Saving money in the first year of your baby’s life

Last Updated on February 19, 2016

Saving money in the first year of your baby's life

Babies cost money. Lots of money. Are you really sure you can afford to have one? You should think about remortgaging your house and maybe actually being a little closer to retirement before you contemplate how to get pregnant.

This message appears in many forms, from many different sources, and perhaps a bit too often. Of course raising children costs money, and how much exactly depends on a huge number of factors. The good news is that you can usually cut costs, with a little creativity.

Saving money in the first year of your baby’s life

Baby shopping

Whether you are a shopaholic or a thrifty mom at heart, that urge to create a comfy nest for your baby is completely natural. It is entirely possible to spend several thousand dollars on baby stuff. Shopping for your new baby is also the area in which saving money is easiest. How?

Babies only really need a few basics. They are:

• Season-appropriate clothes.
• Cloth or disposable diapers.
• A stroller or good baby carrier
• If you drive or ever use a car, you’ll also need a safe infant car seat.
• A safe place to sleep.
• A place to get clean. Baby baths are handy, but not necessary.
• Food.

Does this basic list sound like it’s going to break the bank? Don’t worry, as it doesn’t have to. Expectant parents who have friends or relatives with slightly older kids may well get more hand-me-downs than they will ever need pushed into their hands. Those who don’t can turn to thrift stores and Craig’s List.

Natural parenting practices like breastfeeding, co-sleeping with your baby, babywearing and using cloth diapers all save huge amounts of money too. You can even buy cloth diapers second-hand, by the way. Many people think of all this baby gear when they say babies are expensive, but this is truly something you can make as cheap or expensive as you like.

One last tip — don’t be tempted to buy items you don’t know for sure you will need before your baby is born. If the need arises, you can always go shopping.

Prenatal care and birth plans

Nobody wants to cut corners to save money on healthcare. Yet prenatal care, labor and delivery and pediatric care can quickly make you lose financial control — particularly if something unexpected happens, like a c-section or a sick baby.

Researching your insurance options before trying to get pregnant is the frugal thing to do, in this case. Pregnancy is a pre-existing condition for insurance purposes. Unless you are going on Medicaid, this is something to get in order well in time.

Have in mind that family doctors, midwives, and obstetricians/gynecologists can all provide prenatal care. Consider all your birth options as well. Of course, nobody is suggesting that you make decisions about what kind of care to get solely by looking at what is cheapest, but it is always wise to keep an eye on the price tag as well.

Back to work, or staying at home?

Would you like to stay at home with your baby, or to return to work? Statistics show that an increasing number of mothers are staying at home to raise their children — right across the socio-economic spectrum. Perhaps women are changing their minds about feminism, or perhaps the recession that is really still around (no matter what they say) is forcing mothers to stay out of the workforce.

No matter what your view, you may come to the conclusion that the infamous “mom wars” are over, because not many women really have a choice about whether they work or stay at home any more. Get your short-term and long-term financial planning in order as much as you can, to make the best out of whatever work-life situation you end up with.


Olivia is a frugal work-at-home mom of two. She blogs about fertility and pregnancy at Trying-To

10 thoughts on “Saving money in the first year of your baby’s life

  1. I buy a lot of second hand clothes for my little one. They grow so fast when they are little that it just doesn’t make sense to spend a fortune on clothes they will only wear for a few months. It’s that reason that you can buy used clothes that are still in great shape too! I also watch the end of season sales and stock up on bigger sizes for next year. I also sell stuff that she has outgrown (clothes, toys, etc.) and put some of that money towards restocking her closet and some of it I put away for her future 🙂

  2. Great post! We live pretty frugally. After all, I’m married to a frugal farmer. A lot of Little One’s clothing comes from friends who have outgrown them. I don’t mind the hand-me-downs. It saves me lots of money. Kids grow so fast and she only gets to wear outfits for a few months and then it’s time for new ones. Ummm…My family in the city feel badly for her and always buy her clothing. She certainly is not in need of anything. We also pass down her old clothing to friends whose babies are smaller than Little One. Everyone wins.

  3. We were so fortunate to get a lot of hand me downs from family! With my son, we did buy some new things because he was our first, but we quickly learned after the first one what we really needed and didn’t need lol

  4. Great tips & things to think about! I went a little overboard when I started out so this is helpful for expectant first time parents!

  5. I find Once Upon a Child a great place to visit for children of all ages. Great tips for those expecting, especially those first time moms.

  6. Every time I see someone say that babies/children are expensive, I want to wince. THEY DON’T HAVE TO BE! We honestly spent more money than we needed to when we had our daughter. We’ve gotten most of our girls’ clothes free as hand-me-downs. We could have gotten the crib for free (just watched online or garage sales – inspect what you get but most stuff is barely used and in good shape). The expensive stuff is the car seat. Watch for sales. Wait until you need something to buy it or ask people who have parenting philosophies similar to yours what they used. We bought a change table with our first daughter, got rid of it with our second and used the top of a dresser, and I’ll probably change the third baby on a change mat on the floor like friends recommended to us way back before we had our first. Watch for deals, accept hand-me-downs, and live simple. 🙂

  7. Great suggestions! We did not have anyone to really pass things down to our girls, but I can see how that would have saved a lot of money!

  8. I had lots of things passed down to us. We adopted our girls and because we went through infertility treatments first and so on, well that meant we were the last of our friends to have kids, so we got a lot of stuff borrowed and given. That helped a lot. Lately as I am now working with an organization called Conceivable Dreams, which is a soon to be non profit, for people experiencing infertility, I think how incredibly hard that must be for so many people. In Ontario IVF in vitro fertilization is roughly $10,000. Imagine starting off with a baby and $10,000 debt.

  9. We buy a lot of clothes second hand for our daughter. I am a SAHM while hubby works. I breastfeed, make baby food, and we co-slept the first 8 months of her life. The cloth diapers have saved us a ton of money!

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