Having a baby can be expensive—really expensive, and getting her the things she needs before she even comes home from the hospital can seem overwhelming. If you’re on a limited budget or simply want to keep expenses down, it’s hard to figure out what you truly need and what you can do without. Whether it’s your first baby, or fifth, knowing how to bring a baby home without gouging your bank account will save you stress and energy.
Check out these easy tips and advice to help you manage your finances when you’re expecting a new member of the family.
- Make the Most of Your Baby Shower: While those expensive nursery items and luxury baby products are adorable, your baby couldn’t care less. Be sure to create your baby registry wisely, adding items that are truly needed and often easy to forget: diapers, wipes, and feeding supplies. It is helpful to register for items that will grow with your child. Different sizes of clothes and diapers will be appreciated down the road. To come up with this list chat with veteran parents to see what’s really necessary. It is also smart to return unwanted gifts promptly. Merchants often put time limits on returns and exchanges, so if you are in doubt, return it before you miss your chance. Don’t feel bad about returning those adorable, but expensive, pair of booties from Aunt Susan that may never see the light of day. I’m sure she would rather you get some use out of her gift than have it collect dust on the back of baby’s closet.
- Don’t Spend Too Much on Maternity Clothes: Baby bumps are adorable and you want to show them off, however you don’t need to buy a whole new wardrobe for only a few short months. A few pairs of pants and simple tops should get you through your pregnancy. You would even be surprised by how much of your everyday clothes can double for maternity clothes. Shop your local consignment shop for maternity clothes or, better yet, borrow from a previously pregnant friend.
- Borrow Things You Won’t Use for Long: You will quickly find out that many items are used for such a short period of time. Ask friends and family that have had babies if you can borrow certain items. Baby bassinets can usually only be used until baby starts rolling over, so trying to find one to borrow for that short period of time will save you money. Borrowing high ticket items that aren’t used for long periods are a great way to save money.
- Shop Second Hand: Consignment stores, thrift shops, and garage sales are often full of great maternity and baby clothes as well as great gear and furniture. It is a great way to save money and to reduce what ends up in landfills. Buying clothes second hand will save you a ton of money, as babies grow so quickly in the first year or two that many of those adorable outfits will almost never see the light of day. There is usually an endless sea of mothers who have boxes of baby clothes sitting in their basements waiting for a new home. Not only are you helping people declutter, but you are saving the environment as well.
- Hold Off: All babies are different. If you aren’t sure which products your baby will prefer, buy the minimum to start with and then you can stock up once you know your baby’s preferences. If you plan to bottle feed, only buy one or two before baby is born. Nothing says waste of money more than buying a dozen of a single brand, only to find out your baby won’t take them. And skip the baby shoes entirely — they don’t need any footwear until they can walk.
- Trade Babysitting Time: Instead of paying for a babysitter, trade babysitting time with other parents. You both save money and get some adult time out of it too! Family and friends will also become invaluable baby sitters.
- Use Cloth Diapers: Don’t be deterred by the initial cost of cloth diapers. While it doesn’t seem like they will be cost effective at first, the savings add up quickly. If you do use disposable diapers, buy big and take advantage of when they go on sale. While you look for name brand coupons and sales, generic diapers often work just as well. You can also make your own homemade eco-friendly wipes to really save money.
- Make your own reusable wipes: Try this recipe for baby wipes:
Homemade Reusable Baby Wipes
2-3 receiving blankets or flannel
2 cups of water
½ cup of baby oil or coconut oil
½ cup Castile soap or baby wash
Take the receiving blankets and cut them into squares. Fold and put them neatly in a baby wipes tub (or another airtight tub). Mix together the water, oil and soap/baby wash. Pour over the baby wipes. You can also add baby-safe essential oils (tea tree oil, orange, or lavender work well), or aloe vera to the water. Repeat process after washing the wipes.
9. Make your Own Baby Food: Not only is this the healthiest option, it is also the cheapest. Once baby starts to eat solids, simply toss cooked veggies or fresh fruit into a blender with a bit of liquid. While those expensive baby food makers may seem necessary to nourish little mouths, they are not needed and often just take up counter space.
10. Buy Only the Necessities: It is easy to go overboard and to fall prey to those long lists that baby retail stores say new parents need, but avoiding purchasing unnecessary items is a good way to start saving money. Here is a list of things you may think you need but actually don’t: Baby bedding sets, a baby bath, diaper pail (a small trash can with a lid and foot pedal is all you need), swings or bouncers, a wipe warmer.
While it can be exciting and fun to shop for baby things, they actually do need very little. Get creative and don’t be afraid to use previously loved items – your bank account (and Earth) will thank you.