Monday, September 1, 2008

Baby on a Budget - what does it really cost?

Due to a good number of people in my life who are pregnant or have newborns, I thought I'd have a post of how to have a baby cheaper. I recently read that, based on these 10 factors
  • housing
  • childcare
  • food
  • energy
  • clothing and footwear
  • household goods and services (including education)
  • leisure
  • personal care
  • transport
  • health
the average price for the first year is somewhere between $3000-$13,000. That was in 1994, so I'm sure the price has gone up. Another study, done in 2007, showed that it costs close to $15,000 in that first year. I'm not saying this to scare anyone because we've spent almost nothing during pregnancy and in the first 16 months of Evee's life. I'm just saying that there are cheaper ways to do stuff. Here are my thoughts and what worked for us.
  • Get anything and everything second hand - used items from friends, family, co-workers, freecycle, garage sales, second hand stores, etc.
  • When you feel forced to buy something, think of an alternative. For example, before we were given a crib, I was going to use the pack 'n play we were given for as long as I possibly could. Many people may think you NEED a crib, but really the babe just needs a safe place to sleep and anything safe will do. Evee ended up using her pack 'n play to sleep in all summer while we traveled. From 13 till 16.5 months she'll be sleeping there. We picked up a cheap p 'n p mattress and she has done great!
  • If you are just under the poverty line, look into what government helps there are for you. Google "child and family services" and your state to see what might be available or at least will give you a number to call. A lot of states have programs available for pregnant women and children...make sure you have insurance!
  • Cloth diaper - I just put a ton of information about cloth diapering under the resource links on this site. Go here to find tons of information about cloth diapering and how to order yours.
  • Use Charlie Soap for diapers and all your laundry needs. It saves a bundle on all your washing - you use a lot less, it is natural for you and the environment, you don't need to use softener, and on and on... If you are interested in Charlie's Soap you can get it directly from them or from this work at home mom (they are on sale now with her). You can find more info about CS in my diaper page, mentioned above, too.
  • Don't know the gender of your baby till it is born - specifically you're first born. Obviously, this is a personal decision, so hear my reasons out and then make whatever decision is best for you.
    • You end up getting more practical things at any shower you have or gifts that you randomly get before the baby is born.
    • As nice as clothes are, you really need the practical stuff with your first baby.
    • You will get neutral stuff that you can use for subsequent children.
    • You may end up getting clothes later from people who just really wanted to get them clothes once they knew whether it is a boy or girl.
  • Breastfeed - it is great for your baby (getting the nutrients that were perfectly designed for him/her), great for your body (helps get you lose your baby weight), and great for your budget (it saves approximately $40 per week!!!).
  • Ask yourself, "Do I/the baby really need this?"
  • Don't buy toys - make stuff, use household items that are safe, play with your child, get books from the library, take hand-me-downs, give lots of tummy time when they are little. With the toys that you do acquire, trade with other moms when your babies/kids are tired of their own.
  • Meal plan ahead of time and freeze what you can. If people stop by with meals or offer to make something, accept it! This is such a blessing when you're getting used to a new baby (and anytime, for that matter!). Plan dinners so that when you're tired and busy, you will eat healthier and cheaper.
  • Make your own stuff. I hope to put a pattern on here soon for a baby sling that my sister made for me when Evee was born. There are some things that are great products, but could be made quite easily. Sidenote: If you're going to buy products, for you or someone else, support other moms and buy from Mom4Life (see link on side).
  • Take unneeded or duplicate items back. Sometimes after receiving an item, or a duplicate item, you realize that you won't be able to utilize it. When registering, you may have thought that you needed it, but once baby comes, you realize it's not essential. If people give a gift receipt, just return it. If there is no gift receipt, bunch any items into one group for each store to return. Most stores only let you return 2 "lots" per year without a receipt to get in-store credit (using your driver's license). Also, I know that at some stores you can return things without a receipt if they are on your registry (no matter when you actually add them to your registry - hint, hint). Thanks to the nice customer service lady at Target for that fabulous tip!
  • Think through childcare - what other options might there be? Swapping with other mom's, working less to save (do the calculations), in-home daycare, discounts with your employer, using pre-taxed money to pay for childcare (some employers' benefits programs offer this)...
  • Think through those 10 factors (listed at the top) and see if there are non-essentials in each of those categories.
I'm sure there are many other things you can do but, for now, these are things that have worked really well for us!


  1. These are such great tips and so meaningful since I know you and how well you have practiced these things for your own family. Love you!

  2. Very practical tips, Jamie! Many that I practiced as a young mom... I only wish I had the Happy Heiny's cloth diapers back then.

    I don't have young children, but I love the green-friendly, no softener, and cleaner clothes that Charlie's Soap provides. Less expensive, too!

    Like to think that you got some of your baby on a budget perspective from your mom :)