ways to save money on babys first year

7 Surprising Ways to Save Money on Baby’s First Year

I remember trying to add it all up one day: That magic number we would need to afford a child. They’re expensive, right? You hear about it all the time. After informally polling family and friends, I finally figured out there is no magic number. There’s no way to fully comprehend how much we will spend in a child’s lifetime – but we can at least plan for ways to spend better. Here are a few tricks I’ve stumbled upon in my first 7 months as a mother.

Surprising ways to save money on baby's first year pin

Track The Holiday Sales

If you’re like me and are having a January baby, you are perfectly primed to benefit from some deep holiday discounts. Fight the temptation to start impulse buying at the store and instead start bookmarking those big-ticket items you have your eyes on. I benefitted from some extremely deep Amazon discounts for my Graco car seat and stroller combo, as well as a Pack ‘n’ Play and a couple of extra car seat bases. Want an affordable jogging stroller? Start bookmarking now!

Use Store-Brand Formula

While breastmilk is free, if it’s not an option or you prefer not to nurse, formula will be a regular purchase. There are some expensive formulas out there, but you don’t need to buy the top-of-the-line to get the job done. Consider that a 1.45-pound container of brand-name formula can cost nearly $30, while a generic brand with almost the same ingredients could save you at least $7.  

When I returned to work I decided to go 100% formula because my milk supply was too low to justify pumping breastmilk. It was difficult to be no longer getting that “free” food. I looked at all of the expensive brand named formulas, and I had no idea how we were going to afford such a thing. Then I noticed the store name generic brands and how closely their ingredients resembled the big brands. My pediatrician confirmed my suspicion that store brands are okay to use as well.

Use store brand formula

Make Your Own Baby Food

I know it’s exciting to start feeding your baby real food and watch their cute little faces as they eat peas for the first time. However, with this new stage comes another cost. The little glass jars (or plastic containers) are typically around $.50 to $1.00 and the squeezable pouches are about $1.50 to $2.00.

If your children are anything like my daughter, those will go fast. If you make your own food, you will realize how much you can save! In fact, if you already own an Instant Pot and/or a NutriBullet, this can be done really easily and frozen ahead for future meals.

Make your own baby food

Store Brand Diapers/Wipes

My husband and I are all about using inexpensive diapers, and they work great. While I was pregnant, I was in line for a flight and the parting advice of another mother talking with me was to choose Luvs to save money. If I was having a girl (I’m not sure why this makes a difference). Once I was able to break up with that Huggies blue line, I learned that she was right. My family has been saving tons of money ever since. (Thank you, sweet lady in the San Antonio airport with that adorable four-year old! Hope Seattle is treating you well!)

I’ve now extended the savings by purchasing store-brand baby wipes. I’ve finally broken up with the idea that I need to spend a little more on those name brands because my baby deserves only the best. She also deserves a financially-sound future, and by making smarter purchases I’m giving her that! And switching brands on wipes has zero impact on her well-being!

Cloth Diapers and Wipes

Full disclosure: I don’t use cloth diapers or wipes. But I have a cousin who does and he swears up and down it’s not as hard as it sounds. They also make their own baby food, so I can’t imagine how much they saved in their daughter’s first year. The way they explained it to me is that if you get the right kind of cloth diapers and get a good system going, it’s not a big deal. Admittedly, they do require a front-end investment, but this quickly pays itself off in the long run. Also, it’s all about getting the best detergent for cloth diapers. When you’re trying to be gentle on baby’s skin while getting a good clean done, this can be a challenge. A couple of leading brands in this department include Rockin’ Green Soap and Charlie’s Soap.

For the best results after a mess, dump the poop in the toilet, spray the cloth diaper with some stain remover and throw them into the washer. My cousin swears this really isn’t as gross as you might think. And he did introduce me to some great B-horror movies over the years, so I tend to trust his judgment.

Cloth diapers

Only Buy The Needs

People are going to tell you everything you “need.” You “need” a changing table, an Ergobaby, seven extra crib sheets, and 12 different shoes (for somebody who can’t walk yet). Let’s be real — there aren’t really tons of things that you need when it comes to a baby. You need blankets, clothes, diapers, bottles, pacifiers, a stroller, a new crib (and a mattress), and a new car seat. That about sums up what you need. Everything else is just things that are helpful but not necessary.

Only buy baby needs

Live Frugally Elsewhere

If you are worried about cash when you bring a baby in this world, start finding ways that you can save elsewhere. You can start cutting coupons on food, eating out and shopping less, etc. People are convinced that babies are so expensive, but making lifestyle changes is a great way to manage this extra cost. If you frequently dined out or hit the bars pre-baby, you’ll also quickly learn that expenditure goes away (and Netflix is only $8 to $12 a month).

Accept Hand-Me-Downs

Don’t be afraid to ask people for hand-me-downs. There is no shame in asking friends and family to see if they have any clothes, toys or other baby gear that they aren’t going to be using anymore. And on this note, make sure that you don’t take any used cribs or car seats for safety reasons. This is actually something that it’s okay to be choosy about.

Accept hand me downs


Don’t be too terrified about the cost of a baby. That was the other thing my cousin assured me briefly before I joined the parents club. He said you find a way, you move the money around. I hope these tips will help you move around money a little better. Even if it’s something as simple as switching formula brands, you really can save a lot.

About The Author

Sarah is the writer (and brains) behind Baby Brain, a blog about baby gear and mom life. When she isn’t working at her 9 to 5, she enjoys flying superhero style with her baby girl and geeking out on Game of Thrones with her husband. Connect with her on Twitter or Pinterest.


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  1. This article is brilliant!
    When my little one started solids, we used to cook extra of what we were eating and blend it! She loved our food far more than she enjoyed the purity that we bought on the odd occasion.
    As for the hand me downs…. I WISH I had realised that!! Being my first child I had to have everything new! when i look back now, we hardly used most of it! For example, her pram….. bought it brand new, spend a small fortune and hardly used it!! The car chair became our “pram” and i think if we used the actual pram 10 times it would be alot. Crazy!!

  2. Elize Swanepoel

    I love this article and it is so spot-on!

    I’ve made a point in sharing my tips on bargains and cheaper brands on the blog as well as other platforms because I remember what it was like becoming a first time Mommy and so many different people give you advice on which brands worked the best for them etc. etc.

    Strangely enough, we also don’t use our pram very often but I am glad that I purchased it, because when we do need it, it is quite a handy big ticket item to have.

    Due to us living in a small space, I didn’t splurge too much on big ticket items. The one’s that I got was:

    *Pram/car seat combo
    *Camping cot with mattress
    * Eating chair (we used it probably less than ten times)

    JD was on NAN formula but as soon as he turned one years old, I switched to Infacare which is more affordable and offers similar benefits. I wish I knew about this brand from the start, because it would have saved me some money and JD seems to love it.
    Our Daycare contributed hugely to JD eating solids and especially fruits and vegetables. They really take such good care of the children. They introduced different fruits and vegetables each at a time and today he is not a fussy eater. He prefers his vegetables, rice and potato over his meat.

    I received hand me downs from two ladies that had little boys. The clothes were almost brand new and you could see they were not worn a lot of times. I was so happy about it and the clothes really helped me through that first year when baba is growing at such a rapid pace that it simply is not worth investing too much money into clothing.

    Another great tip: enter for competitions. I’ve won a few prizes that really helped me immensely.

  3. Hand me downs are great. I mean, face it, babies grow so quickly. Sometimes the clothes are still brand new! Except when they start to crawl. I noticed with that phase the clothes do not last as long, which makes sense if you think how much time they spend on the floor. We managed without any of the big items. It is true that you make do with what you have. I do think the cloth nappies are a good idea. Unless your baby has to go to a daycare early so that you can go back to work. I do not know if they would be as happy with that idea as we as moms would be. However, you could probably switch between cloth nappies and disposables between the house and the day care. I have a friend who is going to go the cloth nappy way now so I will get some advice from her if I ever need it myself again, or need to give advice.

    There are so many different options these days – I think it is an exciting time to have kids, even with all the new dangers and rules we have in this day and age.

    It is very expensive to have kids but if you plan ahead you can get it done with minimal expenses. There are too many ideas and new things out there today that can really break your budget. If you focus on the minimal necessities, you can get by just fine.

  4. I love the tips. And it’s good to see that I already have a few of these mastered

  5. Kids are expensive…but there are many ways to save…i love these tips…and rhe comments…my sisters and my kids are more or less the same age..theirs a litte older than mine…..so i always got hand outs from them…nothing wro g with it…i used to prepare our meals and my kids meals would be what we ate…i cooked fresh veg and fruit…very seldom bought purity

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