How To Have A Baby Without Going Broke

Have a Baby on a Budget.

Frugal Babies

Whenever someone asks me the question “is it expensive to have children?”, I always groan. For some reason, people seem to think that it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to raise a child from birth until age 18, and this is simply not the case at all.

It is possible to have a baby without going broke, I promise. The key is to be resourceful, and to learn as much as possible about the things you should spend money on, and the things you shouldn’t.

Here are a few of my tips for having a baby on a budget.

Determine what you actually need

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually need a wipes warmer for your baby. They will survive just fine without one. On the other hand, there are things that, of course, are necessary for a baby, such as a car seat, stroller, crib, a highchair or booster seat, some clothes and diapers. Everything else is extra. As a reference, here is a great article (and checklist) on newborn essentials.

Sign up for baby freebies

There are so many companies out there that offer free baby samples to expecting parents. Some of my favourites include Nestle, Toys R Us, Sobeys and Sears. You will often receive free diapers, wipes, coupons, baby bottles, baby spoons and even prenatal vitamins.

By not signing up to these programs, you’re leaving a lot of free goodies on the table!

Join rewards programs

Consider signing up to rewards programs, such as Air Miles, Shoppers Optimum and Club Sobeys, so that you can earn points to use towards purchases of diapers, formula, baby wipes, baby toiletries, medicines and other baby items you may need.

This is how I get the bulk of my baby goods for free! I love redeeming points for diapers and wipes (and when my kids used formula, I’d redeem points for that, as well, saving me a fortune!).

Diaper Sales

Buy used whenever possible

Most of the things you are going to need for your baby can be purchased second hand. Things like clothing, toys, dressers/change tables, diaper bags, bedding, and baby monitors are all items that you can purchase used. Invest in things like the car seat and crib, since these are very important things you should not buy used.

Everything else is fair game, though! Try to buy at least 50% of your child’s clothing used, especially when they are still a newborn. Babies grow super fast – and you don’t want to have spent a bunch of money on an outfit, just for your child to be able to wear it once before it’s too small.

Watch for deals online

You can always find deals for baby goods online – especially toys and clothing! I once saw Melissa & Doug toys on a daily deal site for 50% off and I snatched those up right away because that is a very good quality toy brand.

I have also purchased brand name diapers for a fraction of the retail price. Toys are always on sale, too – especially around Christmas time. Check daily for these deals, because you never know when a great deal will come along.

You want to pay attention to shipping costs when shopping online, too. Many retailers will offer free shipping with a minimum purchase (Walmart offers free shipping with NO minimum!), so make sure you spend that minimum to avoid paying any shipping fees.

Use cloth diapers

There’s no denying that using reusable diapers is going to save you a ton of cash. There are many different companies out there that sell cloth diapers and the prices range anywhere from $200-$800 for a starter set. This works out to much less than the average $0.25 per diaper that you would pay for brand name disposable diapers.

If you really want to have a baby without going broke, save your money and opt for cloth diapering over disposables.

Should you decide to go with disposable diapers, check Amazon, and for deals.

Cloth Diapers Save Money

Make your own baby food

Preparing your own baby food at home is not only very easy, but it’s also a huge money-saver. Commercial baby food is extremely expensive and has a ton of preservatives in it that you probably don’t want to be feeding to your child anyway.

An easy way that I used to make baby food was to simply stick whatever we are having for dinner into our Magic Bullet and puree it for our baby. Now that she is older, she still gets whatever we eat, we just chop it up into small pieces for her.

These are only a few examples of ways that you can cut back on baby costs, which means that, yes, you can have a baby without going broke!

What are your tips for saving on baby goods?

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  1. Barbara McLeod says:

    I did all this 23 years ago, however, did you mention yard sales? I get everything from yard sales except for a new crib, stroller and high chair. I likely could have gotten the high chair at a yard sale. Almost all my kids cloths for the first two years came from yard sales. When you get home, if they need some extra cleaning, soak them in a solution of water with some auto dish detergent, that get them clean. Rust stains: Salt+lemon juice, out in the sun. My motto was to never pay more than 25 cents for a pair of pajamas. I was also able to pick up a huge supply of commercial cloth diapers from a business closing. Best purchase ever. They are so much better than the kind I could get in stores. I never washed diapers twice, they were always fine. I also made cloth wipes out of these diapers, sewing into quarters with a zigzag stich, then cutting. Just throw them in the diaper pail with the diapers. Don’t get caught up in the hype if you cant afford it!

  2. I tried using cloth diapers for a while but found them to be too expensive and too time consuming. I’d say that using an economical disposable diaper is the best way to save over the long haul.

  3. P P says:

    Nice debate over so many issues. Yes I agree with the author- raising a child is not that expensive if you buy wisely & keep your eyes open for those deals & second hand stuff..
    Here are some suggestions..

    1.wash ur baby with a warm water after he poops- save on wipes & the warmer! It will also avoid excessive wiping on the sensitive skin & rashes. Use them only when you are outside. You can cut old cotton clothes, blankets into small pieces to use as wipes. They can be washed with once washed cloth diapers.

    2. Go to Kijiji, Craigslist, eBay, seasonal community sales for almost everything- baby furniture, gently used clothes for different stages, toys, unused stuff b’coz of outgrown baby, all baby gears. I got 72 gently used clothes for $25! Almost 40 of them were worn once or never worn!! So, they shop for us!! How kind!

    3. Formula – Subscribe the top formula companies for the free samples. They will send you tons of free samples first & then keep sending cheques. Again go to Kijiji, there are too many deals & trades on these coupons/cheques. go grab the one best suited for your baby. I always bought the top brand formula for 50% of the store value.

    4. Similarly, sell off the unwanted/used stuff regularly.

    5. Distinguish between ‘really’ needed stuff & tempting,less expensive/on sale but not so needed extra stuff! I generally end up buying extra clothes on sale!! Have to control that!

    6. Disposable & cloth diapers are comparable.I got 275 h
    Huggies diapers for $36 at Walmart! They lasted more than 2 months.

    7. Prepare healthy food at home. You can use regular mixers & cook it along with your food! No need to buy baby food mixer & all. Really, baby product market is tricky. They use your emotions to make you fool & handicapped and your home crowded!! 🙂

  4. Angela says:

    We did everything suggested: cloth diapers, bought used/consignment, breastfed, made our own baby food and diaper/baby laundry detergent. However, we DID NOT have maternity coverage on our insurance so instead if being thrown a $20,000 hospital bill and having to pay for EVERY prenatal visit with cash we opted for a safe and AWESOME home birth with a CNM. $2,800 for all prenatals, labor, birth, and post partum checks. Best and coolest thing I’ve ever done. And from a mom who has gone through all three: a c-section in hospital and then a vaginal w/ epidural in hospital my favorite was the home birth and SO very cost effective! It’s not for everybody but it’s a HUUUGGE money saver! If anyone is interested there is TONS of info on the Internet about home births…I mean, your grandma did it, so can you!

  5. Chantal says:

    Best option to live cheaply is to live in a small town where you can own your own house and only have 1 person working.

    Living in Victoria, BC, Canada (a few hours out of Vancouver, BC), where average house price is around $550,000, we paid $19,000/year for daycare. We could have paid less, for an uneducated mommy watching our kids in a basement with no checks, balances and accountability, but since I chose to work, I wanted good daycare for my 2 kids.

    Cloth diapers and using coupons was a huge help too. I found babies to be cheap – what gets expensive is when they grow up – braces, school fees and fundraisers, toys, clothes, and activities such as piano and soccer and dance.

    It costs 20,000 to have a hospital birth in the US?

    Long live high taxes and free medical care in Canada. Wow, I’d pay even more taxes to not have to worry about medical expenses. I couldn’t imagine how expensive it’d be to raise my kids if I had to pay for medical coverage – all the ER visits for high fevers and stitches. ugh.

  6. thefrugalmummacanada says:

    Maybe we are spoilt in AU with the hospital system… back there private doctors work in public hospitals and no matter if you are having a natural or C type scenario, with our 5 didn’t pay anything and of the 5 births had three that were private go figure… i’m still getting my head around alot in CA, however… can say that… after baby #2 I ditched the cloth diapers only because I was running a business from home… I bought everything I could off ebay that couldn’t be handed down from a girl to a boy (mainly clothing wise)… I must admit by baby no 4 given our move to CA… I gave absolutely everything away to my brother and sis-in-law as they were expecting their 1st… and then came along surprise no 5 lol… where you can, absolutely the saving grace is pre-loved. Nothing wrong with it, some folk don’t bleach/sanitise when you buy, but nothing you cant do your self lol… I also am a big fan of sewing, so if you are handy with a sewing machine/serger… it costs next to nothing to buy fabric and make some little pants or t shirts… but have to admit… when walmart have their 1$ sales to clear out old stock… stock up!… i’m yet to go out to the thrift shops but i am equally sure they are a great place too as they should not accept any broken/damaged items… re-use and re-cycle… :-S

    • thefrugalmummacanada says:

      btw – baby no1 arrived in 2007, the surprise arrived in 2013… the other 3 are inbetween…

  7. Rachel says:

    Anybody else having trouble redeeming points on the Huggies website? It keeps asking me to update my profile, which I have done numerous times, and won’t let me do anything else. Thanks.

  8. proudmom says:

    It’s easy to raise a baby these days diapers alone can burn a big hole in your pocket. However, we spent so much on things like baby cots and expensive toys which our baby didn’t even use once.

  9. PJ says:

    How would you afford daycare for 2 kids? We can’t afford me to be a stay at home mom. We currently have a 3yr old. My body clock says I’m ready, but our wallets don’t agree.

  10. Devi says:

    The ‘cost’ is not taking money out of your pocket, but as lost income meaning not getting money that you would have otherwise. It IS a cost, even if there is no bill. The non-material benefits don’t go into a budget. Not saying this is right or that is wrong, but your “it doesn’t cost you more to stay home, you make that choice” does not make any sense. Costs are independent of how they come to be- voluntary or involuntary.

  11. A M says:

    Mrs January is based in Ontario so she would not consider medical costs in other countries. We also have one year maternity leave. However, I’m not sure how you can consider loss of income a $20k cost. It doesn’t cost you more to stay home, you make that choice. We went to a single income two years ago out of choice and it has not “cost” us anything. In some ways it has given us more by teaching us what things are important to spend money on. Also, you can save on daycare by using home daycare – look on Kijiji or talk to moms at the local school. Average is $25 a day without receipts or $33 with (I did the math – these both work out the same when you factor in the tax refund). This amounts to $500 a month. I had 4 kids under 5 years old and had an amazing sitter come to my house (live out nanny). She cooked and cleaned when she could and this cost me $400 a week – with receipts. There are ways to save on daycare too.

  12. A M says:

    My parents didn’t pay anything for my brother or I after we turned 18. I don’t see how that makes them “not loving”. I took 4 part time jobs to pay my way through college and I earned an Accounting Degree and I certainly don’t resent them in any way. If anything, it taught us good work ethics. My husband was the same – sure, his mother sent him off with leftovers after thanksgiving dinner and perhaps a few extra groceries but he paid his own way through college. I plan to help my kids out a bit but I most certainly expect they will work to pay their way through college and university. I’m not going to hand it to them on a silver platter and have them take it for granted.

  13. sharon says:

    Time to wash diapers? Don’t you throw them in the machine, go do something else, and later throw them in the dryer? How much extra time does that take?

  14. Cassie Howard says:

    Good for you, Karina. That is so impressive! It’s a good idea to only buy the essentials and then purchase the other stuff only if you find you really need it. I completely agree with doing research – and doing LOTS of it!

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