Everybody wants the best for their child. Of course. But the best doesn’t have to be the most expensive. Sometime it is, true, but not always or even, dare I say, often. Here I’m going to share just some of the ways we’ve managed to keep costs down with our kiddo(s).
We cloth diaper. You knew I was going to lead with that one, didn’t you? Smartypants. If you are interested in cloth diapering, I did a whole little series on it a while back, so I won’t go into all the details again here. Cloth diapering can, if done frugally, save you a ton of money. (You could, of course, buy all very expensive, beautiful, handmade, coveted-by-all cloth diapers and spend an absolute fortune. But we won’t get into that.) We use mostly prefolds at home, with Thirsties covers. For daycare and others who aren’t as familiar with cloth as we are, we use almost exclusively Fuzzibunz pocket diapers. They’re easy as pie to use and fit our girl just fantastically. We used a few other brands of pockets diapers, but always come back to the Fuzzibunz – they just work best for us! I’ve kept track of every penny we’ve spent on diapering – actual diapers of all kinds, cloth purchased to make diapers, wet bags, pail liners, snappis, everything. (I have not included any of the washing costs, because I wouldn’t really know how to separate that out…but we don’t have a dryer, so the washing costs are minimal.) The grand total (so far) for just over 25 months now of cloth diapering is a bit over $700. I bought used diapers and accessories, made my own diapers, took advantage of sales, seconds and other special offers when I did buy new things and picked up more than a few things off Freecycle. The only downside to cloth diaper expenditures is that they do largely come all at once, near the beginning of baby’s life, or before they’re even born, if you’re a planner like me. One major bonus now is that once baby #2 makes his arrival in July, we will have next to nothing in diapering costs for the rest of the time he’s in diapers! (We may need to replace a few…we’ll see!) Another bonus is that there are a few diapers I already know I’ll be selling, so not only will we not be buying anything (or much) new but we might also be able to make some money! $700 (give or take a bit) to get two kids from birth through potty training? I’ll take it.
We buy used/get hand-me-downs. For an outfit a baby is going to only wear a few times before they outgrow it, why buy brand new? If it’s something you particularly love, go ahead. Splurge. But an entire brand new baby wardrobe? Do people actually do that? We got most, and by most I mean probably upwards of 90%, of our baby clothes/accessories and gear used. Second hand children’s shops can have great deals – we got a $60 playmat for E for $7. I think the only new baby gear we bought was the carseat – and a carseat is not something to mess around with. They expire and there’s no way to know if it was in an accident, so a carseat is one thing that I never recommend buying used. (I’d make an exception for buying one from someone you know really well – close friends or family. You’d probably have known if they were in a car accident, right?) We have second hand nearly everything, and it all works just fine.
We make things. I’m including a lot of “things” here – diapers, clothes, plaything, etc. Yes, I made diapers. Clothes for babies, especially girls (dresses!), can be pretty easy and cheap to make. It’s easy if you pick the right (simple) pattern and it’s cheap because, well, they’re still little and don’t need much fabric to adequately cover them! At some point, probably soon, the cost of store-bought clothes will be less than the cost for me to make my own for E and that will be a sad, sad day indeed. I made several of my own stretchy wraps – for the price of a couple yards of discount jersey fabric, I have 3 lovely wraps that would have cost me an arm and a leg if they were all brand name Mobys or Sleep Wraps. (Bonus: No sewing involved!) There are a variety of other things that can be handmade, depending on what skills you and/or your loved ones have – tag blankies, wooden teethers or rattles, soft blocks and other small games and toys. And related to this…
…tissue boxes make great toys. Have you ever given a kid a nice gift only to have them be much more interested in the wrapping/box/bow? Not only can you make your own toys but you can probably repurpose lots of things in your house for a baby or small child to play with. I keep a canister of the safest kitchen utensils on the lowest shelf in the kitchen for E to play with. Rubber spatulas, wooden spoons and the like. She loves it! (Of course, I invariably end up finding kitchen implements all over the house…) Pots and pans, cardboard boxes, there is no end to a child’s imagination…
We made our own baby food. E is past the age now, but for a while, I would simmer some pears, whir them with the blender and pop them in ice cube trays to freeze every week or so. Making baby food, especially simple fruit and veggie purees, is really, really easy and so much cheaper. Plus, you have the added warm fuzzy of not buying a million little jars and packages that might end up in a landfill.
These are just a few of the ways that fit with our lifestyle to save money with a baby. There are tons more! Do you have a favorite? Share in the comments!