This post is sponsored by Lexington Law.
Babies are EXPENSIVE. I didn’t even quite realize the extent of the cost until I had one (and even now I’m still surprised on how quickly things add up). Saving money when you have a baby is a challenge. Especially because you aren’t sure what you actually need and everything is just so darn cute.
In this article, I shared the steps my husband and I took to prepare our finances for a baby.
To briefly recap, I tightened my budget, didn’t open new lines of credit, opened new savings and investment accounts, paid off my debt, bought a car, and set up automatic payments. All of those things were critical in preparing myself financially for a baby but they also didn’t include ways to save money with a baby.
The Financial Implications of Having a Baby
The financial implications extend from just adjusting your budget for a baby. This is a hectic time of life and your credit score and financial future can be impacted negatively if you aren’t paying a close eye on them like you would otherwise.
Because expenses when it comes to a baby add up fast, you might find yourself dipping into lines of credit to help cover expenses. Doing so can send you down into a hole that could be hard to get out of. Your credit utilization ratio might change and that could decrease your credit score.
I also strongly suggest starting identity monitoring during this time of your life if you haven’t already. I am a huge fan of Lex OnTrack and covered the pros and cons of the software here. Because having a baby means you’re filling out a lot more forms than usual and writing down a lot of sensitive information, this opens you up to possible identity theft.
Knowing that I’ll be alerted to changes on my credit report gives me peace of mind that I will be able to act quickly and get in front of any potential situation that might harm my credit. Your credit is extremely important and is worth the effort to protect.
If you do find yourself with questions about what is on your credit report (here’s how to check your credit report!), I highly recommend scheduling a free consultation with the credit repair consultants at Lexington Law.
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How To Save Money When You Have A Baby
When I started writing this post, I had a couple of ideas in mind that I really wanted to share. As I started brainstorming, though, more and more money-saving ideas popped into my head.
Drawing from my own experiences and those of my friends and family, I made a list of 100 ways to help you save money when you have a baby.
Of course, you can buy whatever you truly want (and can responsibly afford).
Overall, I mostly recommend splurging on items that will grow with your baby and unique items your baby needs (like specialty formula, for example). Ultimately your baby’s health and safety are truly most important so I don’t recommend scrimping to save a few dollars if you are putting your baby’s safety in jeopardy.
It’s easy to get carried away when it comes to preparing for your baby but instead of trying to be prepared for any possible scenario, trust that everything will be okay and that you will be able to purchase what you need when you need it.
Saving Money Before Baby
- Make free baby registries at websites including BuyBuyBaby, Baby List, and Amazon to get free gifts and trial sizes mailed to you!
- Some registries like Amazon also offer completion discounts and give you a percent off of remaining items on your registry as your due date approaches. So save your pricey items that aren’t gifted to you to use this for.
- Amazon also has a “diaper fund” option on their registry that friends and family can contribute to!
- Don’t buy more than 5-10 outfits per size at first. People love to gift baby clothes so you’ll probably end up with a ton of clothing gifts. And babies grow fast! You never know what size they are going to be even at birth. And same with shoes, you don’t know if your baby will have fat feet or not so it’s best to hold off.
- Buy one set of bottles (my hospital recommended Dr. Brown’s with the preemie nipple) to have on hand in case you need them. But don’t go crazy because you don’t know how many you’ll need or even what brand baby will like.
- If you plan to formula feed, get samples of formula from your doctor’s office and from manufacturer’s websites.
- Even if you plan to breastfeed, it can be beneficial to have some formula on hand for a just in case scenario.
- Figure out what your baby must-haves are and spend on those but get them on sale! We purchased a SNOO and bought it at 40% off. The resale value on the SNOO is pretty high so if we were to resell it, we’d get back almost what we paid for it.
- While I’ve personally loved using an infant car seat (especially one that clicks onto the stroller), buying a convertible car seat can save you the expense of having to purchase two.
- If you plan to breastfeed, get your breast pump through your insurance before baby arrives. You’ll likely have to pump at some point so it’s nice to have it ready to go when necessary. Plus when covered by insurance, there’s usually no additional cost to you!
- For postpartum care, take as many supplies from the hospital as you can! A lot of times they’ll offer you extras on the way out the door but it never hurts to ask for additional supplies.
- Also for postpartum care, a witch hazel poured on pads and frozen is a great way to soothe and heal.
- Only buy one bottle/set of baby shampoo and body wash. It’s going to take you a long time to even get through that bottle so you don’t need to spend a bunch on different brands. Unless your baby has skin issues or an allergy, you likely won’t need to try more than one or two. I’ve liked the Cetaphil Baby Gentle Wash With Organic Calendula and it’s less than $6 at Target.
- Don’t buy too many newborn clothes. They aren’t really going to wear most of them anyway.
- And on that note, if you plan to have more children consider more unisex styles and not things that say boy or girl on them if that matters to you.
- Test out different diaper bags in store before you buy. Some are really pretty but I’ve found them not to be as functional with a newborn as I would have liked. I do recommend looking for one with a fully insulated pocket. It’s been helpful to have that for bringing bottled milk and food on the go when we need to eat out.
- You can also just use an old backpack for a diaper bag if you don’t need an insulated pocket.
- Return gifts you don’t need, even for store credit, to get things you do need and want.
- Don’t stress about making the perfect nursery. If baby is sleeping in their own room, they only need a safe sleep space like their bassinet or crib. They don’t know or care about how the room is decorated.
- Pick a convertible crib. These can go from crib to toddler bed to a twin or full-size bed in most cases making it economical as it grows with your baby.
- Buy unisex baby clothes, swap them with friends, or simply just save them for future children. You might even be able to trade things you don’t love with other moms to get things you do love.
- Choose a stroller that baby can use from birth (and one that can accommodate multiple children in the future). You can test drive them at places like BuyBuyBaby and Nordstrom.
- You don’t really need to buy special baby bath towels but if you want to get one, you really only need one or two. They don’t usually get a ton of baths when they’re small.
- We use muslin baby washcloths but truthfully you probably don’t need those either.
- If you’re at a loss for what to ask for, ask for an Amazon Prime membership! That way you can get whatever you need in less than two days in most cases… without leaving your house.
- Don’t buy a baby robe — they are seriously cute but also seriously useless.
- Curate your maternity wardrobe with maybe 10-15 pieces that work effectively together. In my opinion, it’s okay to invest in good quality things, especially if you plan to have more children.
- Also considering thrifting maternity clothes! You can find some good barely worn pieces at thrift stores or at ThredUp.
- For nursing clothes, you don’t need to buy too many pieces right away. I would say get a nursing and pumping combo bra (makes double pumping easier if you need to do so) and maybe one or two nursing tanks/tops. You are going to be pretty much only in your house other than doctor’s appointments for the first two to four weeks with your baby so it’s not necessary to spend a lot until you know what you’ll need.
- Consider buying a belly band to help wear your pre-pregnancy clothes longer.
- Use coconut oil on your skin to keep it hydrated! It’s cheaper and works better than a lot of products marketed for pregnant women.
- Ask your doctor if you can get a prescription prenatal is an option for you.
- Prepare for the newborn stage by making food dishes in advance and freezing them. You’ll appreciate not having to make food with a newborn and you’ll save a ton because you won’t order in from exhaustion.
- Use TopCashback for shopping for baby stuff online to make sure you get your cash back!
- Pick reusable options when possible instead of disposable ones. Like with breast pads, you’ll save a ton over time!
- If you’re trying to stay active while you’re pregnant, use YouTube videos (I love Bodyfit by Amy) for workouts and go walking! You don’t need to splurge on a gym membership or fitness equipment to get in a good prenatal workout.
- Talk to a HR rep at your company to make sure you take advantage of everything you’re entitled to!
- If you choose to pump breastmilk and will be doing so at work, consider the Kiinde system — you can get a free starter kit that’s jam-packed with stuff on their website!
- Don’t stock up on too many things. We bought gripe water and diaper rash cream but never needed either before the expired. If you do end up needing something like these, you can get them as you need them.
- Ask for books instead of cards at your baby shower! Board books cost about the same as cards and it’s a cute and easy way to start building your little one’s library.
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Saving Money With a Newborn Baby
- Use a cheap pack of cloth diapers for burp clothes instead of buying expensive ones. After a few months you most likely won’t be using them anyway.
- Skip big baby items (like a swing or Mamaroo) until your baby arrives. As you get to know your baby (or will be able to try out gadgets that friends have) you’ll learn what they like and don’t like in terms of movements and what calms them.
- And on that note, stay away from the baby clothes section in stores! Baby things are so cute and it’s hard to resist buying them, especially if they are right there in front of you.
- Skip sleepers with buttons. Zippers or knotted gowns are truly where it’s at. You will thank yourself during 2am feedings and diaper changes for not having to button a million buttons.
- And on that note, get footed sleepers! My son’s feet get cold at night which makes our footless sleepers useless for overnight sleeping.
- If you don’t have footed sleepers, you can still use them by putting socks on baby first to make your own “feet.”
- Take advantage of deals on diapers. Costco has huge boxes of diapers, Amazon has a subscribe and save discount, and Target often does a buy two get a gift card bonus deal. Those savings add up!
- Buy wipes in bulk (you’ll be using them for a long time) and they are cheaper in bulk than smaller packs.
- One pack of swaddle blankets is really all you need. We still use ours for the stroller and car seat so they’ll come in handy for a while!
- Skip the baby shoes until they’re older. Shoes restrict baby’s ability to learn how to walk and aren’t really necessary. We mostly used socks when we needed to and had a couple of pairs of gifted shoes on hand for the occasions that called for them (like dinner at a restaurant or family photos) but I hardly ever but my son in shoes.
- With socks, invest in ones with grips on the bottom so that they can use them as they start walking and you won’t have to buy more than one kind.
- Keep extras in your car for just in case. You may not have restocked the diaper bag fully after your last outing and find yourself without wipes in a parking lot (it’s happened to us, ha). Having an extra bag with some diapers, wipes, an outfit or two, and some snacks can save you stress and money.
- Call the nurses line at your doctor’s office if you have questions. You might need to not set up an appointment which can save you a co-pay (but also time off of work and transportation, etc).
- Skip infant bedding other than a crib sheet. They don’t need pillows or blankets.
- Baby proof your house early. Not only does this reduce stress and the potential cost of accidents but it gives your baby a safe place to explore. Outlet covers are pretty cheap and you can move dangerous things to a couple of locked cabinets and leave the others open for baby to play with.
- Some people make their own wipes to cut costs.
- Cloth diapering is also popular to cut costs and reduce waste as well.
- Get blackout curtains in a solid color for the room baby is sleeping in instead of buying cuter but less opaque designs. Save yourself the cost of buying two sets of curtains.
- Get one set of really absorbent bibs for baby to wear. These are handy for when they are having milk and teething. But don’t waste money on cute bibs that won’t soak up anything at all.
- It’s up to your preferences, of course, but I love baby wearing. You can test out different carriers at BuyBuyBaby and Nordstrom with your baby to see which is most comfortable and supportive for you. Here’s a list of the best carriers for nursing.
- Buy generic brands if you can! Most of the time the ingredients are the same as name brands.
- Skip a fancy thermometer. the most accurate way to get a baby’s temperature is with a rectal thermometer.
- Get a changing pad you can sanitize and wipe down instead of a soft one that you have to wash.
- Instead of buying specialty items for baby, consider what you can use for yourself and baby like lotions, soaps, etc.
- Use socks instead of splurging on special baby mittens.
- Skip a bottle warmer and just use warm water from the tap in a mug to warm up bottles.
- Use extra or unfinished breastmilk in baby’s bath. It’s great for their skin and baby acne too.
- Skip buying a ton of baby blankets — you really will almost never use them.
- I wouldn’t buy too many swaddles until you know what your baby likes. Most babies do like being swaddled but with different levels of tightness. You might be able to achieve a perfect swaddle with a blanket (this worked for us and we didn’t need any specialty swaddles for our son).
- Join a local moms or parenting group for in-person support and camaraderie.
How To Save Money As Your Baby Grows
- Use Facebook to swap gently used baby gear with local moms.
- Find local libraries and free play spots instead of cluttering up your home with a ton of toys.
- Check out local consignment shops for the next size up of clothing.
- Don’t buy clothes until you absolutely need them! There’s no sense in buying a winter coat for example unless you know it will fit perfectly for the time frame you need it in.
- When you start solids, research baby led weaning or combo feeding to avoid having to buy pricey purees.
- If you have a blender already, you can easily make your own purees at home by steaming and blending them instead of buying them in the store.
- As you introduce table food, just give baby food from your plate instead of doing a separate meal just for them.
- For an easy DIY toy cleaner, combine water and white vinegar in a 1:1 ratio in a spray bottle. Spray the toys and wipe down or rinse if preferred and there you go!
- There’s no need to buy a ton of baby toys. There are plenty of things you can do around your house and DIY to help them build their skills. Check out our Lovevery Play Kit Review here.
- If you want to splurge on a high chair, I recommend the Tripp Trapp Chair from Stokke. But if not, the IKEA high chair is a super steal (at about $25) and works extremely well. It’s also easy to clean!
- Put them in a sightly oversized t-shirt at meal times to protect their clothes. You don’t need to get special bibs.
- Give baby “toys” from around the house like pans and spoons from the kitchen.
- Don’t get too many extra crib/bassinet sheets. I would say 2-3 are all you need as long as you regularly do laundry.
- If you’re flying with baby, they can be a lap infant up to age two. By the time my son is a year old, he will have been on 11 flights (including a helicopter ride). The majority of these flights have been cross-country so we have always purchased him a seat and put his car seat in it. We use the Alaska Airlines companion fare to reduce the cost of his ticket. His seat does cost us extra but it has been worth it.
- Spend time singing and conversing with your baby — you don’t need to spend tons on toys that do this when real human interaction is excellent for them.
- Skip specialty infant toothbrushes and just use a washcloth until you can use a normal (but toddler-sized) smaller toothbrush.
- Go straight to an open cup or straw cup instead of trying tons of cups. It will take practice but exposure and modeling is the best way for little ones to learn in most cases.
- I haven’t reached this stage yet but get a small sturdy stool for the bathroom for potty training.
- Also get a mattress protector for accidents during potty training. They’re bound to happen but it will save your baby’s mattress.
- I bought three plates (one for breakfast, one for lunch, and one for dinner) so I only need to wash my son’s eating supplies once a day. But realistically starting with plates that everyone else at the table is using is the best way to get them used to learning the eating skill.
- Swap childcare with your friends for date night! One Saturday you can go out while your friends watch the kids and then trade next week. It’s a win-win.
- If you want to stretch sizes, you can turn older onesies into t-shirts with a some scissors, needle, and thread.
- Make your own DIY sensory bags with Ziploc bags and items from around your house. This is a great activity for growing babes and costs nearly nothing. Just google for DIY sensory bag ideas!
- Check out free playgrounds and parks near you for fun outdoor spaces.
- Turn your furniture into a maze or a fort for a fun rainy day activity.
- Sign up for store emails with a junk email address you don’t check often. This way you won’t be tempted to shop when you don’t need anything but if you are shopping for something in particular, you can check your email for current promotions.
- Skip buying a baby bath tub and just use the sink until you feel comfortable to safely bathe them in the bathtub.
- Get a splash mat or an old rug to put under your dining table to protect your floors as baby learns to eat — this can safe you money on removing stains or damage down the road.
- Use cloth napkins for clean up after meal times.
- Get passes to local attractions like the zoo or botanical gardens so you can take your kids frequently for a one-time cost.
Hopefully these will give you some ideas on how to save money when you have a baby! You quickly learn as a parent that what you actually need after baby is here can be totally different from what you *thought* you needed or wanted before your child was born. You also learn that they grow fast and some things are worth investing in where other things aren’t.
You can’t always get your money back once you’ve spent it so practicing good spending habits during this time of your life is a must.
Do you have tips for saving money money with a baby? Leave them in the comments below!