A friend of mine recently told me she’s having her first baby!
It’s an exciting, and potentially expensive time in her life. But with a little work ahead of time, babies don’t have to be nearly as expensive as we’re led to believe.
Here are some ways to save money as you prepare for your baby’s arrival:
Take care of yourself. Your primary goal is to take good care of yourself and your unborn baby. That means safe, gentle exercise, great nutrition, visiting your doctor regularly, and taking those prenatal vitamins. It won’t guarantee nothing will happen, but it does go a long way toward shortening hospital stays and keeping those medical bills under control.
Spread the word about your pregnancy. Your friends and family will be excited to share in your new bundle of joy. Put the word out, and graciously accept hand-me-downs and all offers of baby showers. Just remember to pay it forward after you’re baby is older. Your friends and family can also be a great source of information on the best (and worst) baby products.
Don’t tell folks the gender of your baby. I’ve been to a LOT of baby showers in my day, and I find that the moms who get the most useful gifts don’t tell folks the gender of their baby. The moms who told the world they were having girls got lots of frilly pink dresses… cute, but impractical. Those who don’t share the gender got useful baby gear, books, and gender neutral clothing. And that gender neutral clothing will come in handy when you’re expecting baby #2. The other reason for not sharing the baby’s gender? Sometimes babies are tricky. I’ve known two families who were surprised when the boy they were expecting was a baby girl!
Go secondhand, but be cautious. You may be able to score some great stuff at sites like Freecycle, Freepeats, and Craigslist or at consignment and thrift shops. But be very careful that the item is in near perfect condition and has not been recalled. Many recalls don’t reach the mainstream media. You can look to see if a product has been recalled at the Consumer Product Safety Commission website. Sign up for their e-mail alerts so that you will know if something you own gets recalled.
You should always buy your baby’s car seat and crib mattress new. The exception to that rule would be if you know the previous owner well and are comfortable with the idea of getting these things used. You must absolutely know for certain that the car seat has never been in an accident and has not been recalled. You can check out car seat recalls at the US Department of Transportation.
Sign up for mailing lists and gift registries. Sign up for mailing lists for companies like Pampers, Huggies, and Luvs. Sign up with all of the formula companies as well. While breastfeeding has been deemed by numerous experts to be best for your baby, it’s not always possible for all moms. Sign up with companies like Enfamil and Similac and you’ll get great high value coupons and free samples. Register for gifts at stores like Target and Babies R Us. You’ll get notified of special deals and high value coupons that can help you save on all kinds of baby gear.
Cook in advance. If you’re feeling up to it during the early stretch of your pregnancy, start making meals and putting them in the freezer. You’ll appreciate those frozen, healthy, homemade meals during the last week of your pregnancy and during those first few weeks of having a newborn in the house. And you’ll save a ton of money on take-out!
Start stocking up on diapers. Watch for the best sales (I recommend checking out Baby Cheapskate’s Top Diaper and Formula Deals of the Week) and be sure to combine those store coupons with manufacturer coupons for the greatest savings. Don’t buy a lot of packs of newborn diapers… you probably won’t use them for very long. In my case, only one of my 3 boys ever wore newborn diapers, and he only wore them for about 2 weeks! Cloth diapers can also offer incredible savings, but you’ll need to do your homework to find the best values.
Start shopping for day care or prepare how you will become a stay at home mom. Many day cares have waiting lists, and you want to be sure you have time to shop around for the best value. If you’re planning to stay home, make sure you’re doing all you can to prepare for the transition to single income living.
I’ll be sharing more ideas for saving money once your baby has arrived in a future post. But until then, please help out my friend as she starts her parenthood journey. What are some ways you’ve saved money preparing for a new baby? Please share your ideas!