Babies are beautiful bundles of joy, but let’s face it, it can take a bundle of cash to feed and clothe them and keep them happy and healthy. According to this MarketWatch article, the first year of a child’s life costs more than $20,000! But don’t panic. There are plenty of ways you can cut your baby expenses. Here are a few tips on how you can save on food, clothes, gear and more so you can stay within your budget:
Shop at the commissary
As military personnel or a military family member, you can take advantage of shopping at your local commissary. Buy formula, diapers, baby food and more. Items at commissaries are sold at cost plus a 5% surcharge, saving you an average of 30% when compared to commercial prices. Learn more about how to save money by shopping at commissaries.
Buy in bulk when it makes sense
While you should always buy a smaller quantity of a baby product first to see if you and your baby like it, once you know it’s a keeper you can start to buy in bulk. Do the math first though and see if the bulk price really is a better deal over purchasing the item individually.
Some items that you may want to think about buying in bulk include diapers, wipes, baby food and formula. You can join a warehouse store like Sam’s Club or Costco, or buy online. If ordering online, try to find retailers that offer special incentives like free auto shipping.
Be careful not to over-buy though. Babies outgrow their diaper sizes quickly and baby food and formula have expiration dates. You don’t want to get stuck with leftover products you can’t use.
Consider buying secondhand
Buying some clothes and baby gear secondhand can be a smart way to save money while keeping up with your baby’s growth and development. Visit consignment stores, thrift stores and garage sales ‒ many sell almost-new baby clothes and gear for super cheap. You’ll probably find that some items are actually brand new with tags because the baby outgrew them before they could use them or the parents received duplicate items. You can also find gently used items on sites like eBay and Craigslist.
Think about buying secondhand especially for pricier special occasion outfits that your little one will wear just once or twice – the previous owner probably only wore them a few times too. As long as the clothes are clean and comfortable, you can be sure your baby won’t know the difference.
One item that should not be bought used is a car seat. Car seats should always be purchased new. Here are some reasons why.
Make your own baby food
Baby food is easy to make using fresh or frozen fruit and veggies. Homemade baby food is also a lot less expensive than store-bought. In this Mint.com article one mom found that her homemade baby food was nearly 45% cheaper than store-bought. For easy baby food recipes, check out this BuzzFeed article which features 27 of them.
While it is not always possible for a new mom to breastfeed and it is a personal choice, breastfeeding can save you a lot of money over bottle-feeding. American Pregnancy estimates that formula ranges from $54 to $198 per month depending on the brand.
An easy way to save on baby supplies is to use coupons. All those cents- and dollar-off coupons can really add up to big savings over time. Look online or in the newspaper for coupons on diapers, baby food, formula, health items and more. There are also apps available that make it easy to access coupons. And don’t forget to follow your favorite brands on social media and sign up for email alerts from them as well – they often give their followers and subscribers exclusive coupon codes and other discounts. Read this Omni blog post for more tips on finding coupons.
Borrow instead of buying
Whether it’s books from the library or a pack-n-play from a friend, borrowing items can save you a lot of money. Another benefit to borrowing is that you won’t have to find storage places for all the stuff after your baby gets too old for an item – simply give the item back to its original owner.
Look for free fun
Playing and bonding with your baby and keeping them active and engaged doesn’t mean you have to join a pricey mommy & me class or baby gym. Chances are there are plenty of fun and free and/or inexpensive things to do in your neighborhood. See if your local library, park or MWR offers free activities such as story-telling or a music class. If your area has a Facebook page for moms and dads, joining it can be a great way to network with other parents and find out what budget- and baby-friendly activities are taking place nearby.
Congratulations on your baby!