How to Raise a Baby on a Tight Budget

Babies come with a lot of responsibility and a massive amount of stuff. When my husband and I decided to have our first child, we didn’t have a ton of money and had to be as frugal as possible. We are always trying to think ways to save some extra cash when it come to our kids.

With our firstborn, we wasted a lot of money on unnecessary items we thought we needed. When our second baby came along, we were a lot more successful at saving money and only purchasing items we knew for sure we would use.

Pinterest pin of toddler climbing on crib with baby in crib

Aim to breastfeed your baby

Not only is it a beautiful experience and amazing for baby, breast milk is free!

Buy reusable breast pads and skip out on fancy nursing clothes to save cash. Wear a button down shirt to make nursing in public easier or wear a tank top under a shirt and simply lift your outer shirt up and your tank top down to stay modest.

If you find yourself struggling to breastfeed, don’t be afraid to seek out support so you can be motivated to go as long as possible.

Save on Formula

The cost of formula a year can be a whopping $1200.

I’m no expert when it comes to saving on formula. I only bought it once, (anxious me wanted some around just in case I had to suddenly stop breastfeeding) therefore I really have zero expertise in this field. However, in my research I’ve come across many great tips on how other families save a money on formula.

Check out Penny Pinchin’ Mom, and her tips for saving money on infant formula.

Don’t splurge on a breast pump

If you can’t afford a high-end breast pump, don’t fret! I had a high-end breast pump and I rarely used it.

Buy used – check on Facebook mom groups for second-hand pumps and bottles. I’m always seeing great pumps listed. Just sanitize the parts in boiling water or the dishwasher before use.

Manual pump – along with my electric pump, I also had a manual one that was purchased for around $30. The insane thing was I preferred my manual pump over my electric one! It was more convenient to lug around, easier to clean, I felt more in control and seemed to express a lot more milk.

Keep in mind that if you aren’t going back to work and have an established milk supply, you most likely do not need a pump after all.

Buy baby gear and clothing Secondhand

Going to thrift stores is my all time favorite thing to do. Lame, huh? I tell my husband all the time, “Even if I was a millionaire, I would still buy things used!”

My absolute favorite second-hand shop for babies and kids is Once Upon a Child. You can find everything there from strollers to books. Their onesies are $1-$2 each!

Elizabeth holding her child while looking for clothes in a thrift store

Save EVEN MORE by going on a day when thrift stores are having a huge 50% off sale.

Before heading to Target or Wal-Mart to buy something new, look on Facebook groups, online thrift markets or consignment shops and you might find what you need.

Borrow From family and friends

Reach out and ask other mamas if they have any items you can borrow. My sister-in-law lent me toys, blankets, and a bassinet. Even some church friends let me borrow their baby swing and bouncer. That was a ton of money I saved!

Returning the items once you are done also saves you on a ton of storage space.

DIY Baby Items

Sometimes when I can’t find something used and the price is  expensive, I try to make it.

My son’s sleep sack is a great example. He grew out of the one we purchased and to my dismay I couldn’t find one used. I thought it was ridiculous spending $25 on a new sack. So, I turned to Pinterest where I found several tutorials on how to make your own.

I took a fleece blanket we never used ($5 from IKEA), cut out a sleep sack shape, hand sewed it, and added a zipper (I cut out of old pajamas). Super easy.

Check out my Pinterest Board to find more DIY ideas for baby.

Only buy Diapers Sale

Don’t be super picky over diaper brands if you want to be frugal and save. There are always diaper sales going on at the store. One week it might be Pampers, the next week Huggies. We even found an in-store brand that works excellent for us.

If you notice a certain brand gives your baby rashes or the diaper absorbancy sucks (or doesn’t suck hehe), don’t bother buying them even if it’s on sale. It’s not worth your sanity or your baby’s health.

Another option is looking on Facebook marketplace or mommy groups. You can find a lot moms trying to sell diapers for a lot cheaper than the purchase price.

Skip on purchasing a stroller and wear baby

Strollers are one of the most expensive baby items you will buy. Expect to shell out $200-$600 when buying new. I found a used Eddie Bauer stroller on an online market for less than $100. One of the best baby items we snatched up!

When baby number two arrived, I needed a double stroller. I looked and looked but could not find one secondhand. We thought about forking over $300 for a new one, but money was tight and we had to pass on the idea.

Then, I read up on baby wearing. I never tried it with my first but always adored the idea.

I purchased (used of course) a Boba carrier for $50 and FELL IN LOVE!

Elizabeth wearing her baby in a carrier at the park

Now when we go out, I slip my son in the carrier and my daughter in the stroller and we are good to go.

If you are expecting your first child, baby wearing is a convenient way to tow baby around when you want to take a walk around the block or the store. It beats lugging a huge stroller around.

Only Buy the Necessities

With my first child, I was overwhelmed with all the things I needed to buy her. I had no idea such a tiny thing could use so many things! But really, babies don’t need much. Many items turned out to be a total waste.

Baby bath – I was so sure I needed one. Turns out I only used it a handful of times. I ended up bathing my baby in the sink or holding her in the bath with me.

Baby shoes – I admit, miniature versions of your own shoes is absolutely adorable. But babies can’t walk until 11+ months, so those teeny shoes have no purpose and might even restrict foot growth.

Crib bumper – due to possible suffocation, the AAP highly recommends keeping bumpers, loose blankets, and toys out of the crib until your baby is over a year. I know it’s hard not to have extra comfort surrounding your little one, but they don’t mind. Swaddling or slipping a sleep sack on helps them feel cocooned and cozy all night!

Change table – I had one for my firstborn and rarely used it. The only thing it was handy for was the extra storage underneath. Having a few change pads or towels around is much cheaper and changing baby on the floor or the bed works just as well.

Skip on Buying Tons of Toys

I’ve wasted A TON of money on toys, new and used.

I remember searching on Babies R Us for hours looking at all the colorful Lamaze toys to add to my registry. But after baby arrived, no matter how many times I showed her the cute Lamaze puppy she received, she glared at it and went back to playing with our $2 silicone spatula.

When it comes to baby, everything is new and interesting to them. Try giving them some objects around the house and you’ll be surprised at how entertained they’ll be!

Don’t buy tons of the same item upfront

Babies are picky little peanuts. Before stocking up on one brand of bottle, pacifier, or formula – buy a few and test it a couple times to see if your baby takes to it.

I know one mother who she bought ten different types of pacifiers before her baby took to one. That’s a lot of wasted money!

Think ahead and buy Gender Neutral Items

If you foresee more kids in your future, plan ahead with your first.

Try purchasing gender neutral clothing so you can hand down clothes from baby to baby, no matter what gender they are.

At my baby shower, everything I received was girly and lacy and pink. Ohhh man, was there a lot of pink.

I was lucky my sister-in-law gave me all of her son’s baby clothes when I had my boy two years later.

He does sleep on a pink sheet at night by hey, he doesn’t mind!

Read Reviews before buying

Before purchasing a baby item, read reviews to see if the product is really worth your money. Will it last? Will it work how you want it to?

Check out Amazon, mom forums, and other blogs for detailed reviews before making a purchase. Especially if the purchase is a big one like a crib or baby swing.

Make Your Own Baby Food

Confession: I was lazy when it came to making baby food at first. Nothing easier than grabbing a cute jar of baby food at the store for $1.

Don’t let that cheap price fool you!

Buying fresh fruit and veggies is not only cheaper, but tastes a lot better than store-bought. I stepped up my game and made my own baby food when I tasted how gross store-bought baby food was.

Shy away from baby snacks in the baby food section at the store. I love the taste of Gerber puffs but compared to buying a huge box of Cheerios, the puffs were not worth the price.


Write a comment below if you have any tips on how to save money! I always love to hear more ways I can save 🙂

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