Trying new ways to save money is one of my favorite things to do. Becoming a parent, from going through pregnancy to celebrating our baby’s first year of life, was a new adventure.

And so it was also a new journey in finding very new ways to budget, and find low-cost alternatives to an incredibly expensive baby product industry and all the things babies need.

In this list, try out all the ways I used to save a lot of money on your baby costs. I hope they work for you like they did for us and our wallets.

Join (and use) Buy Nothing

Buy Nothing changed our lives as parents! We’ve been in quite a few Buy Nothing groups, as we have moved around a bit, and we’re happy with the group where we live now. We’re able to get gently-used baby clothes, baby accessories like hats, baby toys, baby walkers and baby outdoor toys, baby blocks, booster seats, baby carriers and MORE… all for free.

We also give back to the group by giving away things we are done with, all for free.

See my Buy Nothing review to learn in-depth about how this worldwide phenomenon saved me THOUSANDS of dollars in baby product expenses.

Borrow baby gear

We borrowed our 4Moms Mamaroo bouncer from a friend. It was perfect: she said, “I might be expecting a third child in the next few years, but not this year,” and we only needed the bouncer from months 1-7, or so. Our timelines matched up, and we saved $269 by not having to buy this expensive, and temporary, baby swing.

I also borrowed nursing shirts from my sister! I wore these literally every day of the week in the first few months until I realized I could go back into my pre-baby style clothing and make it work.

Scrap nursing clothes

I consistently found that not so many brands even make nursing clothes, and those that do kind of combine the style with maternity-wear because they think that’s appealing to moms.

I frequently complained to one of my best friends that try as I did, I couldn’t find nursing clothes I wanted to buy.

“So don’t get any,” she said. In my mind, I thought having nursing would be like “treating myself,” but the real treat was being able to wear my old clothes!

So, I saved money on never buying a single item of “Nursing-friendly shirts” or “breastfeeding dresses.” I focused on two-piece outfits with flowy or loose shirts that could come right up when our baby needed to feed.

Wear second-hand maternity clothes

I bought only 3 items of maternity clothing, and that was because I had a gift card and paid out of pocket a little bit for what I wanted. The rest of my maternity clothing was free, from my cousin who was my size, and from my sister and from members of my new moms group on Facebook when we moved to the suburbs.

I was LUCKY: I was able to save by not having to spend a lot of money on maternity clothing that I only would wear for 4-5 months in total.

Ask around in mom/parent groups for baby things

Yes, that’s right: I had no shame in asking for size 2 diapers when I saw I was running out. I asked in Whatsapp groups and in Facebook groups, and in Buy Nothing.

I wound up getting free diapers that lasted for ages, just from other families whose children had growth spurts and grew out of their current supply.

I also needed a Halloween costume for our baby, but only for one day of wearing it. I asked around if anyone had one I could borrow, and I got one! My daughter wore it for an hour on Halloween, and then I gave it back.

Use those insurance discounts

One of the more exciting moments of being a pregnant mom in my doctor’s office was getting my “prescription for a breast pump.”

Through Aeroflow Breastpumps, I qualified for a massive discount on the Elvie Stride hands-free pump. I only paid $80 out of pocket for it.

Sell baby items you’re done with

To get some extra cash to use toward new things your baby needs, sell baby items you either never used, or used gently, that have resale value!

I sold my Elvie Stride breast pump for exactly what I paid for it, because I never wound up using it! It was new in the box with all the packaging and paperwork. I posted it on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, detailing the condition it was in and that I was only accepting cash for it.

I also recommend Poshmark for selling gently-used (or new-with-tags) baby items like clothes, accessories, swimsuits and shoes. I wrote this guide to How to Sell on Poshmark Like a Pro with my tips for success, and there’s a bit more in my list of how to sell your stuff online.

Helpful Tip

Use my code CLOSETBROOKLYN to sign up, and we both get $10 when you make a sale. Download Poshmark today.

Shop at Costco for bulk

We have a Costco pretty close to our house, but that doesn’t mean we go all the time. We only go when we need diapers or wipes, because those are two things that are worth it at Costco when we want to save, and buy in bulk.

Another thing we figured out is great to get in bulk is baby food pouches! We get those little applesauce pouches at wholesale prices, too. (I also found out recently that even non-members can shop Costco online.)

Only buy when you need it

If you stock up too much on “What-ifs” and “nice-to-haves” before your baby even arrives, you may be stuck with some baby products collecting dust.

I tried to get the bare minimum for my baby before her arrival, and used this list of what a newborn really needs to keep things minimalist and save funds.

Look at the price per unit, when shopping on Amazon

Several times, we’ve gotten diapers on Amazon, and I insist that we look at the cost per diaper. It can be so confusing, because diapers come in all types of sizes, brands and quantities. I ensure that we do the math on a low cost per diaper, if we are deciding on Pampers vs. Huggies, and 27 vs 100 vs 128-counts.

Don’t be afraid to complain

I’ve complained about a few baby items we got as top essentials on our baby registry or from Amazon, directly to the retailer. I complained that two of our HALO sleep sacks had zippers that split during the night when my child was sleeping, and HALO sent free replacements both times.

I complained to Frida Baby that our Snot-sucker got mold after only a few months of use, and they sent a new one at free of charge under warranty.

And lastly, our Eufy baby monitor had a ton of issues, from making click sounds when it switched to night mode, to the sound stopping working on the monitor screen. I wound up speaking with Eufy three times, and they sent us three replacement products because we experienced subsequent issues.

Use coupon techniques

As an example of using coupons to save money on baby stuff, Pampers has QR codes on every plastic diaper sleeve that you get in the diaper box. It’s called the Pampers Club.

You can get money off for every diaper code you enter when buying new diapers, through Pampers. It’s their version of a loyalty program, and there are lots of money-saving programs like this around the baby brands.

Use consignment

Because I’ve gotten so much baby gear for free, via second-hand giving and hand-me-downs from family, I’ve rarely had to consider consignment; however, consignment stores are a great option if you need special-occasion or specialty clothing or toy items for your child.

Consignment stores sell impeccable condition items for half the price of what you’d pay for them as new. I’ve been on the other side of the consignment equation, selling my items to consignment stores and sometimes making a few bucks in a few months via the payout.

Ask family members and friends

Don’t be shy to ask family members and friends who have kids if they have something you need that you can borrow or keep, in terms of baby gear and baby needs.

We got our crib for free from my cousin, and we got our child’s first set of onesies for free from a friend of mine nearby. It pays to speak up because sometimes friends may not know which size clothing your child is currently wearing or which stage of playing they are up to.

Get in touch and ask, because they may be ready to offload a perfectly-timed toy or set of outfits.

Rent baby gear or maternity clothes

While the leading brand of baby product rentals is BabyQuip, and most parents use this if they go away for a vacation or trip, there are other rental companies out there as well.

If you don’t want to invest in a “travel stroller,” you can rent one.

I also have friends who have rented maternity clothes. This is smart if you need business casual maternity clothes, or an outfit for a wedding. If you think about it, it may not be worth owning that type of thing because your next pregnancy could fall during different seasons and you may never need the item again.

Stock up on sales (if it’s something you’ll use)

There was one day when I was at our grocery store and saw that Gerber baby snacks were on sale for $1.44 a bag. They were like 50% off or more.

I’m serious: I thought it was a crazy price, too, and I had to verify it when I checked out. I stocked up on four bags of Gerber crackers for our toddler, because I knew they would get eaten and wouldn’t go bad.

I’d only recommend stocking up on something that’s steeply discounted and on final sale if you’re confident it will get used and not go to waste in our household.

Use free stuff from your pediatrician’s office

The number of free things we’ve gotten from our pediatrician’s office are too many to count. For one thing, we got most of our first year of baby shampoo and body wash from the baskets at our pediatrician’s office. We had no idea the little samples would last that long. We weren’t even trying!

We’ve gotten free samples for a few loads of laundry of baby Dreft laundry detergent, and more recently, a few boxes of PediaSure high-calorie milk drinks for our toddler. I probably would never spend the money to buy these in the store, so when we get them for free, they are a treat for her.

Make your own baby food

When we started solids with our infant, we mashed bananas and gave them to her.

I was chatting with a few friends at the time, discussing what we were feeding to our six-month-olds, and I wound up saying that we, “just mash bananas into a bowl and feed it to her.”

“Wait,” said a friend of mine, “So I don’t need to buy baby food bananas in the jars from the store?”

No, of course you don’t! It’s the same exact thing! We spent very little money on baby food before our child turned 1, and we even picked up those rice baby crackers called “Teethers” from friends whose children grew out of liking them, or from Buy Nothing.

Call the nurse line

As first-time parents, every illness that our daughter sprouted was a little alarming at first. We brought her into the doctor a lot. We learned soon that we could probably have called into the nurse line at our pediatrician’s office to ask questions and describe her symptoms, before coming in and paying the co-pay for an appointment.

I have to admit though, that in her first year, it was worth going in when she had congestion and a fever, because we’d get her ears checked, and sometimes our hunches were correct that she had an ear infection.

In the future, if she had a fever and no other symptoms, we waited until it had been four days of a fever to bring her in for seeing what was going on.

Travel with extras

The first time we went away as a family, I packed a substantial number of diapers, and even still, we came home with ONE diaper left in our diaper bag. We were one diaper away from having to buy a package of diapers at an overpriced pharmacy or supermarket out near where we were road tripping.

Lesson learned: always bring more than you need, when it comes to baby products like diapers and wipes. And, restock your diaper bag when you get home!

Borrow while you’re out of the house

The first time we took an international trip with our daughter who was 8 months at the time, we went out to dinner and the sun started going down. Within minutes, it got cold, and she was SUPER underdressed.

Luckily, the family seated next to us had a baby 1-2 months older, and they were well-prepared with lots of extra baby clothes in their bag! Instead of having to go out and buy our baby a jacket and some pants, we borrowed some baby clothes from this family for the duration of our outdoor dinner, and gave them back when it was time for us to head back to the hotel.

Choose free forms of baby entertainment

I talk in my article about “Do babies cost a lot of money?” I talk about how we had a great time by buying a set of music classes for our daughter when she was 6-8 months old, but we also found a LOT of ways to have fun for free with her.

There are parks, playgrounds, walks, play dates, day trips, free concerts and free sights to see. And before a baby turns 1, or can walk, the choice is really up to you.

Hunt around for childcare options

We thought a lot about how to choose a daycare, and ultimately the decision came down to budget. We picked apart monthly fees, and of course, compared the benefits of daycare against the cost of having a full-time nanny.

While childcare is more expensive by the year, I suggest taking time to research options so that you can find a suitable option that saves you some money, whether it’s sending your child several days a week rather than other days, or doing a “nanny share” option.

Take a free birth class

There are lots of birth classes (as well as newborn classes, and baby classes of all topics) out there for parents to buy into. Personally, I found great value in our free childbirth class that helped us bond as expectant parents, and was highly informative. We saved a few hundred dollars by avoiding paying for a class that cost a high fee.

Work out for free during pregnancy

While I (transparently) did in-studio prenatal yoga classes with a wonderful teacher, I was able to do this because my full-time job at the time gave a monthly fitness stipend, and I was able to comp four yoga classes a month: one per weekend. It was brilliant for how to work out while pregnant.

For my other workouts, I chose free ones. I did a gym bike and treadmill for free at our apartment complex gym, and I did free prenatal yoga with YouTube classes as my low-cost way of budgeting before our baby arrived in my simple home gym.

Save on therapy with a free support group

My support group saved my sanity, and I never had to pay for it (I paid enough to the hospital to give birth!).

I’m fortunate that the hospital where I gave birth offers a free online support group to new moms, and also fortunately, I found out about it from an old friend, because NONE of the hospital staff told me about it when I was in the hospital.

Because of this, I was able to save on therapy-related support and I get all the benefits of a new mom support group.

Take your own baby photos

We thought a lot about hiring a professional photographer, but the fact of the matter is that Dan is a photographer already, so why not just take our own?

In this guide for deciding to take your own newborn photos or hire a professional, you can learn how to do this with a camera, and then the skills will last you a lifetime.

Each photo session with a photographer costs hundreds of dollars, and if you don’t have this in your budget and you want to save, do it yourself (or ask a friend to help!).

Breastfeeding

We saved a lot by not having to buy baby formula during our daughter’s first six months, and more. She was exclusively breastfed, and I had a partner who fully supported me during breastfeeding.

I realize not everyone can mentally or physically make breastfeeding work: it is one of the hardest things I’ve done. It’s also not a 100% money-saver, as I needed to buy some things like breastfeeding supplies for being on the go, but I had a lot of breastfeeding essentials on my baby registry that got purchased and sent to me. Overall, I think it cost less than the cost of formula from months 0 to 12.

For other nursing things I needed for my newborn’s diaper bag, I asked around in “mom groups on Facebook” if anyone had products to hand off and pass on that I could try.

Be smart with your baby registry

People will be excited to buy you baby gifts, so make sure your baby registry is well-planned and smart. What I mean here is, avoid adding useless clutter to your registry, because while another giant teddy bear is cute, it’s not quite as useful as money going toward your Diaper Fund.

Having a baby registry and experiencing friends and family gift you products from it can save you money from having to buy things like stroller accessories, baby formula, diapers, wipes, postpartum recovery items and bottles. Seriously, check out my list of things you don’t need on your baby registry.

Conclusion

If you’ve been wondering, “Do babies cost a lot of money?”, the answer really is yes: they do. However, there are ways I’ve found to lower the costs on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.

Some baby costs will be unavoidable like daycare, baby formula, necessary furniture for their nurseries and pediatrician visits, but there are hacks for saving money everywhere else when you have a baby. I hope my ideas have been useful for you and that you can keep your savings padded and wallet full, all while having a little one you love.