Editor's note: This article was originally published on Anita Fowler's blog, Live Like You Are Rich. It has been modified and republished here with permission.
People always say, "Babies are expensive!"
When I got pregnant my husband and I were so excited, we couldn't wait to meet our little guy. We were ecstatic about everything "baby"" all except the costs associated with having a little one.
After some research, I found multiple studies that show that the first baby can run you anywhere from $12,000 to $26,000 for the first year. When I read a few articles with these astronomical numbers I was overwhelmed. The first figure of $12,000 did not include health care, daycare, or having to buy a bigger house or car. The second figure accounted for everything you could think of including aforementioned expenses.
There were no articles (at least that I could find) that included or factored in a full-time working parent becoming a stay-at-home parent. By me choosing to stay home, we cut our income in HALF!
So " it is accurate and logical to say that babies (especially the first baby), are VERY expensive.
By the way, I would never put a price tag on the actual worth of my beautiful son. He has brought soooo much happiness, joy and meaning to our lives; he is worth any expense. That said, I just love to be prepared and I wanted to know in terms of numbers what my husband and I needed to plan and prepare for.
After my research on costs, I began making a list of different ways I could get everything I needed for our coming baby without spending a fortune.
I did a lot of thinking and research and had to get creative, and I am very excited to say that I was able to save $10,516.37 on our baby in his first year.
Below you will find 22 unique ways to save on your baby's first year. The reason I say "unique" is that many of the ways to save are not in the common, "How to save on your baby" articles that you will find online. I want to share these unique ways of saving with you, so hopefully you will get to enjoy your little one without having to shell out a fortune.
Before you get shopping, you will want to start off by making a list of things you will need for the arrival of your baby. If this is your first, your list is going to be quite long. You may need a swing, crib, changing table, changing pad, rocker, etc. Keep in mind that many of these items can be very pricey when bought new.
1. Buy neutral gender colors of main items
If you think it looks weird for a baby boy to sit in a bright pink Bumbo and if you want to have more than one child, purchase these types of items in neutral colors in case your next baby is the opposite gender.
2. Take the hand-me-downs you are offered
If you are lucky enough to have friends or family who will give you their hand-me-downs, accept them graciously and send them a thank you card and maybe even a small gift (who knows - they may want to send more things your way because you were so grateful).
3. Stock up on diapers when they are on sale (using coupons as well) and have enough to last your baby four months.
This is because you may not recover well, you may get sick, you may not want to go shopping. I've been there. You don't have to be a "couponer" to use a few coupons on diapers. I have bought at least 3,650 diapers this year. Buying them on sale and with coupons has saved me over $871.50 this year. Amazon Subscribe and Save may eliminate this need. If you sign up for AmazonMom you get 20 percent off of diapers and wipes. You can schedule them to arrive (shipped free to your door).
4. Pay attention to price per diaper
I am a dedicated couponer and when I was stocking up I would stock up on Huggies or Pampers when they were 15 cents or less a diaper (sizes N-2) and 18 cents or less (sizes 3-5). Brand name diapers range from 40 to 30 cents a diaper regularly. If you are not an avid couponer but are willing to look for sales and use coupons with the sales then stocking up on anything under 20 cents on Huggies or Pampers will still save you a lot of money.
5. Skip the warmers
Just throw the box of wipes near the heating vent in the winter or on the window sill in the summer to heat up the wipes. Or just wipe the baby with cold wipes (babies have survived much worse than a soft, sanitized, cold wipe on their cute little behinds). Put the cold lotion in your hand and warm it for a few seconds with some hand friction. Or put the baby shampoo and lotion (while in closed bottles) in the bath water while the bath is filling up to warm them up. Not only are the warmers expensive, they take up batteries, energy and space.
6. Buy second hand
If you aren't lucky enough to get hand-me-downs, you can buy pretty much everything second hand on classifieds, thrift stores, online, at garage sales or even on Facebook yard sale sites.
If you choose to immunize, most insurance covers them. If yours doesn't, or if your insurance charges a co-pay, it may be cheaper to get the immunizations at a health clinic in the area. Our health clinic is $10 an immunization as opposed to $200+ that the doctors' charge insurance companies and the $25 co-pay they charge us.
8. Use powered things not battery operated things when possible
Batteries will eat through your budget, especially if the item is a battery powered baby swing. I haven't done the math but I could bet that if you have more than one baby that uses the swing, you would save by buying a new swing that plugs in as opposed to buying a used battery powered swing and all the batteries needed to keep it running.
9. Garage Sale, Garage Sale, Garage Sale!
Even if you aren't an avid "Garage Saler" like me, you can save thousands by buying things at garage sales. Next to buying used from family and friends, garage sales have by far the LOWEST prices on the HIGHEST quality of items I've found.
10. Use smaller packages of diapers when your baby starts growing out of that size
Babies grow fast. When the diapers are looking like they are fitting just a tad tighter yet still fit, use smaller packages like jumbo packages instead of the boxes. That way if your baby hits a growth spurt and gains a few pounds in one week you will not be left with an opened/non-returnable half box of diapers.
11. Set up a registry with items on your list. Don't feel pressure to register at Babies"R"Us or Buy Buy Baby. Register at places that are inexpensive.
A lot of people have a budget and a certain dollar amount they spend on baby shower gifts. If you register at a less expensive place they will be able to buy you more for less. I registered at Walmart and Amazon. They are less expensive and have a great return policies. I was registered at Target and received one expensive duplicate item. They almost wouldn't return it because there is a limit to a dollar amount of how much you can return.
12. Buy and use 'free and clear' detergent instead of the expensive baby detergents
Free and clear is a type of detergent that comes in multiple brand or non-brand varieties and is free of dye and other allergens. When you buy it on sale with a coupon you can get liquid name brand free and clear detergent for under $2 a medium sized bottle or less; compared to a $9 bottle of Dreft, the savings are significant. If you haven't had a baby yet, trust me when I say you will be doing a LOT more laundry.
13. After your pediatrician's approval, start your baby on solids
Feeding your baby solids will help your baby fill up on less expensive nourishment and save on the cost of formula. Get your pediatrician's approval first.
14. Make your own baby food
Buy produce from stores or get bulk produce from co-ops like Bountiful Baskets and make the baby food yourself.
15. When buying baby food pay attention to calories
I was surprised when I was checking out baby food that the same company makes Stage 2 baby food with 40 calories and Stage 2 baby food with 80 calories and sells them for the same price. Then I looked at another brand which had Stage 2 with 100 calories for the same price. Buy the higher calorie count food if it is around the same price and it will keep your baby full longer and save you money.
16. Have a diaper-themed, baby-book-themed or other-themed baby shower
If you have stocked up on baby clothes and already have a lot of the other things you need, having a themed baby shower helps your guests know what to bring and helps you to stock up on certain harder-to-find-used items. I had three showers thanks to my friends, my family and my church. On the third shower I asked to have a baby book themed shower. I got many wonderful books. I have since gotten about 80 more books (we read 30-60 minutes a day and I get tired of the same books so I need variety). I buy the books at thrift stores for 25 to 50 cents each. I usually always buy board books so I can use a Lysol wipe and clean each page and dry it. I sanitize each page so that I know the used books are germ free.
17. Use different make shift items that serve the same purpose
Pillows worked better for me than the Boppy for nursing. Some people use a dresser instead of a changing table. You may want to use a blender instead of a baby bullet. We left our doors open instead of investing in a baby monitor. Any bag that you can easily get into and has pockets and can be washed will do for a diaper bag. Use a radio, iPod or whatever you have for white noise instead of the pricey white noise machines. Get creative and it will save you not only on money, but also on space.
18. Do your own newborn photographs
If you have a good camera (or a decent one will do too) you can create newborn photographs on your own for free.
19. Ask for baby items for your Christmas and/or birthday presents
We asked for diapers, a highchair splash mat, a baby swing and a few items we didn't get off our registry, and that were difficult to come by used or that we wanted new. Use every opportunity you have for gifts to ask for things for your baby and you will save a lot.
20. Nurse your baby for as long as you feel comfortable/are able
Not only does nursing boost your baby's immunity and helps you and him/her in a variety of ways, it also saves lots of money. That said, you should plan for the odd possibility of not being able to nurse for as long as you want. I planned to nurse for a year, but a surgery I had, an allergic reaction, and a host of other issues made it impossible for me to nurse for a year. I was only able to nurse for four months and supplement until five and that in itself was a struggle. Plan for the unexpected when factoring in the cost of feeding your baby.
21. If you are going to use formula, research the best kind and factor in the cost when making a decision.
Formula is tightly regulated so going with an off brand is just as nutritious and much less expensive.
22. Start your baby on the type of formula you are going to stick with
We spend $100 a month on formula buying in bulk and using formula checks. Had we started on the Kirkland/Costco brand (assuming my son didn't have any negative reactions to it) we would only pay $60 a month in formula. Buying generic would have been almost $300 worth of savings a month.