Worrying about money is one of new parents’ favorite, and most nerve-wracking, hobbies, and that’s totally justified. Baby may sort of be a DIY project, but the accessories that go with her sure aren’t.
Still, there are numerous ways to cut down on costs as you prepare your home and your life for Baby, and cost-cutting new parents can give themselves the gift of a lot less to worry about financially.
Patience is a virtue
Nesting during pregnancy is practically a rite of passage, so holding off on going out and outfitting the nursery is its own kind of sacrifice, but parents who wait can definitely save some dough.
First of all, don’t buy anything before your baby shower – sure, it’s unlikely that someone will go out and buy you a crib, but you never know, and they definitely won’t if you tell everyone you’ve already got it covered. Some parents who are concerned about bigger items, like the crib, put together a registry that allows shower guests to chip in towards bigger expenses, instead of buying individual gifts.
In fact, if you’re thinking of room-sharing for a while after Baby is born, there’s no rush to get a crib at all – a bassinet will probably be a better use of your bedroom space. Check the weight limit before choosing a bassinet, though – some can only be used for a very brief period of Baby’s life.
But while setting up a nursery can be an important transitional phase where parents prepare themselves to become parents, when Baby comes along, she isn’t going to be able to tell much of a difference. She won’t start seeing colors at all until she is around four or five months old, and may be more interested in the ceiling fan than in her mobile.
Especially if you’re planning on room-sharing with Baby for a while, holding off on any nursery re-decoration can be a real gift to your budget. Instead, you can get ready for Baby by putting together a baby book, baby-proofing your home, or diving into the parenting book section of the library.
The same way Baby can grow out of a bassinet before you know it, if you go overboard on the newborn-sized clothing, she could grow out of it before she even has a chance to wear it all. In fact, if Baby isn’t born until after your due date, she could be big enough at birth to be almost growing out of newborn sizes.
Similarly, it’s a good idea to hold off even on bigger sizes of seasonal clothes – you don’t know how big Baby is going to be by the time swim-suit or snow-suit season rolls around, and those items don’t lend themselves well to other times of the year.
Reduce, reuse, upcycle
A little parenting secret some parents don’t learn until their babies start leaving babyhood behind is that a lot of baby stuff is just…regular stuff. Regular stuff with ‘baby’ in the name.
Take the diaper bag, for instance. It’s true that the baby bag can be an infant’s parents’ best friend, but that isn’t because of the bag, it’s because of what’s in it. The bag itself doesn’t have to be more than a tote that’s big enough to hold what you need it to, zips closed, and has reasonably comfortable straps. You might have one in your closet right now.
Since babies grow so fast, parents often end up with a stockpile of baby clothes, many of which have barely been worn. If you’ve got friends or family members who have kids a little older than yours is going to be, see if you can get yourself on their hand-me-down list.
If not, remember, this means that a lot of the baby clothes that end up in second-hand or consignment stores also haven’t seen a lot of wear, and can be a great alternative to buying new.
Other things to try
Make the most of benefits available through your employer or insurer. For instance, there is a very good chance your breast pump is covered by your insurance.
There are also a few items that may be on your ‘to buy’ list that, instead of looking for deals of hand-me-downs, you could probably skip altogether. Crib bedding is a good example – parents are advised against using crib bedding because having pillows and blankets, as well as crib-bumpers and soft toys, in bed with babies can increase the risk of SIDS. Instead, look for single, fitted crib-sheets, since those will be all the bedding you will need for a while.