Having a baby is one of the greatest gifts in life, but it’s also one of the most expensive. If you’re pregnant, chances are you’re trying to find small ways to be more budget-conscious. For example, maybe you’re cutting back on eating out or selling some of your old clothes and furniture.
While it’s great to prepare financially beforehand, having a baby isn’t a one-time expense. From baby clothes to diapers, you’re going to be spending money on your child for at least 18 years (realistically, probably longer than that). The good news is, there are ways for you to spend less throughout the years.
In this article, we highlight seven tips for having a baby on a budget:
1. Do It Yourself When You Can
A great way to save money is with DIY (do-it-yourself) projects. For example, instead of hiring someone to paint the nursery, paint it yourself. Adding wall stickers is an inexpensive way to make the room more distinctive — and it sure beats the cost of hiring a muralist!
The best part? You’ll save a great deal of money with DIY projects. According to a 2018 Nerdwallet report, those who opted for DIY projects saved over $20,000. While buying the supplies for DIY projects will cost money, that expense is often far less than the cost of a brand-new baby item.
2. Be Smart About Recurring Expenses
The average baby goes through as many as 12 diapers a day, which can add up to approximately $900 per year. Diapers, food, and clothes are three expenses your baby will constantly need, so you’ll want to be smart about these purchases.
When it comes to these recurring expenses, really make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. You can buy diapers and baby food in bulk, comparing prices beforehand. Better still, you can make your own baby food by mashing fruit or vegetables yourself.
You should also consider name brands and how important they are in your decision-making. For example, you might prefer Luvs, but if Huggies diapers are on sale that week, buy Huggies. Alternatively, you can choose a less expensive store brand or opt for reusable cotton diapers. The latter aren’t without added hassle, true, but you’ll be helping to preserve the planet your child will inherit.
3. Be a Borrower
Your baby won’t be a baby forever, so don’t spend too much money on items they’ll grow out of in a month. Instead, borrow what you can. Dress your precious bundle in hand-me-downs from your older kids or from friends whose babies have outgrown theirs. Get board books from the library instead of purchasing new ones. Some cities even offer toy libraries.
More than likely, relatives and friends will be happy to lend everything from strollers to sippy cups. If no one offers these items outright, don’t be afraid to make an appeal to your social media network. Many parents would be happy to empty their closets of used baby gear, but they need a decluttering nudge. They’ll be happy to know that shape sorter is amusing (and teaching) your baby rather than gathering dust or ending up in the landfill.
4. Buy Items Secondhand
Speaking of landfills, many people take used-but-useful items to Goodwill and other thrift stores to keep them out of the trash. That means one person’s not quite trash can be your baby’s treasure. You’ll want to scrutinize items carefully, of course, but thrift shops can yield gently used clothes, toys, and equipment for s song.
In addition to local shops, you can find baby gear in excellent condition on websites like Once Upon a Child and Good Buy Gear. Whether you’re looking for a high chair or a car seat, chances are you’ll find it for much less than a new one. Here, too, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your reuse is helping the environment your child will live in.
5. Complete a Baby Registry
Chances are if you’re pregnant, someone is going to throw you a baby shower. That’s a good thing, and not just because it means you get to have a party. Your friends and family want to celebrate this life event with you, and it’s gracious — and cost-effective — to let them.
To prepare for a baby shower, many moms-to-be create a registry. A registry lets you choose items you’d like to have for your baby. You may have your eye on a stroller at Babies “R” Us or could just use some Target gift cards. Either way, a baby registry will help your loved ones give you the financial assist you need.
6. Buy Items the Whole Family Can Use
Products that are specifically designed for babies, like soap and shampoo, can be expensive. But the truth is, you don’t necessarily need to buy “baby products” for your baby.
Typically, what makes a product baby-friendly are certain ingredients (or rather, the lack of them). Baby skin is thinner and more delicate than adult skin, so particular ingredients can cause sensitivities. But that doesn’t mean you have to shell out a ton of money for products only your baby can use.
Instead, start buying baby-friendly products for your entire household. Look for shampoos and conditioners that are fragrance-free and soaps that are gentle. By purchasing items your baby and the rest of your family can use, you’ll save money. You’ll also save clutter in the bathroom by accumulating fewer bottles.
7. Feed Baby the Way Nature Intended
If possible, nurse your baby instead of spending money on formula. Not only can breastfeeding save you a great deal of money, it’s the healthiest option.
If you’re nervous about breastfeeding or are struggling to make it work, get advice, but don’t pay for that advice. While lactation consultants can be helpful, they can cost hundreds of dollars per hour. Consulting a local La Leche League chapter or calling a nurse hotline could provide the guidance you need for free.
Babies are expensive. Chances are, you’ve heard the scary statistics before — and they’re true. Whether you’re paying for child care, skincare products, food, or clothes, having a baby isn’t cheap. Thankfully, with the tips above, you can save some money on your little bundle of joy.