Advertisers use baby’s first year to sell new parents on buying only the best for their little one; usually the most expensive & latest baby item out there. Don’t be fooled! Babies don’t need that much, if you ask me.
Sure, children require sacrifices and one of them is purely financial. The largest being the jump in health insurance costs. Aside from that the additional costs of baby don’t have to drain your savings.
USED – Baby’s First Year
Speaking of savings, you can save a lot of money by buying baby items gently used and not new. Buying used, if done right, is the cheapest option out there.
I wished I had bought more items used for my daughter, but I just wasn’t aware of all the gently used baby items available at thrift stores. Had I checked early on I could have saved a bit on baby items.
If you’re open to receiving used items you might even note on your baby shower invitations that used baby items are acceptable gifts. I was lucky enough to have a couple of cool cousins, aka seasoned parents, that gifted me some awesome secondhand baby items.
Be sure to check your local thrift store (I like Deseret Industries) before you buy that full priced baby item.
My used items for baby’s first year included:
- glider with ottoman
- bed sheets
- baby carrier
- swing (a life saver in my house)
Read about these tips for shopping at thrift stores.
Your baby doesn’t NEED new things. Unless we’re speaking about disposable diapers and wipes, which they would.
Looking back I wish I would have done a diaper shower instead of a normal baby shower. Diaper gifts would have reduced the costs of my daughter’s first year.
If you’ve got a strong stomach and the time, you might even consider using cloth diapers and wipes instead. There are initials costs involved, but these costs are greatly reduced if your buy used or resale the diapers.
On a similar note I suggest that new parents wait to reveal the gender until the baby shower to get more gender neutral baby items. This has more to do with preference, but I initially wanted more gender neutral gifts, because I wanted to reuse the baby items on future children.
Some people don’t care to dress their babies in androgynous clothing, but if you’re looking to simplify and avoid baby clutter then gender neutral colors are the way to go. Just think you can always add a clip on bow tie to a little guy’s onesie or a headband to a little gal’s head to avoid any confusion.
*Depending on the season or temperature the layer(s) of clothing may change
My baby girl was a newborn during the HOT summer months, so luckily we didn’t have to deal with any sickness during the first few months. I honestly didn’t clothe her much that first month.
It was probably mostly because I was afraid of dressing a brand new baby and it was warm enough to just keep her swaddled in a blanket, at least I thought it was & she never let me know otherwise. I maybe used 5 of her NB outfits total.
My husband and I were so clueless that at night we slept her in just her diaper inside a ‘Swaddle Me’ sleeper; this sleep routine continued until she was 3 months and could “escape” and break out of her sleeper, so that’s when we started to dress her in footie sleepers.
As it got colder we started to sleep her in her sleepers & nightgowns and wrap her in the ‘Swaddle Me’ sleepers for warmth. We kept her wrapped at armpit level, so that she would stay cool enough.
As the winter temperatures intensified we had to switch gear a bit and start bundling her in the evenings. She would be dressed in her footie sleepers zipped up within a wearable blanket and a flannel blanket sometimes wrapped on the lower half of her body to keep her warm.
I received more than enough outfits in certain sizes for my baby girl at her baby shower from family and friends, along with an excess of blankets too. I didn’t feel like I needed all that I received and time proved that all of it wasn’t necessary.
She had a LOAD of 0-3 mo., 3 mo, & 3-6 mo. outfits, so many in fact that she didn’t even wear all of them. In my opinion she only needed 8 outfits max for each stage/size.
Then again it took me until she was almost 3 months for me to keep her dressed EVERYDAY and for the habit to really kick in. Though, I did dress her in the same outfits twice in one week w/o washing the clothes sometimes. Of course this can only be done assuming the outfits are clean-looking without any trace of baby poop.
Each stage is different in that the layers may change due to the season, but for the most part this is what I recommend for baby’s first year:
Sizes: NB … 0-3 mo., 3-6 mo., 6-9 mo., 12 mo., etc.
- 8 onesies / outfits (pants are a must during the winter months and shorts are optional during the summer months when it comes to onesies)
- 3 sleepers (gowns or footies)
- 3-4 socks and/or booties
- 1-2 beanie hat(s)
- 2-3 ‘swaddle me’ wraps &/or wearable blankets
- 4 swaddling blankets (1 layer works)
- 2-3 blankets (2 layers are fine, especially during winter here in AZ)
I didn’t have an issue with the amount of laundry I did using these items, but others may, so alter as needed. I think I did about a load of baby laundry a week.
Now if you’re using cloth diapers and wipes your more likely to wash a load every other day. Then again, I honestly could tell your since I didn’t go this route. I assume water and electricity costs must still beat the costs of disposable diapers & wipes.
Babies don’t need many toys and they definitely don’t require expensive ones. Often times thinking outside the box can solve a baby dilemma. Freezable teethers are great, but a big wooden spoon might serve the save purpose.
As you compile some baby toys keep in mind that they will be constantly placed in your baby’s mouth. So, if you can’t easily clean a baby toy by hand or washer, then skip purchasing it.
Also, baby toys don’t have to be new. Well, that’s true if you can disinfect the used toy. I bought many toys for my daughter from the Deseret Industries Thrift Store in my area. Read more about purchasing toys used.
Once you find out you’re pregnant don’t do anything hasty like I did with my daughter’s crib. I wasn’t even 2 months along in my pregnancy before I felt the pressure to buy a crib for the baby’s room. I found a used mini crib on an online garage sale site and later realized I had rushed into the decision.
First off I should have gotten a regular sized crib, so unless you are tight on space I don’t really recommend it. I got lucky this round and didn’t have a massive sized baby, but I often felt like my daughter might outgrow her crib early.
Secondly, I didn’t even try to haggle. It was my first online garage sale purchase and I didn’t realize how many people inflate asking prices to make room for buyers to negotiate a price. I regret not trying to get a better deal, especially since I felt like it was a little more dinged up than the pictures showed.
You live and learn, I guess. On a side note, when buying used cribs be sure that it isn’t more than 5 years old for safety reasons. Also, be sure to do a bit of research on the item prior to pick up to ensure that it hasn’t been recalled.
AND MORE WAITING
Practice patience when preparing for baby. You don’t need to race off and buy big items or even little items at that. If I had it to do over again I would have taken more time finding the right crib. I would have put off buying anything until after the baby shower.
Now I don’t recommend putting things off entirely, since planning ahead has a lot to do with saving money. I do however recommend waiting to buy clothes, diapers, and smaller baby items until after the baby shower.
This of course depends on how close your baby shower is to your due date, since you don’t want to wait till the last weeks to buy what you need.
But assuming you’ve spaced your baby shower appropriately before the due date then waiting until after your baby shower to buy items is a good bet.
Another money-saving strategy involves doing without. Remember to ask yourself if you really need the baby item in question. And if you do, then can it wait. If so, then wait and revisit later on. If it’s a want, then why not wait to see if you really even “need” it.
I don’t recommend buying a car seat used. You just don’t want to risk your child’s safety. Of course if your close friend or relative, you trust, has one you can borrow or have, that is within the 5 year limit, then it might be fine to accept theirs.
To avoid the repurchase of different car seats look at models that grow with your child. I considered this, but my husband and I decided to buy the car seat that are carried for the first year and then repurchase the next stage later on. I don’t regret our decision, plus I considered additional children and thought it would be best to have multiple stage car seats anyway.
So if you plan on having your children one right after the other, then purchasing a multiple car seats might be more practical for your family’s situation.
The other thing I regret about our car seat purchases was buying models I considered expensive. I no longer feel like expensive is necessarily better, so don’t allow prices to completely fool you. Always prioritize safety, but don’t blindly associate prices with quality.
I understand that many women out there advocate “fed is best”, but for the purpose of speaking from a minimalist or frugalist’s point of view “breast is best”. Not only is breast milk good for your baby, it is technically free. You don’t have to spend your money on expensive baby formulas, if you decide & are able to breastfeed that first year.
Even if you are unable to shoot for the entire first year, consider the longer the better & cheaper. If you do choose to breastfeed, your benefits include money saved, time save, space saved.
*I understand that not every mother can or wants to breastfeed; it is your decision to make.
Babies these days may NEED basic items and you “need” others. The trick is to continue to keep a frugal mindset as you decide what to spend your money on during baby’s first year.
Leave A Comment: How did you or do you plan to save money during your baby’s first year? Did you or are you continuing to buy used kid items after baby’s first year?
Tawnya is the founder of The Dancing Dollar, a blog about frugality & personal finance. She writes about how frugal living can help other individuals & families live [happily] below their means. She & her husband are on the path to pay off their home in less than half the time. Click here to learn more.