Babies are crazy expensive but there are absolutely ways to ease the burden of those expenses, which we are going to tell you about right here!
Estimates vary but experts on budgeting say the costs associated in the first year of your baby’s life could add up to thousands of dollars after you factor in co-payments, childcare, formula, clothing, cribs, diapers, etc.. Yup. But take a breath and don’t worry, there are lots of ways to cut this number down.
First, you may want to check out a calculator online to estimate expenses. This baby calculator is fun because you can choose which things you are going to pay for and what they will cost (new baby clothes the first year: $600 – ha, not with our budget list here!) and then uncheck thsoe things that you know you’re not going to be paying for and see how low you can go. This Bump calculator is a good one also that can help you to calculate what you think you may spend.
Special thanks to our readers who gave us lots of great ideas when we asked them their best baby budgeting tips!
Look at Your Insurance
If you haven’t looked at what you are going to pay for your ob/gyn visits, routine tests, and labor and delivery through your insurance, look at it now. It’s almost always under the “maternity” section. If you’re not pregnant yet, see how much you are expected to pay and start saving little by little so you’re not stuck with some huge, unexpected bill. If you are pregnant, check to make sure your doctor and hospital are covered. If you are giving birth at home or at a birthing center, call your insurance company to see if any of those costs may be covered under your plan or what can go towards your deductible.
Gradually Stock Up on Essentials
Once you find out you’re pregnant, start purchasing diapers and wipes every time you go to the grocery store/Costco/Sam’s so that you’re aren’t overwhelemed when the baby comes. You’ll be so tired and having all those diapers and wipes on hand will be a lifesaver – you won’t need to run out of the house at 1am to get diapers!
Shop Thrift Stores, Consignment Shops, and Facebook Marketplace
When I had my first baby, I was determined not to buy anything brand new. Babies grow out of clothes extraordinarly fast and you can almost find near-new clothes at thrift and consignment stores, big consignment sales, and your local Facebook mom groups like KidSift or Buy Nothing groups here in Greenville.
Also, don’t be afraid to take hand-me-downs from friends who want to give them to you. I absolutely love giving my friends and family clothes and shoes that my kids have outgrown and gladly accepted boxes of them when I was pregnant.
This goes for both clothes and baby gear. One of our readers aptly noted: “No sense spending $200 on a baby swing when you can buy the same one for a fraction.“
Use Cloth Diapers
I cloth-diapered both my kids and it was so much easier than I thought it would be, plus the patterns and diapers are adorable. These diapers aren’t from the 1800s. They are super modern, easy to clean, and can save a ton of money in the long run. One detailed analysis of cloth vs. disposables over 30 months came out with spending about $770 on cloth diapers (including the cost of washing the diapers) to over $2,300 for disposables. There are a lot of different comparisons on the cost but in the end, the cloth is almost always cheaper – and they have resale value.
The cloth diapering world can be overwhelming but don’t be intimated. Do your research, buy used, and save money!
One of our readers said this about cloth diapering: “Invest in cloth diapers. Especially if you plan to have multiples. I only had one, but I only paid $100 to diaper her for 3 years.“
Start Living on One Income
One of our readers said that her and husband started living on one income before she even became pregnant so that she could stay at home when the baby came. That’s dedication and extremely smart.
Save for Higher Education Immediately
Once your child has a Social Security Number, you can open a 529 account. South Carolina’s 529 program is called Future Scholar and it’s basically a long-term investment account where you can automatically withdraw money each month that is set aside for higher education. This is something my husband and I did immediately for our kids once they had their SSN and it’s on auto draft so we don’t have to think about it.
Even if your kids are out of the baby stage, it’s never too late to start saving for higher education since it’s so incredibly costly.
Ask for Gift Cards on Your Baby Registry
As babies grow, they need different things and if you ask for gift cards on your baby registry, it’s a great way to knock off some of those later expenses for your kid down the road.
Don’t Feel Like You Need the Fanciest Baby Gear
An UPPAbaby stroller and Mesa Infant Car Seat is currently $1,300 on Amazon and a Hot Mom Baby Stroller will run you $600. Look, your baby isn’t going to be in these strollers very long and oh my gosh, that’s a lot of money for baby gear. A Graco stroller is great – even better if you get it at the thrift store (it’s typically a good idea to buy car seats new or gently used though, just check the expiration date and make sure it wasn’t in a previous accident) – and you don’t need to spend a rent or mortgage payment on it. Don’t feel bad if you’re not that mom rockin the trendiest baby gear or expensive baby clothes.
Babies Don’t Need All the Things
Diapers, wipes, a crib or bassinet, clothes, and food are pretty much the essentials of what a baby needs. I loved my jogging strollers when my kids were little because I could get a workout in but I never used an actual stroller and preferred to use a baby carrier instead.
Baby toys, books, annoying musical play mats, baby swings, and so many other things just take up space and are useless within a few months. If you feel like you need any of these things, go the used route and see if you can find them for free or cheap.
Ask Your Friends if They are Getting Rid of Stuff
We all have too much stuff, right? If someone asked me if I had some baby clothes, strollers, crib mattresses, or literally any baby thing lying around that I wanted to get rid of, I would have jumped at the chance then. A neighbor posted in our neighborhood Facebook group that she needed a crib and I happened to have ours just sitting in a closet and was absolutely thrilled to give it to her. I got more space in my house and she got a crib – win/win!
Free Breastpumps Through Insurance
According to our government, your insurance must cover the cost of a new breastpump. Speak with your doctor and insurance provider on how to go about making this happen if you’re breastfeeding. Both my electric and manual pumps totally saved me while breastfeeding, especially when my maternity leave was up and my baby had to take milk from a bottle. Big win here for moms since breast pumps can cost you several hundred dollars.
For things to do with your baby, ideas on date nights with your baby, reader-recommended daycares and OB/GYNs, see our Ultimate Guide for New Parents in Greenville.
What other baby budget tips would you add to our list?