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Having a new baby is an incredibly exciting time, but it can also be very overwhelming trying to figure out what you need and how to budget for your little bundle of joy. Believe it or not, though, having a new baby doesn’t have to be expensive. If you commit to not overspending or buying unnecessary items, you can have a baby on any budget.
When we were getting ready to have our first child, we were ‘in the red’ every single month with our spending. We knew we weren’t going to be buying the latest and greatest Pottery Barn baby furniture since we just couldn’t afford it without going into debt.
We were able to welcome our baby boy into this world with everything he needed while sticking to our budget with a little bit of creativity and planning.
20 Ways to Budget for a Baby
1. Create a Sinking Fund for Labor and Delivery
Many doctors offices will allow you to make monthly payments on the estimated cost of your baby’s birth throughout your pregnancy. This can help spread out the expense over a 9-10 month period so that you aren’t hit with everything at one time.
If your doctors office is not willing to do this or you’d rather not pay before the birth, I recommend starting a sinking fund for the birth costs. A sinking fund is a savings account where you put small amounts each month or paycheck towards an anticipated or known expense.
Talk to your insurance company to find out what a typical vaginal and c-section birth would cost out-of-pocket since it’s different based on your insurance provider.
If you don’t have health insurance, start talking about payment with your doctors office from the beginning so that you have a plan in place.
2. Create a Capsule Wardrobe for You and Baby
All those adorable baby clothes are crazy tempting, but your baby is going to be growing out of things quickly. Not to mention that they’re just going to spit up and poop all over that $40 outfit!
Creating a capsule wardrobe that you can mix and match together is a great way to add some variety to their outfits without spending a bunch of money.
Purchase neutral colored pants and onesies that you can put together in a variety of ways.
The same holds true for your own maternity and postpartum wardrobe. Your size is going to change quite a bit during this time, so invest in clothing items that can be mixed and matched easily.
Set a clothing budget and stick to it. Shop the sales racks, borrow maternity clothes from friends and family, or buy second hand.
3. Buy Used or Borrow
Baby furniture like cribs, bassinets, dressers, and nursing chairs can add up quickly. Buying these items used can save you hundreds of dollars.
We purchased every single piece of furniture used when we had our first baby, and we were still able to use all of it for all 3 of our children.
Places to look for second hand items include:
- Facebook marketplace
- Garage Sales
- Neighborhood Facebook pages
- Secondhand stores
- Asking friends and family
Another great option is to borrow from friends and family. Many baby items like bumbo seats and play mats are only used for a very short period of time. Find someone you know whose baby has outgrown these items to see if you can borrow them.
If you plan on pumping breastmilk at all, borrow a pump from a friend and just purchase the accessories. You can also ask your hospital if they rent breast pumps.
4. Buy Minimal and Simple Toys
I can’t tell you how many little toys and rattles we had that none of our babies even touched. Young babies just don’t care that much about toys. Don’t clutter your space and spend your money on something that will never get used.
Ask friends what their babies used and buy a few simple items.
5. Stock Your Freezer with Prepared Meals
Having freezer meals prepared and ready to go is the best gift you can give yourself. My mother-in-law and I worked together to stock my freezer before our second and third babies were born, and those freezer meals lasted us for months.
If you want to make it easy, I highly recommend Freezeasy. The Freezeasy system lets you choose the meals you want, create a shopping list, and provides step-by-step instructions for creating and freezing all of your meals.
They even give you labels that you can print out and attach to the meals.
If you want to learn more about Freezer Cooking, Freezeasy provides a Freezer Cooking 101 Workshop that is great.
6. Use a Baby Cost Calculator
If you feel completely clueless about what a baby actually costs in their first year of life, I recommend using the Baby Cost Calculator. This cost calculator will help you get an idea of what to expect based on whether or not you use childcare, breastfeed versus using formula, and what accessories you buy.
7. Find Ways to Work from Home
With the cost of day care, commuting to work, and a professional wardrobe, going back to work after baby doesn’t always make sense. This is especially true when you are able to find an opportunity to work from home.
Some great ways for moms to make money from home include:
- Starting a blog
- Use your camera skills and start a photography business
- Create an online shop or sell on Etsy
- Start a subscription box business full of products you personally love
- Offer a service (ie. graphic design, freelance writing, virtual assistant, Pinterest Management)
- Start a direct sales business
Related: 7 Best Work from Home Jobs for Moms
8. Buy on Clearance
You have 9 months to stalk the sales and clearance sections. Don’t impulse buy or rush to make decisions.
When Winter clothes go on sale, for example, estimate how old your baby will be when they need those items and buy accordingly.
You can also wait for big sales days like Memorial Day or Black Friday to make larger purchases.
9. Use Cash Back Sites for All Purchases
My favorite site is Ebates for getting cash back on my online purchases. Ebates covers thousands of stores, so you’ll probably be able to find the one you’re looking for.
All you do is go to Ebates.com, find the store you want, and then shop as usual. You’ll receive cash back just for shopping as you normally would.
You can even make your purchase online and do an in-store pick-up if you don’t want to wait or pay for shipping.
10. Ask for Grocery and Restaurant Gift Cards
We received a few grocery and restaurant gift cards after our babies were born, and it was amazing.
We were able to save money on food so we could allocate that part of our budget to other expenses. It also made those sleepless first days easier not having to worry about grocery shopping and make meals.
I would choose grocery and restaurant gift cards over baby blankets at a baby shower any day!
11. Have a Friend Set Up a Meal Train
Have you ever been part of a meal train? They are an amazing way to support anyone during a major life transition.
Friends and family sign up to bring you a meal on a certain day immediately following the birth of your new baby. You have dinner delivered directly to your door so you don’t have to worry about meals in those first days home.
Sites like Meal Train allow people to sign up for days and tell you what they are bringing. It also enables you to enter any special dietary considerations.
12. Cut Your Grocery Spending
When anyone tells me that they need to reduce their expenses, groceries and food is the first place I tell people to look in their budget. It tends to be the category that most people can have the biggest impact on.
I recommend taking some time in the months leading up to your baby’s birth to create a meal plan. After the meal train has ended and the freezer meals are gone, you can reduce grocery spending and save time by having a meal plan ready to go.
I created a month long meal plan before each of our babies were born.
Download theMeal Planning Guide
Free monthly calendar, weekly meal planner, freezer + pantry inventory, family favorites meal list, and shopping list.
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13. Breastfeed If You Can
I know this is not an option for everyone, but one way to save hundreds (and maybe thousands) per year is to breastfeed as long as possible.
Formula costs add up quickly in your baby’s first year, while breastfeeding is free.
I used to always joke that I didn’t love breastfeeding, but I loved free food!
Take advantage of lactation support while you’re at the hospital and ask about ways you can receive support after you are discharged. Also, research lactation support in your community. There was a store in our area after my first baby was born that allowed you to come weigh your baby before and after a feeding to make sure they were getting enough. That same store had a weekly breastfeeding support group for new moms.
If breastfeeding is something you want to do, you don’t have to do it alone.
14. Make Your Own Baby Food
I was constantly buying pre-made baby food and baby food pouches for our oldest child, and the cost of those convenient pouches adds up fast! I got a lot wiser with my next two kids and did a combination of baby led weaning and making my own purees.
I’m not an expert, but these are some of the sites that I visited to find information and recipes:
- Feeding Littles is my favorite site for all things baby led weaning
- Mama Natural has a great breakdown of how to do baby led weaning
- Inspiralized Kids has a ton of amazing recipes
- Oh Baby Nutrition has an academy along with great guides for first foods
15. Don’t Stock Up on Diapers
I’m a huge fan of buying in bulk, but I never recommend buying diapers in bulk for a new baby.
You won’t know for certain what size diaper your baby will need immediately after they are born. Newborns also grow out of their initial diaper size quickly. You don’t want to have a huge stockpile of a size that you’ll never need or only need for a week.
I recommend having one pack of newborn diapers at home ready to go but unopened so you can return them if you don’t need them. The hospital will also let you take some diapers home, so you can shop for the correct size once you return home.
16. Return Unwanted Gifts
Most people will provide a gift receipt for baby shower gifts. Don’t just keep those gifts in your home cluttering your space. Return your unwanted gifts for cash back or to get items that you actually need.
17. Avoid Keeping Up with the Jones’
We moved to Southern California right after our first baby was born and were immediately surrounded by people who had a lot more money than us (or at least tried to look like they did). There were fancy strollers and diaper bags every where. I went to several first birthday parties where people spent thousands of dollars to make it magical (for example: someone in a mermaid costume swimming in their pool!).
You may not be surround with quite the extreme, but it can be easy to compare yourself with what others are doing or their nicely decorated nurseries. Try to avoid keeping up with others’ spending habits. Time is so fleeting and your baby DOES NOT care how fancy their first birthday party is or how their nursery is decorated.
18. Find Low Cost Alternatives for Infant Photos
Photography can get pretty expensive, and this can go hand in hand with #17 above. I know it’s trendy to have professional photos taken of your newborn, but these photos can cost $500-1000.
I am a huge believer in investing in memories, but we just didn’t have the budget to go overboard on professional photos. A few ways to get infant photos done without breaking the bank could include:
- asking for infant photography on your baby shower registry- multiple people can pool their money together to go towards this cost
- find a newer, less experienced photographer who is looking to build their portfolio and is willing to take photos at a lower price point
- trade services with a photographer if you have a skill of value to offer
- take photos yourself
19. Avoid Impractical Items
There are a lot of baby items out there that aren’t very practical or necessary. Someone gifted us a wipes warmer, which was nice but not very practical. When it broke, I never replaced it for our two youngest children. Talk to moms in your circle of friends and family to find out what they actually use every day.
20. Buy Items Your Child Will Grow Into
I tried to buy as many items as I could that our kids would grow into so that we could get good longevity out of our purchases. A few examples include:
- A crib that transitions to a todder bed
- Solid colored blankets and bedding rather than themes/characters
- Car seats that go from rear facing, to forward facing, to booster seat
- A high chair that fits both smaller babies and larger toddlers
- Strollers that lean back for infants and sit up straight for older children
- Baby carriers that allow you to carry a baby/toddler facing your chest, facing out, and on your back
It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed with all of the things people and advertisers tell you that you NEED for your baby. The reality is that babies don’t need very much and your best resource for what you do need are the experienced parents who have gone before you!
Have a question about baby items? Ask it below, and I’ll give you my thoughts based on surviving the baby years three times!!
Other Posts You Might Like:
- 35 Ways to Live on One Income (and be a Stay-at-Home Mom)
- 10 Frugal Tips for Saving Money on Household Products
- Budget Basics: How to Create a Family Budget that is Simple and Livable
- The Budget Binder that Transformed Our Finances [Free 25-Page Ultimate Budget Binder download]
Resources I Love
Ebates: Ebates is a total no-brainer for saving money when shopping online. Every time you shop online, click on a store through Ebates to receive cash back on all of your purchases. Get $10 after your first $25 purchase when you use my link.
Ibotta: Ibotta is my favorite app for saving money on groceries without clipping coupons. Get cash back on your groceries just by uploading your receipts. Get $5 just for signing up when you click on my link.
$5 Dollar Dinners: If you love the idea of a meal plan but hate actually creating one, I highly recommend $5 Dollar Dinners. Erin outlines amazing meal plans on a budget.
MyFreezEasy: If you love freezer cooking or are interested in using it as part of your meal planning system, the MyFreezEasy shop is the place to start. Erin lists out all of her favorite tools, freezer meals plans, and more for making it as simple and budget-friendly as possible.
Real Plans: Real plans is an amazing meal planning resource, particularly for families with special diets. Real Plans helps you quickly create a meal plan based on the types of foods your family likes to eat and/or dietary restrictions.
Thrive Market: I order most of my pantry staples from Thrive Market. Think Costco meets Whole Foods with thousands of healthy food and personal care items. Get 1 month free PLUS 25% off your first order when you go through my link.