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Prepping for a Baby on a Budget - Registry Restraint

Updated on August 22, 2016

A BABY IS COMING! Those things are expensive, right?

First off, congratulations! You (or someone you do online research for) is having a baby! It is an exciting and scary thing for lots of reasons - one of them being that having a baby is EXPENSIVE!

According to The U.S. Department of Agriculture, having a baby and feeding it, housing it, providing childcare and education to adulthood averages at about $245,340 (2014).

But wait - you just wanted a baby to cuddle and love and didn't know about this quarter of a million dollar investment thing? Don't worry. There are some great ways to save money while preparing for a baby.

While these savings won't exactly offset the number above, you can feel good about preparing in the most-budget friendly way possible for your little bundle of joy's arrival.

Today's topic? BABY REGISTRY 101!

Calculating a budget when planning for baby is not always fun, but it doesn't have to be painful.
Calculating a budget when planning for baby is not always fun, but it doesn't have to be painful. | Source

Before You Begin...An Optional First Step!

When you go into Target, Babies r' Us, Pottery Barn Kids (OMG how much cute stuff can they cram in a store), or other baby registry retailer and they hand you that scanny-gun thing, it's easy to go crazy. Just the beep the little gun makes when you add something is fun.

But if you are doing things on a budget, a registry is a place where you can secure high-cost essentials and save by not requesting too many non-functional or silly luxury items.

Before you begin, here's an OPTIONAL step:
Perhaps the tip that could save you the most money in this hub, but the hardest to do... DON'T FIND OUT YOUR BABY'S SEX BEFORE THEY ARE BORN. This is huge. Why?

In today's world, almost everything is manufactured in blue or pink. If you want to avoid your nursery being a sea of society's gender-assigned colors, don't find out or don't disclose the sex of your baby. Even if you are okay with pink frilly everything for baby #1, will you, your partner, and child #2 like that everything is "girly"? If anything about this topic makes you antsy, just don't disclose the sex and you will get neutrals that can be reused and make everyone happy.

"Mom, are all elephants pink?"  "No, honey, just the ones that Grandma buys for you."
"Mom, are all elephants pink?" "No, honey, just the ones that Grandma buys for you." | Source

Step 1

Step 1: Register at an online retailer AND a brick and mortar retailer. This will guarantee accessibility for all of your friends and family. Great Aunt Tilly can't figure out the internet? Good, she can shop in store. Your BFF that moved to Spain on a whim and you only talk to via e-mail? She can buy online in her timezone, at her leisure, and it will arrive at your door.

It's also good policy to only register at 2 or 3 places to keep things from getting confusing for all involved. A way to keep your registry list short is to use a site like - it is an online registry where you can list products from anywhere all on one page - from Amazon, to Etsy to Target and more - all in one place. And it tracks who buys what for you simply and easily. Best of all? IT'S FREE!

Step 2

Step 2: Select items that have more than 1 use. For example, some bottles are JUST bottles. Others, you can change from storage containers to bottles to food pouches. See for a cool, multi-use set that could save you money in the long run (especially if you make your own baby food for those pouches!).

Other places to combine products would be using a changing pad on top of a dresser instead of registering for a dedicated changing table. Or how about a Stokke Tripp Trapp ( high chair? It has high initial cost, but finding it used or using a 20% off coupon might make this chair, which can go from infant to adulthood, a worthwhile investment.

Maybe register for more bibs, but less burp cloths, and use them interchangeably. After all, they are made of the same material! Or use basic cloth diaper cloths for burp rags. And don't be above registering for non-traditional, multi-use items like batteries, paper towels, laundry detergent, or other baby household needs. It may not be too common, but requesting items you need and will use is the best policy and very practical.

Another easy tip is to register for a variety of brands of diapers, wipes, bath and body goods, bottles and pacifiers. These are items that babies can have allergies to, preferences on, or some perform better than others, so having a variety will allow you to experiment to find what works best for you and your baby!

Dresser doing double-duty as a changing table!
Dresser doing double-duty as a changing table! | Source

Step 3

Step 3: Don't register for things that are overly-convenienced, "luxury" items, or items that you have to buy high-cost refills for. One of the worst offenders? Diaper pails and liners. Any stainless steel step trash can can hold in odors for a day or more and you can use old grocery bags as liners. A sprinkle of baking soda in the bottom of the can helps with odor and wetness in the same way as a dedicated pail. The price of diaper pails and refills are outrageous and, unless baby poop and pee completely freaks you out (trust me, after you are showered in both after a few months of diaper changes, it will phase you less and less) these products can be avoided entirely.

Other overly-convenienced items include wipe warmers (babies have done well throughout history with room-temperature butt cloths, and will continue to do so without the luxury of literal heated seats), "baby" detergent like Dreft (many brands have dye and additive free formulas for much cheaper that are just as gentle on baby's skin), and things like Boogey Wipes (which are literally just wipes that they make for the face instead of the butt and market to the new parent who isn't sure what to do about a runny nose - hint: use butt wipe, or in a pinch, sleeve. No one will notice because your child is wailing at full volume, or those that do notice, will understand.)

Another "baby" product that is overpriced and under-functional is the traditional baby monitor. Instead of getting one that is branded for baby, consider something like Samsung's Smart Cam ( It is a web cam that cheaper than most baby monitors and can be used for home security, dog or cat sitting, and more once you are done using it for baby. It has two way talk, night vision, recording and distance viewing options (to catch those first steps on film, if you are so inclined) and more features that go above and beyond most options in the baby realm

If something looks just like a regular, or "adult" version, but the price is jacked up 500% because it has "baby" in the title, skip it.

This "baby towel" cost how much?!
This "baby towel" cost how much?! | Source

Step 4

Step 4: Only pick a few pieces of clothing, toys and books to put on your registry to ensure you get what you REALLY want for baby. If you put some on there that you are only luke-warm about, you run the risk of not getting your favorites. This is because people who are buying gifts for you will generally buy what they like, what they think is cute, or is on sale. A very select few strictly adhere to the registry. So, the more concisely you register, the better likelihood you will get your entire registry bought and get that registry completion discount that so many retailers offer. Doing this will not promise that your cousin won't repackage unused gifts from her shower 5 years ago, or your neighbor won't buy that offensive onesie, but it may help.

Oh, you shouldn't have! This doll wasn't on the registry. ::shudder::  You REALLY SHOULDN'T HAVE!
Oh, you shouldn't have! This doll wasn't on the registry. ::shudder:: You REALLY SHOULDN'T HAVE! | Source

Step 5 - After the Parties

Finally, once you have done your research, trimmed unnecessary items, registered at an online and physical store, and not fallen for "baby" marketing mania, the final step to a budget-conscious registry is what you need to do after the parties are through.

Save your receipts. Maybe tape them to the items so you don't misplace them in the constant mess that will be your post-baby life.

Don't open items until you need them. Sure, remove packaging and wash a few outfits and sheets and essentials, but not every single outfit or toy. There are many things that baby will outgrow before it can be used and you could return those items and use the credit to buy others that you need. Don't be scared to return or exhange items months after the baby is born - this is one of the best ways to get bang for your buck!

So Many Options!

Where do you plan to register?

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