It seems like having a baby is more expensive now more than ever. After the costs of actually giving birth, there are the added expenses that come along with a new baby. Diapers, wipes, burp rags, and the darling pacifier clips that parents just have to have. Everything starts adding up very quickly. However, raising children doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor, and in fact, there are many ways to actually save money as a new parent.
With a few tried and true tips, parents can be on track to making parenting more affordable and more fun for the entire family, new parents or not! To start out, parents will want to speak to their hospital and insurance to find out just how much having a baby is going to cost. From there, use the tips below to help the bank account out a bit so parents can stress less about money and cherish these early days with the babes. From do-it-yourself options to small lifestyle adjustments, the below list is here to help parents and their budgets!
Becoming a parent is actually more affordable than ever. By following the tips below, parents will get a jump start on their journey into parenthood, and enjoy the wonderful adventure they are about to embark on!
15 Make Your Own Bath Products
It can be tempting to reach for a bottle of baby soap of up to $7, not to mention lotion, diaper cream and all of the other baby toiletries that you need. With a few ingredients, some that you might already have in your linen closet, and a bit of time you can make a lot of these items yourself.
Not to mention, once you buy the ingredients, they will last you a very long time.
Using a recipe from DIY Natural, you can make a safe, non-toxic baby soap using liquid castile soap, filtered water and a few drops of essential oils. They also note that babies actually don’t need to be bathed too frequently, "Frequent washing can dry out baby’s sensitive skin, so we when we washed our littlest, we only rinsed him off with water every couple days. If he needed soap, it was usually because he smelled like cheese (milk + skin folds = yucky smell) or because a big brother or sister decided to put coconut oil in his hair. In that event, we’d just use castile soap... In a foaming dispenser."
Don’t stop at baby’s bath products either. Once you have the ingredients for the new toiletries, you will find that you can use a lot of them to make soaps, scrubs and more for yourself too! Hello, face scrub!
14 DIY Baby Proofing
Baby proofing is one of those things that you gradual take care of as new hazards present themselves. For example, you might not think twice about how secure your bookshelf is until the first time your baby crawls up and tries pulling themselves up. At moments like this, many of us will turn to Amazon and instinctively think that we need to order corner protectors, outlet plugs, cabinet locks and other things that are sure to pop up in our baby proofing endeavors. A little innovation can go along way in this department, and you can save a lot of money by doing your own baby proofing.
Try placing band-aids over outlet holes, hair ties or rubber bands to secure cabinet handles together and cut a hole in a small Tupperware container to make a doorknob cover. Cafe Mom states, "To keep your baby from prying around dangerous surge protectors, grab a Tupperware container large enough to contain it, cut out holes for the cords, then seal shut with Duct tape. Problem solved!"
These DIY Baby Proofing tips are safe, effective and will help you save money. Give them a try and see how easy they are. If you need more inspiration, do a quick Google search of DIY baby proofing and you’ll find a ton of clever solutions.
13 Use A Laundry Basket Instead Of A Baby Bathtub
When we’re compiling baby registries, it is so easy to get lost in the registry and Pinterest check-lists. But, once the baby actually arrives, there are many things you will find yourself tossing to the back of the closet. Case in point, the baby bathtub. You will see them all over garage sales and consignment stores looking as if they’ve never been used because they probably haven’t been.
The Geeky Parent tried this method with success and stated, "It keeps him from venturing out in the slippery tub and becoming nervous. The sides help him stay upright and there’s enough room left over for big brother in the bathtub too, so they can play together."
So cross the baby tub off of the checklist and when the time comes, just grab a laundry basket to bathe your little. Don’t forget the toys!
Wondering what to do for that newborn phase? Newborn babies don’t get too dirty, and bathing them too frequently can just dry their skin out. Many parents opt for sponge baths for the first weeks of their little baby's life. Ask dad to get involved in bathtime, while he holds the baby, gently dap him off with a washcloth. Better yet, bring the baby in the shower and hold him tightly. This makes for great bonding time! Save yourself some cash by skipping the baby bathtub, and have your friends asking, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
12 Use An Inflatable Pool Instead Of A Playpen
Parenting.com reports, "The average middle-income family will spend roughly $12,000 on child-related expenses in their baby’s first year of life."
Baby gear is a large part of these expenses, so cutting down on things you don’t actually need can be a huge help on your bank account. One item you can cut out of the budget is a playpen. Instead, use a multi-purpose kiddie pool. Great for indoor or outdoor use, you will be thankful to have someplace to safe to set the baby down in where they will be confined and safe.
You can make this extra fun by placing stuffed animals, balls or soft blankets in the pool with your baby (omitting the water, obviously.) Of course, you can also use the pool to keep your little one confined while you get some yard work done outside, or actually use it as a pool and have some fun water play with your babe!
Keep the multi-purpose options, such as this, in mind when you’re compiling your lists of necessities as a new parent. Multi-purpose options will save you money and keep the clutter down around the home so you really can’t go wrong.
11 Say No To Impulsive Shopping
We fall into routines and habits so easily, often without even thinking about it or realizing, we’re doing it. The sidewalk sale you go to every year? Staring at Amazon Prime while feeding or snuggling your newborn baby? Just say no! Walk away when you see the sidewalk sale signs, ignore the 80% off emails. These habits can end up having a bigger impact on us than we realize.
Dave Ramsey says, "A recent survey by Slickdeals found that Americans impulsively spend an average of $450 every month. That adds up to an extra $5,400 spent every year!"
That is a huge monthly number, not to mention annually, to spend on impulse shopping.
Imagine what you could do with those savings. For example, you could have taken your family on vacation. One way to help curb the impulse shopping urge is to create a budget. If you put something down in writing and have a budget to look at, it can make a world of difference.
Also, I have found that unsubscribing from email newsletters of companies that are extra tempting for me, in addition to un-following tempting social media advertisers, help me greatly. These are just a few tips to get you started in the right direction of quitting the impulse spending.
10 Take Advantage Of Free Activities
Did you know you can drop your kids off at Michael’s for a 2 to 3-hour class for about $3? They will take your kid, entertain them and even give them snacks, while you browse local activity calendars for events like this near you. Many museums and libraries have similar programs and some of them are even free.
Take advantage of programs like Kids Bowl Free."Select bowling centers and schools around the country are participating in the first ever Kids Bowl Free program. This program is designed by bowling centers to give back to the community and provide a safe, secure, and fun way for kids to spend time this summer. Children whose age does not exceed a limit by a participating bowling center are eligible to register for 2 free games each day of the KBF program, all summer long, courtesy of the participating bowling centers along with the schools and organizations."
Also, don’t forget the possibilities that the great outdoors allow! Go for a family hike and burn some energy, spend some time in the garden learning about growing your own food, or have the kids put on an outdoor play. Kids aren’t the only ones with great imaginations, you can use yours too to think of lots of ways to cheaply keep the kids entertained. Pinterest can certainly help you out in this regard too. Do a quick search of Free Kids Activities.
9 Use A Tent As A Sandpit
In the warmer months of the year, most children love being outside. From splashing around in the water to playing with sidewalk chalk, building forts and of course, playing in the sandbox, their hearts are in it for the win.
Sandboxes are a great sensory play activity for kids of all ages but to be honest, commercial sandboxes can be expensive.
You don’t need the turtle sandbox to indulge your children in their very own sandbox. Pitch an old tent in the yard instead! This will save you money and be much less of a hassle.
Passionate Penny Pincher recommends, "A tent with a waterproof bottom will both keep moisture out from the rain, keep animals out at night, and keep the sand clean. A tent that has the option of a screen window for ventilation is best, but if you have it positioned in the shade, any tent should be okay."
Not only is the tent sandpit cost-effective, but it can also keep bugs and unwanted critters out of the sandbox. Heck, you can even let the kids play in the sandbox while it’s raining if you want! This DIY alternative is a win-win option all around. Just be sure to move it around in the yard every now and then so you’re not damaging your grass underneath it!
8 Say Yes To Free Babysitting
Is grandma coming over for the day? Great, make your kids lunch and sneak out the back door when Grandma’s not looking. Your kids will be in good hands and you can enjoy some quiet time in the car. Stop at Starbucks for your favorite drink and get your mama jam on to your favorite song in the car. Alone time in the car is one of those things we totally take for granted until we enter parenthood.
Alone time is so healthy and important. According to Dr. Christina Hibbert, "As a psychologist, I know the research, and the research is clear: Alone time is essential for emotional/mental/ spiritual/social/physical health and a key element of true happiness. By “alone time” what I really mean is time away from your role as a mother—time to be YOU, to unwind, relax, rest, revive. This can include taking a nap, sleeping in, reading, hiking, going out with a friend, doing a project or activity you enjoy, or anything that helps you feel like the real you and builds your health and strength. Some need more or less alone time, but all will benefit from a few minutes each day, hours each week, and/or days away each year."
So just walk away, Mama. Walk away from grandma and the kiddos. Leave them in the dust and savor your time alone, you deserve it.
7 Make Crib and Toddler Bed Bumpers Out Of Pool Noodles
There are so many products being marketed for both baby and toddler beds; crib rails, bumpers, toddler rails, pillow wedges and more. Save yourself research on what the best product is, and go grab a few pool noodles that can be used for all of the above, and more.
Hint Mama recounts in a tip of the day, "When my friends moved their nearly 2-year-old daughter into a regular twin bed, they bought three $3 pool noodles and stacked them in a pyramid at the edge of their daughter’s bed. When those seemed to slip, they put two noodles next to each other at the edge of the bed and eventually, they transitioned to one pool noodle lining the edge of the bed, with the noodle held in place by a fitted sheet."
As if this hack isn’t reason enough to go out and buy a few pool noodles that you can also use pool noodles many other baby variations.
Such as crib rail cover to prevent baby from biting the crib, use them on doors to prevent finger slams, and use them on any sharp edges to prevent accidental boo-boos from clumsy toddlers. Not only will these pool noodles help your little ones stay in place at night, but they are much easier on the bank account, and your kids will probably think it’s pretty cool!
6 Buy Second Hand Clothes And Supplies
Buying second-hand does not have to mean sacrificing quality. If you put in a little extra time, you can score some really great second-hand bargains. Instead of going to Goodwill or any old thrift store, look for baby and child-specific consignment shops. Also, scope out garage sales and online buy/sell/trade groups. Can I get an IOS anyone? Before I make any purchase for my little girl, I almost always put an ‘in search of’ call out to local buy sell trade groups to see if I can score said item for a deal, and I almost always find one.
Be sure to follow these tips from Today’s Parent when shopping secondhand goods, "Buy quality brands. Look for signs of significant wear. If you see fading, pilling, worn seams or threadbare spots, leave it. Check clothing in good light. Carefully examine shoes. Ask about store credit."
Also, more and more people are turning towards social outlets like Instagram to sell gently used baby clothes. You can find some really great stuff, just look for hashtags like #shopmykidsclose and #babyclothesforsale and you’ll find yourself in a rabbit hole of adorable Insta-moms reselling awesome baby gear.
5 Become The Coupon Queen You've Always Wanted To Be
Nobody wants to be that lady in line at the check-out with 37 coupons and an opinion about everything. Rest-assured, you can use coupons and still be a cool mom.
An article by Huffington points out the following, “It is possible to use coupons without making it a full-time job. You aren’t going to save a ton of money simply by clipping the coupons from your local paper but every penny counts. Keep the big picture in mind. Weekly and monthly grocery budgets are great and important. When it comes to seeing savings think in terms of an entire year. Saving $3 on one grocery trip may seem like nothing, but if you save $3 every week that’s a savings of $156 for the year.”
Check the local penny saver for coupons of products you will actually use and clip away.
Stash them in a little envelope and double check your envelope before you head to do your grocery shopping. Coupons also come in handy for things like family pizza night. Always be on the lookout for deals from your local restaurants. Don’t forget to check local eateries social media outlets before placing an order, you can often score a deal that way too! As stated above, small savings can add up over time.
4 Make Your Own Baby Food
Making your own baby food is a game changer for your wallet and your baby. It doesn’t have to be complicated and you don’t need any fancy machines to accomplish what you need to do. Whether you’re starting your little minions on purees or going the baby-led weaning route, you can do this without reaching for the prepackaged options.
Baby Savers advises, “You'll need a few tools for any method of baby food-making, but you probably already have at least a few of them in your home (you have a fork, right?). I strongly advise you to keep your budget in check before you purchase any specialty supplies for making baby food. After all, one really good reason to make homemade baby food is to save money!”
If you have a blender, a fork, a potato masher, Ziploc bags and ice cube trays, then you probably have everything you need to prepare your own baby food. Look towards Pinterest for a ton of easy recipes and tips.
No time to make your own baby food? I get it, but you still don’t need to be spending money on the prepackaged purees. Grab a jar of unsweetened applesauce, cans of pumpkin, a bunch of bananas and a few avocados and you’re good to go for the week. Preparing your own baby food is a no-brainer when it comes to cutting down expenses.
3 Meal Prep For The Week
Meal prepping always seems intimidating for some reason. If you are anything like me you probably think, “Yes, cooking for five hours on Sunday is exactly what I have time for." Not. Meal prepping does not have to look like spending hours in the kitchen one day of the week.
It can look like simply planning ahead for the coming week, chopping up some fruits and veggies for snacks when you have a few minutes to spare, and making double batches of dinner every now and then.
According to The Budget Diet, “The price gap between cooking and dining out is increasing. That’s because restaurant prices are continuing to rise while grocery store prices generally stay the same.”
My husband and I spent a lot of money dining out while we were college students. Our meal conversations were always, “Where are we eating?” and not, “What?” I soon realized this was not healthy and not financially sustainable, so I started planning our dinners and packing our lunches and it was a game changer. We graduated college five years ago, and I honestly haven’t skipped a week of meal planning since. When I become a mom a year ago, I was so thankful for this system we already had in place.
2 Say Goodbye To Your Gym Membership
Goodbye alone time at the gym, hello free at-home workouts using apps that are full of pop-up ads. Totally worth it though! Many people pay upwards of $50 or more for a gym membership, but there are so many free programs and workouts you can do right at home with your kids. Again, as long as you don’t mind scrolling through dozens of pop-up ads, there’s no reason not to lace up your shoes and roll out your exercise mat in the middle of your living room.
As stated in an article by Huffington Post, "Get active, mamas. Get active for you, for your kids and for the healthy habits you want to instill in your lives. Your kids are important and they're watching everything you do. Make fitness a priority and be sure to include them in it. Everybody wins."
My husband and I both workout three days a week, often on the same nights. He comes home from work, works out while watching the baby and I head out on a run. We switch off every now and then so we can each get solo workout time. As with many parenting tactics, it’s all about balance but once you find that sweet spot, you will be so glad you did!
1 Nothing Wrong With Buying Generic Brands
This might seem like a no-brainer but many of us oftentimes hesitate to reach for the generic version. It’s ingrained in our brains that generic is not as good. I still remember as a sixth-grade student, I was only allowed to pick out one Lisa Frank folder, and the rest had to be the plain colored ones. How lame, right?
As we get older we realize how little things like name brand actually matter. The same is true when it comes to your groceries.
Dave Ramsey did a price comparison on three meals for a family of four and found a total savings of $20 for those three meals, by switching to the generic brands for each ingredient. “Comparing these three meals, you’d save nearly $20 a week by switching to all generic products—just for dinner alone! That’s $80 a month, or $1,040 a year! And that’s not even counting how much you could save by buying store brand for breakfast and lunch items, cleaning supplies, toiletries, and snacks.”
Say goodbye to your Junior High name brand mentality and reach for the generic versions next time you’re at the store. This small change can make a big impact on your bank account. You can put the savings towards more important things, like those newly released Lisa Frank unicorn makeup brushes. Let’s be honest, some habits die hard.
References: daveramsey.com, huffingtonpost.ca, thebudgetdiet.com, babsavers.com, todaysparent.com, passionatepennypincher.com, kidsbowlfree.com, parenting.com, thegeekyparent.wordpress.com, diynatural.com, thestir.cafemom.com