Raising an Infant on a Budget: Food, Medicine, Toiletries

posted by Andrea | 04/18/2012

In the months since Nora was born, I’ve received a crazy number of emails asking what items I would suggest for soon-to-be-moms looking to stay clutter-free and stick to a tight budget. While I definitely don’t have ALL the answers; after almost 5 months, I can at least share the items we regularly used for the newborn/infant stage.

All week long, I’ll be sharing my “must-have” items for infants.

Monday = Nursery Items

Tuesday = Baby Gear

Wednesday = Food, Medicine, Toiletries

Thursday = Clothing

Friday = Items for the New Mom

Saturday = Recap, a few more tips, and a FREE Printable!

I’m sure there are tons of different opinions on what you do and don’t need; so I just want to stress that these are the things that worked for us. They might not work for everyone!

My Must-Have Food, Medicine, and Toiletries for Infants


I chose to nurse Nora and I wanted to have a pump so I could stock-pile my milk. I purchased the Medela breast pump with TONS of accessories for only $75 from a friend, and then I used these sanitizing bags to clean everything really well.


If you’re going to pump, you’ll need to store your milk somehow. I use these and am very happy with them so far.


Even if you’re nursing, you’ll probably still want a few bottles just in case you’re gone or need a break. There are tons of different types out there, so again, I would try to borrow a few until you figure out what ones your baby likes.

We use Avent bottles — but that’s just because my mom found a huge bag of them for $3 at a garage sale!


Also, if you’re going to use bottles, I’d suggest getting a bottle cleaning brush — it makes life SO much easier!


My sister-in-law told me about these Baby Bjorn plastic bibs… and even though Nora isn’t eating a ton of real food yet, I would definitely consider this bib a “must have” for babies. It wipes clean in a matter of seconds and will grow with your baby through the toddler years.


I wanted an inexpensive, space-saving high chair; so I was thrilled when I found this Regalo Portable High Chair for only $18!


Obviously, if you’re not planning to nurse, you’ll need to stock up on formula. I don’t know much about the different types of formula, but I do know that some babies prefer different types of formula so you may want to have a variety on hand. I also know that the different brands of formula offer freebies for new moms, so you might want to look into that.


No matter what type of diapers you decide to use, you’ll most definitely want to have a good stock-pile before the baby arrives. You will use more than you think and you really don’t want to run out 🙂


We use the big tubs of Boudreaux’s Butt Paste and boy does it work wonders!


We put lotion on Nora every night before bed. We also use that time to give her a mini massage. I think it helps her relax at the end of the day.

BABY WASH — obviously a necessity for bath time!

NASAL ASPIRATOR — we use this daily!

GAS DROPS — another item we use daily.

VAPORIZER — we almost didn’t buy one of these, but I’m so glad we did, as it really helped when Nora’s nose was all stuffed up a couple weeks ago.

INFANT PAIN RELIEVER — this will come in handy for those 2-month shots.

What were/are your must-have infant food, medicine, and toiletry items?

Filed under: LifeOrganizingKids StuffFrugal Living

Leave a comment


  1. Heart and Haven


    Breastfeeding (cheapest feeding option), Little Tummy’s Gripe Water (for gas/upset tummy – works wonders!), and baby Tylenol (especially after shots)


  2. Sarah @ Sarah's Deals


    As part of my regularly checked and updated freebies list, I make sure the New Mom & Baby Freebies are still active (the things you referenced above). Huggies, Enfamil and many others send you lots of freebies when you are expecting or a new mom (birth or adoptive) .



    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for leaving this link Sarah — I don’t even use formula, but I still got TONS of it for free through these programs. I gave a lot of mine away already to help out some friends… but my free coupons and “checks” are still coming in the mail 🙂


  3. Liz C


    Our babies haven’t needed specialized things to cope with allergies, etc, so that’s been a big savings. We nursed, and when they started wanting solids, whirled down real oats to “instant” baby cereal, whirled and mashed portions of our own dinners for their dinners, etc (huge savings on prepped baby foods.)

    Meds-wise, we did keep some gas drops and pain reliever on hand, but we used cooled peppermint tea quite often. We used the same mild soaps, lotions, and SLS-free soaps/shampoos as we use for ourselves (just less often.)


  4. Heather


    If you have access to Ikea, these bibs are awesome!! They protect the sleeves, are machine washable and pack up really small for on the go:
    Can’t beat 2 for $5 either!


  5. Linda B


    We used cloth diapers for our 4 children, and after awhile, I figured out that buying a set of washcloths to use for diapers wipes at home worked fine, too. Just washed them with the diapers.

    We used Bag Balm, also known maybe as Udder Balm for diaper rashes/prevention. Works great. It comes in a green can.

    I didn’t use formula, but I do think that parents should not stock up too much on it until they know which formula works for their baby. There are different formulas, and some babies need a special one, or need to switch if one is giving them problems.


  6. Shiann


    Amazon.com/mom saved our bacon! Luv’s and wipes are a good price there wad we can consistently get them without having to spend much time shopping. When we lived in a small town, it was great to just have diapers show up on the subscribe and save option!

    Also, Sam’s for formula. We adopted and I didn’t get the nursing in gear in time, so we stuck with formula. Fortunately, our little guy did well with the Member’s Mark brand.

    I tried to use washable things at home but went convenience when he went with me to the office.

    The other must have for me was a homemade moby wrap. I wore that boy as my cutest accessory! It was the only way I got work done many days. 7 or so yards of fabric and a youtube video was definitely on a budget!!


    shiann Reply:

    I guess I should have left that comment yesterday. 😉

    I also used homemade baby food and my cutie LOVED it. He started on homemade rice and then very quickly to avocados and he eats everything at 19 months now! I followed my MD recommendations and several blogs.


  7. Ivy Miller


    For my last child my number one was the hospital grade electric pump! He was in NICU for 10 days so I started pumping the minute they would let me.
    After we got home I would say the nursing cover up was a big one for me when we were out and about or if someone not close to me came to visit. After nursing 3 babies I am not very shy lol.
    I love the Aveeno baby line for bath and lotion.

    Just has Audra said I would wait on the formula until you know what kind is best for baby. All of mine were supplemented with formula at some point. Two of them were switched to soy and one was on regular. You just never know. If you want to put money aside for that maybe buy gift cards to the store you shop at and put them away until you need it.


  8. Audra


    Just a comment about formula…you said to have a variety on hand. Actually, I wouldn’t stock up on a variety…or stock up for that matter until you have met your child. I researched brands and picked the one that I was most comfortable with (Infamil). I had a few samples of the Premium kind but soon realized that my son needed Nutramigen. Once I figured out what kind he needed, I stocked up with sales, coupons, and vouchers. As he got older, we were able to switch him to Gentleease which was a little less expensive. I used a sample from the doctor to “test” him out and then stocked up once I knew he could tolerate it.

    Another note about formula vs. breastfed babies….it totally makes me laugh when people write about how breastfeeding a child will result in fewer doctor visits. If I were to calculate percentages…I could prove this wrong. I have many friends that breastfeed their babies and they were just as sick if not more than my own formula fed child as well as my formula fed nephews. Honestly, I am glad to NOT have to pay their doctors bills.

    It is totally a matter of opinion and doing what is best for your own personal family. Can you tell I get tired of the “breastfed is better” mantra? The mantra should really be to do what is best for your child and you…this, determined only by YOU….not what others are pushing. 🙂


    Sara Reply:

    I hear ya. I could only nurse my son for 2 months. We had to use formula. He’s never had an ear infection, or any other problem for that matter! He’s 14 months old now. The only visits to the doctor we’ve had are for his well-checks.


    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, I would agree that you probably shouldn’t spend a ton of money purchasing different forumlas before your baby is born, but I got TONS of it for completely free (sometimes I even made money by using coupons, etc.) So that’s why I stocked up.

    I have since given a lot of our free formula away to friends (since we don’t need it) but I’m still getting great coupons that I use to keep getting more free formula. So I suppose, if you were going to pay full price for formula, then definitely don’t stock up!


    Jenni Reply:

    I agree with this too – with my first I had a really hard time nursing but tried to stick with it because that’s what everyone said was best, but I had to start supplementing @ 3 months. The same happened with #2, and though he got RSV, I don’t think it was because he was drinking formula – I had friends who breastfed their babies exclusively who were hospitalized twice with RSV. My 3rd was breastfed much longer, but he got more head colds than the other two overall.


  9. Bridget


    Nursing is probably one of the best ways to save money! Not only do you not have to pay for formula but fewer doctor visits and medicine.


  10. Michelle


    In that last picture, what is the black jar in the front? And can you tell a little more about that lotion bar? I love lotion bars.

    My two must-haves for baby #2 have been my Medela Harmony breast pump and the Oxo Tot Straw and Sippy Cup Cleaning Set.

    I have a Medela Pump In Style (the double electric) from baby #1 but I never responded well to an electric pump. This time I got a manual and am so happy with it. I get twice as much milk in 1/4 of the time. 45 minutes for 4 oz. (TOTAL) with the PISA, and it takes less than 10 minutes to get 4+ oz. from one side.

    The cleaning set thing is something I found this time around. It is absolutely fabulous. I got one on Amazon but also found another one at TJMaxx. The little round brushy thing fits perfectly into the yellow part of the pump that holds the white membrane, and the long brush is longer than the ones from Dr. Brown’s so it cleans my older child’s sippy cups better. The little awl-like pokey thing is great for the little holes in a sippy as well. Seems like a silly little thing but that along with my OXO bottle brush have made things much easier with baby #2 (we are still in the dark ages with no dishwasher!!)

    One other must-have that just came out after #2 was born was the Bum Genius FreeTime diaper. I have ONE for this baby and it is always the first one I reach for! I love our BG 3.0’s from #1 but this diaper is my favorite and by far the easiest!