Babies are expensive.
You’re going to hear that a lot, but that’s because it’s true. Babies cost a lot of money when you add it all up. It’s good to have some info going into parenthood to determine the things that people often spend the most money on. That way you know what to stock up on, what you’ll need to get, and what can wait until you have more money, because, let’s face it, some things just aren’t worth it.
When you're a first-time parent you may think that you’re not going to need that many diapers. You may think that your baby may go for hours at a time without peeing or pooping, and you’ll only have to change your baby 3-4 times a day, tops.
Well, I hate to tell you this, but whoever put that into your head needs to be smacked for lying to you, and if you believed that, then maybe you'd be interested in buying some swampland in Florida I’d like to sell you.
Actually, you’re going to be doing quite a bit of diaper changing in that first year or two of your kiddo’s life. And diapers are a good thing, because the more wet diapers you change show that your baby isn’t dehydrated, and poopy diapers are a sign that they’re not constipated.
Just how many diapers will your newborn go through? Well, newborns have at least 6 wet diapers a day, and often have 3-4 poopy diapers in a day. So you’re going to need a ton of diapers. And they’re not cheap, they can run upwards of 20 dollars a box for the name brand boxes, and you’re going to go through them fast. Some people swear by cloth diapers, and say it saves them a bundle. It really depends on your personal preference.
Now that you're imagining all the diapers you’re going to be changing, maybe you should be wondering about all the poop you’re going to be wiping, all the spit up you’re going to be dabbing at and the boo boos you’ll need to quickly clean up. You’re going to need a lot of wipes--a lot of them.
These things are awesome for just about anything your kid wants to throw at you, including food, puke, and pee. They can clean tables with crusted on baby food, and they can take the dust off your coffee table.
There’s actually a few of non-baby uses for baby wipes. You can use them to shine your shoes, clean your keyboard, take off your makeup, soothe your skin, and more. They're a handy little item, and they cost about 2 dollars a pack or even less. I can guarantee they are something you’ll be using a lot of. If you want to save some money, there’s actually recipes for making your own wipes out of paper towels and a liquid solution. Look it up, I hear it’s great!!
If you plan on formula feeding your baby, (and if you are, that is perfectly ok), you are going to go through a crate of formula. There’s many kinds of formula too, soy formulas for the lactose intolerant, and gentle formulas for sensitive bellies, and they are not cheap. Often, they run, at a minimum, 14 dollars or more per can, and that’s if your little one doesn’t need anything more expensive, prescribed by a doctor.
During the first few weeks, babies will eat 8-12 times a day, eating 2-3 ounces per feeding. That will add up quickly, and sometimes it will spoil if you make it too early and it doesn’t get used. So yes, some formula will go to waste as well.
Babies also eat more during their growth spurt as well. So yes, if you’re formula feeding, then this is probably going to be the one item you spend the most on for the first year. Save some money by signing up for coupons from the formula company.
Formula feeding or breastfeeding, either way, you may need baby bottles. Bottles can get nasty smelling after a while, especially if you get the plastic ones (yes they make them in glass, but they’re harder to find), and you’ll need to replace them. They can get lost, and you’ll find them a while later, milk curdled in it and stinking so badly that it’s unusable.
You’ll need to upgrade to new nipples for the bottles as they get older as well. So while it’s not the most pricey thing ever, it will add up.
Bottles aren’t only for formula feeding, you can make awesome crafts with bottles too, and they make great decorations on a diaper cake as well. They’re also good for holding coins if you find you have a lot of spare change lying around your house. Basically, bottles have so many uses that you may end up buying them once you’re done with bottle feeding.
If you decide to use pacifiers, then believe me, you will be getting a lot of them. Pacifiers tend to get lost extraordinarily easily--like REALLY easily. Your toddler will lose them behind the crib, in the car, in the store, absolutely everywhere. You’re going to lose them right before bedtime and nap time, and you’re going to freak and hunt for them like they’re made of solid freaking gold.
Thankfully, pacifiers are cheap. Well, pretty cheap anyhow, so getting new ones in a pinch won’t be a huge deal. Just make sure to break the habit whenever you can, because they can really begin to damage a child’s teeth after a while, so be mindful of that if your child uses them past a time you feel comfortable with them using pacifiers. They really are some of the most useful little lumps of plastic that I’ve ever seen.
And to save cash and prevent some pacifier loss, you can get a Pacifier Clip, so that your baby won’t be able to lose that thing.
You’re going to be buying a lot of these for the first few years, since babies grow so fast. But you’ll spend the most on the first two years of life. Yep, clothes. Those little scraps of fabric that your baby will outgrow in a hot minute and get stains on even faster.
You’ll buy newborn sized outfits, then in a few days, maybe a week or two, they’ll be snug. So you move up to 0-3 months size, and then 3-6 months, and so on and so forth.
To save a bit of money, try hitting up yard sales and thrift stores, any place selling used clothes. Every single outfit doesn’t have to be new. Also, if there’s an older sibling or cousin, saving those old baby clothes can come in handy, especially if they wore gender neutral clothes.
This deserves a category all on it’s own. Socks vanish from your dryer, they disappear out of the drawer, and they get lost in the car. Your child will have them off their feet in minutes, and will have them missing in less time. And even if you find one--just one--you’ll never find the second one. It’s long gone into the purgatory that the second sock always vanishes off to.
You can save some cash on replacements by getting socks at cheaper places, such as the Family Dollar or the Dollar General. And if you’re lucky, as in you have 12 lucky charms, and all of the luck of the Irish on your side, you just might find the missing sock you’re looking for. Keep in mind, it’s often an even trade. As for that missing sock, you’ll likely lose another sock. Natural order of things and all that.
Once you start giving your little one a bath, you’re going to use a lot of this stuff, especially if you get the many different kinds of soaps that do different things. There’s baby soap that has oils in it for when baby is sick, bath soap that has lavender for fussy babies that can’t sleep, moisturizing soap and regular soap. About a thousand kinds and brands of soap. There’s even brands for babies who have eczema and sensitive skin.
Keep in mind that there is often a store brand that has all the same ingredients as the name brand you’re buying. You can save a lot of money in the long run by swapping to a store brand. Buying from a buy-in-bulk store like Sam’s Club, can save you even more money when you buy in bulk and stock up. You can even buy in bulk online.
7 Diaper Cream
If ever there was a product you will be glad exists, it's diaper rash cream. This stuff is a godsend when your child has a diaper rash, and if your baby has sensitive skin, that can happen even after a little pee is left on their sensitive tush for even a few minutes.
There’s tons of brands to choose from, so many parents will find themselves buying huge tubes of cream, just to discover it does nothing for baby, and wind up having to go buy more.
Don’t do that. You can save a ton of money during the testing phase, as I call it, by buying smaller, travel size tubes of various kinds of diaper cream until you find what works for your little one. You can even get some samples at the doctor’s office a lot of the time, so you can always ask during your baby’s appointment.
6 Burp Cloths
If you’re like me, you wear a lot of black. It just happens to be that my favorite shirt color is black, so when I would go to burp my babies if I forgot a rag, I would risk ruining a shirt. Sometimes the stuff that babies spit up can be lumpy, if it’s clumpy at all, it stains. It got to a point where I would NEVER forget a burp rag.
Many parents spend money out the backside for these strips of fabric designed to get puked on.
Not I. If you want to save some money on burp cloths, do what I did and make them yourself. If you have old, ratty towels or shirts, it’s as easy as getting a pair of scissors and cutting them out to the size you want. You can make Power Ranger burp cloths out of old t-shirts, or Christmas ones out of old dish towels, so many possibilities.
Some people sew theirs, but I just cut mine because I am not a Suzy Homemaker, I don’t sew more than the basics.
5 Milk Storage Bags
If you breastfeed, this is the thing you’ll be spending a ton of money on more than likely. These bags are designed to store milk that you pump for your baby, afterward you can freeze them, put them in the fridge, and more. Some women end up storing so much milk that they fill their freezers up with milk alone. I’ve seen it, it happens.
So, what do you do when you’re making so much milk that you’re going to go through a million storage bags? One of two things. Some lactation consultants swear by this trick of using ice cube trays to store breast milk. You just freeze the milk in the trays, and when the milk is frozen, you pop out the cubes and store them in a regular freezer bag.
This would be sure to save money on costly storage bags made specifically for freezing breast milk. On the other hand hospitals are now asking for breast milk donations, so if you find that you're overrun with pumped milk, take some to the hospital for preemie babies.
Lanolin is a miracle cream/gel that you put on your cracked, rough, dry areolas for soothing relief. I remember when I breastfed my oldest, it was a life saver. My nipples felt like they’d been lit on fire, put out, doused in kerosene and lit up again. They bled, they were cracked, and I cried, a lot.
Enter Lanolin. I put that on daily, and voila, pain subsided and my day was better. I still leaked like a sieve, but I felt better.
Where some women swear by Lanolin, others save money and say they get even better relief by using coconut oil. And that’s not shocking, since coconut oil has a plethora of uses. It’s great for cooking as well. While coconut oil does have a decent sized little price tag on it, the price of Lanolin is nothing to wave your finger at either once you get enough of it.
Coconut oil has more uses, so your money will stretch further if you go this route.
Don’t fall for this trap. You’re reading a baby magazine, and the pages feature these pictures of perfect little nurseries. They're full of things, a rocking chair, a changing table, all kinds of things!
Well, I hate to break it to you, but you don’t need even half of it. Mainly the baby needs a crib, a car seat, and maybe a swing to start out with. That’s honestly it. You’ll need somewhere to store their clothes and toys, but for the first few months you won’t need more furniture or other large items until they get a bit bigger.
If you want to get things like a changing table or a diaper pail, go for it. Some moms swear by them, but on the list of necessities, they’re not high up there. If you want to save a little cash, focus on what you need rather then what you want.
Babies don’t need an arsenal of toys. Sure, they’re fun, but babies really don’t need a ton for the first few months. Newborns up until 3 months pretty much play with things that they can bat at over their heads and things you wave in their faces and around their hands. So as for any of those fancy cars or stacking toys, they won’t need them just yet.
In fact, certain toys are considered to be unsafe for babies, so buy with caution.
To save some cash, instead of buying toys, ask your friends who have babies if they can save their old toys that their babies outgrow. All you’ll need to do is sanitize them and give them to your little one as they grow into them. It’ll keep you from spending a ton of money on stuff that they won’t even be able to use for a while.
When your baby starts to eat food, you’re going to be thrust into the realm of feedings and baby food. You’ll see puffs, yogurt bites, and the ever popular (not really) baby food.
Ah, the 'delicious' scent of baby food, note the sarcasm here. It’ll curl your nose hairs and make you gag if you taste it. Try the peas, they’re...ok delicious isn’t the word for it. More like nauseating. And with how much all these little jars cost, it begins to add up--quick.
You can, however, make something that tastes better and costs much less. You can make your own baby foods. You can make purees, you can make drops, puffs...all of it! And it’s more cost efficient than going out to buy it, because the amounts you can make at once for the price of 2 jars of baby food, will last you a while.
Check out some recipes, there’s tons of sites with information on how to do it!
While you can't escape spending a lot of money on certain items, you can find ways to help cut the costs wherever you can. And saving every little bit counts in this game, believe me. You may find that making a list helps you to manage your money when it comes to baby budgeting, but if you work at it, you’ll figure out a good plan to get everything your baby needs.
What item did you spend the most on during baby’s first year? Let us know in the comments!