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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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