I had my first daughter 8 years ago, and I remember planning for the delivery and the days ahead with all the excitement of a first-time mother! I read every book on the subject (Yes, What to Expect When Expecting is a must read!) and purchased so many materials, dreaming about the ways they would make it so much more fun and convenient when the baby arrives.
Most of it was, to be absolutely honest, pretty pink, yellow and blue stuff with pictures of babies and milk bottles, which I thought were super cute! You know what I’m talking about right?!
Anyway, the baby arrived and as days went by, almost 50% of the stuff I thought I simply cannot do without, remained unused, taking up the precious storage space in our house! I learnt my lesson that time, and was more careful with my baby shopping the second time around… only to find out I was carrying twins and now had to buy two of everything!!
This time, also having to face the reality of frugality, my husband and I had to think several times before investing in any baby equipment or other conveniences.
Related: Related: Money Saving Tips for Stay-At-Home Moms: In the Kitchen (Part 2)
Occasional moments of weakness aside (who can resist cute stuff!?!) we found that, with careful thinking and planning, and being more realistic, we could save a whole lot of money – money we knew was more necessary for purchasing formula, diapers and other essentials.
Here are a few pointers on how you, as a stay-at-home mom, can save money and still get the best for your little one:
As I said earlier, getting all starry-eyed and purchasing stuff just because they’re cute will not help you. For instance, I purchased several little cute containers for storing formula and baby food which would be handy while traveling.
Owing to their frail health, we avoided travelling till the twins were 1. By then, they had already outgrown baby formula and soft baby food, and the containers sat on a kitchen shelf unused. Little expenses like these can add up. It is best if you think about how long a certain baby equipment or product is going to be used, and whether you need to spend so much money on something that will be redundant in a matter of months.
Suitable Baby Equipment
When we think about cradles, prams, baby seats and such, a couple of prominent brand names and models automatically come to our mind. We purchase a car seat or cradle in advance, assuming that it would be more suitable for us.
Unfortunately, sometimes it would not suit our needs or the baby’s, and possibly even cause discomfort to the infant. To add to the disappointment, dependable baby equipment like cradles, prams, and car seats tend to be expensive. To avoid such problems, wait till you bring your baby home, and get into an initial routine before deciding on what would be most suitable for your baby and easy-to-use for you.
Instead of going for elaborate furniture like changing tables, large cradles and expensive baby-gates, it is better to look for affordable alternatives that could be either used ones or made by the local carpenter. In our case, when we brought the twins home, they had already grown used to sleeping next to each other in a larger crib, in a certain elevated position, as advised by the neo-natal care doctor.
We found that standard cribs were not easy to maneuver into the position that was best for the babies, and so we decided to get a custom-made cradle made by a local carpenter for a much more affordable price. It was perfect for the babies; we also saved a large amount of money, and more importantly, a many sleepless nights. Once the twins grew too big for the cradle, we simply turned it into a bin to store their toys!
Changing tables, too, seem to be a given in nurseries, whereas a towel spread on the floor or a water proof sheet with soft linen spread on it, could do just fine. The same goes for play pens and child-proof gates in play rooms. You can also look for used ones or cheaper models online. Since children outgrow these equipments quickly, you could save a whole lot of money on them.
Formula and Breastfeeding
Formula is the main spending area for infants and toddlers, next to diapers. Every parent would feel that if all the formula tins they ever bought were placed in a line, it would stretch to the moon and back, or some such hyperbole! The healthier and more advisable way to save on that is to breastfeed your baby. Breast milk is literally the elixir of life, and has more nutrients, antibodies and other health benefits than any other food in nature. If you could feed your baby for as long as possible, it would be one of the greatest gifts you could give your baby and yourself.
Please note: Researches show that mothers who choose not to breastfeed or stop breastfeeding too soon, are more prone to breast cancer. Of course, this does not apply to mothers who cannot feed due to some health issues, but every healthy mother who can, should feed their child.
For those whom breastfeeding is just not an option, you can always ask your regular grocery store if they have some sort of concession for baby formula and other regular purchases. Also, there are several resources online that offer you more affordable baby formula products. You can also alternate between formula and breast milk in order to give you a rest, especially if you have more than one infant. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor how to manage this efficiently, to ensure your baby’s growth and your well-being.
Diapers are one of the most expensive baby products that have the shortest life span! Until potty training is successfully completed (which probably happens in a place called Utopia!) diapers are a necessary part of your shopping list. The situation is so dire that we even have diapers for 5 year olds! However, one sure way to save on this is to use cloth diapers.
Although this will require some planning and some work before the baby arrives, it will certainly help you save a lot of money in the coming months. Buy several cloth diapers so that you have enough to wash and use throughout the week. Also check out your local stores or pharmacies that offer concessions and coupons for diapers.
Necessaries like soap, baby powder, wipes, diapers and baby formula are always a bargain when you buy in bulk. There are several websites exclusively for baby care that give you great deals on bulk buys on these products. Never feel shy to ask your local stores also for bulk purchase prices. The cost of having a baby is something that everyone is aware of, and most stores would be willing to give you a concession, at least to ensure that you will be a regular customer!
The first baby birth in the family is usually celebrated no end, and the first baby usually gets a lot of stuff! And I mean, a LOT! Especially clothes, toys, teething toys and such. Remember that you don’t have to use all the clothes and toys at one go. What we did was to separate the lot into 2 sets, and to use them in rotation so that all clothes and toys remain comparatively new or in good condition.
Also, kids grow out of clothes really quickly. So we had some clothes that were almost unused and as good as new. Call me a hoarder, but I carried around a HUGE box of onesies, baby clothes, bibs, socks, warm clothes, shoes and such for quite a few years. We carried that box around with us through 6 years, and moving to 2 different houses.
Imagine my glee when I finally opened up that box for my twins (something I could never have anticipated all those years!) and didn’t have to spend a dime on baby clothes. My air-quotes – stash – along with baby-gifts from friends who came to visit the twins, kept us going for a really long time.
So, in baby care, as in all situations, there is nothing that can’t be achieved with some clever planning, forethought, and frugality. If you have more ideas on how to save money on baby care and baby products, do share with us in the comments.