The baby industry has taken off over the last 10 years to become a multi-billion dollar retail giant. Gone are the days of toy boxes b/c with our bigger houses we need more toys to fill it. Also subconsciously the number of toys is somehow correlated with how much we love our children. So how do you purposefully buy things for you baby? How do you not spend $200 on 3-6 month clothes that your baby will wear for 1.5 months? Follow these tested strategies and tips below for a purposeful budget on baby essentials and baby wants.
Only buy the basics – the TRUE basics. Crib, blackout curtains, rocking chair, noise machine/clock, and dresser. When you don’t have the extra stuff in your house – you will not miss it! We initially set the crib up in the nursery but with nursing multiple times at night it became apparent in the first week that the crib would be better set up in our bedroom. Because we didn’t buy a bassinet or a pack and play – we took apart the crib and moved it to our bedroom. (it took 10 min.) and saved us hundreds of dollars on not buying or storing extra furniture. When we moved the little guy out of our bedroom at 6 months he did not even lose one hour of sleep b/c he was used to his crib and it was a small adjustment for him.
What about the changing table, diaper pail, mobile, baby monitor…etc. If you don’t have it you can often live perfectly happily without it and if you decide it is essential you can buy it! Amazon will get it to you the same day if you really need it so don’t buy it till you are sure you will use it! After all – if this is your first baby – you will not be sure of anything till after he/she arrives!
Buy less! And Buy Used! Spending $25 on an Under Armour outfit that your little munchkin just has to have may not seem like a big deal, but when you have bought 4 of those outfits… and he only wears them each twice before they are too small it adds up. At 4 of these “must-have” outfits that he wears twice each, you are looking at over $12 each time he goes out! Focus on a more versatile mix and match pieces that coordinate together and please do not buy new! With the average kid wearing a size 3-6 for 2 months and 6-9 for 3 months and 9-12 for 2 months it quickly becomes clear that kids do NOT wear out their clothes at this age – they outgrow them. So finding great quality like new clothing at thrift stores and specifically garage sales is a great way to save hundreds of dollars.
Or even better if you have any friends or relatives that have a recent baby older than yours – ask them if you can borrow their clothes. Many parents will hang on to baby clothes “just in case” they have another baby and so will not be ready to give the clothes away – but would probably love to see the clothes put to good use! Then when I am done with the clothes wash them and return them with a huge thank you and maybe a gift card to Starbucks. Win-win… they get free coffee and you save hundreds. I figured in the first year of our son we saved over $450 on clothing!
There is no way around it, you get what you pay for in regards to food. So feeding your baby can be expensive but it is also emotional. There is a lot of pressure to breastfeed as the CDC has kicked up the campaign to encourage nursing but that does not mean it is the only option. From first-hand experience breastfeeding is hard – but there are many ways to make it work for you! Contrary to what your lactation nurse may have told you at the hospital you have options when nursing!! I encourage all new mothers to try nursing traditionally first – it is hard and if it does not work well try pumping and bottle feeding expressed milk. It gives dad some bonding time and it also relieves the number of times for painful latch-on during the first month and gives your nipples a chance to heal. Overall the most budget effective method is obviously nursing but it comes at the cost of a mother’s time so every family has to choose what is right for them.
Formula is expensive but non-negotiable for baby’s health. So if you did not plan for the expense please re-work your budget and ensure that you have money saved up. Many of the larger companies – Similac, Enfamil, and Gerber will send you free samples to try and also numerous coupons. Use them! Coupons are just like money – a $5 off coupon is like a 5 dollar bill in your purse which you would never throw away so why throw away a coupon?
I hope this helps layout how to effectively integrate a baby into your life without going into huge amounts of debt or spending so much money that could potentially cut into your savings. Remember that if you have a little one you have a huge opportunity (and responsibility) to spend time with that little bundle as he/she grows up. If you are financially stable through careful spending and planning, your time with them will be the best quality time and will result in a healthy relationship focused on them! Don’t let the stuff society tells you that you need to buy for them get in the way of you spending stress-free quality time enjoying them!