Yes, you can have a baby on a budget! While it’s definitely true that having a baby can be expensive, it doesn’t have to make you broke!
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I was really worried about having the money to buy everything I “needed” and still managing to survive a year long maternity leave with minimal pay.
If you are on a budget and worried about the added costs of raising a child, fear not, there are a ton of easy ways to cut the cost of having a baby while still providing your little one with everything they need.
Also bear in mind that the studies showing the average cost of raising a child are definitely at the higher end of things and most certainly not focussed on the more frugal moms and dads among us.
With the tips below, you will see that it’s pretty easy to save serious money on everything baby from diapers to baby clothes.
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20 Ways To Have A Baby On A Budget
1. Start planning for baby as soon as you get pregnant
Some people like to buy a gift card every pay-check to offset the cost of diapers and wipes when baby arrives. You could also start a savings account and transfer some money each month.
2. Create a baby budget
Compile a list of things that you want/need and add in an estimated cost for each item based on the retail price. If you receive something as a gift or get a good deal mark it down to keep track. This is what I did and it helped me stay on track with spending.
3. Get your hands on as many baby freebies as you can.
The best ways to do this is to take advantage of online freebies that you can apply for from the baby product manufacturers. For example, baby bottle companies will often send you samples if you just ask!
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4. Ask Your OB or Pediatrician for free samples.
I got free diapers, formula and infant Tylenol for free at my doctor’s office. This is especially useful if your baby needs a special formula for allergies as those can cost a lot of money and doctors often get a lot of freebies.
5. Buy Second-Hand
Considering many babies are out of newborn clothes within a week or two and use a swing or rocker for a matter of weeks, you can often get second -hand baby gear in like-new condition for a fraction of the cost of retail.
Don’t get caught up in the mindset that everything has to be new for your baby. As long as your baby gear is safe and clean, that’s all that baby really cares about!
Many Facebook buy and sell groups have lots of baby clothes for sell, often in big lots for $10 or $20 dollars. These are a great way to kit out your baby on a budget.
There’s nothing wrong with thrift shopping for babies. Yes, their skin is sensitive, but with diligent cleaning and a careful eye when purchasing, baby will be perfectly healthy wearing or using previously used items.
Bear in mind that most baby clothes are only used a couple of times before they are outgrown meaning that it is easy to find quality, barely used clothes.
Note: There are some items that shouldn’t be purchased secondhand. These include car seats (you can’t guarantee the history), baby bottles and plush toys, as they can be hard to truly decontaminate.
6. Attend Baby Shows
Baby shows are a great way to check out the latest and greatest baby stuff.
They are also fantastic for free samples. If you really want to max out either go at the very beginning of the show when the vendors are all stocked up on freebies or at the very end when they are trying to get rid of their stock.
I got a huge package of diapers once just for showing up at the end of the show.
7. Join Freecycle and Other Freebie Sites
Make the most of freebie sites that offer unwanted items for no cost! Many people want to know that their items will be reused and loved instead of ending up in a landfill and are happy to give them to you for free.
8. Research your purchases
It’s easy to get caught up in only wanting the best for your new baby.
Just remember that baby gear is all held to the same rigorous safety standards: Safety-wise, a $500 car seat and a $89 one are exactly the same.
The difference come in extra padding, cup holders and other bells and whistles that are “nice to haves” but not necessary if money is tight.
Cribs are another item that does the same job whether it is a $100 Ikea one or a $700 designer model. Unfortunately, babies don’t necessarily sleep better in the expensive beds!
One resource I really liked when looking for baby gear is the Baby Bargains Book.This is a comprehensive consumer review book that compares different baby items and tells you which ones are best for different budgets.
A new edition is published every year ensuring it is up-to-date.
It covers topics such as:
- BEST BET PICKS for cribs, car seats, strollers, high chairs, diapers and more!
- CHEAT SHEETS for your baby registry―create a baby registry in minutes with our good, better, best ideas.
- SEVEN THINGS no one tells you about baby gear, from nursery furniture to feeding baby.
- THE TRUTH ABOUT STROLLERS―and which brands work best in the real world.
- Dozens of SAFETY TIPS to keep baby safe and affordably baby proof your home.
- DETAILED CHARTS that compare brands of cribs, high chairs, car seats and more.
Read more about Baby Bargains Book here
9. Use Your Health Insurance
Breastfeeding is completely free but if you need a breast pump for pumping at work or on the go, make sure to check to see if you can get a free one through your insurer first.
You may also be able to get your prenatal vitamins covered if your doctor provides a prescription.
10. Take Advantage of Registry Completion offers
Even if you are not having a baby shower, consider creating a baby registry to make the most of completion offers.
You will also get FREE 90-day returns on Baby Store purchases. The great thing about the Amazon Baby registry is that it’s universal – add items to an Amazon Baby Registry from any site.
11. Apply For Formula Freebies
This one is a bit controversial but I do believe that it’s worth applying for the formula samples even if you plan on breastfeeding.
Firstly, there are often extra freebies with the samples such as diaper bags, change pads and bottles.
Secondly, you never know if you will need some formula on hand or if breastfeeding does not work for whatever reason. Having some formula stashed can help in a pinch.
Check my baby freebies list for companies that will send you free formula
12. Consider Pumping
If breastfeeding is a struggle but you don’t want to or can’t afford to use formula, consider exclusive pumping. I did it for 6 months with my second daughter and estimate that I saved over $600 that I would have spent on formula.
Pumping can be a lot of work so make sure to check out my tips for successful exclusive pumping.
13. Trade With Other Moms
Join Mom 2 Mom groups on Facebook and trade your unwanted baby gear for new stuff. I once traded a walker for the $200 swing I was coveting.
I’ve also traded diapers for formula from moms who bought too much or whose babies couldn’t take a certain kind that they had bought. This is a great way to get stuff for free and declutter at the same time!
14. Accept Hand-me-downs
If someone offers you hand-me-down clothes or baby gear, accept! You will be surprised at how many outfits a little baby can go through in a day and the less laundry you have to do, the better!
Even if the clothes aren’t your favorite style or brand, kids need play clothes for daycare and playing outside so you will always get use out of their stuff.
15. Borrow Items from Friends
If you have friends with kids a few years or months older than yours, you may be able to borrow their baby things for a few months.
This will save you money and get the things out of their house!
I lent a ton of baby items such as a bassinet and a baby carrier when my eldest daughter was out of them and before I had my second child. It’s great to get as much uses out of your stuff as possible.
16. Get Free Gift Cards
One of my favourite ways to save money on baby gear is to earn free gift cards that I can use for diapers, wipes or other baby items.
If you have a few minutes to go online each day and complete surveys or watch videos, you can easily make $25-50 a month which will more than pay for a box of diapers a month and mean you are never paying out of pocket!
17. Consider Cloth Diapers
If you plan on having more than one child, cloth diapers may make financial sense.
The initial investment is often large enough that you might not save much money if you only use the diapers with one baby but for more than one, the savings can be huge.
Consider that on average you will be spending $30 a month on disposable diapers for at least 2 years. For one child, that will be $720 and almost $1500 for two kids.
A good cloth diaper stash will cost around $500 so each additional child will be free!
Cloth diapering is not for everyone as it can be a lot of work but if you are committed, it is a great way to save money.
18. Check Consignment Sales
Yard sales and consignment sales can be a goldmine of gently-used children’s clothing and toys.
Go with a list in mind of sizes and seasonal items you are looking for so you don’t get side-tracked and spend more than you planned.
Yard sales in particular are great for kids toys like bikes, push cars and sand tables.
19. Buy Things That Do Double Duty
You don’t necessarily need special clothes and items for every occasion, despite what the magazines may tell you.
Many loose summer dresses are great for nursing and the Liz Lange tanks from Target are awesome for both maternity, nursing and beyond.
20. Turn to your local community
Most municipalities offer a ton of free resources for new moms and moms-to-be. I was able to attend free prenatal classes, a lactation clinic and many many baby & me programs all for free thanks to local libraries and city-run programs.
Check out Youtube for prenatal yoga classes and even workouts you can do with baby.
21. Work with what you have
You may want to decorate a dream-worthy nursery for your newborn. But, if you truly want to have a baby on a budget and not go crazy with overspending, you need to accept the fact that this process is more about you than your baby.
Your baby won’t feel any more privileged by sleeping in a beautiful Instagram-worthy nursery than in a small corner of your bedroom. (And it definitely won’t make them sleep through the night any sooner!).
22. Make the best out of the space
If you do have enough room for a separate nursery, be thrifty. Paint and handmade items can go a lot farther in creating a loving nursery than pricey store-bought décor.
Look for free printables on Pinterest and use Ikea frames to create a look you love.
23. Stockpile before baby arrives
Become a coupon expert now. The earlier you learn how to match sales, customer rewards programs, and coupons, the more money you’ll save in the long run.
Your baby may not be born yet, but it’s best to stockpile on baby food, disposable diapers and wipes when prices are at their absolute lowest. With effective couponing strategies, you may be able to score many items completely free!
You can even get diapers for free using some of my my tricks to save money on diapers easily.
24. Buy expensive
This may seem like a strange tip in a post about having a baby on a budget.
However, spending more money upfront can save you dollars for years to come. Often, you’ll be able to reuse high quality baby supplies with children you have down the line.
A quality stroller with a good warranty could easily last you 7-10 years of non-stop use.
Higher quality items tend to last quite a lot longer than cheap items. Purchase higher quality big ticket items like strollers, and baby mattresses – these are items you’ll use on a routine basis.
If you don’t have the budget for brand new high quality brands, scour second-hand stores and sites for gently used brands. A used High-end brand stroller can often be found at the same price as a lower quality brand new model.
25. Create a registry, and check it twice
Ask and you shall receive; be coy and you will have to pay out-of-pocket. New moms are given baby showers for a reason – to be showered with necessary items for the baby!
Make the most of your registry power by creating two. Create one registry with items that are absolutely essential for baby. And, create a second of items that you would like to have but aren’t necessities.
Remember you can access completion discounts and also get free goodies upon registering.
Ask friends/family members to go in together on big-ticket items, such as cribs, baby swings or strollers. Generally, they’ll spend less than if they were each to purchase a separate gift.
Last Thoughts On Having Baby On A Budget
As mentioned earlier, all of the luxurious purchases that you see in baby magazines and Pinterest are geared towards satisfying the parent.
It’s almost become a competitive rite of passage. You feel as if you must indulge in the flashiest stroller, the top of the line crib, and create a nursery that’s worthy of a spread in “Better Homes & Garden” magazine.
If you can come to terms with the idea that less truly is more in the eyes of your child, you’ll save yourself a world of heartache, financial trouble, and emotional stress.
Focus on the baby’s needs and your bundle of joy can be a lot more joyous!
More Tips For Having Baby On A Budget
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