Budgeting for Baby

Though having a baby is truly a joyous and blessed event, it can also be a pain in the pocketbook. You’ll need to buy baby clothes, diapers, formula, baby food, and then all the special baby furniture: high chair, car seat, baby bed, changing table, etc. Add to this toys, nursery school, daycare, health expenses — babies are very expensive. But if you’re living on a budget, as most people are, there are some things you can do to save yourself money, and still spoil your little wonder.

1. Make sure everyone knows what you NEED for the baby. Relatives and friends can sometimes be as excited about your baby as you are, and may be eager to buy you stuff. If they don’t know what to get you, though, they are likely to give you things you don’t need.

The best and most graceful way to take care of this problem is to get someone to throw you a baby shower. Sisters, sisters in law, and best friends are great for this role. The person throwing you a baby shower can tactfully let invitees know what you really need.

You can also register at a local baby store, or online at several baby sites.

2. When you still need large items after the baby shower, look at a secondhand or consignment store first. Babies only use their furniture for a couple of years, and after that people want to get rid of it. You can probably pick up most of the things you need cheaply.

3. Check with your local health department before you have the baby about a free car seat program.

4. Sign up on your local Freecycle email list. Freecycle is an organization of people who are trying to get rid of things, but would rather give them away than throw them away. You’re required to offer something to the group when you sign up, but after that you can post that you’re getting ready to have a baby and ask if anyone is giving away the things you need.

5. Go online to pregnancy sites and sign up with their mailing lists. Many of them, and many companies that make baby formula, diapers, etc., will hook you up with samples. And you’d be surprised how far those samples will go.

6. If your income is very low, call your local health department and ask about the WIC program; this is an assistance program set up for lower income families to help them get baby formula, baby food, and other things necessary for a baby’s proper nutrition.

7. If you’re going to need daycare and you know you can’t pay for it, call your local social services office as soon as you know you’re pregnant and ask about child care assistance. These programs typically have a waiting list, but the sooner you get on it, the sooner you can get help with daycare. Before you decide you’re too proud to do this, call a few local daycares at random and ask their rates for a newborn; it can be a very large chunk of your income!

8. If your employer doesn’t provide health insurance, talk to your local health department about your state’s child health insurance program. These programs are free or very inexpensive, and can ensure your baby can get the good preventative and basic health care he or she needs.

9. Unless you eat very, very healthy food, a food grinder to prepare fresh food for your baby instead of using prepared baby food is not going to save you any money, and will wind up in your pantry unused. Only if you’re going to eat unseasoned food like Baby should you even attempt it.

10. Breastfeeding your baby is a great money saver, and is also the healthiest way to feed your baby. If you decide to breastfeed, for the first four or five months you probably won’t need any formula outside the samples you have gotten from the hospital, health department, and mailing lists. If you work outside the home, though, invest in an electric (not a hand!) breast pump, and make sure you discuss breast pumping with your healthcare provider.

11. Skip name brands. Your baby doesn’t care whether he’s wearing Nike or Keds. He just wants to be warm and comfortable. Name brands are for you, not the baby.