Having a baby on a budget isn’t impossible, but many first-time parents feel overwhelmed by all the high costs and multitudes of options.
Plus who can resist all those cute baby shoes and outfits??
While some baby expenses are unavoidable, many can be minimized with some careful planning and a little extra effort.
We can help you all make smart baby registries and avoid money pits together as you plan for your little (expensive) bundle of joy!
Let’s take about the ways we saved and had our first baby on a budget!
11 Ways To Save & Have A Baby On A Budget
1. Create Your Baby Budget First
Have you started using a budget to save money for your baby? Baby expenses can sneak up on you and you need to budget.
Well, believe it or not, some people forget to take this crucial first step- to save money, you need to know how much you can and can’t afford!
Some people wind up buying $200 worth of baby clothes or other baby stuff before they realize they can’t afford to buy more as their baby grows.
Sit down with your regular budget- or learn how to budget first- and decide how much money you can afford to spend on baby clothes, toys, and more.
As your baby grows, they will need new things every few months, so budgeting monthly will help you from overspending or buying what you don’t need.
You’ll get baby shower gifts to help you out and you can find cheaper alternatives, like hand-me-downs or thrift store clothes!
2. Plan The Baby Registry
It’s so easy to get caught up in all of the beautiful nursery decor, clothing, and accessories. But be sure to stack your baby registry with must-have items and essentials you’ll really need.
Whether or not you have a baby shower, you should create your registry and share it amongst your friends and family, get it posted on social media- every bit makes a difference, and the less you spend, the more money stays in your baby budget for later!
Register for diapers in all sizes, or if you are going the cloth route register for plenty of washable inserts- those will be a big cost that adds up year to year, just like baby clothes.
Wipes, diaper cream, a car seat, bottles, and a baby monitor are a few of the essentials you’ll need for the first couple of years. But don’t be afraid to put some items on your registry for the toddler years as well if you’re sure you’ll use them.
It’s great to plan ahead, but you also don’t want a lot of clutter from baby items you can’t use yet (or may never use!).
A silicone bib is a lifesaver at mealtimes and toddler-friendly utensils are perfect for your registry once they start to eat by themselves. Safety items like gates, outlet covers, and locks for doors are also great items to put on your baby registry that you’ll 100% need.
These might not be ‘fun’ baby gifts to register for, or aesthetically pleasing for your new nursery, but they will help ease the financial burden of buying all of this at once.
3. Say No To Non-Essential Baby Products
The first step to save money I recommend is buying minimal essentials and waiting to buy additional baby products as the need arises.
When your baby is little, there aren’t many things they need around, especially right away. They need food, a place to sleep, some clothes, diapers, a diaper bag… Decide what your must-haves are and stick with them!
Kelan and I live a minimalist lifestyle already, but buying tchotchkes for our babies was very tempting, and we had to be strict about only grabbing the essentials with our budget.
Every parent has that one baby item or helpful baby gear they just can’t live without. But if you listened to every recommendation you hear, you would end up with a house full of baby equipment you’ll never use.
For example, some swear by having a diaper pail to toss dirty diapers into. Others find them to be more work than promised and just prefer to toss diapers in with the garbage.
Baby swings are another hot topic. One baby may love the $500 baby swing and the next is absolutely miserable in it. Try out some cheaper options, and sell them if they don’t work for you before you buy a new one.
Don’t impulse buy too many baby items upfront because you very well may not end up needing them based on your child’s needs and interests and your parenting style.
4. Stock Up On Essentials Early
You’ll need to know what essentials you’ll need ready for before the baby is born. You don’t want to be taking a trip to the store because you forgot to grab something!
If you are planning for a baby or have found out you’re expecting, start setting aside some money each month. Use this money to start purchasing items on sale or with coupons from that must-have list.
Your budget won’t take a big hit when you grab things in smaller increments and use coupons wisely, and it lessens the financial burden you may feel when buying a bunch of baby stuff all at once.
You can sign up for emails and rewards programs like Honey, which will find you coupon codes and even make a watchlist for when things you want go on sale!
Even if it’s just a pack of diapers a week or a few jars of pureed food (check for expiration dates when purchasing in advance), every little bit will help.
Also, make sure you start taking advantage of some baby-freebies!
5. Have A Garage Sale
There are some items I wouldn’t recommend buying at a garage sale, like breast pump accessories. But for most kid-related items, garage sales can be a huge help to your baby budget.
Clothes, many with tags still on them, are always popular and normally sell for an incredibly low price. Toys, high chairs, shoes, and babywearing products are great items to snatch up at a very high discount.
Look for items in great condition and if you aren’t sure on price just do a quick internet search to help you determine if it’s a good buy.
Clothing can usually be purchased in the $1-$2 range with other items ranging from 50-80% off! Parents just want to be rid of the clutter in their home so they are willing to sell these great condition items at such a discount.
Scour your local ads and find those deals! Even better organize your own garage sale to make some extra cash to put towards your baby.
6. Keep New Toys To A Minimum
It’s tough to know what kind of toys your child will love, so purchasing too many before they are actually old enough to use them is a bit of a waste.
Start small with a few toys that are easy to handle for babies and then let their interests steer you in the right direction.
Plus, most kids LOVE non-toy toys. I’m talking pots and pans, wooden spoons, empty boxes, and tissues.
There are plenty of DIY toys that you can create with many items you already have in your home!
7. Save For Daycare NOW!
Daycare costs continue to rise and in many states, child care is more expensive than college tuition. It’s very important to budget for these costs ahead of time and if possible start setting aside that cost every month PRIOR to the baby coming home.
This will help you manage your budget so you can make any necessary adjustments prior to you actually needing the money.
Practice those adjustments now so it’s not a shock to your typical spending habits when the baby arrives. Cutting out a few trips to Chipotle or watching movies at home instead of the theatre may make a big difference. Start practicing now and set that money aside!
And if you aren’t sure what child care costs look like in your area, this interactive map of the U.S. is a great resource to start planning.
8. Try Cloth Diapers
The upfront costs of cloth diapers can be high compared to disposable diapers but your funds return quickly over the lifetime of their use.
If you can get the majority of your cloth diaper stock as gifts or second-hand, you will be well on your way to saving some serious cash. You can also start off using disposable diapers on and off between cloth diapers.
Considering a baby will average around 2,700 diapers in their first year which can cost upwards of $550! And you are looking at two to four years of diaper duty per child so those costs can be very high!
If you are willing to take on the extra hands-on work that comes with cloth diapers, you will reap the financial benefits.
9. Find Free Entertainment
It won’t be long before you become eager to get out and start sharing the world with a baby.
There is plenty of baby-friendly or toddler-friendly activities available in most areas, but some can cost a pretty penny. Fun times can be expensive!
Look for the free events and activities. You can pop by your local library to read books (and borrow some for home!), and many will have storytimes, kid play areas, and other group activities that your child may love!
Don’t break the bank on activities while they are so young, they’ll have a lot they want to do when they’re older and remember things more.
Check out your local parks, libraries, and YMCAs for free activities. Connect with local parenting groups for playdates through local Facebook groups or other apps.
10. Can You Get A Free Breast Pump?
If you plan on breastfeeding there’s a good chance that you’ll need the assistance of a breast pump at one point or another. And if you will be working outside the home, a breast pump is a necessity. And although they can be a bit pricey, your insurance may be able to supply you with one completely free!
Dealing with insurance is never a walk in the park. I recommend checking with your provider as soon as possible to determine what steps you need to take to receive your free pump. But all the hoops you have to jump through will be worth it compared to purchasing a new pump at a cost of $300 and up.
Kelan totally agrees to check with your insurance about any freebies you can get, we were able to get a free breast pump from our insurance with little to no hassle and it never hurts to ask!
11. Make Your Own Baby Food
If you love to cook and have enough time to prep your baby’s food, this is a great way to save! There are so many baby food recipes so why not give it a shot?
Babies love to eat! Once they hit the solid food stage you will certainly start to see an increase in your grocery bill. And baby food, in particular, is pricey.
You are paying for convenience when you snag those tiny bottles of pureed goodness.
But one of the best ways to save is making pureed food at home. Some foods are easier to make than others, but it isn’t impossible!
You’ll need to be careful that you don’t waste your savings on food prep equipment, there are cheap and easy alternatives like the NutriBullet that moms swear by.
Final Thoughts For A Baby On A Budget
There’s no denying that having a baby means your budget may take a hit. Babies are expensive! But planning ahead and making some smart money decisions will ease your financial stress.