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Baby's First Year - Frugal Tips for Having Baby

Updated on July 18, 2007

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Having a baby is one of the most exciting times in an adult's life. What a joy it is to bring new life into the world. But how are you going to pay for all those things that your new baby needs? The cost can really add up quick. It doesn't have to break the bank though. Babies first year can be a pretty inexpensive time if you accept that baby doesn't need every new product on the market.

Let's start with getting ready for the baby's arrival. Chances are you will find out what you are having, allowing you to shop ahead of time for all items needed. Time to hit those garage sales! Babies grow so quickly (and most of them have too many clothes to begin with) that you can get everything you need in perfect condition, for very little money. Babies don't wear their outfits frequently enough to get them stained. Most items you find at garage sales were only worn a couple of times and are still in like new condition for you to purchase for your new baby.

As for clothes, you don't need very much. If it is summer, lots of onesies are essential and if it is winter lots of footed pajamas are so nice for baby to wear. Now you will want some actual outfits and those can be purchased for little money at garage sales or consignment stores. What about those cute baby towels and washcloths? I think that your own towels and washcloths will work just fine for your little one. No need to waste your money on a duck one.

Diapers are a huge expense in raising a baby. Cloth diapers are your best bet. Prefolds, snappis and velcro wraps were always our favorite - and they happen to be the cheapest cloth diapers on the market. Cloth diapers can save you thousands of dollars over the years, especially if you will have more than one child.

After baby arrives you will need some essentials - a car-seat and a place for the baby to sleep. A car-seat doesn't have to be the best one on the market, but you should purchase a good NEW one. For safety reasons car-seats should never be purchased used. Cribs can cost you a thousand dollars or more, however it doesn't have to. You can purchase a very nice crib for under $300 new, and you can also find them used. If you do get a used one make sure it isn't very old and that it hasn't been recalled. You can check the US Consumer Product Safety Commission website for items that have been recalled. It is a good idea to check on any equipment like high chairs and exersaucers that you may be purchasing used as well. If you have an item that has been recalled, call the company (the info should be on the website) and they will usually send you the pieces needed to fix the item or a replacement.

Some people just get a playpen and use that as a crib. These can be purchased new for around $100 or of course used. Playpens are a cheaper alternative, but personally I prefer a crib for home. Having a playpen to take on trips is very convenient though and depending on space issues a playpen may be your best bet for home as well. I don't think your baby will really care that much.

Another big expense that can easily be avoided is food for the baby. Formula is outrageous and the formula cans themselves state that breastfeeding is best. Save yourself a ton of money and time and breastfeed for as long as possible - at least until the child is a year old. What about all those cute jars of baby foods you can buy for $.75 per 3 ounce jar? Leave those at the grocery store and make your own baby food. Steam a sweet potato and mash it up. Freeze in ice cube trays and you have a weeks worth of baby food for your little one. I also found it much easier to transition to table foods when my little ones were only getting homemade baby food to start with. For more ideas on making your own baby food, check here.

What about all those contraptions to put your baby in? The car seat can double for a bouncy seat. It even has a handle for easy carrying (unlike a bouncy). I don't consider a swing to be necessary - most babies I have been around don't like the swing very much, and if they do it is for a very limited time. If you want one, make sure you get it used, as with just about everything else. Highchairs aren't essential, as you can feed your baby in your lap easily, however they are convenient. Your baby can play there while you are in the kitchen cooking or eating and it can make feeding time less messy for the baby. These too are frequently available used. And they don't have to color coordinate with your furnishings.

One item that I loved with all my kids was an exersaucer. These are around $100 new, however I see them at garage sales all the time - for around $10. I consider this piece of equipment to be a life saver for between 4 months and the sitting up phase when your child will want to be upright and entertained all day long. $10 is a bargain for the entertainment value to your baby and it allows your hands to be free for cooking a meal or another essential of running a household.

Baby toys are a dime a dozen at garage sales and can be easily cleaned with bleach and water. Actually if they don't have batteries, just throw them in the dishwasher or washing machine. Babies really don't need many toys; just about anything will hold their interest. A comb, a spoon, a box, a magazine, a Tic Tac box with one or two tic tacs left in it (tape it shut for safety), etc. There are so many items around your house that babies will be interested in, that they frequently don't even want their toys.

As you can see having a baby doesn't have to cost you a fortune. The essentials of a baby's first year can all be had for a few hundred dollars. Of course as with everything in life you can spend much more than that. But your baby won't know the difference. There will be plenty of years down the road, when you will have a hard time getting by with picking out used clothing and toys yourself at garage sales. Before long these babies will grow up and want the latest and greatest to wear and play with. Of course you don't have to cater to your child and you can still raise them frugally for the rest of their childhood (I am with mine) - it just isn't as easy as when they are babies. The first year is one of the easiest times in your child's life to save money. Go for it!

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