Shopping Smartly and Strategically – Financially Preparing for Your First Child

Your first pregnancy can be the most exciting time of your life, one of joyful anticipation. It’s a time filled with ultrasounds, nursery decorating, and a baby shower.

It is also one of the most important times for you and your spouse to create a budget and stick to it. While it is true that you can expect some gifts for the baby, it is also true that a great deal of it is an unnecessary luxury and/or of zero use for a newborn infant.

The authors offer a range of ways to save up to 50% on baby essentials.

They also offer helpful advice on how to sketch out a baby budget, such as:

* Maternity/nursing clothes: $50.
* Stroller, car seat: $500.
* Baby sling/carrier: $50.
* Swaddling: $40.
* Teething blanket: $10.
* Crib with mattress: $200.
* Traveling crib/playpen: $200.
* Changing table and dresser: $400.
* Bedding and decor: $300.
* Newborn baby clothes: $300.
* Miscellaneous: $500.
* TOTAL: $2,550.


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Maternity Clothes.

If you are working, you will need to buy maternity clothes at some stage. Get as much wear out of your regular clothes as possible. Aim for a few mix and match separates and one versatile dress you can wear for a range of occasions. Accept donations from friends and consider buying second-hand online, since the clothes will certainly not be worn out.


Registering Baby.

You should register a list of what you need, with no luxuries included. Most people do not know what to expect, to do, or to buy. There is a lot of free advice out there, on websites and through word of mouth from other new moms.



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Newborns will need enough clothes and diapers to be dry and clean from one load of laundry to the next. You can buy inexpensive cotton clothing, they will get use out of until they grow to the next size.

If you do buy new, remember it will come in handy for any more children.

Once you are sure you will not be having any more, take them to the swap shop to get clothes appropriate to their ages as they grow.

Stick to gender-neutral pastel colors: white, yellow, cream, and green. Buy sleep sacks rather than pajamas and baby booties.

Another urgent need will be an infant car seat, because the hospital will not let you take baby home without one. An infant car seat, baby stroller and booster car seat once they are over 6 months can run to nearly $1,000 if you don’t shop smartly.

Do your research in terms of brands and safety writings. Then look in yard sales and at auction sites online. The infant car seat will be back facing.

Often it can be put onto a set of wheels to make a stroller, or have a handle so it can be carried in and out of the house and used for the child to sit up in to eat, and so on.


Baby Bottles.

You will need these no matter how you choose to feed. Make sure they are BPA-free and the nipples are latex and rubber free.

You will also need a rapid bottle warmer and a microwave steam sterilizer to help keep the bottles sanitized.



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A Baby Boppy.

This helps hold baby in place while feeding, will help them sit up, and can also be a wonderful cushion for a woman after giving birth.


Baby Bibs and Burp Cloths.

Babies spit up all the time. Protect their clothing and yours.


Breast Feeding.

This is a great way to bond with baby. It is also very economical and allergen free. A breast pump will give you the freedom to feed your baby whenever and wherever you need to and also allows your spouse and family members to help take turns.

A new breast pump with all the equipment, plus storage units, will cost around $400 – good value compared to the cost and possible allergen risks involved in buying baby formula.

A used pump will run to about $100, with all of the personal parts, as it were, replaced. Ask your lactation specialist at your local hospital. You also have the option to rent, or rent to buy.

Not every woman produces enough milk to breast feed, but the pump stimulates production. It will be a case of deciding when to stop – usually when the child is old enough to drink cow’s milk. If their baby is allergic to formula, it is a great solution for anyone worried about complete nutrition for their baby and particularly good.

Women will also usually need a special nursing bra and pads.

Again, this is not only a financial commitment but also a time and personal commitment that parents will need to discuss before their baby ever arrives.


Diapers versus a Diaper Service.


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Anticipate around 12 to 16 diapers a day for a newborn, down to about 8 after a few months. That’s a lot of cost and trash.

Some parents are “green” and worry about the impact of disposable diapers on the environment and on baby’s skin.

These diapers usually contain chemical crystals to hold liquid, but the diapers can pollute, as can the feces when a poopy diaper ends up in a landfill. If you are concerned about the environment and can be more economical too, a diaper service is a better option.

Compare prices and convenience. Plan to potty train baby as soon as possible, starting from around six months onwards.


A Diaper Bag.

This will hold everything baby needs when they are on the go. You should have room in it for a foldable baby changing mat.


Become a Smart Shopper.

Start checking out prices on things your baby will need on a regular basis, such as diapers, formula and so on. Cut coupons in the Sunday papers and online.

When it is time to take baby home, make the most of the new parent pack many hospitals give. They will usually have coupons plus samples as well.


Consider Making Your Own Items.

There are many all-natural recipes online for baby wash, homemade baby wipes, and more. Invest in some 100% plain cotton white washcloths. You will be amazed at how many things you can use them for.

Wash the clothes in a gentle detergent and fabric softener suitable for a child. Add some to a wash cloth and put it in the tumble dryer with the clothes.

Clip coupons from the Sunday newspaper or find them online, and then check your favorite stores periodically for sales. Shop the sales flyers each week. Check out the warehouse stores for deals and coupons and chain pharmacies as well.


Baby Gates and High Chairs.

You will only use these for so long before your child will outgrow them, so buying second hand is fine.


Baby Monitor.

The same is true for a baby monitor, so you can buy it second hand.


Nanny Cam.

This might be a worthwhile investment if you want to check in when you are away from the house and someone else is caring for baby.


Accept All Donations Gratefully.

There’s an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. In the modern world, this can include donations of practical items from friends and family of items that their children have outgrown. Remember, the more you save on these items, the more you will have for other important things.



For a summer pregnancy and birth, you will use more air conditioning or fans. For a winter one, you will probably use more heating.


Babycare Items.

You will need baby scissors for their nails, diaper rash ointment and vitamins. Some of these can be covered by your FSA funds. Buy a large baby bathing sponge.


Convenience Foods.

Because they are so busy once baby is born, a lot of people end up resorting to take-away and expensive convenience foods to get by. Home cooking is far healthier and cheaper too. Plan on filling the freezer with your own homemade ready meals. Master make-and-freeze meals and bulk cooking. Eat once fresh, then freeze the rest.



It’s tempting to buy a ton of toys. The truth is, you can pick up a lot of these items second hand in thrift stores and yard sales, as children outgrow them and parents need to make room for more age-appropriate items.

A mobile, stuffed animal and some blocks and large-format jigsaw puzzles are all you will really need to start with.


Baby Photos.

Every parent will want to show off their child. An online photo album, such as Google Photos, will allow you to upload your photos, keep them organized, and invite others to see the albums you have created.


Baby Books.

A collection of baby books, including waterproof bath books, are very practical and can usually be found second hand. Make the most of the local library as well and yard sales.


Parenting Books.

Decorating Baby’s Room Frugally.

Some people do not buy anything or get the room ready until the baby is born and home safely. They will also know that for the first few weeks at least, baby will spend more time in a crib in their room than down the hall in its own room.

Every couple has its own preferences and beliefs. Decorating the nursery can be one of the best parts of new baby preparations. On the other hand, it’s not necessary to go wild with lots of paint, wallpaper, garish colors, and so on.

There’s no need to go all out, buying expensive designer cribs, bedding and décor. A newborn has very few needs other than clean clothes, diapers, formula or breast milk, bibs and burp cloths.

Add it to your registry if there’s a certain motif you want to use in the nursery. Have a back-up plan in the form of complementary colors, which will still make the room look great even if it does not have the Winnie the Pooh motif.

Make some of the items for the nursery yourself. You can often save money by buying yards of fabric featuring the motifs or characters you want to have in the nursery, and some cotton batting. You can create crib bumpers, duvets, curtains and more.

Visit consignment shops, flea markets and yard sales. You can often find great deals on cribs and gently-used nursery items.

Try outlet stores or the outlet section of your favorite online stores. You can get spectacular deals on new items. Some might have minor flaws, but in many cases the manufacturer has simply discontinued the product line and wants to get rid of the inventory.


Expecting a baby can be one of the most joyful times in your life, but if you don’t use your nine months (or even before) wisely and plan ahead for the financial impact of your first child, you could find your family really struggling. Do as much as you can to improve your financial situation, pay down debt, earn more, and make the most of all the help and insurance available to you. Then you will be better able to enjoy your new arrival.

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