Family Life

Getting Ready for a New Baby on a Budget

Getting Ready for a New Baby on a Budget

According to the most recent USDA report, the average middle-income American family will spend close to $13,000 on child-related expenses in their baby’s first year of life, mainly on housing, childcare, food, and transportation. Canadian families spend a similar amount. Wow! That’s a lot of money to spend on a very small person. Some of those expenses are non-negotiable, but there are many other ways to keep your costs down and get ready for a new baby on a budget.

Buy Secondhand

Like anything else, when it comes to baby gear, you need to shop around to get the best prices. If you’re on a budget, consider buying gently used gear. ***Car seats are the exception to this. It’s really not a good idea to buy or use a secondhand car seat unless you personally know and trust the previous owner to give you an accurate history of the car seat. If that car seat has been in an accident, there may be hidden damage that makes it unsafe in the event of another car crash.

Cribs are usually the most expensive item you’ll buy so you can often save quite a bit of money buying used, but you have to make sure that any crib you buy meets current safety regulations. eBay has a useful guide to buying a used crib that clearly lays out all the things to be aware of when shopping around for a secondhand crib. In fact, eBay is a great one stop shop to hunt for deals on all your baby essentials!

Remember safety when buying a secondhand crib

Tips for shopping on eBay:

  • If you’re browsing eBay for deals on baby gear and clothing, look for listings with complete information and lots of pictures. When you’re buying used, you want to look at photos of the actual item and not stock photos.
  • Sort your search list by price + shipping so you understand the true cost. It’s not a good deal if the shipping pushes the price over what you’d pay at retail.
  • Make sure you’ve set your location correctly. It’s so disappointing to see something you love at a great price and then realize it doesn’t ship to your location. This is especially important for my Canadian readers, though I have had luck directly contacting sellers to ask about shipping to Canada even if the item says shipping within the US only.
  • If the auction process and resulting uncertainty is not for you, you can filter for just Buy It Now listings.

Buy Only What You Need

Lots of first time parents overbuy in the excitement of a new baby on the way. When I was pregnant with my first child, we bought a lot of things that turned out to be just unnecessary. Resist the temptation to buy a whole lot of fancy newborn baby clothes. Trust me, you and your baby will likely both live in your pajamas for the first few weeks anyway. And if you’re having a baby shower, chances are you’ll get more bodysuits and footie pajamas than your baby will ever wear.

I suggest buying only the essentials (a car seat, a crib or co-sleeper, a bouncer, and a baby carrier and/or stroller) before baby comes along. Other things can wait, and you may just find you don’t actually need them. Yeah, I’m looking at you, wipes warmer and jogging stroller!

At the top of my list of actual must have baby items is a baby carrier. A quality, ergonomic carrier is an investment, but these too can be purchased secondhand for up to half off the regular price. Make sure you’re buying a reputable brand from a reputable seller to ensure it’s safe for you and your baby. Baby carrier brands I have personally owned and can recommend include Ergobaby, Boba, Beco, and Lillebaby.

A good baby carrier is one of my must have baby items.


Without even getting into the health benefits of breastfeeding for both you and your baby, breastfeeding exclusively will save an average of $100 a month in formula. If you use special diet, allergy-friendly, or premade formula, expect to spend a lot more than that. To be fair, you’ll end up spending a little more on food for yourself – after all, it takes fuel to make fuel – but you’ll cut a significant part of your budget if you breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and continue to breastfeed while you introduce complementary foods.

Breastfeeding can save hundreds of dollars a month in formula costs.

A breast pump can literally be a lifesaver for some moms, and it’s a staple on most moms’ registries, but don’t overbuy. If you’re a SAHM and you’ll only be pumping once in a while, there’s no need to splurge on one of those expensive electric double pump models. A single pump or even a manual pump will probably be just fine for you.

Cloth Diaper

Reusable cloth diapers are another way to cut costs, and using cloth has the wonderful side effect of keeping half a ton of disposable diapers out of the landfill. Depending on the brand, expect to pay between $700 to $900 for disposable diapers in the first year.

By comparison, a stash of 24 one size cloth diapers (enough for 2-3 days depending on age) can range from $120 for prefolds and covers up to $600 for premium all-in-ones. Cloth diapers will last you until potty training though, and can be reused for subsequent children. You can even resell them when you’re done to recoup some of your initial investment!

Plus look at how cute they are!

Reusable cloth diapers are a much more economical option than disposables - plus they're so much cuter!

Which brings me to one last point: Don’t be afraid of secondhand cloth diapers! You can get great deals on used cloth diapers, and some of my favourite diapers came pre-loved from friends or my local kids swap. Cloth diaper BST (Buy/Sell/Trade) groups on Facebook are another good place to find used diapers as well as get to know other cloth diapering mamas!

What nifty, thrifty tips do you have for new parents preparing for a baby?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation. All opinions expressed are completely honest and my own. Your experience may differ. This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no additional cost to you. This income helps pay for the operating costs of my website – thank you for your support!

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  • I never thought of shopping for baby essentials on eBay, but it’s a great idea, particularly for those living in communities without second-hand children’s shops or who don’t have lots of Mommy friends to swap with!

  • We definitely spent way under that for years one and two so far. By not buying a stroller, buying a car seat that does booster seat too when we need it and has a 10 year life, borrowed and second hand baby carriers instead of stroller. Seconds and second-hand cloth diapers. Lots of hand-me-down clothing. Our crib we got on clearance for $60 from Ikea. (but lets be honest, we still bed share the crib only holds clean laundry waiting to be folded anyway). Our car seat was by far our biggest purchase. The first year we joked that our baby cost us almost no money. Even now, (including Christmas and birthdays) we don’t spend more than $50-60 a month on our child, and that includes the food he eats. We do lots of free activities in our community too keep involved on a tight budget. When we do buy him toys, we spend a little bit more money on better quality toys that will last more than one child.

  • Great post! My tip isn’t so much about gear… The best baby advice we got was to be calm around the baby. Having a new baby can be overwhelming, but trying to relax and stay calm helps to keep baby calm too!

  • I really love all of these tips!! I know that from just the money aspect, breastfeeding really helped us out!!

  • Buying second hand is great! Just remember to look out for safety recalls and to ensure that all items meet current safety standards in your country.

  • I am grateful for so many babies coming before I ever had a chance to have one. There are perks to being an older mom and having the insight not to overbuy and to recognize what is just unnecessary extra and can be bought/borrowed used.

  • I’m really appreciating these tips even though I’m on my fourth baby. Shortly before I got pregnant, I got rid of 95% of my baby stuff stash. So while I’m compiling stuff for this new baby it is good to be reminded not to overbuy.

  • I remember with my first, I had to have everything brand new, brand 2nd and 3rd was like, YES! Hand me downs rock! There is so much “stuff” out there that you just don’t need lol

  • Buying second hand is great, kids grow so fast at that age that everything still seems like new. Consignment stores are a great find for this too.

  • We did almost everything you suggest (though I did buy a few new outfits, in a variety of sizes – because of excitement and they were so cute!) However, the bulk of everything we got for our baby came secondhand – either hand-me-downs from family and friends (crib, clothes, toys, bibs, etc,…) or purchased through BST groups/sites (like the bouncy seat, activity center, extrasaucer, and some cloth diapers!) We were gifted a carseat and stroller combo. Thus my biggest tip is to decide early what you feel you MUST have new and pre-shop for prices a lot (use the internet lol)… but don’t buy anything until after the baby shower and then buy what you didn’t get or find through BST. I still ended up spending a little chunk of change on some new cloth diapers and a baby carrier (though a generous friend contributed $60 towards it for her baby shower gift… she picked out one for $60 but it was only good through 20 lbs, which my 5 month old is already nearing, so I’m glad I asked if I could re-allocate that money towards a full-length wrap 🙂

  • Great post. My suggestion is to be sure to be straightforward with friends and families about what you really need and would like as gifts at a baby shower or otherwise.

  • Shop at consignment stores! Our local one has fabulous designer brands from clothing to strollers to toys & everything in between– at a fraction of the original price! You don’t have to buy brand new & waste hundreds of dollars!

  • I would suggest cloth diapers even tho this seems to be against the trend. You could save enough money to buy a good quality washer and the baby should not have too many problems with diaper rash. If your baby has really sensitive skin, ask your pharmacist to make up a diaper rash ointment for your baby. These are relatively inexpensive and really work well. I know that from experience.

  • Bah… This is a good reminder for me of what I already knew…
    I’m having a really hard time not shopping for baby #4. I’ve been good so far but I really, really want to buy stuff for this baby. Unfortunately I really only need a car seat and some more diapers for this baby so I have to keep myself from buying anything for the next 2 month before she gets here. Girl #4 can just use the clothes, bouncer, crib etc that I got second hand for baby girl #1 (who will be 8 years old a month after baby#4 comes! Yikes, where does the time go?!?!).

  • I find that many young families have family members and good friends that will lend them some of the big ticket items like cribs, strollers and high chairs. This is even more possible if the giver feels that her family is complete. I have seen this happen and loaned and been loaned big items myself. This is a lifesaver for families on a tight budget. Showers are great for clothes, etc. and so the young family is feeling less strain which is great for their peace of mind.

  • I breast fed and cloth diapered as well as made my own baby food for all 7 of mine though for my youngest I did sometimes use disposables when we were on holiday. Consignment shops often have super deals on good quality clothing, strollers etc so I’d check those out too.

  • I never had to use birth control When we were meant to be bless we were. I had a daughter who was 20 a son who was 16 and I started menopause. LOL so I thought. I was 42 and prego and loving it. I had 2 women tell me they would have to get rid of it and a ton of others tell me I was crazy. Wow it is sad how people see children as a burden instead of the blessing they are. Now she is 14 and started highschool and the things she comes home and tells me is so shocking. I think more people should stop having children if they are not willing to raise them. These kids are doing horrible things for attention. Sending nude photos talking to strangers on the internet.ect. I better stop now I am getting fired up. I started to say I had to start all over LOL

  • I many people go way over board on baby stuff that they don’t need!! We bough a second hand crib, new mattress, hand me down sheets and clothes to start and we were all set! The money saved is in our daughter education fund 🙂

  • I think shooping at e-Bay is an awesome idea! I am so glad you mentioned that.We do go to consignment stores too and I often check on the internet for yard sales .Thank you so much for this great feature.