Six Ways to Save on Baby Costs
by David Sung
Babies are a blessing – not a blessing in disguise. But, they may be a mixed blessing, because babies keep costing you money until they’re about, oh, 22 years old! A lot of the expenses are fun, really – buying cute clothes and new toys that make them so happy. But, nobody ever enjoys spending money on diapers and necessities. We’ve rounded up a number of ways that you can keep treating your baby like the little prince or princess you want them to be – but without spending all the king’s and queen’s treasure.
1. Consignment shops rule! Babies just aren’t very rough on bedroom furniture and other items that can be expensive to buy new. Most towns will have one or more consignment shops selling great stuff for far less than it costs new. Moms usually bring in clothing that isn’t stained or worn, and you can find toys, high chairs, cradles, and bassinets. And, the best part is – when your baby is grown, you can resell items and make a little money back.
2. Ebay.com and Craigslist.com (and Freecycle.org) are like consignment shops for the world. You can find the same sort of used baby items on those sites as you would find in a local store. Make sure there are good photos and everything is in good shape. The best part is, sometimes people will be giving away things for free. Free is awesome when you have kids. Which brings us to the next point…
3. Friends with older babies are your best friends. Baby clothes can be swapped and used for several kids, especially in the sizes they wear before the crawl or walk. Other than stains, babies just don’t wear out clothing. And, clothing styles for babies don’t change every season, every year like adult clothing. There’s no shame in borrowing or using hand-me-downs from your friends. They’ve also probably weeded through bottles, sippy cups, and other baby items to find the ones they like best. When you get those, you’re already ahead of the game since they’ve basically been tested for you!
4. Feed your baby the natural way. It’s tempting to use baby formula right from the start. You don’t have to worry about breast feeding in public. You can mix it up and have it ready to go in the middle of the night. However, it’s expensive – even if you don’t buy the premium brands. Mother’s milk is especially important for newborn infants, but if you can refrain from using formula much, you’ll save a lot of money as well as nourish your baby well. When they graduate away from milk and to “solid” food, you can also save money by making your own baby food. You can find a lot of recipes on the Internet that instruct you on how to make food that is nourishing and pleasant for your baby to eat. Again, the premade baby food in stores is relatively expensive and not necessarily better for your baby.
5. Use coupons and stock up. Baby stores are really good about providing weekly savings, and if you sign up for loyalty programs and email newsletters, you can get great savings. When diapers or baby food is on sale, and you know your baby will wear a certain size for a few more months, spend the money now to stock up. You can’t count on future sales producing good prices, so you have to save now if you have enough in the bank. It can also feel uncomfortable to walk into a store with a stack of coupons, but that’s exactly what the stores and the manufacturers want you to do. They’ve built in that cost to their budgets, and they’re happy to have you as a customer. So, get the scissors out and save some money.
6. Take a deep breath before calling the doctor’s office. Parents want healthy, happy children, and a lot of first-time parents have their baby at the pediatrician every time she coughs. And, frankly, it’s hard to know when to take your baby to the doctor and when not to. Coughs and mild fevers are as common in babies as colds are for adults. Other than keeping your baby hydrated, you just have to let a cold run its course. A doctor can’t do anything or give you any medicine to fix it. Then, you’ve paid your $30 or more for your visit, and it is money that went for nothing. Multiply that by several visits per year, and you’re not talking about pocket change. Here’s a good guide from the Mayo Clinic about when to take your baby to the doctor. And, you’re not doing it just to save money – you can end up exposing your baby to the illnesses that other babies have at the doctor’s office.
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