Children are some of the greatest blessings you will ever receive but more than one parent has watched the months and weeks pass by with one worry on their mind. Their budget. Babies are expensive! Seriously! Diapers, wipes, clothing, gear and more can drain a family’s budget if you’re not careful! No worries though. You can get ahead of it quite easily and still stay within your budget. These 8 frugal ways to prepare for baby are a fantastic place to start on your journey of frugal parenting.
When my Emma was an infant, we were really poor. Okay we weren’t poor…I’m pretty sure that the dirt outside had more money than we did. That meant that I had to not only be very careful with what I was doing, but that I also had to learn and learn quickly. These tips are what I used not only back then, but I still use a lot of them now to help me save even though she is almost 11 years old.
8 Frugal Ways to Prepare for Baby
Write it out – As with most things, making a list can help. Sit down and write out a realistic list of what you’re going to need. Note that I said realistic. Its nice to have a separate changing table, dresser, crib and bassinet but you can easily make do with a lot less for at least the first few weeks or months. Make a list of must haves and create a budget for those. Anything else can be added to your gift registry and hope a family member or a friend decides to splurge for you.
Some common must have items that should be on your list are: diapers (cloth or disposable), baby wipes, onesies, sleepers, bottles or a breast pump if you’re breastfeeding, socks and hats.
Don’t bother with new unless you have to – Babies outgrow things at a truly alarming rate when you’re on a tight budget. Buying new for the vast majority of baby items just isn’t needed. Local thrift shops, garage sales and online buy/sell sites can typically net some really great deals. Garage & Thrift Shops often have infant onesies, sleepers and socks for as low as 50¢ each so if you’ve only got $10.00 to spend, it will go a lot way.
If you’re shopping for gear like a swing or bassinet, be sure you check with the manufacturer to see if there have been any recalls on the product. A lot of the time there will be, but no one realized it, so they’re selling what could be a dangerous item. One final option is to check out ThredUp. They don’t sell newborn items, but they do sell maternity clothing and infant sizes 12 months or larger. (Use THIS link to sign up and they’ll even give you a $10.00 (sometimes $20 depending on the day) free credit with no minimum purchase!) Schoola is another one of my favorites and they DO sell newborn items. Use THIS link and you’ll score a FREE $20.00 credit to use with no minimum purchase! For things like diaper rash creams and other ointments you may need, learn to make them yourself instead of buying them new. You’ll save so much money and you’ll know exactly what it is that you’re putting into and onto your child’s body. To get you started, we have a wonderful homemade lavender diaper rash cream recipe here on the blog for you to try. It not only heals but it will help calm too.
One last thing about buying used: There are 2 baby items you should NEVER buy used. NEVER buy a car seat or an outdated crib used. Newer cribs (within the last year or two) are fine as long as you perform safety checks on them, but used carseats are ALWAYS a no no. You have no way to tell if a car seat has been in an accident when you buy it new and honestly? I’m not willing to trust someone’s word for it with the life of my children. Once a car seat has been in an accident it is no longer usable and must be disposed of.
Barter for what you need – Have a friend who has a baby that is a few months older than yours? Trade them for their gently used items. Check with them to see if they have leftover diapers that their baby outgrew, clothing or even baby gear that they don’t use anymore. Barter for something you can provide for them. Babysitting, home cooked meals, crocheted Christmas gifts or even housecleaning are all easy to provide in exchange for needed items.
Go Cloth – Let’s face it…none of us really want to deal with the mess that cloth diapers can create, however, they can be extremely budget friendly over the 2-3 years that your baby is in diapers. You won’t need much to get started, just the diapers, diaper covers and a pail to keep dirty ones in until they are washed and most of them will last years if they’re cared for correctly. If you’re not looking to buy them, grab a few yards of cloth and some online tutorials and you can even sew your own if you are handy with a needle and thread.
Talk to your local pregnancy crisis center -Most communities have a pregnancy crisis center in town that is owned by a church or religious group. If you’re low income to begin with, these centers often have programs that you can participate in to earn points. Those points can then be exchanged for things like new cribs or clothing. When I was pregnant with my Emma, we were very, very low income. Our town had a center like this and in exchange for doing things like reading pregnancy books, attending my OB appointments and more, I earned points. I ended up earning enough points to get a 6 month supply of diapers totally free from this program! It was a HUGE help to me and no, they weren’t preachy at all. 🙂
Sign up for baby related mailing lists and rewards programs – Start early with any and all baby care company you can find online and sign up for their email clubs. Most of them have a coupon mailing list at the very least and a lot of them give out free samples. The samples may be small, but they can be a HUGE help in stretching your budget or for a Mommy emergency when you’re out of full sized items. If you aren’t sure where to start, I’ve put a list of baby freebies and things that you can get for free. It will help you get over $1,000 in FREE baby samples and coupons!
Breastfeed if possible – Aside from any health debates, breastfeeding really is the most cost effective way to feed your baby. Formula will cost you a boatload of cash for that first year and breastfeeding can save that money. A quality breast pump can cost upwards of $150-$200 dollars out of pocket but most of them can be reused for multiple children so its a worthwhile investmnet. If you truly can’t afford one, ask your OBGyn for recommendations on Le Leche League contacts in your area that might put you in touch with someone who will allow you to “rent” a pump for a much lower cost out of pocket. Again, if you’re low income, you can check with the local WIC office to see if they can help you with a breast pump. Sometimes they will and sometimes they can’t.
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