I never believe when the statistics say it costs over $10,000 to raise a baby in their first year! That just seems preposterous for a momma on a budget. I can say for certain that raising both our children for the first year didn't even come to $10,000 combined, even with the hospital bills. We were insured and everyone around us helped so much with gifts, donations, and equipment.
We bought a lot of secondhand clothes, hit up plenty of rummage sales, and very rarely found it necessary to buy any outfit brand new.
Even if an expectant mom doesn't have insurance, healthcare costs can be pared down, without sacrificing a shred of safety. For instance, an expectant mom can ask about what services are included in the delivery room and what the cost is for each service to determine what's best for her family.
She might find that an extra bag of mesh underwear will cost her an arm and a leg, so she can make sure not to request any extras. The faster a woman can get out of those, the better anyhow!
If there's any reason to worry about the cost of having a baby, we reveal 15 of the most sensible ways to pare down the cost and have a cheaper birth. Us frugal moms need to make some preparations and choices that align with our goals of saving money and having a healthy baby.
The most important part about having a baby is having a health, happy baby anyway. All those extra thingamajigs and doohickeys don't matter at all when we look our new babies in the eyes. Providing love and a safe, happy home are all that really matter. And no one can put a price tag on that!
15 Momma's Need To Be All About That Prenatal Health And Nothing Else
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The very best thing you can do for yourself, even before pregnancy, is to take care of your own health and body. Getting your body to a healthy weight, getting into a healthy exercise routine, eating nutritiously, and taking a multivitamin with folic acid are the best things you can do to prepare your body to conceive and carry a healthy baby.
A healthy mom helps lower the likelihood of risky--and costly--complications for both mom and baby. Folic acid, for one, helps reduce the risk of several severe birth defects significantly.
During pregnancy, staying active will help ease some of your pregnancy discomfort and will help increase your strength and stamina for giving birth. Gaining a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy, continuing with prenatal vitamins, going to all of your prenatal visits, and taking care of yourself will help reduce the costs associated with complications such as gestational diabetes, typically more likely if you're overweight while pregnant.
14 Buy Only The Bare Essential Baby Items
When it's time to register for baby gifts, make a primary list of your absolute essentials and a secondary list of "would be nice to haves." Only add the items that are absolutely necessary to bring home a newborn on your registry.
Diapers are critical. Diaper Genies are not. Wipes are essential. Wipe warmers are a waste of money. Other things you'll need: car seat, stroller, clothing, crib/bassinet, and crib sheets. Bottles may be necessary as well, but skip the bottle warmer.
Things to save your money on: baby shoes (before walking age), a changing table, fancy toys, a 12-piece bedding set. Your little one will likely play with plastic containers instead of toys anyway and anything inside the crib other than the crib sheet is potentially dangerous.
Things like birth announcements and newborn photo shoots, though nice, are not necessary. You can probably find a photographer friend and post your pictures in an online album and send everyone a link for free. Done!
13 Get Hand-Me-Downs For Any Missing Items From Friends And Family
So, you registered for the essentials, but there are still a few big items that you need. If you need a bouncy seat or a dresser, you likely have a friend or relative that wants to get rid of theirs. A crib can be quite a big expense, but there's likely someone in your circle that has one collecting dust.
Before you make a big purchase like that, put a post up on Facebook to see if anyone has what you need first, and chances are someone will come out of the woodwork with exactly what you're looking for.
You could also take a little bit different approach with your baby shower and ask your guests to bring any gently used boy or girl clothes, board books, receiving blankets or other secondhand necessities that they have lying around. Your guests will be happy to oblige!
12 Forgo Any Unnecessary Tests If The Pregnancy Is Healthy
If your OBGYN or midwife asks you if you want to do a voluntary test, take some time to consider whether or not the test is right for you and your family. Remember that you can always say no. Not only are some prenatal tests expensive, they can also cause unnecessary stress.
Speaking from experience, the nuchal translucency scan is one test that can cause unnecessary stress. My own scan came back with an abnormal reading, which had our family in distress. Even though the reading was "abnormal," the odds that our baby had a birth defect was still 0.02%.
Just because our odds were slightly elevated, but still highly unlikely, our family experienced quite a bit of stress for several days until we got the follow-up blood test results (which were just fine).
In addition to the stress, we also got quite a hefty bill between the scan and the follow-up blood test. Though this test didn't present any risks, some other voluntary tests do. Bottom line: if it's right for your family to cut out any unnecessary tests, you can save yourself a lot of moola and emotional pain. Work closely with your doctor to decide what's right for you.
11 Shop On Consignment And At Thrift Stores
Consignment and thrift stores are some of the best places to scout maternity and baby clothes. These secondhand clothes are often still in really great condition because they're only used temporarily.
Once Upon A Child offers everything from baby clothes to equipment, slings, nursing covers, toys and so many other baby necessities at a highly discounted price. They only offer clothing purchased within the last few years that is in good condition, and they are great about keeping up with recalls and safety guidelines.
Another way to delay buying maternity clothes is to get a belly band. These help keep your pants in place and your belly from sticking out when you wear your regular clothes. You many even be able to find a secondhand belly band from a consignment shop. This will help you save money by prolonging the use of your pre-pregnancy clothes.
10 Become A Diaper Sleuth
I have never in my life even considered couponing until I needed diapers. Once we were faced with several years of diapers again, I decided to try my own version of Extreme Couponing: Diapers Edition. I did a little searching through the paper and online each week for deals and coupons and did some online sleuthing to find the best deals.
Whenever I did find good deals, I bought as many diapers as the discount allowed. We had a nice little stockpile by the time my daughter was born.
Buying diapers online, in bulk, using Ebates on top of that, is another way to cut costs significantly. Buying in bulk typically reduces the per diaper cost while Ebates gives you some of that money back.
In some places, you might even qualify to be a diaper tester. Some diaper manufacturers pay you and your baby to test out their diapers, so you get cash on top of free diapers!
Cloth diapering is another way to save money. Although the cost to get started is expensive, over time the cost depreciates as you reuse the diapers. The cloth diapers you find today are easy to use and not as gross as you might imagine.
9 Plan A Home Birth To Keep It Cheap
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Fiscally speaking, home births are often cheaper than hospital births. You pay for your birth team, but you don't pay for the hospital stay and all the equipment and monitoring, which is a significant hunk of green. Depending on whether or not you have insurance and whether or not your midwife takes insurance, the cost can vary significantly.
Many midwives must be paid out-of-pocket, typically between $1,500 and $3,000. If you have insurance and you give birth in a hospital, you will be responsible for your deductible, which is typically anywhere between $500 and $3,000. So, if you have insurance the cost will be comparable. If you don't have insurance, a midwife-assisted home birth would be significantly cheaper.
Even if you have your baby at a hospital, the cost to have a midwife-assisted birth versus a doctor-assisted birth will also be lower. Again, it will depend on whether you have insurance when you have your baby or not, but the overall cost for a midwife is less.
8 Avoid Extra Costs If Delivering At The Hospital
Assume pretty much anything you touch at the hospital comes with an exorbitant price tag. If you're uninsured, you might even consult your insurance company and hospital beforehand to find out what's covered and how much things cost.
Some hospitals can provide you with an itemized list of everything that you'll be charged for in labor and delivery. From there, you can speak with your doctor about avoiding any unnecessary interventions, procedures, and costs. You can also refuse certain unnecessary amenities to save money.
There's always room for negotiating price as well. The typical cost for giving birth is an estimated 30% of the actual price that is charged. So, if you're uninsured, it pays to sit down with your hospital's billing staff and your doctor to discuss the costs associated with giving birth. They may work with you to provide assistance, give you a discount, and avoid any unnecessary charges.
7 Check The Hospital Bill Before Checking Out
So, you've sat down with your doctor to discuss a discount on labor and delivery services and you've checked into how much each service costs. You might think you have everything covered, but there's still one more thing to check. Your bill. With so many moving parts between the hospital and your doctor's clinic, it's easy to see how charges can get mixed up.
When the bills from the hospital start coming in, make sure you look them over very carefully and compare them against your insurance statements. This might sound tedious, but it's worth the extra effort. I myself found a duplicate charge for $250 on my bills when I looked really closely at my statements. I simply called the billing number on the statement and got my money returned to me!
That was a nice chunk of money to be given back. Be sure that the charges you discussed with your doctor are accurate and that you don't pay for anything twice or pay for any services you didn't actually receive.
6 Get DIY Happy And Create, Don't Shop
So many of your baby necessities can be handmade, if you're the creative type. You can make your own wipes, sew your own sleep sacks or birth cloths, and puree your own baby food for much cheaper than it would be to buy those things. Baby food in particular is one place that you can save a significant amount of money.
It might sound daunting, but the process is actually so incredibly simple and cheap, you'll wonder why anyone would buy the jarred stuff again! Making baby purees at home ensures that no preservatives, added flavors, colors, or sugars are added to your baby's food.
If there's any baby item you think you could make, just hop on Pinterest and search for "the item + DIY" to get the directions. You'll find almost anything you could possibly think of. Diaper rash cream, changing pads, bibs, crib sheets, everything! Even if you're not crafty, you'd be surprised by how easy some of these things are to make.
For instance, homemade baby wipes simply require a roll of paper towel, water and some baby soap. Anyone can do it, I promise!
5 Skip The Circumcision
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Putting aside all debate and personal opinions about circumcision, and speaking strictly from a monetary standpoint, skipping this procedure will save you money. If you choose not to have your boy circumcised, you can save a huge chunk of change on your hospital bills.
If you're insured, the cost of circumcision is separate from your own deductible for giving birth. Any procedures, tests, shots or other care given to your baby will activate and start racking up his deductible. Since circumcision isn't considered medically necessary, it will count toward your baby's deductible. If you don't have insurance, you will end up paying full price for the entire procedure.
You'll want to make sure this is the right decision for your family. Just know that if you decide to have your son circumcised later, it will cost more than it does at the hospital during your stay. After one month, the cost will rise considerably due to the general anesthesia required.
4 Go Home A Day Early
If you have a vaginal birth and everything goes smoothly, you may be able to go home a day early. Many factors go into this decision, but if you don't have insurance and your doctor allows it, you might be able to go home a day early and slash your hospital bill.
In the US, a vaginal birth with no complications usually results in a two-night hospital stay whereas in Canada, a new mom might go home the same day. It pays to check with your hospital and insurance company to see how long they require you to stay.
While you're on the phone with them, you should also ask what "one day" actually means. Does your hospital stay start at midnight? Does the clock start when you check in? And what if your labor lasts longer than one day? Showing up at the hospital at 11:48pm could result in an entire extra billable day even if it's only 12 minutes.
Make sure you know exactly what constitutes your hospital stay so you can make sure to avoid any extra charges.
3 Save Money On Formula And Breastfeed
For the first six months of a baby's life, they will live exclusively on either breast milk or formula. If you were to choose one or the other strictly based on price, breastfeeding is free and formula costs a small fortune. There is a negligible cost associated with the slight calorie increase that mom needs to eat to keep her milk supply up, but it's nothing in comparison to formula.
Breastfeeding doesn't work for everyone, but it is the most cost-effective way to feed your infant.
If you can't breastfeed, there are still ways to save money on formula. While you're in the hospital, don't be afraid to ask for samples to take home with you. Maternity wards are often flooded with free samples from manufacturers, so all you have to do is ask. The same is true for your pediatrician's office.
You can ask for samples there as well. You can also hop on the manufacturer's websites, sign up for their discount programs, and print their coupons. Several formula manufacturers send out regular vouchers worth $5-$10 off their formula. And finally, some states offer nutrition help for women and infants. Check to see if you qualify for assistance in your state to help alleviate some of the costs of formula.
2 Forgo The "Themed" Nursery, And Keep It Simple
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Having a theme for your nursery will make the cost of furnishing it go up significantly as you try to find matching items. However, if you choose to go minimal or simple with your nursery decor, you'll pare down cost and have the freedom to pick up whatever sale and clearance items you fancy.
You could also choose a simple theme like shabby chic or a certain color palette as your theme, both of which allow for mix-matching. That way, you aren't limited in what you can buy and you can scope out deals.
Paint, furniture covers and decals can also fix anything that doesn't match. If you score a rocking chair at a rummage sale with an ugly seat cushion, you can easily swap it out or cover it with something that matches. If you get a hand-me-down dresser that doesn't match the rest of the white furniture in the nursery, a few coats of paint will make it fit right in.
Even if your goal is to save money, you can still find creative ways to create a favorable nursery on a dime.
1 Enlist Help From Family And Friends For Everything
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There are ways to save on food and childcare for the first few months as you pay off your hospital bills and settle into your new family budget. All those people that offered to help you with anything you need? Give them a call and take them up on it. Your family and friends will be thrilled to be able to help you with your teeny tiny newborn.
If you could use a date night, arrange for a friend's teenager to watch your infant while you get out of the house for an evening. Meals are one of the best things to request from people that offer to help. Church groups are often gracious enough to set up meal schedules for new moms. Or you can register for scheduled meals from people you know on mealbaby.com.
If you don't wish to have a traditional baby shower, or you're on your second or subsequent child, you could choose to have a "freezer meal party" instead. Request that your guests bring you a freezer meal instead of a gift so you can be fully prepared when you get home from the hospital. You'll save lots of money on food, especially since it won't be so tempting to order out!
Sources: WebMD, Parenting, March of Dimes, Living Well Spending Less