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Baby on a Budget

When times are tough and finances are tight it can be stressful and overwhelming when planning for all the things you need for your new baby.  For those who have a little one on the way, the following are some practical ways to care for a baby on a budget.

  1. Make a list of the essentials. What do you actually need for caring for a baby? Hint: ignore marketing campaigns that showcase all the “must haves” and really think about what is truly necessary. Check out our Baby Registry Check-List post for some ideas.

  2. Do an inventory of what you already have. Have a stash of fabric or yarn you can use to whip up some burp cloths and bonnets? Or maybe you have old clothes you can cut up to turn into a bib or a pair of mittens. Babies don’t need everything brand new. They don’t need special towels and washcloths so if you already have some that your family uses you can check that off the list. 

  3. Lean on your skill set. Do you have any practical skills such as sewing, knitting, crocheting, carpentry etc. that you could tap into to make some handmade items? If not, maybe you have a friend who does and you could swap and do something in return that they would benefit from.

  4. Shop smart. Think about what must be purchased new and what could be purchased second hand or handmade. Garage sales, thrift stores, clearance racks, unclaimed freight auctions, all have a lot to offer when you’re on a budget. Go with a list but be open to what else you might find. You might find inexpensive clothes or bibs but you might also find fabric to make your own. It doesn’t have to be perfect, sometimes the motto is “make do and mend”.

  5. Consider cloth. Cloth diapers may sound old fashioned but they can be a lot more economical in the long run. It’s not for everyone but it might be worth looking into. 

  6. Use a clothesline. Baby items constantly need washing, so utilizing a clothesline could cut down your utility bill or keep you from running to the laundromat each day. 

  7. Breastfeed. Formula is expensive and breastfed babies typically are sick less often, meaning they go to the doctor less and working parents won’t need to take as many sick days. Breastfeeding beyond the first year still has many health benefits and when nutrition is lacking, you can be rest assured that your little one is getting lots of needed nutrients through your breast milk. 

  8. Can’t afford a babysitter? Think about swapping childcare with a trusted friend or relative. You can take turns caring for each others children while the other person runs errands or has a date night. 

  9. When introducing solid foods to your baby who is older than six months, you might choose to make your own by steaming fruits and vegetables and utilizing your blender. 

  10. Prioritize and think ahead. Do you really need an infant specific car seat that will last such a short time? Get two uses for the price of one and consider buying an extended fit car seat that can be used for newborns on up! 

Items that could be purchased secondhand or handmade:

  • Maternity/nursing-friendly clothes

  • Baby clothes

  • Curtains

  • Bibs and burp cloths 

  • Hats, mittens, booties

  • Fabric and yarn

  • Bed sheets 

  • Blankets

  • Clothes hangers

  • Laundry baskets

  • Toys (check out our Gifts for Babies & Toddlers post for ideas)

  • Dressers

  • Changing tables

  • Diaper pails

  • Strollers

  • Feeding supplies: plates, cups, small utensils 

  • Other…

Items to purchase new: 

  • Car seat

  • Breastpump (check with your insurance company before purchasing)

  • Baby bottle nipples

Safety considerations:

  • Always check current safety regulations on car seats and cribs before purchasing second hand or making your own. 

  • Ensure all pre-loved furniture is sturdy and isn’t chipping paint or have sharp edges or splinters. 

This time with your baby is short. They don’t need all the latest and the greatest. They don’t need every gadget that’s trending. Most “educational” toys aren’t even all that beneficial. Your baby won’t know or care if their clothes are name brand or if you buy their toys at a garage sale. At the end of the day what they need most is you. 

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