The birth of your first child brings so much excitement. The joy of a new life will have you anxious and ready to be the best parent you can. So many times, this joy and love turn into a runaway spending spree that can empty your bank account. How can you defer some of these high costs without denying your baby the necessities and comfort? Here are the highest expenses that baby’s come with as well as 7 ways to save on baby expenses in the first year.
7 Ways to Save on Baby Expenses
Milk – $600-$1400 The first year
Reality: A newborn HAS to eat. Exclusive breastfeeding is the top recommended way to nourish your newborn. However, with the reality of working moms and busy parents, even breastfeeding parents find supplying milk to be expensive. Breast pumps can run as much as $400 each, not including the accessories needed.
A great way to save costs here is to make it a top priority on your gift registry or suggest gift cards so the money can be pooled together and reduce your out of pocket expense. Breast pumps can also be purchased used from a friend. The pump itself can be reused. The attachment is the only part that needs to be new. Starter kits can be bought for around $45.
For the formula-fed babies, the cost is triple with constant purchases of formula and the initial investment of bottles and accessories. One good tip is to skip the extras and stick to the basics. Only the bottles and nipples are actually necessary. All other accessories are convenience items, including a bottle brush, bottle warmer, bottle drain rack, nipple sterilizing kit, etc.
Also, don’t rush out and buy an entire breastfeeding wardrobe. Instead of purchasing 4 new bras, try one first and make sure you like it after wearing all day.
Since you will be spending most of the first two weeks indoors, don’t invest in breastfeeding-friendly clothes until you are fully committed. I practically lived in nursing tees and found I did not like the nursing bras at all since I changed sizes on an hourly basis.
Health Insurance – $1000-$2500 per year
This number is extremely versatile, depending on the type of insurance and individual co-pays. However, there are several ways to keep costs to a minimum in the first year.
Reduce the initial hospital fees. A large-deductible will come out for the overnight stay, and insurance doesn’t cover extras. Be sure to read your policy agreement to see what qualifies.
At the hospital, don’t add anything on. If you are really hungry, ask your loved one to grab you some food on the way. Pack snack items in your hospital bag before giving birth. Ask for freebies and samples.
The hospital staff is always willing to hand out samples that are overflowing the stock cupboards. Manufacturers are continually sending samples to maternity wards. Take the toiletries and the stock of diapers and wipes that are given by the hospital.
Find out where you can get free medical advice. Whether through a hotline or online, you can ask your pediatrician where to find a list of frequently asked questions. Finding answers on your own may reduce unnecessary trips to the doctor’s office. (Do not diagnose, however, and please talk to your doctor if you are anxious about anything).
Diapers- $900-$1,600 Per year
Cloth diapers can truly save thousands of dollars if you are willing to put in the extra work. Finding a cleaning system will reduce stress and time with cloth diapers. You would be surprised how cute and easy the conventional cloth diapers are!
Disposable diaper manufacturers have constant coupons and specials. Keep your eyes peeled for the good buys. Try the store brand. Many store brand diapers are several dollars cheaper and are just as reliable.
Along with diapers, baby wipes can get rather expensive as well. There are several different ways to make your own baby wipes, which work just as well, if not better than their store-bought counterparts.
Baby clothing – $600 – $1,200 per year
First-time parents might see a cute outfit and spend $40 on one outfit, just to realize the baby outgrew it in 3 weeks. Use smart shopping when it comes to tiny outfits. Many parents find they will receive enough clothes at baby showers. Once your baby outgrows the first set, ask friends for hand me downs or shop thrift stores and online forums. No need to buy new when the little one grows so fast.
Be careful in buying in bulk or too far ahead in seasons. I made the mistake of purchasing a winter snowsuit in September, only to find my son had already outgrown it. Also, buying too many outfits of the same size is unnecessary since your baby can only wear so many outfits before they have grown again.
Childcare – $2,400 – $6,000 per year
Full-time daycare can be costly. If possible, try to find a family member or friend who would be willing to help out full time or part-time in watching your little one. If this is not possible, try staggering your shift with your spouse to reduce the child’s time at daycare.
For occasional babysitting, trade babysitting with each other cost-free. Hire a neighbor or hire a trusted young adult for shorter time periods. Read More on Child Swapping Here
Look into the option of flexible spending accounts for child care if your employer offers it.
Baby Gear – $400 – $3200 per year
Baby gear is a running trend that most don’t even realize are not needed to have a happy, healthy baby. Wraps, slings, bouncers, bassinets, swings, bumbo seats, boppy pillows, diaper bags, etc. Convenience items are an easy way to spend money fast. Having the fancy walker or the swing with ten buttons are nice, but not necessary. It seems that most items cost between $50 – $200 each, which adds up quickly.
Decide what is most important to you and purchase those items only. Try not to get swept up in the baby shopping mania. A baby only really needs one place to lay down, so try to decide between the swing, bouncer, or bassinet.
Buy used. Shop garage sales, community websites, and thrift stores to purchase gently used items. Car seats are recommended to purchase new but don’t have to be (as long as it comes from a trusted source).
Try it before you buy it. If you can, use a friends swing or play yard to see if your child enjoys the product before investing. If you do buy, go for the simpler model. The most expensive, name-brand item is rarely considered a good deal and is outgrown so quickly.
Baby Food (when baby starts solids) – $600 – $1,200 per year
When a baby starts on solid food, the cost of feeding your baby goes up even more. The cost of milk is still there while adding in new, safe solids for the little one. Grocery stores have an entire aisle devoted to baby food and different stages of feeding your little one. With the cost of each serving around $1, the cost rises quickly as your child progresses.
Serve your baby fresh food from your plate. Babies can have potatoes, veggies, turkey, chicken, etc straight from the oven (age-appropriate). Why give your baby pre-processed jarred food when you eat fresh every day. Just be aware of seasonings and try to flavor your food and not the baby’s.
Make your own baby food. Spend an hour in the kitchen and prepare a weeks worth of baby food yourself. Make it is bulk and freeze to last weeks, saving you hundreds of dollars during the first year.
No time to make food? Sign up for baby food company’s newsletters and coupon booklets. Most are continually competing with others and are willing to hand out deals and coupons regularly.
Bedroom Furniture and decorations – $700 – $2000
Every nursery has to have a theme! Or does it? Expensive matching bedding, lamps, pictures, etc are not actually necessary. The only good investment would be where the baby will be sleeping. Save some money and purchase a transitional bed that can turn from a crib to a toddler bed and into a twin bed later. Porta-cribs are also available as transitional beds and cost half a full-sized bed.
It is perfectly fine to buy a dresser or rocker from a thrift store or re-purposed from the attic. A whole bedroom set is a costly investment. Save some cash and buy tastefully mismatched furniture. Done properly will add character to your baby’s room. I scavenged through my parent’s attic and found a dresser, side table, and old changing table. I washed and added some paint and it turned out gorgeous, for only $20.
Use family pictures to decorate the walls and pick a color scheme as your theme. Be willing to use whatever comes along. I found a matching owl piggy bank, picture frame, and pillow at a garage sale for $10 total. I used the picture as my color theme and bought paint to match. I also found a bath rug on clearance and use it as my rug in the nursery. Make your own style and be creative.
Other Articles that you might enjoy:
- Cloth vs Disposable Diapers, Is it Worth It?
- 5 things a Newborn Really Needs
- Reference Guide for Homemade Baby Foods