Before I begin, I just want to state that the information in this post isn’t meant in any way to be a judgement on parents who do things differently from our family. It is solely a means of information for those searching for frugal baby tips and ideas. Everyone’s situation is different and what works for some parents would never work for others. I definitely don’t want to add to the judgmental “mommy wars” that plague social media sites and blogs. I only hope to help seeking parents find frugal tips that they maybe wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. So without further adieu….
We do baby on the cheap-very cheap. So cheap we haven’t spent a dime of our own money (besides Christmas gifts and his crib) on our youngest baby, born in August 2012. I feel kind of bad typing that but I think I would feel worse and more wasteful if we didn’t do what we’ve done. I constantly hear that having a baby is so expensive, but i just don’t find that to be true. It’s only expensive if you choose expensive things. Now, I do have to say that family and friends have blessed us beyond belief with gifts of baby items, both new and used, and I realize that many people may not be as fortunate as us. But we also do work hard to try to make decisions that are overall best for our babies, family, and our wallets.
I would say the first frugal decision I made when I found out that I was pregnant with our oldest was that I was going to breastfeed. Not only is breastfeeding the most frugal way to feed your baby, it’s also the most sustainable (no packaging or energy used during production or shipment) and a better food for babies couldn’t be created. While you could breastfeed your baby for absolutely no cost, most women choose to spend some money upfront and purchase accessories such as a breast pump, milk storage containers, nursing pillow, nursing cover, etc. This cost is very nominal considering the cost of formula for a year. It is estimated that a woman can save $1200 by breastfeeding her baby in the first year, let alone the savings we’ve created from not having to go to the doctors for many sick visits. Since we practice full-term breastfeeding, I estimate that I will have saved around $3,000+ from breastfeeding my two children. My oldest who is 2 1/2 is still nursing and doesn’t really prefer cows milk. Now I do tend to eat way more when I’m breastfeeding, so there may be some cost for additional food.
The second frugal parenting choice I made was my decision to use cloth diapers and cloth wipes. I went back and forth about this for quite awhile. At the time I was pregnant with my first, I knew no one who was cloth diapering and I was very intimidated by all of the different types and styles but I decided to jump right in and I never looked back. I now have 2 children in cloth diapers at the same time and I have no idea how we would ever be able to afford disposable diapers if we didn’t! There is definitely a significant upfront cost to cloth diapering (I’d say plan to shell out anywhere from $300-$500) but the long-term savings is incredible. And since we are washing cloth diapers every few days, I decided it makes sense to use cloth wipes and throw those in along with them! In fact, it’s actually more hassle to pick out disposable wipes and throw them away. I estimate that using cloth diapers on 2 children until potty training will have saved us around $6000!!! Not to mention how much landfill space we will have freed up. Our cloth diaper stash is a mixture of Fuzzybunz pocket diapers, Econobum prefolds and covers, and Grovias. We also have 2 washable diaper pail liners, a wet bag for on the go, and a diaper sprayer that hooks to our toilet. We use cheap baby wash cloths as wipes. Pretty simple stuff and all of these items could be on your baby shower registry.
The next decision I made was to make my own babyfood. Dustin’s Aunt bought us the Baeba baby food maker and it works great for steaming and purée-ing fresh or frozen vegetables and grains into delicious and wholesome baby food. This could also be done with a steamer basket and food processor or blender. It feels great to give your baby homemade food while saving tons of money at the same time. A food mill is also a great tool to have for mashing and grinding food for baby.
Clothing, toys, and other items can become quite an expense for babies and children. We have been extremely blessed by family and friends with clothes and toys for both of our children!! I could probably count on one hand how many articles of clothing we have bought for them!! If you do find yourself needing these items, the first place I suggest looking is Freecycle. Actually just today we scored a trashbag full of beautiful clothing for our son- all name brands like Hana Anderson, Ralph Lauren, and Gymboree- for absolutely nothing! Here’s a picture of the mountain of clothes:
We also received a very nice jumperoo off of Freecycle that someone was willing to part with for nothing and a great set of duplo blocks for our daughter- for free!! If you have a need for a baby item (or any other item) I’d say put a request out on Freecycle first. If you can’t find it there, thrift stores, consignment shops, Craigslist, garage sales, and the Old Navy Snap Appy are great places to find cheap, if not free, baby clothes and items. We try to buy all things second hand, if possible. There is an over abundance of baby and children’s items on this planet and most of them are hardly used. We purchased our son’s crib from Craigslist and I believe all of his nursery decor was previously used or came from thrift stores.
Having children has actually saved us money. We don’t go out to eat/shopping as much as we used to because it really isn’t practical with a toddler and an infant. It has inspired us to conserve and save in ways we never would have thought had we not had children. Honestly, I think it’s fun and we are saving now so we can hopefully be out of debt to help them out later!