13 Ways to Find Cheap Newborn Baby Stuff Now and Save Money Later

Buying baby gear on a budget doesn't mean you have to sacrifice quality. Image copyright Carolyn Augustine
Buying baby gear on a budget doesn't mean you have to sacrifice quality. Image copyright Carolyn Augustine

Baby Items on a Budget

Babies never seem to arrive at convenient times, do they? But cheap baby stuff is out there, and you don't have to break the bank getting the stuff your baby will need. These practical money-saving tips can help you get the baby gear you need when you are on a tight budget.

Figure out what your baby really needs

Ok, so this first one is pretty obvious, but it needs to be said. First-time parents are often bombarded with media messages and advertisements for overpriced baby products, especially at their obstetrician and pediatrician's offices! It can be a challenge to know just what is necessary for your baby, versus what is popular or trendy. Do you really need that video crib monitor or a light that projects stars onto the ceiling? It can be helpful to enlist the help of a friend or family member who has recently had a baby herself to identify the most-needed items for your area. Sit down with your friend and make a list of what you will need for your baby, then break down the list into three categories: Take home from the hospital, every day, and later. Factors affecting your list include will your breastfeed or bottle feed?

Bring your friend along with you when you register at a baby store for shower items. He or she can advise you away from items that will be less useful to you. If your budget is really tight, your trusted friend can help you pare down your list to the bare necessities, such as a car seat, a crib, some seasonally-appropriate sleepers for infants, blankets and feeding supplies.

Parents who need to purchase baby items for their second, third, or fourth children probably already have some things on hand, but they may need to replenish their supplies of certain things. After you have experienced life as a parent, you probably remember the things you really needed, and those that weren''t as useful to you. My recommendation to these parents is to inventory what you have, including its general condition. It's always helpful to make do with what you already have, but if you are on your third or even your seventh child, some items may be worn out and just need to be replaced.

Some things you probably don't need to buy

On a really tight budget? Examples of items you probably don't need for your newborn include wipes warmers, bottle warmers, baby video monitors (they are nice to have, but not necessary), keepsake baby books, and specialized baby carriers. If you are on an extremely tight budget and you don't anticipate help from friends and family, you can do without items like baby bouncers, diaper genies, and even a changing table, since you can always change the baby on a towel on the bed (though be sure to use a waterproof sheet under the towel to avoid ruining your bedding.)

Strategically buy a few quality items

Regardless of where your baby places in children's birth order, you can use one question to help you decide how much to spend on your baby stuff. Are you planning to have more children? If the answer is yes, then you may want to purchase a few items that will last through the family-planning stages of your life. If possible, I recommend you purchase a durable new baby crib and new car seat, if possible. Most people use their baby cribs for two or three years per child, unless they need to move an older child into a toddler bed to make room for another baby. The inexpensive second-hand crib I bought was affordable but it wasn't well-made and started to fall apart when I was using it for my third child.

You won't need it right away, but once baby is in her own room, look for a large, sturdy, well-made dresser. These can be hard to find, but some second-hand dressers are more well made than comparably priced new ones. Children can share dressers when they are small, since their clothes do not take up much space. If you buy a large enough dresser, you can designate a few drawers to diapers, wipes, and burp cloths and avoid the need to buy a changing table.

If you plan to have more than two children, try to invest in a high-quality crib. If you plan to nurse, some people feel a hospital-grade breast pump is a must-have baby item.

Gender-neutral items can save money now and later

Some people adore dressing their girls in pink, but don't worry, this money-saving tip is strategic! If you are going with a long-term money-saving strategy, make sure your big-ticket baby items and selected clothing and bedding items are in gender neutral colors that you could use for future children. A cute unisex nursery theme can be targeted to your baby's sex with one or two masculine or feminine touches.

To save money in the nursery and on toddler beds, avoid buying "themey" girls-only or boys-only versions of cribs, toddler beds, car seats, carriers, etc.

You can take the gender-neutral strategy to the next level if you are a first-time parent who is going to have a large baby shower. Ask your guests to purchase onesies, sleepers, pajamas, and crib sheets or any baby gear that might be saved for a future child in gender neutral solid colors. You will get much use out of these, can launder clothing repeatedly, and reuse what you have while focusing on a few special outfits for child number two or three or eight.

Nowadays you can find adorable unisex clothing at Target and other retailers that sell children's clothes.

Lighter-colored gender-neutral white clothing items have the additional advantage of being able to be bleached occasionally, which may be necessary especially if you are formula-feeding your baby. Items with formula stains don't store well at all, and tend to develop smells, so this is a plus. By getting underthings and sleepers that are gender neutral, if you have another child that is a different sex than your first, you can focus on buying some cute new outfits when the time comes, but you will still be able to reuse what you had the first time.

Babies are fast growers and can be in three sizes during the first three months!
Babies are fast growers and can be in three sizes during the first three months!

Do double duty

My favorite new baby item that has came on the market after my daughter was born thirteen years ago is a clever portable baby crib that comes with a bassinet insert, a baby diaper storage area, and a built-in changing table. I was fortunate enough to find a basic model of one of these multi-use portable cribs that I plan to use during the first few months of my fourth child's life as a co-sleeper next to my bed. I won't need to purchase a bassinet or even a crib for a few months, and I can take this with me anywhere, which is good in my case, because my family is moving cross-country with our other three children and a newborn shortly after the birth. I will be able to take the portable crib in our minivan and set it up in our temporary living quarters while we wait for our other stuff to arrive.

Car seats that start as an infant seat and transition to a front-facing toddler car seat may cost more initially, but they won't have to be replaced after the baby grows out of his baby carrier car seat.

Cribs that convert into toddler beds and then into bed frames are a good purchase. You'll be using these for a long time.

Buy travel-sized items for everyday use

For most people storage space is at a premium when you are raising a family. A large part of the reason people get rid of their baby items too quickly is that they are too big and bulky to store. One way to avoid this problem, and sometimes save money on the cost of baby items at the same time, is to keep away from large "deluxe" versions of items, and to purchase travel-sized versions instead. A high chair isn't something you will need for the first 4-5 months of your baby's life, but when you do get one, consider how much easier it will be for you if you get one that you can toss in the car and take with you to grandma's house.

Remember babies grow quickly

During the first three months of life babies are usually in three sizes of clothes. These include newborn (unless your child is a big healthy baby and is over 8 pounds at birth, then you may find yourself skipping the newborn size altogether). 0-3 month size, and 3-6 month. During the first month to six weeks of life, your baby may sleep as much as 18 hours a day, and your doctor will probably advise you to keep your baby at home during flu season as much as possible. All this adds up to the simple fact that you don't need very many outfits in smaller sizes. If you are a new or first-time parent, onesies, sleepers, and rompers will get you through most of your first month or so. Ask friends who want to buy you cute outfits to buy in a 3-6 month sizes and up, keeping in mind what will be seasonally appropriate.

Search yard sales and consignment shops first

You can buy your baby gear second-hand at a considerable savings over the price of new items. In fact, most baby items depreciate more than a used car when you "drive them off the lot." Many baby items that originally cost $10 or more a piece will sell for 50 cents to a dollar an item at a yard sale. Check items at yard sales for their condition, and check clothing for stains, tears, and smoke smells.

At consignment stores and used children's clothing stores like Once Upon a Child and Other Mothers, clothing may cost more than at yard sales, but they can still be a big savings for you, because they have to be in good or excellent condition to be consigned at these stores. You can get especially good savings at consignment stores when purchase items out of season like clothing, furniture, and coats.

Stock up during seasonal clearance sales

You can find some excellent bargains on new baby clothing at stores like Kohl's, Carter's, Children's Place, and even Gymborree at the end of each season. Stores may still have clothes from the previous season and need to get rid of their inventory. I have seen clothes marked down as low as 50-90% at certain stores. At 70-90% off, clothing prices at department stores may rival those at consignment and used clothing stores. Even used clothing stores have clearance sales, so look there, too.

Be sure to check your local paper and get on any stores' mailing lists that offer coupons. One store sends me a coupon for $10 off a purchase of $20 every month or so. I can save 50% on items that are already on clearance this way. Another store will send a 20% off coupon to be used on the next purchase. Using your 20% off coupon on clearance items is a way to get nice new baby clothing for thrift store prices.

Buying in bulk is not just for groceries

Buy used items sold as "lots" from sites like Craigslist, Ebay, and other similar sites. Craigslist has a Kids' and Babies section where you can often buy as many as 100 articles of clothing for $40 or $50. Similarly, you can purchase items grouped in lots on eBay at auction or a "buy it now" price.

I used this principle to purchase over 100 items for my newborn son. He was a surprise and I had given away all of his brother's clothes a few years earlier. It was a hot day in Phoenix, Arizona in August and she was ready to quit. The owner of the clothing was eager to empty out her garage and offered her items priced per box. Twenty-five dollars later I was completely outfitted for baby number four with about 15 onesies in each of three different sizes, outfits, hats, mittens, and booties--even two jackets.

Some people like to buy baby clothes grouped in lots, go through the items, keep what they want, then sell the rest back to secondhand stores or give away to charities. I was so happy with my recent purchase that I am planning to purchase more items in lots for my other children as well, who are still very young and growing quickly.

Swap with a friend or relative

My husband has seven brothers and sisters, all grown and married and rearing families of children in different ages and stages. Some families are well out of the baby stage, but others are just getting started. We often bring items our children have outgrown to family get-togethers for people to pick through, or give larger things to Grandma to distribute when she goes visiting in her car. Swapping is an excellent way to stretch the use of outgrown toys and books, too.

Some churches have a "give and take" table. The idea is to bring children's and baby clothes and shoes in good condition to donate to the table. If you make a donation, you can take approximately the number of items in similar condition in sizes that fit your children. This idea works well in large churches where many families can participate. Our church has done this in several areas where I have lived, and it is a popular way to help families help themselves. It just requires an organized and committed volunteer.

Use Freecycle or other online barter sites

Freecycle is the online equivalent of a give and take table. This online site uses an honors system but excpects that everyone who participates give at least one donation. You post what you need and what you have to exchange. Freecycle is an excellent way to reach a broad base of people who may need your unwanted items and to keep things out of the landfill.

Make it yourself

Some baby items can be made inexpensively from items on hand. A flat or fitted sheet set can be sewn into three or four crib-sized or bassinet-sized sheets with rudimentary sewing skills. Warm fitted flannel sheets can be made very inexpensively when combining coupons and sales at fabric stores.

You can find free layette patterns online from a number of sites like Craftsy and AllFreeSewing.com. An especially popular but expensive baby product it the snuggle-style receiving blankets that wrap your baby like a burrito. These can be sewn much cheaper with higher quality fabrics bought on sale.

If you don't sew, friends and relatives who enjoy knitting, crochet, or quilting can make booties, hats, bibs, crib-quilts, and receiving blankets (remember some in neutral colors). These can be as ornate or simple as you like, and often have the added advantage of becoming heirlooms!

Cost of Onesies

Onesies are thin baby undershirts or bodysuits that fit like a t-shirt and snap at the bottom. They are an indespensible baby item for hot or cold climates, either worn alone or layered under under other warm clothes. They are typically sold new in packs of 4 or 5. Here is a breakdown of costs I have recently seen.

Price Comparison For Onesies

Store 
Price 
Number of Onesies 
WalMart 
$8.88-9.95 
Target 
$7.88 
Carter's Outlet
15.00 
Garage Sale
2.50
10

Will you buy second hand items for your baby?

Buying second hand is a great money-saving strategy for buying cheap baby stuff. Is it part of your strategy?

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17 comments

bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

Wonderful, especially when you advocated identifying REAL needs first. You should query or submit this to PARENTS MAGAZINE, really.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

A wonderful help and tips.


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

This was an awesome article for me. My granddaughter is expecting a child around xmas time. eeeeek! No I am NOT old enough to be a great grandmother.......It´s exciting all the same. Loved all your ideas. Will definately be using many of them Thank you very much.

Take care x


wannabwestern profile image

wannabwestern 6 years ago from The Land of Tractors Author

Bayoulady, I am deeply flattered. Maybe I will give that a try! You are too kind!

Hello, Hello: Thank you and congrats on your recent HP successes!

Thanks Dim, I'm glad you found some helpful suggestions. I've been particularly fortunate this time. I keep getting rid of my baby stuff prematurely. We moved three times during the last two years (long story), and all that moving tends to encourage paring down and simplifying. Even now I am considering getting rid of a lot of my daughter's toddler clothes. I just try to think of most baby gear as a temporary purchase instead of a long-term one. Good luck with your new grandbaby. It sounds like you will have plenty of time to make a baby quilt!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

I saved a fortune on clothes and baby goods when our third child came along unexpectedly - and she just happened to be a girl. I found a beautiful boutique and bought almost all of her things there. People thought I had spent a fortune to outfit her and really it was so inexpensive - and I even picked up some great buys for my 2 boys as well. Great hub!


wannabwestern profile image

wannabwestern 6 years ago from The Land of Tractors Author

It's amazing how much we can save when we think outside the big box store! Thanks for your comment!


hubpageswriter 6 years ago

These are great money saving tips which will be healthy for the financial aspect in a long run. What some parents fail to realize is that babies do outgrow easily, and even though that cute little outfit looks so good, it might be worth to save instead. Great hub with lots of useful information.


wannabwestern profile image

wannabwestern 6 years ago from The Land of Tractors Author

Thanks hpw! Families typically have many needs and saving money here and there makes a big difference in the long run. I often find designer and name brand clothes among the second-hand finds, so there's really no need to sacrifice fashion for finance.


shawna.wilson profile image

shawna.wilson 6 years ago from Arizona

Great hub! Sounds like you are very wise when it comes to saving money on baby stuff and knowing what is and isn't really necessary.

We have three kids age four and under, and we have used all of our baby gear to its fullest. By the time our third baby arrived, all we needed to buy was diapers-seriously! The two items that were expensive in the beginning but have been life savers are our swing (all the kids loved it) and medela breastpump. The pump was close to $300 when I bought it , but it still works like it's brand new, almost 5 years later.


wannabwestern profile image

wannabwestern 6 years ago from The Land of Tractors Author

Thanks Shawna, it sounds like we have a great deal in common. By the end of September I'll also have three under the age of 4 and a 13-year old. People always say she is my built-in babysitter! I have kept my hospital-grade breast pump for over 10 years and it still works great. They are a truly worthwhile investment. Thanks! Everytime I see your growing selection of hubs I'm excited to read them. They are just up my alley. We're moving to Iowa at the end of September, too, but I'm looking forward to reading more or yours and commenting! Hope all is well with you here in AZ!


shawna.wilson profile image

shawna.wilson 6 years ago from Arizona

A new baby on the way, how exciting :) My youngest just started crawling yesterday, so things just got even busier around our house.

Wow, Iowa! What a change that will be from the sweltering AZ heat! I wish you all the best! Hope we can keep in touch via hubpages!


wannabwestern profile image

wannabwestern 6 years ago from The Land of Tractors Author

Thanks Shawna, our family is so fortunate to be making this change, but the timing is about as inconvenient as it gets. We'll miss AZ and I'll stay in touch on HP for sure!!!!


Jalus 6 years ago

Very informative hub. We will definately take your advice, as we are expecting our first baby. Going into a baby store is very confusing, they make you feel like you need at least one of everything.


wannabwestern profile image

wannabwestern 6 years ago from The Land of Tractors Author

Good luck with your new baby! Just hope the little guy or gal doesn't take after the person in your avatar! But seriously, I'm glad this information could be of help...hope you have a wonderful adventure with the new little person!


Pinkchic18 profile image

Pinkchic18 6 years ago from Minnesota

These tips are so great. I love finding good deals at garage sales, and it's even better when friends or family have gently-used hand-me-downs too. I featured you on my hub titled, "What to Pack For An Overnight Trip with Baby".


wannabwestern profile image

wannabwestern 6 years ago from The Land of Tractors Author

Thanks Pinkchic...I hope to read that. We have a very tiny newborn and a long drive to our new home cross country!


baydeals365 5 years ago

Great tips for parents. How about finding all baby deals at one place.

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