Budgeting Tips for New Parents

Congratulations on becoming a new parent! As exciting as this new chapter in your life may be, it’s also likely to come with its fair share of financial stress. When you give birth for the first time, you’ll feel the need to provide all the best for your baby. If you’re not careful, every dollar you own will fly away – to the drugstore, the pediatrician, the groceries, and any store that sells cute baby clothes. You probably already know that your little bundle can cost you big, but you may not realize how much once you’re already spending a lot.

From diapers to daycare, the expenses can add up quickly. Depending on your spending habits, lifestyle, and childcare needs, you’ll likely shell out between $7,000 to $14,6000 between today and your baby’s second birthday. But don’t worry; there are plenty of ways to save money and make your new parenthood experience more affordable.

Here are some budget-saving tips for new parents:

Ask for samples at the hospital

Manufacturers often give out freebies in maternity wards, but the hospital staff might need more time to remember to give them away. You may ask your nurse if some freebies or coupons for baby stuff are lying around the hospital.

Take the toiletries home

Often, you can keep some goodies from your stay at the hospital – it’s probably included in the things you paid for. The cabinet beneath the rolling bassinet may have diapers, alcohol swabs, swaddling cloths, nasal aspirators, disposable nipples, thermometers, and more. Take them home (ask for permission first), and you’ll save $40 later for the things you may otherwise spend at the drugstore.

Buy secondhand baby items

a baby stroller with a teddy bear sitting

Babies grow out of things quickly, so buying everything new doesn’t make sense. Look for gently used items like clothes, toys, and baby gear online or in consignment shops. You’ll likely find a parent selling their slightly used cribs or strollers, which still work and look perfectly fine.

Buy multi-purpose items

Look for baby furniture and accessories that do double duty. Opt for baby stuff like a crib that can be transformed into playpens or toddler cribs, high chairs that can be converted into a booster seat and a regular chair, a changing table that doubles as a storage unit, and car seats that function as carriers.

Also, check the things you already own that can be used for your baby instead of buying something new. For example, you can relocate a comfy chair or a couch that’s not used all the time to the nursery instead of buying a rocking chair dedicated to nursing. You may have extra shelving units, dressers, or drawer space for storing their clothes, toys, and books.

Don’t turn down hand-me-downs

a woman smiling while holding a baby’s top

Friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues may have a slightly older child with baby clothes to pass on. If they voluntarily give them to you, then accept them gladly. Some may need to be asked but would be thrilled to give their kids’ clothing a second life. Unless they are too sentimental, you will even be of help to them by reducing their clutter in the house.

Aim to breastfeed

a baby breastfeeding

There are many ways to feed a baby, and fed is best. But as much as possible, aim to breastfeed your baby, especially for the first six months of their life. There are a lot of advantages to breastfeeding: it’s a great way to bond with your baby, give them optimum nutrition needed for their growth and development, and it’s also free! Nursing can pose a struggle and difficulty for first-time moms, but once you get the hang of it, this feeding method becomes easy and convenient. There’s no need to buy bottles and other feeding supplies; they will always be ready for your baby as needed. Even if you choose to breastfeed part-time or pump, you’ll still save money.

If you’re unable to breastfeed, consider formula feeding in bulk to save money. Formula milk can be very pricey, so once you have tried the doctor-recommended brand for your little one and your baby responds well to it, buy them in bulk. But when trying out a new formula, don’t buy in bulk right away, as some babies may react poorly to some types of milk.

Breastfeed longer, if possible

Experts say breast milk is best for babies up to two years old; if you can do that, it would be very cost-effective. Some mothers still breastfeed their babies until preschool age, as long as they still want to nurse. For babies six months old and above, you’ll have to supplement with solid foods – but still, if the milk is free, you’ll be saving thousands for their first two years.

Sometimes, you will eventually have to wean your baby from your breasts but don’t stop it earlier than necessary. Wait at least a year before weaning to give them the best shot at a healthy life.

Don’t rush to buy breastfeeding clothes

If you choose to breastfeed, nursing bras may be the only purchase you need. Maternity clothing and regular clothes can do it unless you’re always bringing your baby out of the house with you and need faster breast access. But loose-fitting tops, flowing blouses, or button-down shirts are already great options, and you probably already own these clothing items. Large scarves and your baby’s swaddling clothes can work as nursing covers. If you like wearing dresses, it gives you a reason to buy breastfeeding clothes, but it’s still a matter of preference between fashion and what will save you money.

Also, if you ask around friends and family who have recently stopped nursing, you’ll likely find one who will be happy to pass on their breastfeeding clothes.

Don’t buy too many baby clothes and toys

a smiling baby on a pile of laundry

Baby clothes look adorable, and it’s tempting to buy anything that you feel may look cute on your baby. But these little humans do not need a ton of outfits, and they’re likely to get covered in spit-ups or diaper leaks anyway. They grow out of it too quickly (especially in their first year of life), so you need only to provide a few pairs of everything. So, save the fancy and expensive clothing for later on or for special occasions, like their first birthday.

The same thing goes for toys. Buy stuff as they develop in stages. This way, you can also see what toys would most likely interest them instead of buying things that will only end up as clutter because they don’t like playing with them. Remember, babies are often excited by anything new, so with little toys and some imagination, you can create stimulating experiences for them. Some babies are even more interested in common household items like cups, spoons, and pillows rather than toys!

Buy clothes as they grow

Avoid buying baby clothes too far in advance, particularly anything seasonal, like swimwear and winter coats. Newborns grow at different rates, and their ages won’t always match up with how baby clothes are typically sized. Also, they might zoom through a certain size or stay long in one before experiencing a sudden growth spurt. For example, you may buy a swimsuit sized for 3-6 months, but your newborn might grow bigger than most of her peers, and it may not fit her anymore come summertime.

Don’t buy them shoes

a woman holding a pair of baby shoes

Leave it all to gift-givers who are excited to dress up your tot. But as a parent, you shouldn’t spend any money on footwear for your infant. Babies won’t be standing anytime soon and learn to walk faster if barefooted indoors. Baby shoes also often tend to fall off, so there’s a decent chance you’ll lose one or both in no time. Instead, dress their feet up with soft booties or cute socks to keep your baby’s feet warm when you’re outside. Your baby will only need shoes when they are around one year old, and even then, avoid the temptation to buy them different kinds of shoes. Just the basics will suffice as their feet grow too quickly at this age.

Create a baby registry

Register for the things you need on your baby registry so that family and friends can gift them to you. This can help you avoid purchasing unnecessary items, prevent gift-givers from buying things you don’t need, and you can also use completion discounts to buy any remaining items at a discount.

Make your own baby food

an assortment of fruit and vegetable puree

Making your own baby food may sound intimidating, but it’s basically just cooking, cutting, or mashing a range of veggies, fruits, and meats. If you have the time, mashing steamed potato, banana, avocado, or zucchini is usually not a hassle. It’s fresher, healthier, and also cheaper than buying pre-made food. You can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk and puree them at home.

Making your own baby food becomes even more cost-effective if you set aside some of the ingredients you’re using for dinner into a meal for your baby.

Try before you buy in multiples or in bulk

a woman buying diaper for future use

Buy just one or two of something, or try a small pack before buying a bunch. For instance, there might be a feeding bottle that has lots of great reviews, but your baby may want to avoid drinking from them. The leading diaper brand (which can be expensive) may cause irritation to your baby. The same goes for wipes, baby bath soap, baby detergent, baby care products, pacifiers, and toys.

To avoid buying a lot of stuff that your baby might eventually reject, try the free samples at baby fairs. When you’re still pregnant, try attending some of these fairs in your area, and they would be happy to provide free samples. You can also tap your network of family and friends who might be outgrowing some items, so you can check them out before you head for the stores.

And when you have already tried the best brand that works for your baby, that’s the time when you can buy them in bulk. Stuff like diapers, wipes, baby wash, and other products it’s good to buy in bulk

Consider cloth diapers

Cloth diapers are more environmentally friendly than disposable diapers, and they can also save you money in the long run. While there is a higher initial upfront cost, cloth diapers can be reused and washed over and over again, saving you money every month. Even if you use cloth diapers part-time (like using disposable diapers overnight or when out of the house), you will still save a significant amount of money – plus, you won’t see it literally turned into trash.

Keep a diaper bag in your car

a mother placing a baby bag in her car

Stock your car with a bag of baby needs, like at least two diapers, a travel pack of wipes, extra outfits, rash ointment, and snacks. This way, whenever you forget to pack a bag for an outing or when you need to run out quickly with your baby, you won’t end up buying one or all of these items on an ala-carte basis, which can be costly.

Use coupons and deals

Look for deals and coupons online or in-store to save on baby items like diapers, wipes, and formula. You can also sign up for rewards programs at your favorite stores to earn discounts and freebies. Even if you prefer to shop online, online stores also offer exclusive coupons and discounts for moms if you sign up for their mom club.

Plan ahead

Planning ahead can help you save money on things like childcare, vacations, and holiday gifts. Consider making a budget and setting aside money each month to help cover these expenses when they arise. This way, you won’t blow off your budget on times like these. It’s also preferable to keep a separate savings account for these funds.

Take advantage of free resources

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars for baby classes. Many communities offer free resources for new parents, like parenting classes, support groups, and even baby gear exchanges. Look for these resources in your area to help save money and connect with other parents. Some libraries offer virtual story times, while some community centers offer free or low-cost classes for little ones.