Budgeting for a New Baby

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A few weeks ago I was emailed by a reader that asked me how to start budgeting or figure out a budget for a new baby. Of course she’d heard the statistic that babies cost something like $12,000 per year.

That’s a lot. And that’s a scary number to think about for the cost of raising such a tiny thing! After raising a baby for the last year I can tell you that the number above doesn’t have to be accurate for you! If you follow some general tips and learn how to start budgeting for a new baby you can end the first year of baby’s life without stressing about your empty pocketbook and just enjoying the miracle you were given. Here are some ideas:

1. Plan to cloth diaper. I promise it’s not as icky as you think it is! Make sure to read my post all about cheap cloth diapers to find out more details on how to cloth diaper for less. Even if you still use disposable diapers for some outtings you will save in the long run with cloth diapering. And it will help you save money on the next baby!

2. Only buy used baby clothing. Let your family and friend give you gifts of new clothes. Save over 75% off a regular baby’s clothing budget by shopping at thrift stores and garage sales for clothing. Here’s an example of one of my trips: Why You Don’t Pay Retail for Kid’s Clothing.

3. Grow your own food to feed baby. We discovered that baby’s just want to eat what you are eating! So we fed our little guy just that and he never grew to even like the taste of baby food. One thing that also helped save us time was feeding baby our home canned goods. They were pre-cooked and already soft and so easy to pull off the pantry shelf! So even though our little guy started finger feeding in the winter he still was able to enjoy yummy peaches, pears, green beans, apples, and more that I had canned up the summer before.

4. Really figure out what it’s costing you to work outside the home. Much of that $12,000 a year expense is for daycare and things you need for baby while you are at work during the day. I’ve worked with many of my friends to help them re-do their budgets to be able to stay at home with baby instead of having to work. Of course this isn’t an option for everyone but it is a good idea to figure out what it’s costing you to work before you just assume that working outside the home is the only way.

5. Don’t give in to all the “baby things”! Oh my, there are so many things for baby out there! And I would agree that some of them are so nice to have, like a good stroller, a nice swing, LOVE!, ect. But when you are out and shopping for things for baby just ask yourself the question before you buy…”Does baby really need this?” Baby’s need food, clothing, clean diapers, and a safe place to sleep. They do not need a fancy jumping toy (that takes up your whole living room anyways), brand name clothing (they are just going to throw up on it), or every new “educational” toy on the market (they’d rather play with your measuring cups!). Focus on those things that baby really needs and you will be just fine.

6. Toys are just something for you to step on. We learned pretty quickly that baby wasn’t interested in the store bought toys. Sure, he did have a few things he enjoyed like stuffed animals, musical istruments, and wooden stacking toys, but otherwise there was always something else he’d rather play with. Think about making your own toys instead of spending the extra money on them or buy them used at a garage sale to save. One of the toys our guy really likes is our Homemade Baby Sensory Toy. It didn’t cost anything to make!

7. Make your own baby ointments. Get the best lotions and creams out there without the high price tag! Some we’ve posted so far are, Coconut Oil Lotion (works great on excema!) and The Best Diaper Rash Cream. Another easy, natural thing to make is Homemade Cloth Baby Wipes.

So basically if you just spend the first year focusing on baby and the things he really needs (he really just needs you!), you should be just fine. Just like having anything…don’t stress over having the newest and the best, it doesn’t always pay for its-self in the long run.

What are some ways you planned your own budgeting for a new baby that would help a new mom-to-be?


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  1. very interesting! don’t forget breastfeeding is also a “way ” to feed your baby healthy and economical. Also making your own washing products to wash clothes, borrowing clothes from other babies and finally borrowing books from public libraries

  2. From the very beginning, midwives are typically much less expensive than hospital/ob birth. Eating a healthy, varied diet is better for you than prenatal vitamins. Don’t fall for the baby detergent lies. Homemade laundry soap has never bothered my babies. Cloth diapers need a little special care. I use tons of vinegar and peroxide but still cheaper than disposable.

  3. Here is how I am doing my cash and carry baby.
    I would have loved to have breast fed but my love was born by emergency c section 2 weeks early and did not come into milk nor would my ob prescribe anything to bring my milk in. If you can qualify for WIC use it. You pay taxes use what you pay into. If you can’t qualify for WIC or Food Stamps sign up on each website for the formulas deals. Some send check, coupons ect. One sent me a full sized can of formula.

    Plan on buying multiples of socks, bibs, binkies (if used by baby), light weight baby blankest and expect them to be disposable.. Some will disappear some will where out, some will get so messed up you will pitch it.

    In our area Goodwill sells baby clothes under 5 T for .99 cents each. A local resale called Kid to Kid has good sales. We bought our high end stroller for $50 dollars, baby socks 3/1.00 or .34 cents each. They also mark down things I look for the .99 cent and under things marked down. I also pick up things I know I am going to need and put it up for him. (We had been buying 6mth to 1yr clothing, glad we did early at 3 mths he is in 6-9 mth clothing.)

    Buy new anything you can’t sanitize that is not in a sealed package. (However Plushies get gnawed on and not bought in retale stores too… )

    If you are on your own and no one is helping you buy in bulk: Diapers and wipes… Even if you are going to use cloth buy a set of size 1 and 2 disposables because one day you are going to pass out right after you diaper the baby… even if you have a partner this will happen, with the best scheduled. and you dont want to wash or rinse anything but just have a dry baby.

    Final peice of advice kids need clothes, diapers, food (formula breast or both), a safe place to sleep and stimulation. None of which has to cost you the world..

    (I have even found sealed bags and boxes of diapers and formula on ebay, craigslist, and at thrift stores. Yes I bought the pampers @ 2.99 for 50 pack haven’t bought the 10 dollar formula I have found sealed at a reputable kids resale… I will if I need to. )

    Most people don’t agree with my cash and carry plan however living this way lets one parent stay home and take care of little love. I also don’t have junk I don’t need laying around.

  4. Love this article! I still cry like a baby watching the L.H.O.T.P. movie when Mr. Edwards brings the girls a new cup and a peppermint stick for Christmas! And, how excited they were! “Stuff” is such a distraction from what really matters. I remeber growing up on the farm one our favorite things was when grandma would let us sit in pot lids and spin each other! We would play that all day!

  5. I plan on doing cloth diapers and breast feeding. Call around to churches and ask if they help with baby items. My baby is here yet and she has a full wardrobe all the way up until 2T. Basically, once a month the church lets me come in and fill up a walmart bag full of clothes for free. They’re gently used and babies outgrow clothes so quickly anyways. I tried to get as much stuff donated to me before I registered anywhere. I got a crib for $25. A changing table, high chair, and bassinet were given to me if not by friends then the church. When I did register, I only registered only for what I NEEDED. I still got things people think I need a the shower. I returned them and got the stuff I registered for. (not everything) Also call the hospital and ask what they give you after delivery. My hospital gives you a manual breast pump and a boppy along with other various things.

  6. Love this! We’ve done most on this list. I’m fortunate to live in a large city, so I was able to find most things we needed on Craigslist. I purchased brand new cloth diapers and covers for under $200 that should last my little guy until he’s potty trained! Start early and you can find everything you need second hand.

  7. This is some excellent advice. another good piece is one my wife and I are going to be using. We’ve been seeing a TON of women opting to wear their babies instead of using carriers or strollers, and if you are one of those who likes the idea then try making your own wrap. If you are into crochet or knitting it’s easy to custom make your own wrap and you get custom colors and designs. even if you can’t knit or crochet yourself you could always ask a friend to do it as a shower gift. The Wrap We’ll be using was originally made as an Obi for a Geisha Costume I donned a few years back (I know hell of a manly costume huh lol). The thing easily compares to most of the wraps I’ve seen on the market and it’s in my kind of color Hunter orange.