12 Ways to Save on Baby Stuff

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Having a baby is a joyous time — and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are 12 ways to save money on baby stuff.

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My baby days are over. The Girl turns four next month. Last spring I gave all my gear to a friend having a baby. The maternity clothes went the previous fall.

But, even though our family has moved on, I still remember those days of preparation and excitement as well as those moments of oh-my! how in the world will I survive?

You’ll be fine. Promise.

Here are 12 ways to save on baby stuff, learned through experience. Believe me.

1. Lower your standards.

With my first child I wanted the biggest and the best of everything. I can’t believe how I traveled all over town looking for a certain patterned fabric on my “travel system.” They had just come out with car seats that attached to strollers. I wanted a “unique” pattern and searched high and low to find one. And paid a pretty penny to do it, too.

Guess what? The baby didn’t care.

2. Set a budget.

If you don’t put limits on your spending, who will? Keep in mind a bare minimum list of baby items. Buy those items first and then wait.

3. Learn to be patient.

THIS is the number one lesson of motherhood anyway. You don’t need to have everything you think you need to have today. Be patient. The right time will come. Or that item will just be unnecessary; time will pass and you’ll find that you don’t need it anyway.

4. Borrow from friends.

We never bought an exersaucer –until our sixth baby came! I consider those suckers must-haves when babies are between 4 and 9 months old when babies are more active and yet still need to be contained so you can get something done. We always had friends happy to loan one to us and free up storage space for 6 months or so. When the last baby came along, none of our California friends had one, so we splurged. (Must-have). And then we were happy to give it to a friend.

Hopefully, you’ve got generous friends who don’t mind sharing.

5. Buy used.

Babies grow so quickly, you really don’t need to worry about them wearing out their clothes. They just outgrow them. You can easily find almost-new baby clothes at garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops. Babies don’t care what they’re wearing as long as they are warm and dry.

 6. Save hand-me-downs.

I have known moms who gave away their baby clothes right away even though they hoped to have more children. This always puzzled me. Why rebuy all that stuff again?

To each his own, but you can save a lot of coin if you save hand-me-downs for your next kid.

7. Use coupons.

I’ve almost kissed coupons goodbye. But, if I were still buying diapers, you can bet I’d be grabbing all the diaper coupons I could lay my hands on. It was rare that a diaper coupon ever went unused in my baby days. You’re going to buy them anyway, why not use a coupon. Put out the word that you’re looking for diaper coupons. My grandma used to mail me any that she found in her paper. Those suckers are expensive these days!

8. Stockpile.

Build a stockpile of baby supplies that you know you will use. Buy these items on sale whether or not you need them that week. As long as you’ve got room in the budget and in your closet, it’s a good move to buy things that you know you will use at a great price.

9. Try out cloth diapers.

I’ve never done cloth. The easy kind of diaper wraps came on the scene in the middle of my baby years and I was too stuck in my ways to try something new. Plus, I already had laundry in the millions to wash.

My sister, however, had a great experience in cloth diapering. Depending on how you go about it, you can do it very economically and possibly save money over disposables.

10. Breastfeed.

I know, not everyone can do this, but breastfeeding can save you a chunk of change over formula. I never bought formula, so I can’t speak to the experience, personally. However, The Simple Dollar crunched some numbers in 2007. The figures are admittedly up for debate based on the differing nutritional needs of the baby, the additional calorie intake of a breastfeeding mother, and all kinds of other variables. But, if you’re able to nurse your baby exclusively, you can save close to $2000 over the first year. (I’m rounding up since I’m sure the cost of formula has gone up in 5 years.)

11. Don’t buy what you don’t need.

It’s hard to avoid, but overbuying is a big money waster. I often found diaper rash creams on sale and stocked up. But the reality is that we didn’t need to use it that often. I am still finding random tubes of Desitin, two years after we kissed diapers goodbye. Obviously, I could have saved a few pennies by not buying what we didn’t need.

12. Do without.

As long as your baby is well-fed, diapered, and warmly clothed, he doesn’t need much more, except time with you. There are lots of baby things that we don’t need. We actually loved our diaper wipe warmer, but it was definitely not a must-have. We could have lived without it.

There are plenty of things like that in life. We can do without them if the budget doesn’t allow them.

And even if it does.

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  1. Great post Jessica. I wish all new moms could have this info. I remember that we didn’t get a swing for our daughter – we knew she’d be the only one & didn’t want to spend the money on it so we never got one. I was amazed at the reactions we got from people who couldn’t understand how we would manage with out a swing. Of course we did! We did love the exersaucer though – it was great for putting her in there while I showered.

    Thanks for hosting frugal Friday!

    1. We never got a swing because I was too worried about the toddlers in the house messing with it while the baby was in it! You can definitely live without a swing.

  2. I loved point #3– especially applicable with kid #1 when folks are throwing you showers. It’s easy to get impatient and go out and buy the stuff you’re “missing.” Folks will either give you most of what you need or you may not even need it.

    Three things to add:
    -Give generic brand diapers a try. Many generics are equivalent or even better than the name brands. Quality really has improved over the last 10-15 years.
    -When stockpiling, stock up on the bigger diaper sizes (3 and up). I took advantage of a deal and stockpiled size 2 diapers, but I received so many diapers from showers and friends that he had outgrown the 2’s by the time I got around to using mine! It’s remarkable how quickly they outgrow the little sizes of both diapers and clothing.
    -Invest in a high quality electric breast pump. This was a must for me because I work part time outside the home, but it also saved me from a bad infection in the early weeks of breastfeeding before baby got the hang of things. I have been grateful for it during times of sickness, blocked ducts, and travel. I consider it an essential and don’t know what I’d do without it!

    1. Those are some great points! Especially regarding generic brands. The generics of today must be running on the same machines that the expensive namebrands used fifteen years ago. Huge improvements.

  3. Thank you so much for this post. My husband and I have been going back and forth about having another little one but struggle with the thought of the expense (even though we know that should never be the deciding factor). It helped to see someone break it down and point out what you can do to keep the costs down.

    1. We’ve got six kids and don’t make a lot more than we did fifteen years ago. We’ve just learned to do better with what we have. You can totally do this. 😉

  4. number 12 worked for me too. we originally were going to have two. those kids had most everything. then we sold it all, got a wild hair, and decided we needed more kiddos. so number three had nothing. we got a car seat, manual breast pump, and an excersaucer, our necessities. we still had a pouch we were still using for two and i was still carrying a diaper bag for her too.

    i wanted a high chair though. i was getting help from an elder gentleman on prices since nothing was labeled at walmart, and it was $60. I thought that wasn’t too bad when he said, “whoa, I can’t believe they are so much. it’s just a chair.” i got to thinking about it and thought, you’re right. i fed that baby on my lap until it went on clearance three months later for $22.

    1. Good for you! I don’t think I could have held out that long. LOL. I like eating with both hands too much. 😉

  5. I think number one was the biggest thing for us. Once you can lower your standards and realize that not everything has to be either brand new or the best of the best, your budget suddenly seems much larger than it did five minutes ago.

  6. I had to laugh at the “additional calorie intake of a breastfeeding mother”–that’s me right now, and I feel like *I’m* eating us out of house and home! 🙂 Got a cute little chubby buddy to show for it, though 🙂

    Really good tips, and especially the one on lowering your expectations. I did that on purpose before our little one was born, and I’m so glad I didn’t put extra money and effort into making everything “just so.” I focused on the things that were important to me.

  7. So, our 3-month old tried an exersaucer at church and LOVED it. I was going to skip that toy because I didn’t want more “stuff.” But, now I am thinking of trying to get one second hand. Any advantages to an exersaucer over a jumperoo?? The jumperoo seems nice because it looks like they collapse and can be stored easily…

    1. I definitely recommend an exersaucer. Used it a lot with both my kids. I think ours was $40-50 new and that definitely paid for itself but I would look for one used. Not sure what you are talking about with a jumparoo-those things that you attached to a door frame and the baby sits in and jumps? I did not have a doorframe that those would work in so I found the exersaucer to be a better choice b/c you can move that from room to room instead of just where a doorframe is. My exersaucer was bouncy so the kids jumped up and down a lot in it. THey loved it.

      1. And our exersaucer could be collapsed and fit under a bed or somewhere to be stored.

    2. The jumperoo definitely takes less space, though it is awkwardly shaped with the cord and all. But, the exersaucer can go everywhere which makes it more versatile.

    3. I borrowed a friend’s exersaucer until I found one at the consignment store. Loved it!
      We had a jumperoo-the kind on the metal frame. My boy enjoyed it as well as it was in a different location and he had other stuff to look at!

  8. I never bought and exersaucer either! I was able to borrow it from two different friends.for each of my kids.I thought they were a big waste of money!

    1. Well, we bought it with our last baby, because we consider it a must have. But then we were able to “return the favor” by giving ours away. I think it’s now making the rounds in our homeschool group.

  9. These are all great tips, many of which I was thankful to be taught before I had my little girl. I especially love borrowing from others and buying used. All great ideas!

    Thanks for always hosting this fun party!

  10. Here’s my dilemma. I have a boy and a girl- opposite seasons (we live in a cold weather climate) We want more children, but we aren’t sure 1. When 2. Gender 3. Season lineup with our current hand-me-downs.

    So would it be more profitable to resell their clothes and put the money towards their next size up instead of storing “money” in our basement that might not work in the long run anyway and then be too out of style to resell?

    Sorry for the long question. I’ve been pondering this for a while.

    1. I’ve found that I can sell Gymboree or other “bigger” name brands well on e-bay. Otherwise, I typically don’t get more than $1 – $2 at a garage sale – so might be worth selling some and keeping some.

    2. I personally would keep it all. That being said, if you do have some Gymboree, Gap, or other expensive brands that you arent that crazy about or think a future baby just wont wear, I’d sell those.

    3. It depends on how much money you think you can recoup and what your shopping habits would be to rebuy later. We got our use out of the things that we kept and I know it saved us a lot of money. You’ll have to weigh your family’s cost versus benefit.

  11. I do not coupon (traditionally) on any diapers or wipes. For a long while Amazon mom was the best place for dipes/wipes. Now that the percentages have gone down some, I just stock up when they are on coupon at Costco. I have found that the rock bottom deals on diapers are few and far between, and I can get the same price on diapers far more easily without all the hassle of couponing constantly for diapers!

    1. I’ve found that Costco can save me time making stops elsewhere, so even if it’s not the cheapest, it still helps a lot.

  12. These are great tips. One thing I might add is once you have had the big showers with the first baby, encourage your friends who want to throw you one for your second, third and so on to host a “diaper pounding” where everyone brings diapers and wipes as gifts. Or a “piggy bank” tea, where you invite all your friends over to meet and greet the new baby and place a simple piggy bank in the center of the food table for people to drop their contribution in.

    1. My sister gave us a children’s book shower once. That was great to have so many great books.

  13. Thanks for hosting the link-up Jessica. I agree with all of your points, and especially like #1. We do so much because of the “Jones’s” mentality and often overlook actual reality – the baby doesn’t care, no one will remember, and does it really matter if the fabric of the pack n play matches the high-chair if it’s always wrapped up in the closet?