One of the biggest ways to save money when you have a new baby is to nurse.
But if you’re lucky enough to skip the formula and breastfeed, you may be surprised how much you can spend on nursing clothes.
When my first baby was born, I quickly realized a simple nursing shirt can cost over $50, so I knew a brand-new nursing wardrobe wasn’t in the cards.
Instead, I got creative.
Here are six ways to save on nursing clothes — and still reap nursing’s financial benefits.
1. Know What You Need
If you’re planning to be a stay-at-home or work-at-home mom, your clothing needs will be different from someone who’ll be returning to work, where nursing clothes will make it easier to pump.
As a work-at-home mom, I managed with two or three nursing bras.
I also had five or six nursing tanks in neutral colors I could mix and match with shirts and sweaters I already had (see #2).
Your needs might be similar if you’re planning to stay at home — or if you work for a company with a casual dress code.
If you’ll be working outside the home for a company with a strict dress code, you may need to buy some additional work-worthy nursing tops to supplement your wardrobe.
Once you have a good idea of what you’ll need, use the rest of these tips to come up with a wardrobe that works — without breaking the bank.
2. Use What You Have
Before you go shopping, shop your own closet and get creative.
You may be able to use what you already have to create a nursing wardrobe just as good as anything you might buy.
3. Buy Secondhand
Once you know what you need, it’s time to go shopping.
Your first stop should always be secondhand shops and local thrift stores.
Also check neighborhood email lists and Facebook yard sale groups specifically for moms in your area. You’re likely to find gently used nursing wear at reasonable prices.
If you don’t see any nursing clothes listed, don’t be afraid to post an “In Search Of” request, as long as they’re allowed under the rules of the group. Sometimes people forget what they have in their closets until someone reminds them!
For trendy, brand-name or work-worthy items you haven’t been able to find elsewhere, check out Thred Up. This site offers like-new, brand-name maternity and nursing clothes at big discounts.
4. Shop the Sales
If you’re ready to invest in a few new nursing tops or tanks, avoid paying full price by scouting sales.
By shopping these sales, I managed to score a couple of nice shirts to wear when I needed something a bit more professional than a tank and cardigan — for less than $40.
5. Make the Clothes You Buy Last Longer
To get your money’s worth, make sure everything you buy will do double duty.
Invest in pieces you can layer, and make sure nursing tops you buy can be worn beyond nursing, or throughout pregnancy and nursing.
6. Save on Formal Wear
If you find yourself in need of something formal but want it to be nursing-friendly, there are some common styles that work well and won’t require you to buy a nursing-specific outfit.
Rent the Runway is a great option for renting formal wear at a fraction of the cost of a new outfit.
While shopping, look for wrap, V-neck or drape-front tops or dresses that’ll give you nursing access while still looking stylish.
Or if you’d rather get something made specifically with nursing in mind, rent maternity and nursing formal wear from Mine for 9.
Don’t forget to check your local thrift stores, Facebook groups and email lists, as well.
With a little time and creativity, you can formulate a nursing wardrobe that works for you without eating into your budget.
Your Turn: How have you built a nursing wardrobe without spending a fortune? Share your tips in the comments!
Ami Spencer Youngs is a freelance writer and yoga teacher, raising her career alongside two boys under four. Learn more about her life and her writing at writingherlife.com or on Twitter at @writingherlife.