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What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Spend a Lot: Your Baby Money-Saving Guide

Father reading to baby

We all know that having kids isn’t cheap. And if you’re about to have your first, you may understandably want to buy them all the finest things that the world has to offer. I am here to tell you that you don’t need them.

Once you’ve checked reviews for safety, there really aren’t that many differences between baby products to justify huge price differences on big-ticket items such as strollers. Not to mention, the baby phase will be over before you know it, and you’ll be left with a house full of stuff you no longer have a need for.

With a toddler at home and a newborn on the way, I’ve had some time to weigh my own choices. And while I know how annoying unsolicited advice can be to parents, I’ve put together some savings tips that I hope will be of actual use for you.

  1. Borrow or buy used whenever you can – Going back to safety concerns, there are some items that should not be purchased used. Cribs and car seats, for example, go through regular safety inspections and there is no guarantee that a used model would pass today’s tests. For hygiene reasons, buying used breast pump parts is also not recommended; nor is it a good idea to buy open cans of formula, which could easily be tainted. Apart from those, almost everything else is fair game. Look out for other baby furniture, clothes, shoes, carriers, strollers, and more at secondhand stores or on social media marketplace/parents’ groups, as well as Craigslist. If you can borrow from a friend or family member, even better!

  2. Join all of the groups – Speaking of those parents’ groups, I highly recommend joining a local Facebook group for parents, if your area has one. Not only can you find those aforementioned used items for sale, but they’re also full of great tips and support for parents. (Shoutout to MOMally, which saved my sanity while on maternity leave the first time around.)

  3. Ask for samples – Starting with the hospital, ask for all the samples you can – formula, diapers, etc. Many formula and baby food companies offer coupons and samples in the mail if you sign up for their mailing list. Your doctors’ office may also have samples of otherwise expensive creams and random baby health products. Don’t be afraid to ask.

  4. Keep their wardrobes simple – It may be tempting to buy your infant daughter sparkly designer shoes (um, not speaking from personal experience – maybe), but remember, they are infants, and they can’t walk. Also, you will soon learn to realize that blowouts and spit-up are not so easy to get out of clothes. Did I mention babies grow out of things really, really quickly, too? If you want to splurge once in a while for an adorable photoshoot, go for it, but infant clothes are definitely a place to save on. No shame in going the used route here, either, or shopping for clothes at discount stores.

    If you are thinking of expanding your family down the line, try to go gender-neutral as much as possible. I spent hours meticulously organizing and storing my daughter’s clothes, only to realize at 8 months pregnant with our son that 90% of the items had no chance of passing for boy clothes.

  5. Expect trial and error – Before you load up on dozens of the same bottles or multiple packages of the same diapers, take them for a trial run. You or your baby may decide you don’t like what you had picked out, and you’ll have to try different brands before you find the right fit for you.

  6. Buy in bulkYou will go through many, many diapers, and you will certainly save money on them and other packaged items by buying in bulk. We did the math and found that using an online vendor such as Amazon came out to about the same price or slightly less as joining a wholesale club such as BJ’s or Costco, so decide for yourself if you prefer the convenience of the internet, or like to do your shopping in person. Either way, be prepared ahead of time so you don’t end up rushing to the pharmacy or convenience store for costly items.

  7. Find free activities – Now that you have fed and clothed your child, you’ll want to keep them (and yourself) busy, too. Things such as music classes and baby yoga can add up, so try to find free activities where you can. Your local library is a great place to start to find things such as free story hours and playtime.

Good luck on your baby journey!