Friday, February 28, 2014

Ten Easy and Painless Ways to Save Money With a Baby

I know this is totally overdone. You can find the same title on fifty (or a hundred) different pins on Pinterest, but I was just mentally calculating how much we've spent since Wade was born, and I'm kind of amazed at how little it's added up to! Therefore, I've decided to share a little of what I've done to see if I can help anyone else out. They say babies are spendy things, but I very much disagree.

First off: Have a diaper party. 
Yes, instead of a baby shower. Or you can figure out some way to combine the two, but I'd feel a little weird doing that. At a baby shower, it seems that most of the gifts fall into the "fun" or "cute" rather than "useful" category. The premise behind a diaper party is that instead of bringing a gift for the munchkin, each guest brings a package of diapers, in any size, and a book instead of a card. (The second part is optional, but I loved the idea, because I'm a huge reader so I wanted a bunch to read to Wade.) In short, everything is guaranteed to get used, and your husband will thank you every time you open a new pack for thinking of this fabulous way to save money. I had about twenty guests at mine, give or take, and I ended up with more diapers than would fit in my trunk, and they were very well divided between sizes. Three or four brought wipes as well, and I still haven't managed to make it through all of them. As a result, I have yet to buy a single diaper, three and a half months later. I haven't figured out the exact amount I've saved, but my guess would be...a LOT. Oh, and just in case you end up with too many of one size, don't forget that most stores that sell diapers will let you return them (unopened) to exchange for the next size up. I've got an extra pack of newborn and two size ones that I plan to do that with.

Elaine, my midwife, with Wade not long after
he was born.
This isn't for everyone, but midwives are much cheaper than OB/GYN's.
That's not why I used my midwife (it has more to do with a general loathing of hospitals), but when I looked into the average cost of a natural birth with no drugs and a two day stay at a hospital with an OB/GYN (who might be present for an hour of the whole process), I was incredibly glad I went the route I did. The bill for the hospital was usually in the tens of thousands (admittedly it would be mostly covered by insurance, but what happens if you don't have insurance?! Ouch!), and it didn't even include the prenatal care, ultrasounds, or use of an LC. Don't even get me started on C-sections, elective or otherwise. With the midwife, all of my prenatal appointments, ultrasounds, up front LC help and delivery were grouped together as one flat fee. Even before we turned it in to insurance, it was a fraction of the cost of a hospital delivery, and when we were refunded, we ended up paying less than a thousand dollars for the entire nine months. It would have been the same price if I had decided to go with a home delivery, but some midwives charge less for that.

This one's easy, and I know you've heard it before, but breastfeed, if you can.

It saves something like $1500 a year, and that's just a low-end formula. That doesn't include bottles, or that special water that some moms like to buy. And then if your baby has issues on a cheaper formula, they get more and more expensive as you try to fix the problem. Even pumping would be cheaper, as most insurance companies will now refund the full price of a pump. Then all you have to spend money on is storage bags and bottles. As an added bonus, the oxytocin rush you get from breastfeeding is awesome. There have been times that feeding Wade has gotten rid of a migraine, because that dose of hormones apparently acts as a painkiller for me.

While we're on the topic of feeding your baby, you don't have to buy "baby food".
It blows my mind that someone came up with the idea to market pulverized peas and now hardly anyone realizes there is another option. All you have to do to feed your baby solids is mash up whatever you're eating! Cook veggies, like carrots or sweet potatoes in bone broth to make them soft enough to do so, and add some awesome nutrients at the same time. And if you think about it, 90% of baby food that's sold today is nothing but fruits and veggies. They need fats and protein as well! That's easily remedied by just feeding whatever is on the dinner table. One great way to grind food for your munchkin is to use one of these. You can also get refillable squeeze pouches if you like the convenience for on-the-go.

Make friends with a mom who has young kids the same gender as your new baby.
Okay, I'm not saying you should mooch, but when I was working at the daycare, my boss/friend gave me four very large totes full of baby clothes that her kids had grown out of. Two of which were for girls, which I gave to a mutual friend when I found out we were having a boy. That, combined with the fact that everyone likes to buy cute little outfits for babies meant that I only had to supplement a little here and there. A couple four packs of plain, long-sleeved onesies, some sweat pants, and two pairs of footie pajamas are all I bought new. I did buy a little at our local Once Upon a Child, just because I was so excited about the whole baby thing, but it really wasn't necessary. In fact, I think I re-donated some of it.

Your baby won't know if your nursery isn't the latest and greatest.
Our crib was discovered in the basement of our old house as we were moving out, so our land lord gave it to us. Granted, this exact scenario probably won't happen to many other people, but if you know the source, definitely consider going with a used crib. There are certificates on each one that will tell you if it's up to current standards, if you're worried about it. I also didn't buy a changing table or a dresser. The floor works well for one, and for the other, I painted a 3x3 set of cubbies white, got a few cloth drawers and called it good! I don't have a glider, either (even though I kind of wanted one). We had an extra chair that happened to rock, so it was repurposed for late night feedings. I didn't even redecorate much, aside from paint. If you want a cute nursery on a budget, just buy paint. You can do a ton with it, and it's pretty cheap, compared to other options.

Don't buy all the "fad" stuff right away.
I strongly recommend not buying everything on the "Must Have's For Baby" lists until you know you can't live without it. Noisemakers, for example...some babies have to have them to keep from waking up every ten minutes, but some will sleep like a rock for a couple hours without. Figure that out first and avoid wasting money if your baby falls into the second category. It applies to a lot of stuff that we're told a new mom can't possibly survive without. If that's actually the case, it's a wonder that women in Laura Ingall's day managed to raise kids at all! How did the human race ever survive?!

Ross and secondhand stores are your new best friend.
I can spend hours in Ross. No joke. They have a relatively small baby section, but if you look hard enough, you can find some really good deals. I'm a sucker for those super soft and fuzzy baby blankets, so I've bought, like, six there because they're so cheap! Six dollars for a blanket that, in its original store, probably would have cost closer to twenty. Stores like Goodwill and Once Upon A Child are fabulous too. The thing about baby clothes is that they don't usually get worn long enough to go out of style or get worn out, so I have absolutely no qualms about buying used. I prefer OUAC, just because they buy most of their inventory off customers, so they actually try to make sure it's all really good quality. That being said, I just got a pair of Old Navy jeans and some insulated overalls for Wade for a dollar each at Salvation Army. Good deals can be found anywhere!

Make whatever you can.
Burp cloths? Easy. Crib sheets? Also easy, just not to the same extent. I'll have to post a how-to for those. Blankets and taggies! Also easy. You could also make a bunch of cute bibs, or a sling, and I've even heard of some people who made new covers for carseats that needed a make over. Granted, if you go overboard, some of this will end up costing more than it would if you bought it ready-made, but smart shopping and lots of coupons can help in that department. Just search "DIY baby" on Pinterest, and you'll find more ideas than you could possibly ever make.

Name brands are (usually) just that. Names.
Not always necessary. You don't have to have the best baby carrier out there. Mine is an off brand and I love it. Pampers and Huggies are great, but every diaper ends up holding the same stuff. In fact, as a matter of interest, the blowouts that Wade had recently were all out of Pamper's diapers. Gymboree makes cute clothes, but then, so does Target! A hundred dollar stroller will hold your child just as well as one ten times as expensive. Do your math before you shop, decide what features are actually important to you, and spend accordingly. Don't buy the expensive stuff just because.

I hope some of this helps! Its pretty plain to see how easy it would be to spend enormous amounts of money on a baby, but hopefully you won't have to break the bank!


  1. Blogs need a Like button. "Like" :-)

    1. Technically there is a like the top of each page there's a FB like, a pin it button, a twitter, and whatever else we ended up with. So if you're on the page for the individual post, and click the fb like, it'll show up in your activity feed.