10 Tips to Save Money on Baby Expenses

BabyHaving our second child in December reminded me once again that right along with the joy that a new baby brings, comes a lot of new expenses. However, the excitement of new life doesn't have to be dampened with the worry that you'll go broke in the process! In fact, with our son and now our daughter, I realized that there are many ways that you can reduce the costs of having a baby. Here are a few of my favorite ways to save.

By Lydia Beiler

1. Borrow as much as possible from friends
We live in a smaller townhouse built in the 1800′s, and while it is full of character it really lacks storage space. So when our son was born 3 years ago, and again this time around with our daughter, we took advantage of borrowing items from our friends who offered their baby things. Some of the things we borrowed were a bouncer seat, a swing, a cradle, and even some clothing. Not only did this save us from having to buy these items, it also freed us up from having to store them in our little house!

2. Take advantage of inexpensive clothes at yard sales and consignment shops
I have hardly bought any clothes brand new for our 3-year-old son. In fact the only things I can think of are a couple of pairs of shoes, a pair of boots, and maybe two pairs of pants. Between baby gifts, yard sales, consignment sales, and borrowing a few things from family and friends he's been able to have a great wardrobe for very little cost! And trust me, I'm picky about what I buy -- used clothing does not have to look used.

3. Breastfeed
Okay, so I know this is one of those very controversial subjects. And I know some of you likely have tried to breastfeed and have not been able to do so for a variety of reasons. Please don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying everyone must breastfeed! However, it's pretty obvious that breastfeeding is by far the cheaper way to go. If you want to breastfeed successfully, my advice is to learn as much as you can by reading books, asking your doctor, and your breastfeeding friends questions and utilizing a lactation consultant if necessary.

4. Make your own baby food
This is such a simple thing to do and is not only cheaper than buying baby food but also typically healthier. You can get some great ideas for fruit purees and other homemade baby food ideas from the High Chair Times blog .

5. Don't buy big ticket items new
Big ticket items like cribs, strollers, and changing tables are some of your biggest expenses when you are gearing up for a new baby. The good thing is that they are also fairly easy to find used. I suggest looking for these items at yard sales, consignment shops, and even Craigslist. And a less familiar option, but one that we love, is Freecycle, which is basically a place for people to swap items that they no longer need for free. With Freecycle you can even request exactly what you are looking for. Do be aware though that due to safety issues, some items are not recommended to buy used.

And when you are looking for used furniture don't forget that a little elbow grease and paint can do wonders in making a rough piece of furniture look new again. We've had great success with painting several different pieces of wood furniture. And an added bonus is that you can paint it whatever color you want to make it match your decor.

6. Cook before baby comes
Trust me, you are going to struggle to find the time and energy to feel like cooking for the first several weeks and unless you have a plan in place, takeout is going to be awfully appealing! Instead of blowing your money on expensive restaurant food, stock up your freezer ahead of time with homemade meals. Try making batches of easy dishes like lasagna, soups, and casseroles then split them into appropriate sized portions, label the containers with the date, and freeze. You'll be so thankful that you planned ahead as you enjoy those home-cooked meals in the weeks to come!

7. Stock up on diapers at low prices
By the time Sophia was born in December I had already bought 42 packs of diapers and several boxes worth of wipes. I'm really hoping that it will be enough to last me the first 6 months of her life. The great thing is that because I had time to watch for deals I didn't pay more than $5 a package for any of them!

To get the best deals on diapers watch the sales at drugstores like CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens. Combine the sales with coupons and you'll get some amazing deals. This is actually how I've gotten the majority of the diapers I've bought. You can also watch for specials on Amazon. If you can't do the drugstore deals, this is definitely the second best option.

8. Utilize rewards programs
Join the Pampers Gifts to Grow and Huggies Enjoy the Ride programs. These programs are simple to use -- simply find the codes inside Pampers or Huggies packages and enter them on the respective websites. Then redeem your points for all sorts of neat things like coupons, toys, and gift cards.

9. Toys -- be sparing and buy smart
Be selective about the toys you purchase. Choose ones that are good quality, stimulate creativity, and generally will catch the interest of a variety of ages. Our culture is full of marketing that wants us to think that in order to have a content child you need to have lots of toys. The reality is that children don't really need many toys. In fact, you might notice that often what they play with are not toys but things like pots and pans, boxes, and empty toilet paper rolls. (Yes, you read right. My 3 1/2-year-old loves playing with them. Hey, they make great spyglasses!)

As far as how to save when you do buy toys, check out consignment stores and yard sales. I've found lots of great toys this way and a little soap and water soon had them cleaned up and looking new. If you end up buying new toys, watch for sales. With a bit of patience you can often get a great deal with a coupon or sale. Also, avoid shopping at toy stores since they are typically higher priced and instead stick with places like Target or Walmart. And don't forget about online shopping. I've found that sometimes Amazon has the best price on a toy or game that I want and the great part is I can use my Swagbucks to pay for it.

10. Play it smart with clothing
Resist the urge to tear the tags off every item that you get and wash it right away. Babies grow incredibly fast and it is all too easy to have them outgrow something before you've even had the chance to wear it. (Anyone else been there, done that?) Or you might discover that you don't need as many onesies as you initially thought. Because they still have the tags on and aren't washed, you can easily return them to the store and put that money towards something you really need. Or if it was a gift that can't be returned you can re-gift it to someone else.

When I'm preparing for my baby's birth, my rule of thumb is to wash only several newborn items and blankets. Then as I see what else I need, I remove the tags and wash that as well.

Get the latest money-saving offers and the best cost-cutting tips on Lydia's blog The Thrifty Frugal Mom.

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This article first appeared on Parents.com.

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