7 Ways to Cut Baby Costs the Second Time Around
It's no secret that a baby costs a lot in the first year (and the second, and the third ...). A middle-income family welcoming a second child can expect to spend about $12,370, according the most recent estimate by the USDA, which releases an annual report on the subject. For parents, the numbers are downright scary. But as I prepare for my second baby, who is due to arrive very soon, I realize I've picked up some ways to cut baby costs this time around. These seven tips should help even first-time parents spend a lot less.
Photo by sxc.hu/Carin
1. Reuse everything.With my first child I wanted everything to be brand new, just for him. While I did get many new things from various baby showers, I spent a fortune on baby gear and clothes, and all my son did was soil everything within the first few months. Even now that he's 2, he couldn't care less about having new things. This second child will be all about secondhand -- I won't turn up my nose at any boxes of old baby clothes. With my children so close in age (just two years apart) the crib, infant car seat, and other newborn baby gear we already have are still up to current standards. If you're considering reusing such things, check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to make sure they still fall in line with the agency's guidelines and haven't been recalled.
2. Breastfeed if you can.For some people breastfeeding just doesn't work, and there is no shame in that. I get it: For medical reasons it didn't work for me the first time around. But I can also tell you we spent $40 a week on formula -- sometimes more -- for almost the entire first year of my son's life. Think about that. Any positive health benefits aside, the effect on your wallet makes breastfeeding well worth it. That brings me to my next piece of advice for saving on baby costs:
3. Don't invest in breastfeeding supplies (yet).As with clothes and other baby gear, I went all out with the breastfeeding paraphernalia. I bought nursing tops, nursing bras, nursing covers, nursing pillows, a top-of-the-line breast pump -- you name it. Sadly I was able to breastfeed for only two months, and all those pricey supplies sat wasted in the basement until I recently dug them out for baby No. 2. My advice: Wait a month or two to see if breastfeeding is working for you and your child before you invest in any specialized equipment. Even then, don't go overboard. All you really need is yourself and a willing newborn. That said, if you plan to work outside the home, a good breast pump is a worthy investment. As of August 2012, the Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to cover breast pumps and lactation counseling services as preventive care for women. Given that breast pumps can cost upward of $300, it's definitely worth a call to your insurance provider to find out exactly what breast pumps and services are included in your plan.
Photo by sxc.hu/rowanfae
4. Take advantage of freebies.Baby care is a booming business and companies all want your loyalty, so they're more than willing to give out free samples and coupons. As a new mom, I quickly figured out that freebies are everywhere; you just have to ask. Baby-wipe samples kept my diaper bag stocked for nearly a year. I also got a free baby sling, car seat cover, and nursing cover just from digging around a little online for coupons and coupon codes. I've already been requesting samples of these supplies for the new baby and have a good stockpile going.
5. Take what the hospital provides.I never would have thought to clear out our hospital room after the birth of my first child, but my sister-in-law, who is a labor and delivery nurse, brought an empty bag and promptly packed up all the extra diapers, wipes, and formula. Come to find out, the hospital is required to throw these things away if you leave them behind (for sanitary reasons). It was certainly a nice way to get a week's worth of diapers and a few days' worth of formula. This time around, I will have an extra bag ready for those extra baby supplies.
6. Buy diapers in bulk.OK, cloth diapers may be cheaper if you clean them yourself and don't go through a service, but the less I need to handle bodily byproducts, the better, so we go the disposable route. After a few months of paying mindboggling amounts for diapers at the grocery store every week, I did some research on ways to cut baby costs and found that buying diapers in bulk from a place like Sam's Club, Costco, or Amazon saves huge amounts of money. The Amazon Mom program is free for the first three months and essentially gets you a free Amazon Prime membership in addition to 20 percent off diapers and wipes. After that, you can choose to pay the $79 membership fee or cancel and go elsewhere. Diapers.com offers free two-day delivery on orders over $49 and 5 percent back.
7. Make your own baby food.Like most other baby things, baby food is expensive. Brands like Gerber start at around $1 per jar and organic varieties cost even more. That adds up fast, especially if your child works his way up to five to seven jars a day, like mine eventually did. Making your own food is a much cheaper option -- albeit a little more time consuming. All you really need is a small food processor and fresh veggies or fruit. This time around, I plan to steam a few extra vegetables from our meals and mash up fresh fruit for the baby. I hope to freeze extras, too, so I have a nice stash to choose from on days when I don't have time to make any.
Are you a seasoned parent? What are your tips for cutting down on baby costs?