Babies are cute, cuddly and obscenely expensive. Many first-time parents are shocked to find that their planned budget -- even if it's generous with expected baby-related funds -- barely covers basic expenses. And as anyone who's ever raised a child can tell you, infants need a lot more than nourishment, clothing and a roof over their heads. Between diapers, toys, books, baby-proofing gadgets, strollers, car seats, sippy cups, monitors and everything else, it's a wonder most parents don't file bankruptcy a few months after the arrival of their first child.
Yes, it's scary, but don't worry too much. Like a swaddled babe, we've got you covered! Over the course of this article, we'll show you how to save on virtually all the baby essentials. So whether it's your first child or your fifth, you're going to want to check out these five great tips on how to save money with a baby!
Read the next page to learn how buying hand-me-downs can keep your personal finances up.
Don't Shy Away From Hand-me-downs.
Hand-me-downs are one of the best ways you can save money with your baby. Don't be afraid to ask friends and family for items they can pass down to you! This goes for almost anything: clothing, bouncers, bedding and even toys. Because babies grow so fast, you may only need certain things for a short period of time -- especially clothing -- so dropping lots of cash on items that your kid will outgrow or lose interest in within a few weeks or months isn't worth the investment. Plus, it makes no difference to your babe if he's sporting the newest, most fashionable onesies or if he's wearing used but still super-cute garb.
Don't forget about consignment stores, too. There are tons of shops that specialize in reselling baby items, and you're bound to find some treasures there for a whole lot less than what you'd pay elsewhere.
Buy Products with Multiple Uses.
Items that do double duty are the ultimate money-savers. Look for stroller/car seat combos, playpens that also function as bassinets and other products that serve multiple purposes. You don't even have to buy items that are specifically marketed for babies; this is a great opportunity to be creative! Repaint an old dresser, buy a changing pad to go on top of it, and voila -- you've got a funky and fun changing table/dresser combo!
While planning your nursery, don't be afraid to think long term. If you buy a crib that turns into a toddler bed, you might not save any money now, but you'll thank yourself in a few years. Just like babies, kids are also really expensive.
Breastfeed If You Can.
This isn't an option for everyone, but breastfeeding can save oodles of money on the cost of food for your baby. The average cost to formula feed an infant for one year is anywhere from $1,400 to $1,700 -- that's a lot of money! If you can nurse, it's essentially free (though you may have to buy a breast pump, which can cost anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars).
Nursing mothers can burn up to 500 extra calories a day, so you'll likely spend a bit more at the grocery store each week. However, the extra cost associated with eating more is nowhere near the amount of money you'd spend on formula. Plus, you can snack throughout the day without feeling guilty, which is one of the biggest breastfeeding perks, in our opinion.
Couponing may be intimidating to some people, but it can save you serious bucks when it comes to baby items. Sign up for the mailing lists on the Web sites of your (or your babe's) favorite products to get coupons and samples sent to your home or e-mail inbox. Most companies will send you a coupon just for signing up -- how easy is that?
Also, don't forget to clip coupons from the Sunday paper and use promotion codes when shopping online. Some grocery stores allow you to double or stack your coupons so that you can double, triple or even quadrupole your savings on an item. If you get a manufacturer's coupon from the Sunday paper and stack it with a store coupon, you can save both amounts on the item you are purchasing. This trick works for everything, not just baby-related items, so feel free to splurge a little on yourself, too. You deserve it!
Make Your Own Baby Food.
Once your baby starts eating solids, you can make your own baby food and avoid forking over extra money for the overpriced jars in the grocery store. Not only will you save money, but you'll know exactly what's going into that precious little tummy. Generally, most jarred baby foods contain few, if any preservatives, but by using fresh fruits, vegetables and meats, you can be 100 percent sure that there will be no added preservatives or fillers in your baby's diet. Your piece of mind will likely be an even better benefit than the money you'll save.
Baby-food makers cost anywhere from $30 to a few hundred dollars, but using a regular household blender or food processor will also do the job. No matter what equipment you use, just be sure to blend the food well to avoid big chunks that your baby can choke on.
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- Trent. "How Much Money Does Breastfeeding Really Save?" The Simple Dollar. March 4, 2007. (Sept. 30, 2011) http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2007/03/04/how-much-money-does-breastfeeding-really-save/