Having A Baby for Less Than $300!

posted by Andrea | 11/8/2011

Several months ago, after I broke the news that we were pregnant, I talked about Having a Baby on a Budget.

Since then, I have stayed true to my frugal nature and with the help of Craigslist, my mom’s garage-sale addiction, lots of borrowing, and generous gifts from family and friends…

We’ve spent LESS than $300 on our baby so far!

And that includes EVERYTHING for our  nursery, clothing, accessories, books, toys, bedding, diapers, wipes, other toiletries, car seats {yes we have 2}, strollers {2 of those}, diaper bags, towels, changing pad, extra blankets, breast pump, bottles, tons of formula, bouncy seat, Bumbo, Boppy, Johnny Jumper, Pack n Play, all my maternity clothes, and even our maternity photo shoot and classes at the hospital!

I’ve kept track of every penny we’ve spent and even surprised myself when I recently saw that the total was still under $300!

Now granted, we did receive several gifts, gift cards, and cash… but besides a few select items {like sheets, mattress pads, and toiletries} I’ve gotten almost every single thing used, or made it myself.

And you know what, our baby won’t know the difference! 

Do babies really HAVE to be expensive?

I can’t tell you how many people have told me over and over again how expensive it is to have a baby and how those expenses keep growing and growing as the baby gets older. They’ll say things like, “you better start saving now”, or “get used to being broke”, or even “you’re not going to be able to spend any money on YOU once you have the baby.” 

Besides the fact that their advice is completely negative — and probably not the nicest thing to say to a soon-to-be new mom; I also do NOT think it’s truthful advice. Having a baby doesn’t HAVE to be expensive! 

I’m sure it’s fun to get all brand new things for your first baby, but I personally can’t believe how many people go crazy and buy all sorts of brand new items at ridiculously high prices… just because. Then, a year later, you see those same things {sometimes with the tags still attached} for sale at their garage sale or on Craigslist at a fraction of the price!

How wasteful! 

I’m sure many of you already know how frugal I am, but from the moment we found out we were expecting a baby, I decided that we would NOT fall into the trap of thinking our baby needed the latest and greatest of everything. Dave and I were both perfectly fine with garage sale, Craigslist, and other second-hand items for our baby… and boy has that decision paid off!

Oh, and I should mention that just because I buy everything used, does NOT mean that I buy inferior products. As you’ll read below, I’ve purchased many high-end, brand-name items for a fraction of the “new price”.

How I Stuck to my LOW Budget:

1. I borrowed as much as I could.

I have several friends and relatives who are about my size and many of them offered to let me look through their maternity clothing. Most of them had also gotten used maternity clothes and were thrilled that someone else could get some use out of their things too. Over all, I spent $2.67 on maternity clothing – and once I’m finished with it, I can return the items to their owners and I don’t have to store anything!

I’m also borrowing a bunch of baby things from a few friends — like a baby bathtub, baby swaddle blankets, winter items, and some different types of baby wraps so I can get a feel for what our baby actually likes. Once I figure this out, I’ll probably go out and buy our favorite, but for now, borrowing works just fine!

2. I buy everything used.

You would not believe how many clothes, toys, books, shoes, and accessories my mom and I have found via garage sales, second-hand sales, or buying them from friends and relatives — all for pennies {and many of the items still had the tags on them!}

As you may have seen, our nursery closet is packed full of adorable little girls clothes {all the way through 12 months} and we already have a nice little collection of books and small toys started as well.

3. Craigslist is my friend!

I am somewhat obsessed with finding great deals on Craigslist – which has always paid off for me in the past; however I’ve been amazed at how many hugely discounted baby items are available via my favorite shopping website!

Here are just a FEW of the many deals I’ve gotten in the past couple of months:

  • I found the $200 baby monitor I wanted for $30
  • I found the EXACT $180 BabyBjorn bouncy seat I wanted for only $40 {and it came with a bunch of extras}
  • I found a nearly new Pack n’ Play with ALL the accessories for $30 – delivered to my door!
  • I found a Bobby pillow with 2 microfiber slip covers {still in the package} for $10 — normally this whole set would have been closer to $70 or $80
  • I found a really nice Jeep umbrella stroller for only $5

I could go on and on… but I think you get the picture. Craigslist has some amazing deals!

4. I made things myself.

Yes, I suppose you have to be a bit crafty to be able to make many of your own baby items… but you CAN do it! I made all my own bedding for less than $8.00 and a bunch of my own baby hair accessories. I also used furniture from around our house for the nursery — and you’d never know it after a fresh coat of paint!

I encouraged friends and family to give me handmade blankets, burp cloths, and little toys as baby gifts instead of pricey store-bought items. Seriously, you should see all the creative handmade gifts I got!

5. I shop sales and rebates.

I know many of you are still amazed at the amount of free {or almost free} diapers, wipes, and other baby toiletries I’ve accumulated. But with the help of my mom, I am now fully stocked with baby toiletries and baby wipes for at least the first year. And I should have all the diapers I need {Newborn through Size 3} unless she regularly goes through more than 15 a day :)

Since I’m not a deal blog, I’m not going to go into all the details of HOW we find such great deals, but it’s basically a combination of saving up a bunch of coupons, and then waiting until a local drugstore {Rite Aid/Walgreens/CVS} has a great sale with rebates or in-store rewards.

6. I signed up for all the freebies.

Not only have I signed up for (and received) numerous free baby items via the mail, I’ve gotten even more free and very high-value coupons for baby items, formula, toiletries, etc.

Yes, I do get a little more spam email now, but I have them filtered directly to my spam folder — which automatically deletes every 30 days; so I really don’t have to deal with them.

Here’s a link to some good baby deals and freebies — but you’ll be surprised what you find if you simply Google your favorite baby brands!

7. I’m a firm believer that “less is more”.

I don’t care how many times someone tells me that I NEED a baby wipe warmer, I’m not going to get one! It’s not necessary in my opinion, and it’s just one more thing to buy and then clutter up my house.

And even though I’m already drooling over the super adorable baby girl clothes in the stores, I know I don’t need to buy any of them because our baby will be born in the Fall/Winter and she will probably live in onesies, sleepers, and sleep sacks for most of her first few months. I can easily get by with a handful of cute “going away” outfits and save my money for super cute outfits once she’s a little older.

It’s amazing how few things a baby REALLY NEEDS — food, sleep, warmth, love — and while it is definitely fun to shop for baby items, and may of the items make life more convenient, I’m sure our little girl won’t care if her baby wipes are warmed or not :)

 

Was It Worth The Extra Time?

I know that some of you might be thinking about all the time I must have spent looking for these deals, making my own things, signing up for freebies, using coupons, sending rebates, etc. etc.

And you’re right, it did take a bunch of time… but I had 9 full months! 

Plus, it’s SO fun for me to bargain shop, barter with people on Craigslist, and hit up local garage sales. It’s a hobby I do anyway… now I just look for baby things as well as other things I want to purchase.

So yes, it was most definitnely worth any extra time it took on my part! 

How do you {or did you} save?

  • Do you buy mostly new or mostly used baby and kid items?
  • Do you have any tips or tricks for finding great deals?
  • Are there certain items you would never buy used?
  • Are there other items you wished you would have bought used instead of paying full price?

I’d love to hear YOUR frugal thoughts {or even if you think I’m nuts!}

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37 comments

  1. femmefrugality

    11/19/2011

    Wow. Congrats. And wow.

    Do you have a crib yet? How did you do that one? If it’s a used one…did you find out if there have been any safety recalls? That was my biggest ticket item.

    [Reply]

  2. Jayme

    11/21/2011

    I’m in this boat now at 17 weeks pregnant. The biggest thing that I remind myself that very few things are necessary.
    I don’t need:
    A photo shoot showing off my belly.
    Professional photo shoots in the early days or at every milestone.
    A full summer and fall and winter and spring maternity and post-partum wardrobe
    Multiple baby showers, which may or may not cost you money, but certainly costs someone money for decorations, favors, food.
    A carseat for each car that the baby might ever be in.
    A video camera to capture all your child’s life
    To monogram an entire wardrobe for baby
    A nursery set of matching furniture.
    A matching bed set for crib with quilt, bumper, sheets (these run about $100 minimum from what I’ve seen)
    To decorate a room so well that it could be in a Martha Stewart magazine
    A specialty tub for bathing baby
    A video monitor for baby
    To own 3+ different types of slings/carrying devices
    To have toys galore for every stage of life

    Nothing wrong with these things, but it’s okay to say I don’t want to spend my money that way. It’s okay to say I’d rather wait and see what I need rather than what I want. It’s okay to say I can’t afford x,y,or z, so I’ll do without.

    [Reply]

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    11/28/2011

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  5. Neva

    01/20/2012

    I love this! I used a lot of these same ideas with my 2 kids (now 5 and 3)

    A couple other things: We used cloth diapers, which can be a huge initial cost. We avoided this by searching for used diapers, or hand-me-downs. I also made my own diaper covers. Some of my favorite expensive diaper covers were the wool ones, they don’t smell and breathe better than any disposable diaper. So I made my own by taking a disposable diaper (we did use these on occasion especially when travelling), and traced it out to use as a pattern. Then I’d look for used wool sweaters at the thrift stores, or use ones I accidentally shrank. You wash them in hot water, and throw them in the drier to felt them. Then cut them out to your pattern, add elastic and snaps. The hardest part is lanolizing the diapers. This is necessary to make the diapers leak-proof. The easiest way to do this is with lanolin soap (you can order it online if you don’t have a cloth-diaper friendly store around) and follow directions on the label. I didn’t find the soap till my 2nd kid, so I used lanolin nursing creme (one little bottle lasted about 6 months). I would then rub this into the inside of the wool cover when I was washing them (it’s super sticky so a very frustrating job, which is why the soap is way better). The wool covers just need air drying for “light” jobs (no smell), and light washing for “heavier” jobs, and a re-lanolizing every 2nd or 3rd washing if using the cream, or every washing with the soap.

    Also, babies don’t need special wipies, which are actually irritating for sensitive skin, so we’d use water and soft cloths. We did buy wipies once in a while and would throw them in the wash with our diapers. Then we’d reuse them till they were little scraps. I’d also keep the wipies package and shove my rewashed wipies in, add some water, and throw these in my diaper bag.

    About washing: we would throw all dirty diapers in a bucket of water with some borax mixed in (with a snap-on lid for safety), we sprayed out “heavier” jobs with a spray hose attached to our toilet (I installed myself), so after a quick draining of the bucket, we’d wash them every couple days, hang them out to dry, and they’d be white and clean for the next job.

    Who says kids have to be expensive?

    [Reply]

  6. Tamara

    02/12/2012

    I bought a lot of my kids clothes at garage sales. Now that I am a Grandma I go to children’s resale shops and I also go to mom2mom sales. These are like a big garage sale where moms sell their gently used clothing, toys and baby items. They are held at schools, churches and even arenas. So it’s a great place to buy, sell and have a fundraiser. Sometimes you will find homemade items for sale and new vendors.
    I just went to a baby shower where the mom to be got tons of cute baby clothes and very few useful items.
    Your baby will be fine in her next to new outfits she will outgrow so quickly. Best wishes!

    [Reply]

  7. Marie

    02/20/2012

    I think it’s awesome!!! I had to laugh about the comments you mentioned that people say when they hear your having a baby! For me, I heard even more because we were having twins!!!
    But I know better.
    I acquired all my baby stuff much the same way as you. I shopped mom sales, garage sales, craigslist, friends, couponing.
    I just had a baby this past year and saved a bunch!!! I knew that I would breastfeed but probably wouldn’t make it more then 6 months so I planned ahead for formula. With just the formula we saved 93%!!! How? Coupons and freebies. There were coupons for similac for $5 off. this made the liquid formula only .47cents a bottle. Through friends, strangers on blog sites, and my multiples club I ended up with 60 coupons so 60 bottles. Then we also bought Target brand when there was a sale on 30-40% more cans and also used coupons.
    For diapers we hit a deal at Walgreens and ended up with diapers for less then $2 a bag. And the great thing about Walgreens is that we ended up with to many size 1′s and were able to exchange them for the size we needed. Wipes, diaper cream, and shampoe we have gotten all free or under $1!
    I borrowed our car seat, swing, bouncy seat, bath tub, bumbo seat and maternity clothes. I still had some of the larger items from my twins.
    You can have a baby and spend less by being smart about it. Planning is HUGE! I was buying diapers and wipes before the baby came!
    Congratulations to you and way to go!!

    [Reply]

  8. Stacy

    12/19/2012

    Hello,

    I was just thinking you and your husband always look nicely dressed on your blog pics and you’ve told us how you saved on baby clothes. What about you guys, how do you save on adult clothes? I’d love to see a post about that. Merry Christmas!

    [Reply]

  9. Baby Money: Saving money on things « No Regrets Living

    02/03/2013

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  10. Ana

    03/01/2013

    I love this blog post I have come back to it several times. I am having my third child but I don’t want to go crazy with the spending ( I did that the first time 8 years ago). So far I have about half the wardrobe that I need for the babies first year, a Dutalier glider that I purchased for $50 on craigslist, a swing that my husbands co-worker just offered to us, baby monitors I have exclusively breastfed my other children and plan on doing so again (fortunately I did save my Ameda breast pump). I’m glad I stumbled on this blog so early in my pregnancy it has truly been an inspiration.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Ana — and congrats on baby #2
    I’m sure your new baby will not know you purchased used items or borrow things from friends :)

    [Reply]

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