Yay, you’re pregnant! Bring on the cute onesies, fun nursery, baby shower, and bump photos. But I’m guessing somewhere in the back of your mind, you’re thinking, what’s all of this going to cost? Can we really afford everything we need before baby arrives?
Yes, having a new baby is going to change your monthly budget. There are certainly things you’ll need to buy every month for them. You may also feel more motivated to save money and set up a college account for your baby as well.
The good news is that there is a lot you can do while you’re pregnant to prepare financially for a baby. These tips to budget for a new baby will:
- Teach you how to save money on your baby preparations, supplies and gear
- Show you options to help you earn more money on the side and/or during your maternity leave
- Learn about and budget for anticipated costs associated with giving birth and having a newborn
Let’s get you financially ready for baby and make sure your budget is ready by the time they arrive.
Disclaimer: We may be compensated through the affiliate links in this post, but all opinions are our own. Read more here.
9 Tips to Budget for a New Baby
1. Get the most out of your registry
If you are fortunate enough to have someone throw you a baby shower, then a registry is a must. But make sure you get the most out of your baby shower gifts by registering for priority items.
Some sites will allow you to prioritize your items for guests to see. I also recommend registering for cash gifts. You can label them with fun goals and themes so guests know what they are contributing to (see below).
My number one tip when it comes to registries is to use MyRegistry, because:
- It’s free to use
- Allows you to sync registries from multiple places
- You can register for cash contributions towards a specific goal (baby’s college fund, nursery renovation, diaper fund, childcare, daycare, etc.)
Prioritize your Registry Items
If your chosen baby registry allows for it, definitely identify items as high priority. This will ensure you get the things you really need, and the extra outfits or blankets are only bought once priority items have been purchased.
Use sites with completion discounts
Amazon Baby Registry offers a completion discount to users. Basically, if everything on your registry is not purchased, you have the option to buy remaining items at 10%-15% off for a limited time frame. Other sites offer this as well. So as you’re choosing where to register, keep these things in mind.
What Baby Registry items are essential to get new?
Creating your baby registry checklist is a daunting task. And most sources on the internet offer a very complete picture. I think every mama is a little different in what they think is essential to get, and get new, but here are some suggestions to get you started
Note: A huge benefit of buying ANY baby product new is that you register with the company upon receiving it and get emails should any recall be made.
Car Seat and any travel accessories
Don’t mess around with getting these things used. Car seat straps can wear over time, and it can be difficult to assess the safety of a used car seat, even by a professional. Typically, I’m ALL about second-hand to save money, but this is one thing NOT to get used.
In addition to that, many baby car seats do expire. (Don’t feel dumb if you didn’t know. I certainly was shocked when I first found out!) So, if you are using a second hand car seat or are saving one from a previous pregnancy, then it just may be that the expiration date has passed and the car seat will be no good to use anyway. Because car seats will often crack unexpectedly and in places that are not readily visible, you never want to compromise the safety of your new baby by using an old one.
Instead, one of the best ways to save money on your car seat is by looking at different retailers and seeing if they offer car seat discounts. For example, at many Target locations, if you turn in an old car seat you may be eligible for a discount when you purchase a new one. In years past, Target has offered discounts as low as 20% off a car seat purchase with the submission of an old car seat.
If you are really crunched for money and cannot afford to purchase a car seat, then many local firehouses and community centers may be able to offer you a car seat free of charge. Be sure to check these locations out as well if you are on a budget crunch.
Once you choose the car seat you like, you should also register for matching accessories. For example, extra car seat bases, a stroller frame, adapter for your stroller, etc.
A go-to Baby Carrier
Like car seats, baby carrier straps, buckles, and fabric stretch and wear over time. It might be okay to use a friend’s carrier if you know the history well, but if you plan on having more than one kid, invest in a new one that will last for YOUR family.
Not only that, but when you invest in a baby carrier, you can be sure exactly how it is used, stored, and cared for. This will give you greater peace of mind for when it comes time to reuse your baby carrier. After all, you want to make sure that your baby is in only the best equipment to ensure his or her safety.
For example, I found my fabric carrier stretched a lot as N grew. I used it until she was almost 20 pounds. Unfortunately, that same carrier will probably not be tight enough for a ~7 pound newborn, so I plan to replace it. While this might not be true of every brand, better not take the risk.
I’m going to leave the actual crib up to you. Based on your family’s budget, needs and access to second-hand furniture, it may be okay to get a used crib. Of course, you should ALWAYS check the manufacturer and product number to ensure there are no recalls against the crib.
However, the crib mattress, get a new one! And get a mattress protector or two while you’re at it. Who knows what has happened on that used mattress. In this case, start fresh.
Breast Pump and other Pumping Supplies
There’s no reason to use someone else’s breast pump because US law requires insurance companies to provide you with one. Simply contact your insurance company to find out how to go about getting yours. It’s an essential step towards preparing for breastfeeding while pregnant.
Furthermore, if the used pump had any moisture left in it or was not cleaned properly there could be instances of mold or other trapped bacteria. Your baby’s health and safety isn’t worth the risk.
Even if you are a second-time mom be sure to get the new pump you are entitled to. Motors aren’t designed to last through the years, and will not be as effective at extracting milk.
When it comes to breast pumps, you will typically have two different types to choose from. There are manual breast pumps and electric breast pumps. The difference between the two is that electric breast pumps will need a power source in order to operate. A manual breast pump can be used without a power source and you can take them virtually anywhere and know that it will work every single time. There is a difference in quality, however. Electric breast pumps will typically be easier to use and in my experience, they were able to help me produce more milk. Manual breast pump, on the other hand, took more effort when it came to operation. I had to continuously pump in order to get the milk out. Unlike an electric breast pump where the motor did the work for you, manual breast pumps did become a nuance after a while. I highly recommend that if you are going to shop for a breast pump (or select one from your employer) electric ones are the way to go. However, they will be a little bit more expensive in terms of price. It should be noted that some insurance companies will cover an electric breast pump, but others will only cover a manual pump.
When you are using your breast pump, make sure to thoroughly clean out the pieces after every use. If you do not thoroughly clean it out, then you run the risk of bacteria and mold build-up. This, in turn, will shorten the longevity of your breast pump overall.
2. Get gear second hand
Now that we’ve established what you should absolutely buy new, everything else, truly, can be acquired via yard sales, craigslist, local mom groups on Facebook, and friends and family with kids.
While it is nice to get new things like a stroller, baby swing, bouncer chairs, etc. If you are tight on your budget and won’t receive these things as gifts, go second-hand.
Additionally, if having guests contribute towards cash gifts like a college savings or diaper fund is most important to you, then plan to get other items second-hand yourself. Leave extra items off of your registry all together.
What are the best things to get second hand for a new baby?
Some of getting things used for your baby will boil down to personal preference. Above, I listed the things that should always be bought new, but the used list is a little grayer.
It will depend on your comfort level with using a used stroller, swing, etc. It will also probably be weighted based on who or where you are getting your used gear from.
Here are items most mamas will agree can be acquired or purchased second-hand:
- Books for baby’s library! You can never have enough, and I’ve gotten literally hundreds of good-quality board books and picture books at local yard sales. It was so fun to acquire them throughout the summer before I was due.
- Baby clothes. Baby’s grow so fast, there is no reason to buy everything new. Clothes are the perfect items to get used because it’s so easy to sanitize yourself by washing in hot water in the washing machine. Be sure to learn how many baby clothes you need for baby’s first year.
- Baby Linens. Receiving Blankets, crib bedding, changing table covers, etc. are other items that can definitely be purchased second-hand. If they look like they are in good shape, you can easily sanitize these yourself.
Toys are another one of the best things to purchase second hand. However, if you are going to purchase toys second hand, you want to make sure that you thoroughly clean them before you give them to your baby. A simple rinse with warm water and soap will typically do the trick. In some cases where there is fabric involved, you will need to wash them in the washing machine as well. As a general rule of thumb I like to stick with second hand toys that are made out of plastic. For the most part, I tried to avoid plush toys because those might have more fur and dirt build up that may not be safe for my baby and for that matter yours.
3. Have a diaper party
One sure-fire expense you are going to incur as new parents is diapers. In fact, most sources say you will use over 2000 diapers in the first year alone. Diapering is going to consume a large amount of your budget when it comes to a new baby.
One way to score a lot of diapers is to host a diaper party. Usually diaper parties are thrown by the dad-to-be with his friends. Each guest brings a box of diapers for the expectant couple. One way to make sure you get enough diapers in each size is to have guests bring certain sized diaper boxes based on the first letter of their name or something like that.
4. Get creative with your maternity leave
Sadly, maternity leave in the US is often unpaid. This can cause serious financial stress for many couples. While we can’t fix this huge issue in our country, you can at least get creative with your leave.
Many women are able to save up their sick time and vacation time to apply as much of that to their leave as possible. I’ve even heard of co-workers coming together and donating some of their own time-off or holidays to the mama-to-be so less of her time is unpaid.
Another idea is to take a full 8 or 10 weeks off, and then ease back into work for your remaining time. Yes, I know this is less than ideal. But with the reality of what maternity leave is in the US, it can be a solution. Go back for half-days or 2-3 days per week. This means you’ll have some money coming in sooner but still not be working full time. For many women, this makes for an easier emotional transition as well.
Below we’ll talk more about how to save up and prepare for that maternity leave financially.
5. Learn about ways to earn money from home
One way to get prepared financially for a baby and your (likely) unpaid maternity leave, is to start earning some extra money at home. You might be surprised by just how much you can make. It could even lead to an extended (or forever) maternity leave!
I started obsessing over how to make money from home after N was born. I couldn’t bear to head back to work at 12 weeks. I started teaching online when N was only 8 weeks. It was easy to manage during hours my husband was home anyways. I was making $1200+ per week by teaching just 3 hours in the early mornings. You don’t even have to be a teacher.
Had I started teaching before my baby was born, I would have had way more money saved in the bank. I also would have gone through the learning curve and hiring process of learning to teach online before the craziness of a newborn.
Another huge income source for me, is blogging. Trina started Mom Smart Not Hard and I joined in a few months later. It has allowed us both to stay home with our children indefinitely. Learn more about how to start a blog and why it’s such a wonderful, fun and most of all rewarding way to earn money from home. Again, had we set this up BEFORE our babies were born, we would have been earning and had the blog streamlined so much faster.
Other work from home opportunities
In addition to these ideas, you can earn money from home in lots of ways. Check out this complete list of opportunities. Everything from being a virtual assistant, to online book keeping, to your own creative business.
Before your baby arrives, babysitting is a great way to earn some extra cash and get some baby practice in. Once your little one arrives and you are feeling like you have a handle on things, consider watching another baby with your own.
This might not be a perfect fit for everyone, but if you have babysitting experience or think it’s something you’re interested in, you can earn a lot of money while with your own baby.
6. Give breastfeeding your all
As an expectant mom, I can’t urge you enough to prepare now for breastfeeding. There is so much you can do now to help you succeed. And if no one has told you yet, breastfeeding is actually quite challenging at first for many mothers. Though well worth it if you can stick it out
Why is this on the list? If you are able to breastfeed, you will save SO MUCH money by not buying formula. You will also save a ton of time and get to sleep more because you won’t be constantly preparing and washing bottles.
In this article, I’m not preaching breastfeeding for all of the amazing benefits, although I do believe in those, but purely because of the money it will save you. I can never mention breastfeeding without adding, however you choose to feed your baby, you are doing what’s right for your family, and that is always enough.
7. Research your insurance plans, prenatal care costs and birth costs as early in your pregnancy as possible!
One of the first things we did when I had a positive pregnancy test was find out the costs associated with prenatal care and birth on my insurance plan vs. my husbands. We quickly learned that his had a much lower birth cost to us. Because we had this in mind, we were prepared to switch me to his insurance plan during open enrollment. We literally saved thousands by doing this.
That being said, wherever you’re at in your pregnancy, figure out what costs you will incur. You can create a better budget this way. Also look into flex spending accounts. You or your partner’s workplace may allow you to put pre-tax dollars aside to spend on healthcare-related expenses.
You can also find out what your pediatrician co-pays and postpartum care co-pays will be as well. All of this will help you better budget for your maternity leave.
8. Create an emergency fund
The previous point was all about planning for the expenses associated with having a baby. Here, I want to encourage you to be ready for the unexpected expenses that always occur. Most financial experts will recommend an emergency fund of at least $1000 and ideally enough to replace 6 months of salary. But any amount you can have is a big help, and naturally, the more the better.
What are some small ways I can save more money each month?
The best way to save money is by looking closely at your budget and finding areas to spend less. It’s a gift to your future baby.
- Eliminate take out and eating out in the months leading up to baby. Instead, intentionally take what you would have spent and put it into a savings account. Do a free date night instead!
- Stop buying coffee out. Seriously. This adds up so much. Invest in a good coffee machine, your postpartum self will thank you as well.
- Start earning extra money at home.
- Shop a variety of stores. Don’t fall into the trap of a one stop shop. Now you have the time to shop around. For example, paper towels are generally a lot more expensive at a grocery store.
- Learn how to meal plan, eat seasonally, and stock your freezer
What unexpected costs might I incur with a new baby?
- Possible pediatric costs for your newborn other than routine appointments, such as, weight checks, illness, tongue or lip ties, physical therapy, etc.
- Possible extra postpartum care appointments for you such as physical therapy
- Unexpected baby gear needs if your baby has colic
- Unexpected baby care supplies if they are ill or have colic
9. Stock your freezer before giving birth
One of the largest expenses for many new parents after birth ends up being food. This is because by the end of the day, neither parent has the mental capacity or energy to cook or grocery shop. What ends up happening? Take out. Again.
Kick this habit before it even starts by stocking your freezer with healthy pre-made meals that simply need to be popped into the oven or dumped into a crock pot. Kelly’s Complete Freezer Recipe Bundle will help you make up to 30 healthy, real food crock pot meals, in a matter of a few hours. She even includes shopping lists. Give your postpartum self, and your budget, this serious gift.
Make an action plan, Mama!
Now that you have 9 tips to help you save money and spend less as you prepare for baby’s arrival, figure out which ones you can start doing right away.
If you haven’t yet had your shower or made a registry, consider what your priorities are and what you can get away with second-hand. Maybe register for cash fund gifts instead if you’re worried about diaper or childcare costs.
If you’re later in your pregnancy, it’s definitely not too late to plan a diaper party! Have your friends help you create the diaper stockpile you need.
And wherever you’re at in your pregnancy, research and take a chance on earning extra money from home. I did it by teaching online, and was able to stay home with my daughter indefinitely as a result. This CAN be your reality too.
Have some more tips and ways to save before baby arrives? I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for reading! If you found this article helpful, please share it on Pinterest or Facebook.