! And yes, I’m working on some meal stuff now. I browned about 15 lbs of hamburger last week and am hoping to do chicken next week. I should stock up on food staples like pasta, too, though – thanks for the tips!

  • melissa johnson says:

    i stocked up on bottled waters and paperplates. Frozen meals for older kids like stouffer lasagna’s etc.

  • Candice says:

    I am well past the baby bearing age and can’t say that I stocked up on anything before my little ones came into the world but what a wonderful idea. I do however stock up on staples, baking supplies, and paper goods before winter arrives here in Ohio so I can hole up should a blizzard arrive..or an ice storm. I begin in August with canning and freezing from the garden and then take advantage of sales throughout the fall so that by the time the week before Thanksgiving arrives we are set to hunker down if need be. A few items a week stocked away in the pantry saves not only money during holiday months but energy going out in the snow to bring it home, especially if you have babies or toddlers.

  • Melissa says:

    My husband and I are soon to be grandparents and one may think that we don’t need to “stock up” but I’m here to tell you otherwise. I not only stock pile toiletries but have stocked up on Pampers and Huggies diapers of all sizes, wipes, bath wash, ointment and lotion. These items not only make for a great “baby shower” gift but will be needed in my home as I will be taking care of the little one while mom and dad go to work. We are beyond thrilled/excited and can not wait for the little one to arrive.

  • Sam says:

    I stocked up while pregnant with all my babies, however I knew I wouldn’t be in any mood to shop or coupon with 4 in tow! I filled the closet with diapers of all sizes with the brands I used on my others so we didn’t have any reactions. Now my baby is 2 and I have only had to buy a couple packs of diapers when I didn’t have enough of a size. I am using my last laundry detergent and I will never have to buy toothpaste again. So this week I started the coupons again, with grace. But I am so glad that I went “overboard” while pregnant, saved my sanity.

  • Living So Abundantly says:

    After having my first and getting an amazing amount of diapers at my shower, I’ve learned to wait until after my shower this time to buy diapers ahead of time. 😉 Also, a lot of people give newborn diapers as a gift. My son was almost 9 pounds and only wore newborn diapers for a couple weeks. SO, I had packs of diapers left. One store graciously took them back and gave me a giftcard(even though I had no receipts), but they won’t do that now without a receipt. SO, even with diapers I may purchase ahead of time, I will tape the receipt to that package so that I can return it. I’d do the same if giving diapers as a gift. If you are giving diapers as a gift, consider buying size 1 or 2 or even 3(size three has been the longest-lasting so far for my baby, as he was 20 pounds by four months of age). I stockpiled by freezer with meals that could be reheated or thrown in the slow cooker. I also made sure we had enough toiletries to last us 1-3 months. Buying organic milk isn’t a bad idea, as it lasts much longer. Also, this time around, I have a toddler. So, I’m going to prepare him meals(he normally eats what we eat, but it needs to be cut up) that are already cut up(so I don’t have to worry about that). Since I bf, I need a constant supply of water. Having a cup that is spill-proof was important. Tervis Tumblers with the lids are great!!!

  • Living So Abundantly says:

    Thank you cards and your address book, along with stamps!!! Even after the baby was born, I had an enormous amount of gifts that family and friends sent. I would try to write the thank you note and address/stamp it that day, so it didn’t pile up. For people who e-mail a lot, I’d take a picture of the baby with the card/gift and e-mail my thanks that way to them, which saved money on stamps. Everyone appreciated the gratitude, and it didn’t become overwhelming to keep up with who got us what. 😉

  • Renee says:

    Brilliant! I need to inventory my little stockpile and start filling in the gaps before little blueberry gets here. With number one we had just moved to the NW, didn’t know many people and I had a rough recovery. I was SAVED by the meals I had prepared and frozen.

  • Sarah Boye says:

    I stock up on all those things as well, but I am a couponer. I just maxed out on toilet paper and laundry detergent. lol
    I also fill up our deep freeze with single serve things I like to eat and easy family meals my husband can handle heating up.

  • Meredith says:

    First, give yourself a little grace on the burpcloths/nursery/stroller end :). The second child is a different animal and while with my first I had all clothes organized by month and the nursery set up two months ahead–the second was kind of thrown together!! Also, with two kids you may not know what stroller works for you until you have the baby. I’d wait until he/she is 6 months old before buying anything serious. We went through a few different ones until we found what works for us in terms of being able to carry two children, now 5 and 3.
    That being said…I am pregnant with my third and we’ve gradually started stocking up on diapers (swaddlers on clearance) and other little things we find on sale. You’re right-you can’t do it with everything, but you can try! Congratulations!

  • BUSY MOM IN AL says:

    I just started doing this after 18 years of marriage and it is wonderful. I just buy 2-3 more of what I am buying (groceries and paper goods) and it has helped so much!! When I open the last one, it goes on the list and then I don’t run out before I get to the store again.

  • susie says:

    Chrystal has a great article on what you need for a baby and it is not much. We have six kids and by the last I only had the things she recommended. They put so much sales pressure on pregnant women to buy, buy, buy things that might be handy but babies grow so fast that if you don’t have it you won’t miss it. I only have a carseat, i love zippered pagamas for new borns, and diapers. You won’t use a stroller till they are older.

  • Yasmine says:

    THE best thing I’ve ever done is stock up before my baby! I got pregnant at 19 and was working a full time job, my boyfriend on the other hand, wasn’t working at all (just going to college) so I decided to stock up on everything we would need while we had the money. What if it took him longer to find a job? I knew I wouldn’t be able to work for a while, so we managed to save and stock up at the same time, but I started when I was 4 weeks pregnant! Right now my son is 4 months and we already have diapers sizes 3, 4, and 5 and wipes that I’m sure will last for the next year. Sure, he could’ve been allergic to every diaper/wipe I bought, but you can always trade them at the store or with other people!
    The trick is to stock up when there are good deals. is awesome, and so is Sam’s Club!
    Good luck 🙂

  • Catrina says:

    I’m not very good at planning to do freezer meals but the week before my daughter was born I saw a post with a bunch grouped together that I could do in an hour. Those make ahead meals saved us in so many ways. My husband loves to cook but at the time was working full time and going to school. Many of the meals I put together were crock pot meals & I made a couple of pizzas. It was so nice to not have to think about what we were going to eat or the expense of eating out. I also stocked up on easy foods & snacks for my 2 year told son so I could keep things simple

  • Ashley M. says:

    I already had a supply of most of these items from couponing consistently. But while I was pregnant earlier this year I stocked up on diapers. Everytime I could buy a pack of diapers for under 10 cents per diaper, I bought some. I now have enough diapers and wipes to diaper my lil pumpkin til she potty trains and I only spent $114 on ALL of it! Thank goodness because I am now a single mom and I don’t know what I would have done without preparing ahead of time.

  • Brittainy S. says:

    If you want to stock up on Diapers and Wipes then buy one small pack of each brand or collect samples (If you have friends with babies beg them for a couple of theirs to try on the baby) and then bigger packs of a more expensive name brand. I know with Walmart, I can exchange them for different sizes or kinds as long as its equal or lesser value. So Open the small pack first and if you or baby doesn’t like them for any reason, sell the rest of the pack through an Online yard sale type of FB group, and then try another small pack or sample until you find what works. Then when you find something you like, you can exchange what you have for what works.

  • Jenna says:

    We are nowhere near ready for our 3rd due at the beginning of January. We still have to get our 2 and almost 4 year old used to sharing a room and bunk bed! We also need to get a van to transport all those children!! I have started making some freezer meals though. I hope to make at least one or two every week (hopefully more some weeks). I may be stuck in the house with kids sleeping strange places, but at least we’ll have food, right??? Hopefully this post will give me the kick in the booty that I need!!!

  • Carly says:

    This is how my nesting manifests itself! I have enough dental floss to get me to the moon and back, and 35 lbs of chicken in the deep freezer. I have oodles of personal care products and canned goods up the wazoo. I need to do freezer meals, but I at least have my 12 year old cooking dinner one night a week! Kids are 12 yrs, 15 months! and next one due in 7 weeks! Just need a crib, recliner, and SUV!

    • jamie says:

      Mine will be 11 when i have this baby. He is super excited, but it will be almost like being a new mom again. I think it will be a big help having an older child.

  • Heather Jones says:

    When I had my daughter back in February 2010, I, too stocked up on necessities. Paper plates were a God-send and extra tp came in handy when I couldn’t leave the house with a newborn.

    Also, I stocked my freezer with freezer meals. Note to the wise, though, make sure those cooking/prep instructions are detailed to the minutia!! Sometimes, tired hubbies need a little direction, too! (For example, if the meal needs thawed before cooking, say so. If the meal should be cooked, uncovered, write it down. I’ll never forget a very particularly late night when hubs couldn’t figure out why our frozen casserole wasn’t ready in the 45 minutes I had listed in the directions. Hungry, sleep-deprived, nursing mama… not a good combo! 🙂

  • Lesley Paul says:

    Hasn’t anyone ever heard of ordering from the **Internet** while juggling young ones?? Ever since I had my first I’ve used amazon,, or anywhere I used to go to the store for -for my Xmas shopping and household supplies.

  • Amy says:

    Hi-eee, Mary! So good to see you on here 🙂

    We’re past the baby stage but it seems like paper towels, toilet paper and shampoo are the items that we zoom through and ones it’s difficult to live without.

  • Congratulations, Mary, on the newest baby! I am 23 weeks pregnant with my first – and stocking up in a combination of ways. I’ve been stocking up on diapers (in lots of brands and sizes) for awhile now. I have a closet full of diapers that I have spent less that $50 on, so even if the baby doesn’t like a particular brand, I will exchange them – or give them as a gift to someone else. Like you, I’m stocking my pantry when I see great deals. I have lots of toilet paper, laundry detergent and shampoo. Those deals abound lately! Next on my list is to stock the freezer before the baby arrives. Oh, and I’ll keep watching for good pantry & diaper deals…especially since we are transitioning from two incomes to one, with the birth of this baby!

  • Hetal says:

    I am 30 Week Pregnant, and I started stocking up too since last 3 weeks, mostly I am stocking up Toothpaste, Shampoo, Shower Gel, Face Wash etc, which we can’t live without.

    The reason why I am stocking all these is, here in India (Where I live) We have tradition to live at parent’s place for at least 3 months after delivery of child. So I will be at my mom’s place after my delivery and at that time my husband will be alone at home and he is extremely bad at grocery shopping. He never compare price of two products, he even don’t see if some other options or good deals available in store , and I don’t want him to pay extra! So I am stocking up everything which he will need in those 3 months.

    I also bought Diaper Bag last month which i was getting in half price. For stroller, I have decided to borrow it from my friend who has stroller of his first baby, and now it is not in use for her. So I am going to save that money and will borrow it from my friend.

    I am still seeing if I can get some good deals for Baby Bath Tub, Changing Table etc. Let’s see.. 🙂 🙂

  • Charlotte says:

    I added trash bags to the list. Always need those.

  • Catherine says:

    this is a great idea! I’d recommend doing a subscription to the things you use on a regular basis through Amazon Prime. We do it with our dog’s food, which is hard to find in the store. It saves me a trip out of my way and we get a discount. I end up spending about $15 less a month and it’s delivered to our door!

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