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Baby Stuff: Saving Big on All Your Little One's Things

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Having a baby always means having a lot of 'baby stuff' and is a most expensive undertaking! Those little guys always seem to need something! Being frugal-minded can help a lot to curb the expense of things for baby. Here are my best tips, from experience and research, to help you save on all sorts of baby-related items.

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Baby Stuff You Don't Need

First of all, things you don't need to buy.

When you are buying supplies for your first baby, you don't have the experience to know what you will really need, and what is just sold because people will buy it.

Here is some of that baby stuff that I found unnecessary in my baby-raising days:

  • Baby towels/wash cloths - you don't need special towels or wash cloths for your baby. Use the same ones that the rest of your family uses. If you use very thick ones, you might want to get some inexpensive thinner ones (the less expensive ones are typically not as thick) for baby. These will be more economical than special "baby towels".

  • Lots of baby toys - a few brightly colored toys are nice, but babies really don't need a lot of toys. Since small toys are inexpensive and fun to buy, babies often end up with a lot more than anyone could ever play with. Just don't get carried away!

  • Shoes for baby - babies don't need shoes until they are ready to walk. While they may look cute, putting shoes on an infant are needless and usually fall off anyway. Don't spend your hard-earned money on them.

  • Lots of nice clothes - the most practical thing to put a newborn in is a Onesie in warm weather or a stretch suit in cold weather. Unless you are going visiting to show baby off, or to church or something, it is pretty inconvenient for them to wear anything else. (Dresses are especially bad, since they won't stay down! There is plenty of time to dress your little girl in dresses after she starts walking.) Stretch suits are comfy for baby and easy on Mom.

  • Diaper Genie - A Diaper Genie is a system that puts each disposable diaper in its own plastic bag to minimize odors. This is a good idea, but you don't need an expensive automated system to do it. Save plastic bags from produce, bread, and other things and use them to put soiled diapers in before throwing them away. Tie the top of each bag so that most of the odor is contained until the trash is carried out (ideally, some time later that day...)

  • A diaper pail - you don't need one of these if you are using disposable diapers. Do they even make these anymore?

  • A playpen - this is a matter of opinion, of course, but I think they are a waste of money and space. I had one for my oldest son, only because his grandparents bought it for us, but he HATED being in it, and I doubt we used it for more than five hours total - ever. They can be useful at Grandma's as a place for baby to sleep if there is no crib, but I see no reason to have one in your home.

Baby Clothes

  • Network With friends and family members. This is a great way to share clothes, books, toys, and other baby stuff. Check with people you know with children a little older than yours and see what they do with their hand-me-downs. It works both ways - If you have baby stuff that is still in great shape, pass it on to a friend who has a child that can use it.
  • Garage Sales You don’t have to buy new clothes for your baby - You can find great baby stuff at garage sales and thrift stores. When they’re little, babies often wear an item only a few times before they outgrow it, and you can find a lot of pre-owned clothes that are as good as new.

  • Consignment Stores You can find a lot of excellent baby stuff at good prices at consignment shops.

  • Gifts. People love to buy baby clothes, so you will probably get a lot of clothes as gifts before and shortly after your baby is born. Gift clothes often cover clothing needs for the first few months, if not longer.

  • Ebay. A good online source for baby stuff where you can find boxes of gently worn baby clothes for $30.-$60.

Use Cloth Diapers

There is little doubt that using cloth diapers vs disposable saves a lot of money. Using cloth diapers also makes sense in terms of health and environmental reasons.

You can find the answers to many cloth diapering questions at Wildflower Diapers . You will also find eco-friendly baby products of all types, and friendly customer service.

Buying washable baby wipes or making your own homemade baby wipes can help to save money on baby stuff, too.

Furnishing the Nursery

Think outside the box when furnishing your nursery.

Look for furniture and other baby stuff at discount stores, thrift stores, garage sales, and consignment shops.

You can find some very good items for a lot less at these places.

You can also find things by joining a Freecycle group and looking on Craigslist.

Just make sure any used items you buy meet safety standards.

Feeding Baby

Breastfeed if you can. If you can't, then use the powdered formula (if your baby will have it) or the concentrate.

Don't pay extra money for the water they add in the "Ready to Feed" products.

Making Baby Food

One of the baby tips that I feel most strongly about is making your own baby food - it just makes sense to me.

First of all, baby food is really expensive considering the amount in those tiny jars!

Secondly, the baby food manufacturers make baby food for the moms' taste buds, not the nutritional needs of the baby - they add sugar and salt and things that baby simply does not need. In spite of their best efforts, a lot of the stuff still tastes nasty! Which brings me to number 3:

A lot of baby foods look and smell too disgusting to eat myself, much less give to my precious little one! I feel a lot better giving her the same mashed potatoes that the rest of the family is eating, or mash up some of those beans or peas or carrots.... you get the idea.

Unlike the effort of some frugal tips, making baby food is really easy. A lot of what you serve your family can be mashed up for baby. He probably has a few teeth and knows how to "gum" his food by the time he is ready to start eating this type of food, anyway (at least 6 months old). Just serve his before adding spices or salt. 

Here are some ideas of foods that are easy to mash or blend up for baby food:

  • soft fresh or canned peaches, pears, plums

  • ripe bananas

  • cooked peas, sweet potatoes, squash

  • baked or boiled potatoes

  • avocado

Stay with simple, single-ingredient foods at first.

Add a little milk, breast milk, water, or formula if you need to thin the mixture.

Foods that baby can eat "as is":

  • Plain, whole milk yogurt - Don't give your baby low-fat dairy products until they are at least 18 months of age. Their brains are developing and they need the fat.

  • Mashed potatoes - Without a lot of butter or salt, pepper, etc.

  • Unsweetened applesauce - Right out of the jar, nothing needs to be added!

As they get more teeth and are ready for finger foods, give them small pieces of soft foods (and stay with them to make sure they don't choke).

Feeding themselves is good for their hand-eye coordination, and they like the feeling of independence it gives them!

To make baby cereal puree brown rice or oats in a blender, then mix with water, breast milk, or formula to get the desired consistency.

Baby play, smiling baby, baby feet

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