When I was expecting W, I read an article in The Tightwad Gazette about saving money on baby supplies. I did put some of that into practice and plan to do the same this go round.
1) Save on Baby Food
Probably one of the simplest things you can do is making your own babyfood. You can steam, mash and freeze veggies and other ingredients in ice cube trays. Pop the cubes in some freezer bags for later use. Easy peasy. It's healthy, fresh and way cheaper than those little jars. Super Baby Food is a great book. And there are many great free websites too, such as Nuture Baby and Wholesome Baby Food.
Buy the big jar of unsweetened applesauce instead of the smaller containers. Buy the big plain, whole milk yogurt instead of the little cups. When you baby is ready for cereal, get the plain oats in the cereal isle instead of the little boxes in the babyfood isle. You get the idea. I was laughing at myself once I started reading labels and comparing prices. I could buy all organic products for a fraction of the price of the regular stuff if I just got the full sized containers.
Also, you can do child-led introduction to solids and skip most of the spoon fed stuff. We did a combo of the two methods (make your own purees and child-led). My little guy is healthy and a good eater now. So it worked for us.
2) Save on Diapers
You can blow through about $1500 by the time your baby is potty trained. Even cloth diapering part time will cut down on that expense. I know we have saved so much from using cloth and laundering them ourselves. Not to mention, you can reuse the dipes for any subsequent children and/or resell if they are still in usable condition.
If cloth diapering is not for you, be sure to join the coupon mailing lists of the diaper companies and stock up when you find good sales. Compare prices. Don't forget to try generic brands too. Nothing says that more money = a better poop catcher. ;)
It's free! And if you are home with baby, you don't even need to buy a big supply of bottles, an expensive electric pump and all that other stuff. Of course we know there are other benefits. (Here are 101 more.) But my point is formula is expensive. I've never had to buy it, but from what I've read you can plan on spending $40 a week on formula. That adds up to 1,000-$2,300 for the first year depending on what kind you use. If you need to buy a hypoallergenic formula, it can run you even more. I've heard numbers up to $500 a month.
Breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, will save you a significant amount of money. Breastfeeding up to a year (or even longer) will save you more.
Breastfeeding can be a challenge for many moms, but with the right information you can avoid many common problems. There is a fix for almost any problem that comes up. (Yes, I said almost.) Many moms unknowingly encourage early weaning due to bad advice they were given.
Having a good, knowledgeable support system is key.
Of course you know my fav resource for breastfeeding help is La Leche League mother-to-mother support. And KellyMom is a great site I've used often.
4) Stick to the Basics
Much of the baby "equipment" is redundant. Yet most of us, myself included, get all caught up on trying everything the first time around.
I'd recommend picking up ONE baby machine before baby is born. In addition, get yourself a baby carrier of some sort. (Something adjustable like a ring sling or a baby wrap is great for the beginning.) Most babies just want to be close to mom or dad to feel safe and secure.
If you feel the need for more stuff later, borrow a friend's to try it out. Or even take the babe to the store to see what they like in person. Many babies hate the swing or bouncer or whatever. Which means you can usually pick up an almost new one second hand. No point dropping money on something the kid might like.
One thing that is NOT recommended to buy used is a carseat. Safety first!
5) Think Long-Term
A booster seat that straps to an existing chair is a perfectly acceptable substitute for a high chair. It's also cheaper and takes up less space. Same goes for the "travel" sized swing vs the full sized one.
Consider the lifespan of the items you are purchasing. Some items have a very limited lifespan, while others can go the distance. For many people a travel system is overkill. They get along fine with a convertible carseat from the start and purchase a nice umbrella stroller once baby can sit up on their own. It all depends on your lifestyle.
The bottom line is that there is HUGE money in baby products. It is easy to get sucked in and think that you need everything those R Us stores are pushing. It is fun to shop for all those itty bitties, but spending your money wisely will benefit your family most in the long run.
How about you? Have you tried these or found other ways to save?