Babies are definitely expensive, but there are lots of high-priced items you might think you "need" for your kid that you can totally do without.
You had a baby? Congratulations! There’s a whole new person in your life, and you’ve got many years ahead of bonding, love, frustration, reconciliation, conversations, and pride ahead of you.
Kids are also expensive! And while you’ve got some time before you have to pay for college, you’re going to need to open your wallet as soon as you’re done holding your child for the first time.
Leaving aside the medical expenses associated with birth, babies need a place to sleep, things to play with, stuff to eat, stuff to wear, and all manner of other things as well. The money you’re going to be spending on this baby will add up quick!
That’s why we talked to the infant experts to find out how you can get baby stuff for cheaper. Let’s goo-goo ga-go!
Separate the “I need it” from the “I want it.”
When many children start talking, they tend to say “I need” about things that they actually “want.” They recognize that “need” is a more urgent word than “want” and don’t yet have the capability to visualize an actual scenario where they truly “need” something that you weren’t likely to provide for them anyway.
But you recognize the difference. Or at least, you should.
“Get real with what you need versus what is a luxury,” advised Cory Nichols, CEO of Yes Life Financial. “My favorite example is a wipe warmer. While a lovely luxury, you probably shouldn’t condition your kid to expect warm wet wipes every time you change their diaper.
“You are destined to be out in public when a dirty diaper has to be changed and the meltdown brought on by a ‘cold’ wipe will only make the situation more difficult. Save your money, say no to the Wipe Warmer.
“Another example is Diaper Genie (or similar). I hear all the time about people who put these in the upstairs nursery. The reality is if you are downstairs when your baby needs a diaper change you aren’t going to go upstairs to change it AND leave the diaper up there. You are probably just going to change it on the floor in the living room. Save your money, say no to the Diaper Genie.”
Susan Santoro, owner of Organized31, offered a similar recommendation:
“You don’t need every item on the market. Babies actually need very few items to be healthy and happy and grow and develop. Be purposeful about the items that you want for your baby and put those items on your baby shower wish list.
“Channel your excitement about your new baby into reading and learning about child development rather than purchasing unnecessary items.”
Consider a registry.
Parenting isn’t a game with scores, which means you don’t get any “extra parent points” for refusing help. There’s nothing wrong with having a registry and accepting the generosity of your friends and family to help manage the expenses around your new wonderful bundle of joy.
“A well-planned baby registry can minimize the cost of your baby’s first year or two, which can total over $17,500, depending on where you live,” explained Sandra Gordon, owner of BabyProductsMom. “Why not let well-wishers foot the bill?
But think of it as if you were shelling out for it all yourself by getting picky. To do your registry right, visit stores, such as Target, Buy Buy Baby, and your local baby boutique and get your hands on products, even if you ultimately buy/register online. If you know what you’re registering for, you’ll be less likely to waste your registry ‘dollars.’
“Besides big-ticket items, such as a crib, stroller, and car seat, list practical items that you’ll need in quantity, such as disposable diapers in larger sizes, cloth diapers, wipes, breast pads, and Diaper Genie refills. They may not seem gifty, but they can save lots of moola down the line. This post is helpful for what to buy/register for.”
Your baby will be growing quickly early on, so there may be items it makes more sense to rent than to buy.
“We see more and more parents opting to rent high-end baby gear that they expect to only occasionally use,” recounted Fran Maier, CEO of baby gear rental marketplace BabyQuip.
“This might include a jogging stroller for the one or two runs a parent brings the baby along on, a baby backpack carrier for the annual family hike, or a side-by-side stroller for the one week during the year when you do a nanny share with a friend (one nanny takes her vacation and the other nanny watches babies from two families) and the nanny needs to push two babies at once.
“Besides the cost savings of renting occasional-use baby gear, parents also feel better about the carbon footprint, most of which happens in the manufacturing phase. One piece of baby gear can be used by many families, rather than having it collect dust in a closet.”
And speaking of strollers…
High roller stroller.
Going for a walk with your baby is lovely. And it doesn’t have to break the bank!
“Use a stroller frame for your baby’s first stroller,” suggested Gordon. “Instead of shelling out hundreds for a stroller from day one, snap your baby’s infant car seat into a bare-bones stroller frame, such as the Baby Trend Snap ‘n Go (around $45 on Amazon).
“The carrier frame will do the job until your baby outgrows their infant car seat (at about a year). It’s compatible with most brands of infant car seats. A stroller frame will buy you time, saving you from having to pair your baby’s infant car seat with a traditional coordinating stroller from day one.
“Time is helpful. You’ll know so much more about your next-stroller needs once you’ve got some parenting experience under your belt.”
Consider non-traditional shopping options.
You want the best stuff for your baby, but you don’t necessarily have to pay the most for it.
“Purchase items that can be cleaned well and are not safety related at consignment sales,” offered Santoro. “Many baby items like clothing, blankets, books, decor, and bags are minimally used by new parents.
“Often you can find items at consignment sales that still have the tags and most of the remaining items are in gently-used condition. Save money on these like-new items and use those savings for items that you must purchase new.”
And that’s only one of the many ways to shop smart.
“Don’t purchase a lot of clothing for you or bub, especially in advance,” advised Lucy Harris, CEO of Hello Baby Bump. “You may decide breastfeeding isn’t for you or there is an issue and you can no longer feed your newborn that way. If you purchase a variety of items for a breastfeeding wardrobe and this happens to you, it is money down the drain and not worth it.
“Wait a little while or only buy a couple of items for when you absolutely need it. When it comes to bub he/she is going to grow faster than you may think. Don’t buy 50+ items that fit them now and in a few months’ time may be too small, just get the essentials and don’t buy into the cute clothes.
“When it comes to things such as winter coats, purchase those items closer to the season than a couple of months in advance to prevent a wasted buy all because your bub has grown.
“When it comes to baby clothes staples, ie all-in-ones, socks, undershirts etc. Skimp on the costs with all-in-ones and undershirts as you will layer on top of them anyway and get white. When bub makes a mess you can just bleach instead of spot treating stains which will save you when it comes to laundry expenses.
“Diapers are a large expense when it comes to newborns. Two of my favorite options are buying big or use reusable diapers. Your baby is going to go through diapers like anything so purchasing the larger buys is going to save you money in the long run. If you want an eco-friendly choice, pick up some reusable diapers and just wash them.”
You may not have much time, but if you can spare some time to do a few things yourself, it can be a big money saver.
“One of the best ways to save money is by making your own baby food,” recommended Jenna Coleman, consumer expert at Particular Pantry. “Most people already have the necessary equipment to make the baby food and storing homemade baby food making this an even more affordable option.
“Making your own baby food can save hundreds of dollars over the course of the baby’s first year because fresh produce is much less expensive than pre-packaged baby food, plus you get to help the environment by cutting down on plastic packaging. For example, in my area, you can buy 1lb. of fresh sweet potatoes for $1.28 while one 3oz. serving of sweet potato baby food is $1.38.”
You’ve got many rewarding nights of inconsistent sleep ahead of you. Hopefully, these tips will allow you to take that journey without going broke.
Jenna Coleman (@particularpantry) is a consumer behavior expert in the grocery industry who believes that finding the right food for your family should be easier. She is a firm believer that everyone can be an educated consumer and she’s on a mission to bring unbiased transparency to your choices of food and modes of shopping so that you can make deliberate choices for your particular life.
Fran Maier is CEO and Founder of BabyQuip (@BabyQuipCorp), the leading baby gear rental service and marketplace. She is a serial entrepreneur and brand builder with nearly 25 years experience in B2C and B2B internet businesses. She is best known for her 10+ years leading TRUSTe (now TrustArc), the leading privacy trustmark and solutions provider, and as Co-Founder and first General Manager of Match.com.
Cory Nichols (@coryjnichols) is the founder & CEO of Yes Life Financial. Cory and his wife Colleen started Yes Life in June of 2016 to help individuals realize their full potential and follow their dreams. Cory is from Richmond, VA where he lives with Colleen and their two boys (Jack and Oliver) and Great Dane (Penny). Cory volunteers with the RFVA and enjoys facilitating Daddy Bootcamp where he helps soon to be new dads prepare for life with a baby.
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