30 Money-Saving Tips for New Parents (Save $3,000 or More!)
Equipping, feeding, and outfitting your child is likely to cost between $9,000 and $12,000 during pregnancy and the first year of life, say Sandy Jones and Marcie Jones, authors of Great Expectations: Best Baby Gear. Here are their smart tips!
Buy a “Convertible” Car Seat
Infant car seats for babies weighing up to 20–30 pounds let you remove your baby without having to wake him up, but they’re bulky and a huge strain to carry around. A convertible seat will be good from 5 to 40 pounds, or more. These seats can ride facing backward or forward, and will remain useful for two to three years, so take a look at them.
Photo Credit: Shown: Graco SnugRider Stroller Infant Car Seat Frame
Convert Your Baby’s Car Seat into a Stroller
If you decide to go with an infant-only car seat, don’t buy it as half of a costly travel system that also includes a stroller. Instead, buy an inexpensive rack on wheels made just for supporting and rolling that type of car seat.
Photo Credit: Shown: Kolkraft Contours Options 3-Wheeler Stroller
Be Stroller Savvy
Simply because a stroller has a huge price tag doesn’t mean it’s a better baby hauler. Shop the lower end of a respected brand, such as Graco, Kolcraft, or Cosco; then purchase extra accessories as needed. When choosing the stroller, go for something that’s lightweight, with a reclining seat back, that can handle an uneven path, rather than a giant and very expensive baby bed on wheels.
Breastfeed Your Baby
You can save your family about $40 per week, or more than $2,000 a year, just in the cost of formula and bottles. Expect to spend a few thousand more if your baby turns out to be allergic to infant formula and requires hypoallergenic versions. Plus, your breastfed baby will be less likely to be an obese child or have digestive issues, get juvenile diabetes, cavities, or need braces later on. (Learn more about breastfeeding benefits.)
Postpone Buying a Breast Pump
Babies are the best breast pumps in the business! If you know you’re going to be staying at home for a while, let your baby do all the work, instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a pump. But if you decide you need one, a good breast pump can be had for under $200. Buying (or renting) a breast pump is still a great deal compared with the monthly costs of formula feeding (not to mention the babywellness factor). An economical option in the early months is to temporarily rent a highly efficient, hospital-grade pump until you’re sure you really need to own your own pump.
Cash in on (or Exchange) Unneeded Baby Items
Don’t store baby gifts you don’t need or want. Instead, return them for cash, sell them on eBay, put them up for sale at a consignment shop, or exchange them for goods you really need.
Dress your Baby for Comfort Instead of Fashion
Sure, it’s cute to dress your son in miniature camouflage fatigues or your daughter as a little pink princess, but your baby will probably be grateful for old-fashioned cotton knit T-shirts, gowns, and footed sleepers that are considerably less costly and also a lot more comfortable.
Beg and Borrow Baby Duds
Babies outgrow their clothes and move on to the next size in a matter of months (and sometimes in just weeks). Buy baby clothes one or two sizes larger than you currently need and let your baby grow into them. Better yet, negotiate for a carton or two of friends’ leftover baby duds that you clean up with an oxygen-based detergent.
Convert Your Favorite Over-the-Shoulder Pouch into a Diaper Bag
There’s no need to waste money on a designer diaper statement when your favorite roomy leather
bag or backpack will work just fine. Folding
diaper pads and clear plastic pouches are all you need to turn any satchel into a diaper container.
Let the Crib Just Be a Crib
You don’t need to spend extra bucks to get a crib that converts into a love seat, a double bed, or a computer table, when a simple crib with a single lowering side works great for those first two years. Then purchase a toddler bed frame and use the crib’s mattress for another year. Finally, once your child’s old enough, you can buy a single twin bed to save space.
Nix Baby Armoires (and Other Furniture that Matches the Crib)
(Note: Protruding knobs on older drawers should be changed to flat handles. You’ll need to install drawer stops, and the chest should be attached to the wall with L shaped brackets to keep it from falling over on your future toddler if he tries to use the drawers as steps to get to the top.)
Photo Credit: Shown: Presto Change-o Changing Top at Land of Nod
Change Diapers on Top of a Chest
diaper-changing pads with raised sides are available that let you convert any chest into a “changing station.” Just be sure to firmly attach the pad to the chest using the provided screws and to always use the safety belt. A cushioned diaper pad on the floor works, too.
Skip the Baby Bathtub
Use the kitchen sink lined with a folded towel to do the job, or take the baby into the shower or tub with you. Placing the baby in a baby seat on the bathroom floor can help with getting in and out.
Don’t Fall for So-Called “Baby Life Insurance”
Use Your Ears as Baby Monitors
You don’t need to hear your baby’s every snuffle. Just keep the doors open. Your baby will sound the alarm if he needs you.
Make Your Own Baby Food
There’s nothing exotic about jarred baby food. How hard can it be to
mash up a banana or a sweet potato, to stir up some instant oatmeal, to open a jar of unsweetened applesauce, or to run some cooked veggies through a blender or food processor? Go
organic if you’re concerned about pesticide residues.
Photo Credit: Shown: Prince Lionheart Soft Booster Seat
Use a Booster Seat
If your kitchen is crowded, consider using a baby bouncer until your baby outgrows its weight limits, then sit him in a molded plastic
booster seat that straps securely onto the seat of a regular chair. Some have front trays and operate just like a regular high chair but often cost more than $50 less.
Be Your Baby’s Best Toy
Babies have very limited attention spans and aren’t all that crazy about activity centers or mobiles that play tunes and do tricks. So don’t be seduced into spending hundreds of dollars on baby toys when the type of stimulation your baby really needs is the multisensory kind
provided by grown-ups when they walk, talk, and respond to their offspring.
Use a Family Practice Physician
If pediatricians’ fees are exorbitant in your neck of the woods, explore using a physician in family practice. He or she will be trained to treat not only your baby but also you and everyone else in your family. You may be able to combine both appointments.
Plot Your Baby's Growth
Stock up on disposable diapers—buy them by the case from giant warehouse chains. Use a copy of your doctor’s growth chart to plot your baby’s growth curve so you won’t buy too many size 2 diapers when your baby is about to graduate to size 3. (The same goes for
Get on lists to receive money-saving coupons for diapers and formula by signing up for baby clubs sponsored by drugstore and supermarket chains and on manufacturers’ web sites and Internet coupon sites. Use coupons at grocery stores that double them.
(Quick trick: If you check “planning to breastfeed” on surveys sponsored by formula manufacturers, you’re like to be mailed formula coupons worth more, receive them more often, and be given cartons of formula samples than if you check “planning to formula feed.”)
Attend Baby Fairs
For an inexpensive admission ticket you may be able to strike a deal with manufacturers’ sales reps to buy display products at a substantial savings, since they don’t want to have to pay shipping to send the products back to the warehouse.
Take Advantage of Freebies
Search around and you may be able to skip the
car seat purchase. Some community organizations, car dealerships, and muffler companies offer free loaner car seats.
Skip the Play Yard
Millions of units of
play yards have been recalled over the years. Not only that, they just don’t work as well as baby beds. Use your baby’s
crib or a less expensive bassinet as a baby sleeper for the early months.
Use a Pet Gate
The same manufacturers that sell baby gates also manufacture pet gates. And usually pet gates add extra inches at the top, which could be an advantage if your child’s a climber. Just make sure the gate’s mesh can’t be scaled by small feet and that the gate’s frame fastens into the wall with screws if you’re planning to use it at the top or bottom of a staircase.
Use Reusable Bottles
Although disposable bottles seem like a good idea on the surface, it’s much less expensive to wash the same bottles over and over. The best bottles are made of non-polycarbonate material and have smooth sides that are easy to clean, without straws or nooks and crannies that could trap milk residue.
Treat Disposables Like Garbage
Retailers make their money on selling the liners of diaper-disposal systems designed to seal off diapers so they won’t smell. Besides, the disposal systems are a challenge to operate (especially with diapers in larger sizes). A simple kitchensize trash receptacle with a plastic bag for a liner and some spray deodorizer (out of baby’s reach) or inexpensive Ziploc resealable bags will work just fine.
Buy a Firm, Inexpensive Foam Mattress
Your baby doesn’t need a 750-coil Baby Beauty
mattress with a lifetime guarantee. A simple firm foam mattress will work well, is easier to make up, and could be hundreds of dollars cheaper.
Use Regular Detergents and Avoid Fabric Softeners
You don’t need to buy
special baby detergents for laundering your baby’s clothes. They’re more expensive, and those that are powdered can clog up fabrics, making them less absorbent.
Use a liquid fragrance-free detergent to keep from irritating your baby’s nose and skin, and don’t use liquid or sheet-style fabric softeners for the same reason.
More Incredible Savings Tips
As you’re outfitting your home and Baby’s nursery, you’ll want to know that you’re making the best buying decisions possible. Great Expectations: Best Baby Gear by mother-daughter team Sandy Jones and Marcie Jones will get you hunting for the right stuff for your growing family.
(Reprinted with permission from Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.)
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