Saving Money When You Have A Baby



Saving Money when you have a BabyWhen we first found out my wife was expecting, we were elated.  We had spent the previous eighteen months patiently trying to get pregnant to no avail.  When we were least expecting it, my wife became pregnant.  Isn’t that how it always happens, though?  


When thinking about our first child, of course, I thought about all the activities that we could do together.  I couldn’t wait to coach his little league team, rough house with him in the basement, and teach him the finer points of life.  


Saving Money when you have a Baby1Then my finance background kicked in, and I started to become a little nervous.  I have read over the years that raising a child costs $250,000 or more with inflation.  That equates to almost $1,000 extra a month.  I knew at that point that we would need to figure out a way to reduce some of those costs.



One of the first things that we did was check Craigslist for discounted baby items.  We set alerts for baby items that we were needing or wanting.  The craziest part is people sometimes just give away their baby stuff for free!  I couldn’t at first understand why people would put a trash bag full of baby clothes or toys on the curb.  


Free or Heavily Discounted

Saving Money when you have a Baby2

I now understand.  With a kid, it’s a lot easier to set something on the curb than to orchestrate a transaction to sell it.  We have picked up multiple Pack n Plays, toys, clothes, and even two Maclaran strollers for free via Craigslist.  We will not need to buy our kid clothes until he’s in kindergarten between Craigslist and gifts.


Here’s the other aspect of Craigslist that I love.  You can buy really great stuff for deep discounts.  We were able to buy a gently used City Mini stroller for $100 because the owner decided she wanted a different stroller.  We were also able to find some really great baby furniture, like a changing table and rocking chair for very low prices.  Even if the furniture isn’t in perfect condition, I figure we will get our money’s worth by the time we are done using them.


Cloth Diapering

Saving Money when you have a Baby3About a week before my wife gave birth to our son, we talked about cloth diapering instead of disposables.  A friend at work was raving about how much money he saves by cloth diapering his kids.  Our initial thoughts were cloth diapering was gross and not really for us.  My wife was unsure about having to do extra laundry with a newborn baby in tow.  I was mainly concerned about the complexity of using cloth diapering versus the ease of use by disposables.   There I was as a first-time parent, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to add one more thing that I needed to do.  However, once I watched a couple of videos on youtube of dads using cloth diapers, I thought it can’t be that hard.  It really isn’t.


Cost Savings

I then did my own research and saw that there could be some substantial cost savings if we did it correctly.  Depending on the number of diapers in a pack, the pack of diapers usually last a week or two.  Through my research, I found that a child goes through about $60 of diapers a month.  That’s roughly $0.20 a diaper based on a child needing about seven diapers a day.  


Before we took the plunge by investing in a lot of cloth diapers, our kind friends with twin girls let us borrow their newborn stash.  So, we were able to test everything out before we took the plunge.  While it was a little more work to get use to, we decided to take on the “challenge”.


Saving Money when you have a Baby4Soon thereafter, we bought $200 worth of used cloth diapers from Craigslist.  We made sure to do the best research we could to ensure high quality items.  This included the brands such as Blueberry, Flip, bumGenius, and Bambino Mio, and we bought enough so that my wife only technically needs to do cloth diaper laundry once a week (although they get washed more frequently since the stink is real).  


We have since monitored our water and electric bill and have seen an uptick of around $20 total each month based on our water and electric usage.  With an initial outlay of $200 spread out over a minimum of two years, we expect that we save around $30 each month from our son wearing cloth diapers.  If and when we have any additional children, that should potentially further spread out the costs that we initially incurred.


Tips for Buying Used Diapers

I recommend avoiding velcro and going for snaps when purchasing diaper covers.  The velcro seems to have a shorter lifespan before needed to be replaced.  Also, always check elasticity of diaper covers.  If the elastic is too worn, those covers will not do a good job at keeping the mess inside of the diaper.  Finally, make sure the people who used the diapering items before you properly washed and cared for them.  That makes a huge difference in terms of longevity.  There are countless websites with tips like these to ensure optimal cloth diapering success.


Homemade Baby Food

Saving Money when you have a BabyIt sounds much more involved than it really is.  My wife is super nutrition-conscious, so for her, this wasn’t even a question.  She wanted to ensure that our little guy would get the healthiest stuff possible as his body and brain grow rapidly.  At six months old, we simply started with foods like oatmeal and sweet potato.  My wife would either use a blender or a hand-masher to create a purée consistency.  It was as easy as that.


After a couple months of purées, our baby wanted to feed himself.  So, now feeding him is even less-involved for us.  We stock up during sales on frozen organic vegetables and buy fresh fruits and veggies whenever we can.  Eggs are also a common staple, which are always very cheap at Aldi grocery store.  We regularly prepare organic chicken or grass-fed beef for ourselves, and our baby enjoys these meats himself as well.  We aren’t necessarily against prepared baby foods but hope to continue feeding our little guy whole foods, free from any sort of added sugar, artificial flavors, or preservatives.


Preppiest Baby on the Block

My wife can be pretty particular when it comes to clothes, especially for her little baby doll.  Even though we got a good amount of clothing through Craigslist or gifts, she uses a lot of those clothes as “play clothes”.  For dressing up or outings on the town, she loves Ralph Lauren on our little guy.  If you look at what this brand retails their baby items for, they aren’t cheap.  Both her and I were in agreement that we didn’t want to spend $25 on a polo shirt that he might wear once.  


Saving Money when you have a Baby 5My wife found the perfect compromise.  She started hunting for Ralph Lauren and other “designer” baby clothes at thrift and consignment stores.  A few times she was able to find great pieces for only $.75 each (thanks to Salvation Army extra savings on Wednesdays).  Of course, she always checks the condition of the clothes, and typically, they are really in excellent shape.  It was a win/win for me.  She was able to have her preppy baby, and I was able to save beaucoup bucks on items that she may have otherwise been bought.


Now, I don’t want you to think that we only bought used items for our son.  When it came to items with safety standards, we bought brand-new.  These items included car seats and a crib to ensure that they met current safety regulations.  While there are some things in life to be frugal about, safety is not one of them.


What are some ways that you have saved money raising your child?  What are some advantages and disadvantages to buying used baby items?  Share your thoughts below.


Mustard Seed Money

Welcome to the website. A mustard seed is a very small seed but astonishingly grows very large over time. My hope is that through your financial journey that your small investment in time, money and faith will grow beyond anything that you could ever imagine.


  1. I’m envious of how much you figured out before having your first child. We learned a lot of money-saving techniques along the way, but probably spent way too much on our first.

    We use disposable diapers, but thanks to Amazon cards from Swagbucks, we haven’t paid for any diapers in years.

    You really don’t need that much for a new baby. I love what they do in the Finland:
    Harmony@CreatingMyKaleidoscope recently posted…Use These Money-Saving Tips To Shop LessMy Profile

  2. We relied heavily on hand-me-downs and occasionally the thrift store for kids’ clothes and gear. Plus cloth diapering for the most part–it got a bit too icky with the toddlers before they were fully potty trained. We are now heading into the preschool phase and finding we spend a bit more on school fees and kids’ activities just so our kids aren’t complete weirdos due to our frugality. But even then, we find lots of free activities and opted for only 1 year of preschool since our kids are pretty well socialized from church.

  3. Kudos to you and your wife for using cloth diapers. 🙂 Looking back I think I could have managed it, but was so against it at the time.

    We tried to find less expensive solutions for common baby items. For example a trash can with a lid instead of a diaper genie + spending more on special bags vs using trash bags we already had. Or asking ourselves if we really needed a wipe warmer or video monitor system. Probably not, even though the video version may have saved some stress! Great read, thanks for sharing.

  4. Congrats on getting pregnant after such a long time, we can really relate – we’re having to do IVF to create our first baby 🙁

    Anyway, I love all the frugal methods you’ve said, we’re planning to do many of those. We’ve bought a lot of the things we’ll need 2nd hand already – so that should help for when the baby actually comes.

    Dividends Down Under recently posted…Shareholding Review: Rural Farm Funds (ASX:RFF) 2016 ResultsMy Profile

  5. Good job on being thrifty MSM! Unfortunately, I think we paid full retail for everything and it was many years ago, my kids are now 14 and 16.

    I think you’ll find the expensive things come a little later. Piano lessons, travel sports, etc… It’s all good stuff, but not cheap.

    If I had any advice, I’d recommend opening a 529 college savings account now. Even if you do not have a lot of money, start putting something in there every month. Who know how much college tuition will be in 18 years!

  6. Besides the cloth diapers, we followed practically the same path with our first. We didn’t do much clothes shopping on Craigslist, we relied on gifts and consignment shops. We should maybe set up alerts for that as well to make it easier.

    Great work on keeping the expenses down. Curious, have you tried tracking your kid related expenses? It’s hard with food costs but otherwise I’ve tried to track it fairly closely. Perhaps post worthy some day.
    The Green Swan recently posted…How I Got FIRE’d Up: My Swan SongMy Profile

  7. Sounds like you will have no trouble saving money with your new baby! I have no kids but I have a lot of friends who are having kids, so I have heard quite a few different ways people save money. Craigslist and garage sales seem like the way to go.

  8. We’re doing cloth diapers. The savings are nice. The thought that your child isn’t leaving a giant pile of excrement filled trash everywhere he goes is an added bonus.
    Pro tip for team sports: if you coach the team, you can usually get your kid in free. Not to mention, it’s more fun! Once they are doing sports, befriend the parents of the biggest kid on the team. Then you can snag their equipment when they grow out of it before your child.
    P.S. Hey buddy!

    • Hey Tim – That’s an awesome tip about team sports. I don’t think I was aware that coaching could potentially make it free.

      The advice on befriending the biggest kid made me laugh out loud. But you’re right it makes a lot of sense.

  9. We have hardly paid for any baby items, despite having given them all away. We bought “lots” of clothes off craigslist, and then just resell them for the same price. Same with gear, bought a $40 used swing from a friend and sold it for $40 5 months later. My mom is great about finding cute things at yard sales (which I don’t have the patience for.) And congrats on the baby after a long wait, boy do we know what that is like!

  10. Thanks for all of this useful information. Our baby just turned one on 9/12/16 and I feel that we have mostly gone in the same direction of frugality as you have. However, we opted for disposable diapers, just because we felt that cloth would have been too expensive. With diapers we lucked out, because my mom is a savvy shopper and found that if you go to Goodwill on a Tuesday (which is senior day 50+) that they have diapers for really cheap, like $3 for a package of 30. Also, keep in mind you can’t be picky with the brand. This is just a suggestion for those who may have grandparents that want to help out and can use their senior discounts to buy diapers or other baby items. It’s worth a shot.

    • Kristie –

      Thanks for the tip.

      We recently went on a cruise and needed to use disposable diapers due to the ship not having a washing machine.

      I’ll have to keep that in mind when/if we need to utilize disposable diapers in the future.

  11. You guys are doing it right. The oldest of our four is nearly 17, and I think that $250k number is a bunch of malarkey. It can be done for much cheaper if you don’t have to have everything name brand, new and shiny and put your kids in every activity known to man. The simple life really works well for families, IMHO. We’d rather spend our cash on doing things together and on activities that will suit them well later in life.

    • I think some first time parents turn up their nose at the thought of their child wearing used clothing. We clearly are not one and especially not when you can get tons of free baby clothes from Craigslist.

  12. These are all great tips my husband and I can use when we become pregnant. Because I coupon getting diapers won’t be so expensive, but I will definitely find ways to cut corners.
    Thank you for sharing.

  13. Great writeup, eBay is a great resource too if your uncomfortable or don’t have the time to drive to people’s houses.

    One thing to take advantage of is that babies under 2 fly for free! Well at least domestically. International you have to pay 10% of coach faire.
    Our now 23 month old has been to 7 Countries already. Most of which were during our 3 week backpacking trip across Europe when he was a 6 month old.
    Sunny Burns recently posted…SMART Scholarship: How I was paid $25k a year to go to collegeMy Profile

    • That’s a great point Sunny!!! I definitely should have included that in there. You are braver than me as I am terrified to travel with my 16 month old. He does terribly in the car and I can’t imagine how he’d do on a flight. Especially anywhere for a period of time.

      How was backpacking across Europe with a 6 month old?

      • Oh believe me we were scared too. Our Son had his moments in the car seat too. We knew it was either going to be a great decision or a terrible one. Turned out awesome, he was even better traveling than he is at home. I think he really enjoyed the change of scene early and constantly being on the go. He was also in a forward facing carrier the majority of the time since we didn’t bring a stroller.
        For flying I just recommend bringing a new toy, or one that you’ve hidden for a couple weeks prior. That kept our Son pretty happy and he did alright. Anyway I’d say go for it if your itching for some travel. If you’re interested You can read the full write up on our trip here:
        Sunny Burns recently posted…SMART Scholarship: How I was paid $25k a year to go to collegeMy Profile

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