Saving Money on Baby Gear

Can this swing be had more cheaply than new?

Yesterday we took a look at how much the average family spends on baby “stuff” — yikes!  Babies can be really expensive!  Today, let’s talk about ways to cut down on those costs.  I’ll tell you this: we didn’t spend anywhere near that amount!

When we  were expecting our first baby (we found out May 2007), we decided that since we were focused on paying off our debt, we didn’t want to spend a ton on unnecessary baby items.  And yes, four years later, we’ve done it: we’ve paid off over $100K in debt.  Now let’s look at exactly how we saved that money on baby stuff!

Car seat — Okay, this we did buy top-of-the-line, because we don’t mess around with safety.  We bought a Britax Marathon for $179 (we searched online and saved $100 off the usual price, so don’t forget that option!).  You ideally should buy this new, unless you are reusing a non-expired car seat that has not been in an accident from your own previous child.  We’ll be reusing our infant seat for this new baby.  (And will then buy another Marathon later.)  You can also buy a convertible seat and skip the infant seat.  The Cosco Scenera is highly rated by most, fits from newborn through toddler, and costs around $50.

Crib — We bought a used one on Craig’s List for $75 (including mattress).  It was only a year old and actually hadn’t been used because the family had been given two cribs.  Score.  Baby resale shops are also a good place to look for a safe, used crib.

Bedding — We bought a couple sheets, a couple were given to us, and I made several more.  I also made several blankets.  You can buy crib sheets used from garage sales or resale stores.  You can make blankets even if you can’t sew because they are very simple.  Realistically, we probably did spend close to $50 when all was said and done (we skipped bumpers and quilts and so forth…although each baby was given a handmade quilt from their Nana).

Stroller — Go to a garage sale.  We got our first stroller for around $25 that way.  We did buy a new, high-end double stroller, but found it on clearance online for $140 (normally $280).  Resale shops are also a good place to look for these.

Carrier — I made both of mine.  My Mei Tai was from fabric I had around, and my Moby was with fabric split with a friend.  Altogether I spent maybe $20 on these.  Borrowing from a friend (especially before you know which style you’ll prefer), buying used, or just making your own are great ways to go here.  (And wrap-style carriers are no-sew!)

Dresser/Changing Table — Again, try for a garage sale.  Honestly, we got my daughter’s dresser from my parents, who were no longer using it…and they had gotten it at a garage sale for $10 in the mid-80s.  It’s on its last legs, but we’ve sure gotten our use out of it!  Many garage sales have furniture pretty cheap, especially if you are willing to take whatever is available and not look for solid wood.  Our changing table was a resale store find for about $25 (with the pad).

High Chair — We didn’t even have one of these the first time around.  We were given a booster/high chair combo for our shower.  The second time, we got a high chair from a resale store for around $20.  Borrow one from a friend, even (my son used his from around 8 months to 17 months only).  We bought a second booster for just $4 at a resale store.

Decorations – We spent maybe $50 on my daughter’s room, on paint and a couple wall hangings.  We spent perhaps $10 on nice stickers for my son’s room.  We did not bother with other decorations.  Think simple!  You don’t need curtains that match the quilt and the cribskirt.  A few nice stickers, their name in wooden letters (buy them at a craft store and paint them yourself; we also did this for about $15 per child), or a wall hanging are perfectly fine.

Rocking Chair/Glider — We were given a chair for my daughter’s room (a really nice one, actually); we bought a used one on Craig’s List for my son, about $20.  The pad needs re-finished, something I still haven’t done, but it hasn’t bothered us at all.

Baby Feeding Equipment — We only bought maybe $20 worth of bottles, and spent $100 on a used pump (you can buy a used pump from a friend or on Craig’s List, then buy your own set of bottles and tubes if you’re worried).  We didn’t even need any of this the second time around, so if you’re in that boat, consider waiting to make a purchase and possibly renting a pump temporarily if needed.  Insurance may cover rental in some cases.  We bought the cheap plastic “travel” spoons but have washed and kept them (and don’t mind if we lose them).  Much of the time, we just let the babies use our glass dishes, or we put the food directly on their trays.

Swing — We were given one that a friend no longer wanted.  Ask around to see if you can borrow one (babies only need them a few months) or buy one used.  They’re often around $20 if you can find them on Craig’s List.

Pack’n'play – We were given one free, which broke; we then spent $20 to buy one used.  Ask to borrow one (babies usually don’t use these very long either, or at least mine didn’t) or buy one used.  Sometimes online clearance sales are good on these too, if you’re not picky about colors.  (Please don’t be picky about colors…you save so much money!!)

Baby Sitters/Entertainment — We don’t own a Bumbo, nor did we want one.  We were given an Exersaucer and Jumperoo free, but my babies only liked the Jumperoo and only for limited times.  We did spend $5 on a bouncer on Craig’s List and $10 on a play gym from Ebay.  Both were great for my first baby; my second didn’t care for them.

Diaper bag — We used ones which were given to us free, and I sewed one.  We spent maybe $10 in this area.

Clothes – My parents actually saved up much of our old baby clothes, which they passed on to me.  A lot of my friends swap clothes all the time.  I shop clearance and often pay $2 – $3 per item, and use fleece zip-up hoodies instead of “real” jackets.  I wrote an entire post about this before, but I doubt I spent more than $100 on their first year’s wardrobe.  Craig’s List and resale shops are also good, but sometimes you can find things for $5+ an item.  A clearance sale at a resale shop is awesome.

Diapers – I sewed all my own cloth diapers and wipes, so I spent maybe $2 per diaper (and almost nothing on wipes).  I’ve probably spent $200 for my entire stash (for two kids) and I have over 6 dozen diapers and 4 dozen wipes.  If you do buy disposables, look in to Amazon’s “subscribe and save” plan; this is often the cheapest way to go (or buy store brand).

Baby Bathtub — I did buy $50 for one, and I used it a lot for my first baby (until she was a year old).  But, I don’t need it.  In the future, I’ll just do sponge baths for my babies until they are big enough for the real tub.

Baby Toys — We were given a lot for showers and birthdays and so on.  We spent maybe $20 on toys from resale shops.

Formula – We didn’t use it.  Even when we supplemented briefly the first time, we just used a couple samples from the mail, and didn’t even finish those.

Baby Food — The first time, we made our own, spending around $1 for a bag of frozen veggies (which turned into the equivalent of 4 jars of baby food).  The second time, we didn’t use any at all, homemade or otherwise.  We may have spent $100 the first time, but that might be pushing it.

Misc. — We probably spent $50 or so here.  We didn’t buy too much “other” stuff.  A lot of this stuff isn’t necessary, or perhaps can be gotten through showers, etc.  Of course, this varies by family (i.e. if you have a baby who needs medical help, you’ll clearly spend a lot more here).

Our grand total?

About $1600, for both babies.  And about 1/3 of that was in car seats!

It’s definitely possible to have babies that are not too expensive! 

How do you save money on baby items?

Top image by jencu

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