Babies can be expensive—but they don’t have to be nearly as expensive as we think. There are a multitude of ways to cut costs on baby expenses. Here are some. I don’t do all these things, but all are good ways to save money on little ones, starting at birth, literally.
OK, I haven’t done this. But a lot of people I know have. Years ago, everyone had their babies at home. Now many people are doing it again, including celebrities like Cindy Crawford, Demi Moore, and a host of others. Just asking around, it seems that the average cost for prenatal care and home delivery is about $2,000. This is drastically less than prenatal doctor care and a hospital birth, especially if you don’t have insurance. Home birth isn’t an option for everyone, but it’s a beautiful and safe way to deliver for a lot of women who are at low risk of complications and live where it’s legal. Home births are non-invasive AND cheap.
Formula for one baby for one year will cost between $1,000 and $2,300 depending on whether you use the powdered version or ready-to-pour. That’s if your baby even tolerates regular formula and doesn’t have to have a special (and specially expensive) kind. I don’t look down on women who don’t breastfeed, but I have to admit that I’m baffled as to why anyone would buy formula when God has provided baby’s perfect food absolutely free, from mom. What’s more, research shows (and most pediatricians will testify) that breastfed babies are sick far less than formula fed babies, so that eliminates a lot of dollars going out for doctor visits and medicine. I’m sold (literally) on breastfeeding for many reasons, not the least of which is money saved.
This is something I’ve dreamed of but never really done. Maybe one day. Disposable diapers cost a lot, even when you buy store brands. Depending on what kind of cloth diapers and accessories you buy, there will be some initial investment, plus the cost of detergent and so forth, but the cost will still be drastically less than disposables.
Make your own wipes
Cut up old towels and re-wash them, or make your own wipes from inexpensive paper towels. One mom recommends just keeping a roll of paper towels and a spray bottle of soapy water handy. If you use regular wipes, try cutting them in half for small jobs.
Make your own baby food
The AAP’s most recent breastfeeding recommendations state what a lot of moms have known all along—it’s rarely necessary to introduce solids before 6 months, and sometimes even later. When you do introduce baby to solid food, make your own. There’s no great mystery to this. Some people use the little baby food maker, but I don’t bother. I just mash or blend whatever vegetable or fruit I have on hand. My babies start with things like mashed banana, baked sweet potato, mashed avocado, applesauce, and pureed garden veggies (like squash). Instead of boxed cereal, I just gave them pureed old-fashioned oatmeal and pureed brown rice. And as they got a big bigger, they ate tiny pieces of whatever we ate. Do stay away from high-allergy foods though.
Don’t Buy New Clothes
You don’t have to buy new clothes for your baby. You can outfit him or her for a little of nothing by shopping at garage sales and thrift stores. When they’re little, babies often wear an item only a few times before they outgrow it, and it’s not uncommon to even find clothes with tags still on. I have beautiful name brand children’s clothes that I’ve gotten at garage sales for mere pennies, far nicer things than I would have gotten if I’d bought items new. You’ll probably be offered hand-me-downs as well, which is where most of my kids’ clothes come from.
Try to wait till baby is born before you invest in clothes anyway. Gift clothes often cover clothing needs for the first few months, if not longer.
Shop Dollar Stores
Lotion, shampoo, and lots of other baby supplies cost a fraction of the regular price at a dollar store.
Freecycle and Shop Used
Join your local Freecycle group and be on the lookout for baby items like furniture. Check out Goodwill, junk stores, or other second-hand venues. Just make sure items like cribs meet safety standards.
Be a Stay-at-Home Mom
You won’t have to pay for childcare, as well as food for those hurried mornings when you didn’t have time to fix breakfast or the nights you’re running late and doctor bills from all the illnesses baby picks up at daycare.