With the news of a third child on the way after 4 years, my husband and I are, of course, thinking about all things baby right now. One of the things at the top of our list, is our financial health. Did you know the average cost of baby’s first year of life is up to $12,000?!? It’s time to get financially smart about baby, and as always, we go straight to the budget. If you haven’t yet created a budget, check out my post on getting financially fit.
Get reacquainted with your budget
Kids are expensive, so start shopping early, instead of waiting until the last minute and blowing the budget. If this is your first, start thinking about items you’ll need for baby. Ask your friends who have kids what their most important baby “tools” were, what car seats they have, and if they have a breast pump they love. First time mommas, if you’re lucky, you’re friends and family will purchase items from you registry and help you with some of these expenses, if you’re a second (or third, or fourth) time momma, spread the shopping over your second two trimesters, and buy a little at a time. Also, remember to take stock of what you already have before purchasing more. Consider selling or consigning items that went unused with your other littles, to pay for new, needed items.
Use insurance and other services available to you
Most insurance providers are now required to offer some assistance with the purchase of a breast pump. I have two children, and believe me, I have two breast pumps. My insurance provider allows a new pump, and multiple orders of freezer bags with each child, free of charge. I have requested the pump both times, and will definitely request one this time. You never know when one will break, or be left at the office, or the flanges will be stolen by your cats as chew toys (#truestory). Take the pump. It may not be the one that every mommy blog and parenting magazine in America said you should buy, but if it’s discounted, start with it. You can always replace it later.
Don’t forget to ask your Human Resources rep (or have your spouse ask) if there are any other services available to you. My husband’s work provides free baby proofing kits with every pregnancy and all you have to do is ask. Many baby-centric companies offer new mommas free trial or sample kits just for signing up for their email list. Pop on over to the Krazy Koupon Lady’s blog to see 35 Baby Freebies for New Expecting Moms where she has listed (and ranked by difficulty to obtain) the top baby giveaways.
Cut the extras and the unnecessary
Ok, turn on the will power. All those cute, tiny-human clothes – turn and walk the other way. For most babies, those newborn duds won’t last for a very long period of time. Buying 50 newborn outfits just isn’t necessary (nor is putting 50 of them on your registry). Light cotton or warm fleece sleepers, depending on the season, will do just fine during the newborn phase with a few cute “outfits”, but don’t go crazy.
If you’re shopping on a budget, buy the things you’ll need immediately. More than likely, baby won’t use the crib immediately. Start with something smaller that can stay by your bedside, or a pack and play with bassinet that can be relocated throughout your home, as needed. Baby also won’t need “feeding” supplies, like bowls, spoons, and cups immediately, since most babies don’t start solids until 4-6 months. Start with a supply of bottles (bonus points if the bottles can be attached directly to your pump flanges if your nursing/pumping). Thinking about a baby carrier? Choose something that can be used from birth. Many popular soft structured carriers cannot be used until baby has developed trunk strength in later months, or must be used with an additional insert to help with infant safety and stability.
Finally, we’ve all seen those cute little suggested registry lists at our favorite retailers. They’re great for ideas, but really, “suggested”. The most popular baby registry on google pictures lists four different stroller options that you need to purchase. No one needs four strollers with a stroller cup holder, rain shield, and optional jet pack (just kidding). Again, stick to the things you really need. You can always buy other items later if you decide you need them.
Cue the secondhand goods
Yes, some things should be purchased new. At the top of that list, safety items, like car seats, but some items can definitely be purchased secondhand from consignment stores like Once Upon a Child, yard sales, and Facebook mommy groups. I have scored a ton of baby gear from secondhand sellers, and have been more than happy with all of it. My best buy, a $600 Schwinn double jogging stroller, new-with-tags, from Once Upon a Child for $150. Shop around and be patient. Good deals don’t happen every day.
Breastfeed (if you can, and want)
Formula is a HUGE expense. If you can, and want, give breastfeeding a try, and savor every moment you can get with the lactation expert at the hospital. For you mommas who aren’t breastfeeding, visit major formula retailer websites for their best coupons, or ask at your next OB or pediatrician appointment if they have any coupons or samples that the formula reps have left behind. Chances are, they do, and every little bit counts.
Consider cloth diapering
Want to really cut the budget? Consider cloth diapering. It can cost upwards of $1500 per child to use disposable diapers, dependent on brand and potty-training age. http://realdiapers.org/diaper-facts
An inexpensive set of cloth diapers, such as covers and prefolds, can be purchased new with wet bags and other necessities for $200-$300, or even less from Co-ops and cloth diaper buy-sell-trade (BST) groups. There are a ton of options available. I’ll talk about cloth diapering options more in a later post.
The bottom line is – babies are expensive, but some parts of being a new momma don’t have to be. Analyze your budget, shop smart, and spend wisely. Remember that in the end what baby needs most is love, and you can’t buy that.