Don’t Let Baby Break the Bank: 31 Ways to Save Money on Baby Gear, Clothes, Diapers and More
When I found out I was going to be a mom, I was quickly overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I realized I would need for a new baby.
On our tight budget, there was no way we’d be able to afford everything on our growing list of needs and wants.
Thankfully, with a little a research and some help from generous friends and family who’d already had babies, I was able to save a lot of cash and still get all the necessities for our new bundle of joy.
Here are some tips on how you can do the same!
Save On Clothing and Gear
Babies go through clothing, safety and other items quickly in the first year, so don’t waste money on new stuff. Instead, use these tips to save big.
1. Complete Baby Registries
Whether or not you plan to have a baby shower, create a registry at Babies R Us and Amazon.
After your shower or due date, each store gives you a coupon to buy anything left on your list. Plus, get up to 15% off from Amazon and 10% off from Babies R Us.
Babies R Us and Amazon require you to use the discount in one trip.
Babies R Us also gives you 10% cash back for purchases off your registry, so it’s worth putting everything you can think of on there. As an added bonus, this longer registry can serve as a running list of things you need!
2. Have a Baby Shower
If you’re having a baby, chances are someone will want to throw you a shower (or two!). Let them!
Every gift is something you won’t have to buy, and if you’ve filled your registries with all the things you need and want, there will be plenty for friends and family to get you.
3. Return Gifts You Don’t Need
Even with a registry, you’re likely to get duplicates (and triplicates) of things, along with stuff you don’t really need or want.
If those gifts came with gift receipts, returning them will be easy. If not, take them back for store credit you can spend on things you really will use — can you say diapers?
(Tip: If you’re not sure where the gift came from, Google the brand name to find retailers that sell those items.)
4. Use Your Insurance
Under the Affordable Care Act, women are now able to get a free breastpump through insurance companies. The Medela Pump In Style or Ameda Purely Yours are typically covered.
Some insurance companies let you get the pump ahead of time, while others require you to pick it up after the baby is born. You may have to pay out-of-pocket and request reimbursement, or the insurance company may pay for it directly — but require it be ordered from a medical supply company.
The process varies, so contact your insurance company, or check out the websites for Medela and Ameda for more information on getting your free breast pump. This’ll save you about $150.
5. Connect With Local Moms
Sign up for local listservs, Facebook groups or Freecycle. You’ll often find parents cleaning out their homes who are willing to part with nice clothing and gently used baby gear — for a low cost.
Check with other moms in your neighborhood to find these groups, or Google or search Facebook for your city plus “swap.” Most areas have at least one local swap group.
6. Use Your Network
Friends and family with young kids may have gear, toys and clothes stored away in the attic or basement they haven’t been able to part with yet.
Ask around to see who has items you need. Offer to return the items when your baby is done with them, or even to pay a bit for them.
You’re likely to get them free-and-clear from kindhearted relatives and friends who know the price of raising little ones. Just do a quick check to make sure the items haven’t been recalled.
7. Take Advantage of Freebies
Expectant moms are a marketer’s dream — and freebies abound if you know where to look.
Check out this list of free gifts — including detergent, diapers, coupons and more!
If you’re having multiples, there are even more freebies and discounts available. Score free diapers, food and more just by mailing a few copies of your babies’ birth certificates!
8. Shop the Sales
If you have favorite retailers, sign up for their email coupons and pay attention to their sales cycles.
Carter’s, babyGap, The Children’s Place and other retailers regularly mark down clothes 40% or more before sending them to clearance.
And they rarely wait until a season’s end before starting major markdowns. Never pay full price!
9. Scout Local Consignment Shops
Most baby gear is gently used because it isn’t used for long before the baby grows out of it.
Check out kids’ consignment shops for things like high chairs, strollers, walkers and other big-ticket items. You’ll find them for as little as 50% of the original cost — just do a quick check on your phone to make sure the items haven’t been recalled.
When you’re done with your items, re-consign or sell them back to the shop for store credit. Use the credit to get clothes, shoes and other items as you need them.
10. Hit Thrift Stores
Thrift stores are perfect for finding secondhand clothing at low prices.
You won’t always see the same clothing quality at thrift stores as you do at consignment shops. But I’ve found some gems at Goodwill and other thrift stores for a fraction of the price.
Remember, the best stuff can be found in stores near higher-income areas. Be choosy about which shops you frequent.
It really doesn’t matter if your local thrift store isn’t high-end. Keep in mind your baby will be staining and outgrowing clothes every couple of months. Paying pennies for jumpers and body suits makes economic sense if they’re only going to be worn a few times.
11. Become a Yard Sale Rock Star
You may be able to find everything you need for your new addition right in your neighborhood. If you have the time and energy to put in the legwork, you can scout out local yard sales.
You’re likely to find everything from clothes to toys to bigger-ticket items like strollers at even lower prices than you’ll find at consignment shops.
Save on Car Seats
This big ticket item is a must-have and can cost you hundreds of dollars, but it doesn’t have to.
12. Buy Used
Buying a used car seat can save you money, but be careful with what and how you buy. If you want to buy used, buy from someone you know.
Car seats that have been in accidents are unsafe. Avoid buying from strangers who might not be honest about the history of the car seat.
Also, check the expiration date of any used car seats — make sure there’s time left for your child to use it.
13. Trade Up
Babies R Us has annual trade-in events offering 25% discounts on a new car seat when you trade in a used one.
14. Use Your Registry
If you’re buying a new car seat, put your favorite models on your registry. Car seats are common group gifts for new parents.
Even if you don’t get one, you’ll be able to use those completion discounts I mentioned to get the best deal.
Save on Services
If you’re planning to breastfeed, lactation consultant services are an excellent resource. You may be able to save big with the right info.
15. Lactation Consultants
Insurance companies are also required to provide “comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers”.
Keep in mind: Individual plans determine which lactation services are covered. Contact your provider to find out what’s covered before your baby’s born.
If in-home lactation services are covered, find a consultant through the United States Lactation Consultant Association or contact your local La Leche League for recommendations. You could save $75 an hour or more, depending on your location.
If your plan doesn’t cover in-home services, contact the lactation department at the hospital you’ll be delivering at to discuss available services during your stay and after you go home.
Many hospitals offer breastfeeding support groups and free visits with the hospital lactation consultants even after you’re discharged.
Save on Diapers and Wipes
Diapers and wipes can be the most expensive things you purchase throughout your newborn’s first two years.
Save on Cloth Diapers
If you really want to save on diapers and wipes, cloth is the way to go!
16. Buy Used
If you’re looking to save money by using cloth diapers, save from the start — buy used.
Do your research and choose the type of diaper that will work best for your family. Prefolds, all-in-ones, pocket diapers and one-size styles all have pros and cons you’ll want to consider.
In general, prefolds are cheaper per piece — but you’ll need to size up as your baby grows.
Pocket diapers, all-in-ones and one-size brands are more expensive to begin to with, but you’ll be able to use the same diapers as baby gets bigger.
17. Compare Before You Buy
Those unfamiliar with the different styles may want to compare a few types. Try different diaper brands before investing in a full set.
Look for used diapers on your local Facebook garage sale groups or at consignment shops.
18. Wash Them Well
Another thing that can help make cloth diapering more economical is a good cleaning routine.
Prep new diapers or bleach used diapers before use.
Make sure you’re using the right detergent, wash temperature and between wash storage.
These strategies extend the life of your diapers and ensure they absorb as much as possible.
Save on Disposable Diapers and Wipes
If you’re not up for the work of cloth, you can still save big on disposable diapers and wipes — if you shop smart!
19. Get Them for Free
The cheapest diapers are free!
Before you spend hundreds of dollars on disposables, check out these nine ways to get free diapers.
20. Join Loyalty Programs
Most major diaper brands have loyalty programs that help you earn gift cards, free diapers, wipes and other free gifts, just for entering codes into a website or app.
You’ll probably also get access to coupons and other special offers that can save you additional money.
21. Subscribe and Save
Amazon Mom, Diapers.com and even Target offer discounts when you set up regular subscriptions for items like diapers, wipes, formula and more.
22. Make Your Own Wipes
Depending on the brand of wipes you use and how good you are about using coupons and other savings strategies, you could spend upwards of $300 a year on wipes.
Save more than $200 a year by making your own wipes using paper towels and a few other easy-to-find ingredients.
23. Use Cloth Wipes
Save even more by cutting up old T-shirts or hand towels to make reusable wipes.
Spray some homemade cleansing solution on a wipe, rinse and toss in a wet bag before washing.
Save on Formula and Other Baby Care Items
Here are some strategies for saving money on formula and baby necessities.
Nursing your newborn will take time and money for necessary supplies like nursing bras and a pump. But it’ll save you money compared to purchasing formula.
25. Ask Your Doctor for Samples
Baby care items, food and formula are expensive. Don’t waste money if you’re not sure which products best meet your needs.
Ask your pediatrician which brands and products he or she recommends. Doctors often receive samples they can share with you. It beats buying several full-sized packages before figuring out what works best for you.
26. Sign up for Coupons
Similac Strong Moms provides free formula samples and large-value coupons.
It also provides partner offers like discounts on birth announcements, photo books and other baby-centered items, too.
27. Take Advantage of Sales
Baby food and care items often go on sale at discount stores.
You can usually find coupons for major brands in your local newspaper or through Coupons.com.
28. Use Discount Apps
Use apps like Target’s Cartwheel (as well as their RedCard for an additional 5% off purchases), Ibotta and Walmart’s Savings Catcher to save or get money back when you buy featured items.
29. Make Your Own Baby Food
Baby food doesn’t have to come in jars. Stocking up on bland purees costs more than you’d think, especially if you’re trying to stick to organic options.
Making your own organic purees can save you more than $20 a month, and it doesn’t take much time.
30. Skip the Baby Food Altogether
Consider baby-led weaning. It ditches the purees and lets your baby explore small pieces of food as soon as they begin to show interest, usually around six months.
31. Take Your Tax Deductions
If your breast pump or lactation consultant services aren’t covered by your insurance (some plans may fall under grandfather clauses), these expenses may be tax deductible.
New parents are eligible for other credits and exemptions, too.
So you may want to consult with an accountant or check online before filing your taxes.
Ami Spencer Youngs is a freelance writer and yoga teacher, raising her career alongside two boys under three. Learn more about her life and her writing at writingherlife.com or on Twitter at @writingherlife.