Raising a baby or toddler doesn’t have to be as expensive as everyone assumes. There are a number of ways you can limit the impact of parenthood on your wallet and bank account. While they may not all be for you, even just employing a few of these ideas can help you stretch your money a long way. You just might find yourself having a great experience, making your child healthier, or even helping the environment in the process.
1. Breastfeed! It is free and is the best nourishment available for babies. The average family spends two thousand dollars on formula, bottles, and accessories during their child’s first year of life. Breastfed babies ae healthier and much less likely to be afflicted with various illnesses or to require hospitalization. Most formula feeding families spent $1400 more each year in health care costs per child! Extended nursing is another great way to save money, as breastmilk is just as nutritious as whole milk, less expensive, and with antibodies in it as well! If you do decide to use formula, remember that the store brand is usually just as good as the pricer name brand.
2. Cloth diaper, or practice elimination communication. You can find more information on how to do either of these with a simple online search. Even if you try elimination communication you will need a few diapers on hand. Cloth can cost more up front but saves money in the long run. Laundering is simple: just rinse the diapers and then wash them with regulardetergent, though you may want to use the presoak and second rinse cycles. Even just cloth diapering some of the time, such as only when you’re at home, you will save. You can also go the extra step and use cloth baby wipes. If you do use disposable diapers, the Walmart brand (Parent’s Choice) is just as good as the name brands but much cheaper. I have never had any problems with them though we did encounter leaks with several of the more expensive name brand disposables.
3. Cosleep! The longer you do it, the longer you can put off the costs of a crib and bedding. If you do cosleep for a year, you can complete avoid those costs and simply buy a toddler bed, which is usually much cheaper. Cosleeping makes night nursing easier and has shown to have benefits for children.
4. Have your baby at home! Hospital birth costs thousands of dollars on average while homebirth costs less than two. Most midwives charge only $1500, and all you need to buy are a few extra sheets and towels for clean-up. This can be an amazing and empowering experience and make birth more comfortable for your child.
5. Make your own babyfood, and delay introduction of solids until 6 months as pediatricians recommend.
6. Pots and pans are just as entertaining as thatexpensive designer educational toy. Babies learn best by doing and observing anyway. They will play with anything, so spending hundreds to fill a toybox to the sky is completely unnecessary.
7. Buy thrift and consignment. Be it toys or clothes your infant will outgrow them quickly especially in the first year and will not care that they are gently used.
8. Bathe with your baby or toddler, and you will have a fun evening ritual and save money on water.
9. Swap babysitting with another mother. Your kids will have a playdate, and you can have a night out without paying a high-priced sitter.
10. Trade coupons with other families for formula, diapers, etc. on online trading sites. Watch for good deals on craigslist and ebay, and try freecycle where you can give something away that you don’t want and get something for free that you need.
11. Don’t buy a changing table. Lay down a receiving blanket, and you can convert any place into a changing station: beds, couches, even the floor.
12. Sell unwanted baby items to consignment shops to earn extra cash, or babysit occasionally.
13. Instead of buying and relying on a baby monitor to hear your baby’s cries, keep your baby close. Holding or wearing him often is one option, and he will love the physical contact and closeness.
14. Instead of buying an expensive stroller, wear your baby when you’re out and about! The typical wrap costs $40 while strollers can cost more than double that. If you do need to set your infant down, you can place the carseat in a shopping buggy or use an inexpensive umbrella stroller.
15. You don’t need baby soap or lotion. Babies have naturally soft skin and are cleansed enough by water. You also don’t need hooded towels; your baby can use the same ones as you. (They are awfully cute, though.)
You can learn more tips on how to be frugal just by interacting with other mothers and even asking your own for advice. There is a wealth of information available on the internet, and there are even books written on the subject of frugal parenting. Good luck, and maybe your pocketbook stay full (or at least only half-empty)!