5 Tips for Baby on a Budget

5 Tips for Baby on a Budget

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  1. Just like with maternity clothes, you are wise to shop secondhand for most of your baby needs. As you make your lists, consider which items you think must be purchased new and look for the rest secondhand. Nothing is more enticing than adorable baby stuff, and that means there is a wealth of barely-used items available for a fraction of the retail price. Shop garage sales, secondhand sales (children’s resales are hugely popular), and online auctions and swap meets. It’s also a good idea to embrace hand-me-downs. We have family who are done after a boy and a girl. That means a lot of clothing that has only been worn by one child (and babies put basically zero wear-and-tear on clothes) and is no longer needed. It’s been an amazing blessing to us. We’ve had to buy next to nothing to clothe Aria, and expect the same with Noah.
  2. Breastfeed. First let me say that sometimes breastfeeding really is impossible, and if that’s the case for you, do not feel guilty. You are NOT less of a mother, you did NOT fail. That being said, breastfeeding is possible far more often than we’re led to believe. Yes, it can be excruciatingly difficult to get started, but it most likely IS possible if you want it, and it is approximately 100% cheaper than formula (you know, on account of it not technically costing anything). If you want to breastfeed, surround yourself with support – your mom, a mentor, friends who have done it successfully, the lactation consultant at your hospital, your nurse(s), obstetrician or midwife, your local breastfeeding support group. There ARE women around you who will be happy to help you get started. You can also find support groups online. Sometimes a group like those at Babycenter is the most helpful, because when you have a panicky question in the middle of the night you are almost guaranteed to get a quick answer.
  3. Cloth diaper. Many women choose to cloth diaper because it is better for the environment (a disposable diaper is said to take approximately 500 years to decompose). If you plan to have two or more children, and you shop wisely, cloth diapering is also extremely economical. As with everything else, it is possible (and tempting!) to spend absurd amounts on cloth diapers. It’s intimidating at first, but trust me, it’s not difficult once you get the hang of it. And it ain’t your mama’s cloth diapering any longer, either – you can even get diapers that act exactly like disposables, accept that you wash them instead of throwing them away. My favorite resource for learning about the basics of cloth diapering, including price comparisons, comes from this amazing mama. (And if you care, my favorite all-in-one diapers are these. My fav prefolds are these, and I love these covers.)
  4. Baby led weaning. This one won’t come into play until your child is 6 months old or more, but it will save you money and headache when that time comes. It’s still a new concept, but gaining traction in the States. Essentially, baby led weaning is feeding your baby table foods from the time he/she starts solids. You entirely skip the pureed food step. Many people are skeptical at first (I was), but if you research it with an open mind you’re about guaranteed to be converted. (Easy! Cheap! Encourages independence! Safer! Decreases likelihood of pickiness!) Seriously. This is the go-to book on the topic. Get it from your library and see what you think.
  5. There are some areas to splurge. For me, those areas were some of the highest priced items.
    1. Crib/mattress – Most cribs sold by retailers, including Babies ‘R Us, are junk. They are pressed board with a wood laminate and will wear out before you’ve gotten two children moved to their “big kid bed”. And, if you have a crib chewer, that kiddo will chew the finish right off your crib. (Toddler beds are also a gimmick – you don’t need one, and many parents skip them the second time around. Take my advice and skip it the first time.) You have two options here. You can buy the cheapest (safe) crib from Walmart or Target, and anticipate that you may have to replace it for each child. Or, you can purchase an heirloom quality piece of furniture. We went this route, ordering a solid wood crib from a local Amish furniture maker. I don’t regret it for a moment. It is beautiful, and will last not only through our children, but through our children’s children. If we had been unable to do that, though, we would have gone the route of the $100-or-less big box cheapo. Your mattress is also important – get a firm mattress with good reviews, and bear in mind allergy issues as you choose.
    2. High chair – I swear by this high chair. It is sturdy, good looking, and most importantly, it cleans up so easily. I mean, SO easily. Can’t emphasize it enough. You can, of course, find cheaper chairs (though this one is not horribly priced), and you can purchase used, as well. To me, the ease of use for this chair is worth the price.
    3. Stroller – The purchase of a stroller is highly contingent on your lifestyle. Some people spend a lot of time at the mall. Some need an all-terrain stroller. Some of us are short, some tall (some of us are short and our husbands are tall – who’s pushing the stroller? Does it adjust?). Personally, I mostly use my stroller to walk or jog around town, and to take Aria to the zoo. My primary concerns when choosing our stroller were that it be a good jogger, and that the handle be short enough for my 5’4” height. We chose to purchase only a jogging stroller, and I use it everywhere. When Aria was little we used a converter to adapt the stroller to hold her carrier. Right now I’m on the hunt for the most economical double jogger (got any recommendations?).

What are your money-saving baby tips?

Other posts in this series: 5 Tips for Pregnancy on a Budget

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