During those nine blissful months of pregnancy, there are many things to be excited and happy about, but there seems to be even more to be worried about, and your budget can be one of those things that taint your otherwise peaceful mind. Money issues cause stress in even the most grounded and bonded families. Babies are expensive; that’s not new information. However, there are ways to cut corners in your budget without having to deprive your little family of what it needs.
There are multiple reasons why I exclusively breastfed my firstborn. When asked by curious, well-meaning relatives and friends, my answer was simple and ranged from “It’s so beneficial to her health!” and “It’s the perfect nourishment!” But let’s be honest. There’s another huge plus to breastfeeding: “It’s totally free!”
Formula can increase your baby budget an extra $60 to $100 a month, depending on which brand you choose. Add in the fact that many insurance companies cover the cost of breast pumps (and even if they don’t, a $50 breast pump sure does beat $100 a month on formula). Couple these savings with the fact that you will never need to worry about cleaning, packing, and heating bottles, and you have a win-win-win situation.
I didn’t start out cloth diapering my little one. With the thought of being a first-time mom, tackling the challenge of breastfeeding, anticipating working full time after staying up all night with a crying baby, the last thing I felt I could handle was cloth diapers. So we started off with disposables. It was so simple to toss them in the diaper pail. But soon, I began to realize the monetary cost–we were spending at least $50 a month on disposable diapers. I also became concerned when my daughter started to suffer from allergic skin reactions to the chemicals contained in the diapers. I was at the store, making my usual rounds through the baby section, and approached the diaper aisle. I debated with myself:
I can drop $50 on this box of diapers, which will be gone in about 2 or 3 weeks, or I can invest $50 in some cloth diapers.
My cloth diaper stash started off small, but after a few months of these $50 investments, I had a hefty supply of cloth diapers that, now that my oldest is nearly out of diapers and my second baby is on the way, I can reuse for future children. As long as you have the time to toss them in the washer every couple of days, it really doesn’t require much more work than disposables.
Homemade Baby Food
When the time comes to start solids with your little one, skip the baby food aisle and head to the produce department. A bunch of carrots, a few bananas, a couple of apples, and a head of broccoli cost about the same as a few small jars of baby food. Simply steam your produce, puree it in a food processor, and toss it in the fridge or freezer. A single piece of produce can make enough pureed food for multiple feedings. Another plus side to making your own baby food is that you can know exactly what is going into your baby’s tummy–no preservatives, no artificial additives, and no unknown chemicals.
There are numerous convertible items, from cribs to car seats, highchairs to swings. We made sure to invest in convertible items when preparing for our daughter. Her crib, which was her nighttime solution as a newborn, is now her toddler bed. And when she’s old enough to transfer to a regular bed, there won’t be any need to spend extra dough on a new full-sized bed. We also invested in a combination bouncy chair and swing, which saved us through many rough nights. The same goes for her car seat, which still fits her perfectly now that she’s almost 3. The bottom line is, your baby is going to grow…fast. Choose items that will grow with him or her.
Avoid Expensive Toys
I remember my daughter’s first birthday very well. She has a lot of loving family close by, and it seems with every holiday and birthday, I have to go through her room and clear out half of what she has just to make room for all the new stuff she gets. I know…first world problem. But on that first birthday, the flamboyant, wrapped presents quickly piled over the “gift table” in a way I never expected. After a long and tedious gift-opening session, my daughter proceeded to bypass all of her new, shiny toys and play with a piece of purple tissue paper–for over an hour. I’m not advocating giving your child trash to play with everyday. However, I am suggesting that if your budget is tight, don’t feel bad if your baby doesn’t have the latest, most expensive, popular toys to instead give your child something you already have lying around the house. An empty cardboard box or a few pots and pans can be a blast for your youngster, as long as your eardrums can handle their “unique approach to music.”