By one estimate, babies cost their parents about $15,000 in their first year of life. For such small beings, babies require a lot of stuff. Even new parents who choose to take a minimal route when it comes to outfitting the nursery and their new arrival still have to cope with buying the basics. Babies need a safe place to sleep. They need a new car seat that’s never been in an accident. They need to be fed. They need diapers. They need well-fitting clothes. And even the most minimal of parents will feel the need to indulge in a few adorable extras for their new bundle of joy. Luckily, there are ways to save money and still make sure the baby has everything needed to thrive.
Set Up a Registry
People love buying baby gifts, so don’t be shy about setting up a baby registry! Otherwise, people will give you enough adorable baby outfits to clothe the royal children when what you really need is a sturdy car seat and a good crib. Registries are a great way for new parents to save money setting up the nursery and getting the supplies they need for their baby’s first months of life. The most obvious method is having friends, family, and coworkers buy exactly what they need from the list for their little one. However, registries also offer coupons, freebies, and discounts to parents just for signing up! For example, most registries offer a completion discount near the baby’s due date so that parents can buy any items still on the registry. Often, stores have extended return periods for gifts purchased from a registry, too. Some stores even offer a welcome box full of free samples of baby products, diapers, toiletries, onesies, and coupons. A newer feature on many registries is the group gifting feature. This is great for people who need a glider, stroller, or crib: Multiple people can contribute any amount they wish toward the item, and once the price has been reached, the item is shipped to the parents. So don’t be shy about telling people about your registry. Have the grandparents-to-be, your siblings, and close friends spread the word as well.
Tap Into Your Network
Baby gear is expensive and is also used for a really short period of time. Things like bouncy seats and bassinets have a very limited useful life for each child, but just because the child has outgrown the item doesn’t mean that the item doesn’t have a lot of life left in it. So instead of buying a baby bathtub or sling, ask around! People are often thrilled to loan or give away items they no longer need. Along with asking friends, family, and neighbors, new parents should take to the Internet to find freebies for babies. No-buy groups or neighborhood groups on social media are excellent places to post about needed baby gear. One thing you shouldn’t accept as a hand-me-down, though, is a car seat. Not only does car seat technology change often, but it’s important that a car seat has never been in an accident. After all, nothing is more important than the baby’s safety. There are programs that offer free car seats, so if you’re truly strapped, look into this option.
Ask Your Health-Care Providers
Want to know a secret? The labor and delivery nurses have the ability to help you save major money on baby essentials. Once your little one comes, tell them you need all of the samples and other gear they can send you home with! Often, hospitals have an abundance of baby blankets, pacifiers, and formula they can send you home with. Some even will hook you up with diapers and wipes! So don’t be afraid to ask. The same goes for the doctor’s office when you go in for well-baby visits. Tell them you’d be grateful for any samples they have of baby supplies you need.
Make a Game Plan for Diapers and Wipes
Babies typically go through about 2,200 diapers just in their first year of life. So let’s set a ground rule: Never pay retail price for diapers. Start by checking brands’ websites for coupons, and consider forgoing brand loyalty. Going with whatever brand is currently on sale and combining it with manufacturer’s coupons is a great way to save major bucks on something you are going to spend a lot of money on over the next few years. When deciding what brand offers the best deal, remember to compare the price per diaper: How many diapers are in each package differs from one size to the next and from brand to brand. Thank goodness smartphones have built-in calculators, because what new parent has the energy left to do that much math in their heads, right? Another money-saving trick is to sign up for brand loyalty programs. All of the big diaper brands have one. You earn points whenever you buy their diapers, and those points can be traded in for coupons. Members of these loyalty programs are also regularly sent special discounts.
Choose Items That Can Grow With Your Child
The sad truth is that babies don’t stay babies for long. Soon, that tiny little thing wrapped in a blanket will be running around your house. So all of that gear that cost so much money has a very limited useful life for each child. Even if big-ticket items were purchased by grandparents or given from your baby registry, you still want to maximize their use. Consider this: Your toddler will still need a bed after they have outgrown their crib, right? That’s why it’s important to register for and choose items that grow with the baby. Look for cribs that can be converted to toddler beds or even twin beds. Seek out strollers that work for newborns but can also work for toddlers and preschoolers, so you don’t have to repurchase a stroller a year or so later. Even items like high chairs can be three-in-one items that work for newborns, toddlers, and bigger kids.
Cash In on Unwanted Items
Even with a registry, most new parents end up with duplicate items. The first way to increase your cash flow is to make sure that those items get returned and use that credit for things like diapers, formula, or baby gear your family actually will need. The same goes for the gear you thought would be useful but wasn’t. Not all babies love swings, for example. If your kid refuses to hang out in their baby swing, list it for cash in places like Facebook Marketplace. It’s a great way to increase the baby supply fund! You can also do the same as your kid outgrows clothes, toys, and other gear. Group together clothes to make a lot of one size to maximize your profits and attract buyers.
Do Your Research and Keep it Minimal
It’s natural to want the best for your baby and to want to make sure the baby has everything it needs in those first, all-important early months of life. However, one big way to keep costs down is to keep it simple. For instance, most parents don’t actually use or need extras like wipe warmers. And instead of an expensive diaper pail, just get a simple trash can. After the baby comes, you can always reassess and buy other items that will make your life easier and the baby’s life better. Read reviews and get opinions from other new parents before you buy things. Sure, every baby is different, and everyone has their own tastes and opinions. Still, knowing how the reviews are for different items can help you identify where to save money and where to splurge!