Money-Saving Tips for Moms and Dads

Surefire Strategies for Lowering the Highest New-Parent Costs

By now you've realized that your little bundle can cost you, well, a bundle. But that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. Try the following ideas to take a big bite out of the top four new-child expenses.

Expense #1: Diapers

  • Consider cloth—if not full time, then for nights and on weekends. They help the environment and can save you a lot of cash. At Walmart.com, a 12-pack of pre-folded cloth diapers costs less than $11, with free shipping.
  • Go generic. Store brands offer excellent quality and are significantly cheaper than their brand-name counterparts.
  • Sign up and save. Go to all the major diaper companies' websites and sign up for their loyalty programs. They will all send you free samples and plenty of savings opportunities.
  • Buy in bulk. Generally the more diapers you buy at once, the cheaper they are—and if you're making your purchase online, you'll get free shipping.

Expense #2: Formula

  • The cost-cutting combo. Tired of nursing but worried about the cost of formula? Your intelligent body will allow you to continue breastfeeding half-time (or less) while formula-feeding the rest of the time. To learn how to "do the combo" see our article on "Introducing the Bottle."
  • Nix name brands. Hands down, the smartest savings on formula you can find is by buying a store brand. Since the FDA requires that all infant formula contain the same ingredients, you can do a label-by-label comparison and see that the store-brand formulas are just as nutritious as the name brands.
  • The more the merrier. Just as with diapers, the more formula you buy at once, the more money you save.

Expense #3: Baby Gear

  • Second-hand savings. Aside from a new crib mattress and new car seat, you can buy almost all your baby gear (and baby clothing) gently used. First, ask siblings and friends with older kids if they have items like exersaucers or highchairs they would loan you. Then try Craigslist, eBay, second-hand stores and garage sales.
  • Try before you buy. Not all babies like everything your friends' tots adored. Some love front carriers, some hate them, and the same is true for infant swings. Before you buy these big-ticket items, try them out in the store. Make sure your infant is rested and fed so that the "test" is fair.
  • Go green for greenbacks. Subscribe to Freecycle.org, where people in your area post the items they have to give away and the ones they are looking for. Everything you get from this site, dedicated to recycling, is free.
  • Double your dollars. Got twins or triplets? If you haven't yet, join the Parents of Multiples club in your area. These clubs offer not just friendship and support, but group discounts on all sorts of things.

Expense #4: Childcare

  • Mother knows best—your mother, or mother-in-law, that is. This arrangement is extremely common and has many positive factors in its favor. You can't beat the cost, you know you can trust mom as a caretaker and your baby forges an extra-special bond with someone who is very special to you.
  • Mary Poppins for less. A nanny who comes to your house is the most expensive childcare option, but you can share one with another family or two to make it more affordable. You can switch between homes where your caretaker watches the children, which cuts down on your own home's wear and tear, and best of all your baby will make friends, which teaches him valuable socialization skills.

By taking just a little care to keep your costs down, you'll sleep just fine at night (that is, when your baby's not waking you up!).


This article was written by the publishers of Parents and American Baby magazines.

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