7 Ways to Budget with a Baby
As a first time parent I found myself wanting everything on the shelves for my little one. I also quickly suffered from sticker shock while registering for my baby shower! I’ve made a few mistakes as purchases go but I’ve found several tricks to having a baby while still living frugally.
1) Avoid Buying new!
Your family members and friends whose baby days are over will more often than not have items they will be more than happy to hand over. So ask around! I received a cradle, a bouncer, a baby swing, clothing and several other items for free which saved me hundreds of dollars.
There is also huge savings to be had by shopping for second hand items at consignment stores, online and at yard sales. Most baby items will be nearly new anyway.
Items to avoid getting second hand, and worth splurging on, include crib mattresses and car seats. Not doing so could pose a serious risk to your baby. Pass on any hand me downs for these two items unless you are fully aware of their history.
2) Shop Online
If you aren’t comfortable with second hand items or are looking for items that need to be bought new then definitely consider shopping online to find amazing deals! For example, ParentsCanada magazine has a daily deal site, Sweet Deals, which often feature baby items at blowout prices. You can find items cheaper than second hand if you are a smart shopper. I spotted a $169 Video Baby Monitor for only $79 under their more sweet deals section. That is an incredible deal I wish had been around when I was in the market for one since I spent $100 on a used monitor!
3) Infant Feeding
Breastfeeding has many health advantages for both mom and baby but there is a financial advantage as well as it is free! I am always shocked at the costs of formula and feel very lucky to have been able to successfully breastfeed my daughter.
For those unable to breastfeed, look online for a “baby club” sponsored by the formula company of your choice. They will send you free samples as well as money saving coupons which may even be sent monthly.
4) Homemade Foods
Once it is time to introduce food you should consider homemade baby food. Jarred baby food is expensive even when on sale while homemade is simple to make and gives you more control over what your baby is eating. It requires a blender or food processor, a steamer or pot, ice cube trays and freezer bags. It is a simple process to steam vegetables or poach meats and then puree for your baby. With a few dollars’ worth of meat and produce you can freeze a month or twos supply of food in less than 30 minutes.
5) Items to Skip
If you aren’t sure if you are going to need it then don’t buy it! You can always buy it later if the need arises. Some items you will most likely want to think twice about include baby baths, bath thermometers, scratch mittens, change tables, and gliders.
Adult bath tubs are baby safe as long as you draw a shallow bath for her to lie in and of course never leave her alone. Your elbow is an effective thermometer and works just as well or better than bath thermometers – the temperature is perfect when you submerge your elbow and it feels either neutral or slightly warm. Socks can easily double as scratch mittens and are far more functional. Your bed is a perfect surface combined with a change mat for diaper changes; you could also opt for a change pad secured to a dresser. Gliders look great, but generally will not get used as much as you think.
When it comes to crib sets just avoid! Oh so cute with a comforter, fitted sheet, bumper and skirt. However that comforter and bumper are not recommended for use due to the risk of SIDS. While the skirt looks lovely in a crib, it is definitely not a very practical item. The only item that is truly useful is the fitted crib sheet included which can be purchased for $20 or under!
6) Cloth Diapers and Wipes
Cloth diapers are a steeper initial investment but offer really huge long-term savings. This option is becoming really popular again and definitely worth considering.
If the idea of more laundry is not appealing to you then buy your diapers in the largest size box. Look out for coupons to get dollars off per package bought and look out for specials to combine the coupons with. Figure out the best deal by comparing price per diaper, currently a really good deal worth stocking up on is at 15 cents or less per diaper.
A wet washcloth works just as well if not better than commerciallysold baby wipes. Baby wipes, even the ones labeled as sensitive are full of chemicals and can still irritate a baby’s skin. Set aside a stack of cloths for this purpose and simply wet with water when needed or search online for homemade solutions to soak them in. The key with this is to always dry your baby’s bottom with a dry cloth after the wet one.
7) Baby Showers
We are very lucky in Canada that Baby Showers are the norm. Take advantage of it! When making your baby registry do not be afraid to add needed big ticket items such as travel systems. Often your workplace or groups of your family and friends will be happy to put in together to get these items for you. Don’t go crazy listing 5 different types of washcloths or other small ticket items. I made that mistake and ended up, and no exaggeration here, with over 200 baby washcloths.
8) Cost-Effective Wardrobe
Babies grow fast so don’t invest in hoards of clothes all in one size, this is especially true for the newborn size. Do not invest in higher ticket items such as winter coats too far ahead as chances are they might not fit. Choose gender neutral as much as possible if you plan on having future children to maximise hand-me downs. Again, second hand can bring you huge savings so ask your family and friends, check consignment stores and mom to mom sales to fill out your baby’s wardrobe. Chances are most used clothing will have barely been worn and nobody will know!
If you do get new clothes do not wash them all and do keep the tags on until the clothes are needed in case they get outgrown before they are needed.