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As your family grows, so will your spending. By a lot. Hospital bills. Diaper costs. Daycare expenses. Snacks. More snacks. And while the financial struggle of starting a family is real, having a baby doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you save a little dough as your family grows. 

Buy in bulk (sparingly) 

Even if you’re mostly a minimalist, there are some things that just make sense to stock up on when you’re a parent. As a new mom, I was amazed at how quickly we went through certain groceries, especially puffs, pouches, fruit, laundry detergent and wipes, and I realized we could save quite a bit by planning ahead and ordering a larger quantity of these essentials versus replacing individual items each time we ran out. 

I’ve never had a Sam’s Club or Costco membership, but a lot of my friends with older kids do and swear by it. Admittedly those stores have always scared me (whoreally needs a jumbo-sized tub of cheese balls?!), but beginning to buy bigger boxes of wipes or a family-sized container of blueberries at my local grocery store or farmer’s market just seemed to make sense (...and saved us some cents). 

I also signed up for my grocery store’s rewards program and started receiving coupons to use on the things I bought most often. There’s no shame in the coupon game, especially as a new parent. 

Shop secondhand 

Some people have the immediate reaction of “ew, gross” when I talk about buying pre-loved baby gear or clothing. But it’s a highly underrated way to get the cutest and best kids’ stuff at a fraction of the price. Understandably, people tend to over-buy and over-gift for babies (I get it; it’s just all so cute!) so there is an overabundance of goodness at most thrift stores. I was able to score a stroller, swing, Snoo bassinet, toddler table, high chair – all secondhand, all excellent condition. Full transparency: My husband did have to talk me down from buying an obviously used diaper pail. I’ll admit that is one thing you should probably buy new. 

New to secondhand shopping? Start by joining buy/sell/trade Facebook groups in your area. People love to give away baby stuff for free or next to nothing. I had neighbors drop off bags and bags of baby gear on my porch and then thankmefor helping them get rid of it. These bags were full of adorable boutique clothing, shoes and toys that I cherished even more because I knew it was preloved and given to me by another mom. 

And before you buy new, visit your local thrift stores, especially for kids’ clothing, books and shoes. I’ve found top baby brands like Pehr, Lovevery, Patagonia, Hanna Andersson and Boden … all for $10 or less. Some of this stuff was never worn and even had the tags still attached. 

No time to in-store shop? Try online reselling sites like Poshmark and ebay for budget-friendly, gently used baby essentials like stroller blankets, snowsuits, sun hats, water shoes and more.  

Meal plan

Despite being sleep deprived, my husband and I tried to map out the week and commit to making and eating all of our meals at home Monday through Thursday. Then, by the time the weekend rolled around, we’d feel less guilty about ordering takeout or dining at restaurants. 

Snag those early-bird specials 

Since your mealtimes with a little one in tow will be earlier anyway, take advantage of the happy hour deals at your local restaurants. Trust me, a 4:30 pm dinner is a lot easier to accept if your meal and glass of wine were only $5 each. And bonus: you never have to wait for a table and you get out of there before the crowd starts rolling in. 

Reap those registry rewards

When you register at most stores, you’ll receive a registry completion discount, which allows you to take 15-20% off of anything you purchase from your own registry. I recommend over-adding to your registry with must-have essentials like wipes, bath soap, diaper bag, shampoo, lotion, a thermometer and more in addition to the exciting stuff like clothes, stuffed animals and books. So, if you don’t get everything on your wish list at your baby shower, you can still go back and purchase some necessities at a discounted price. 

And don’t be shy about registering for big-ticket items like a stroller, car seat, baby monitor or crib. Relatives, coworkers and friends love to go in on group gifts, and you will love not having to pay for it all yourself. Win-win. 

Pro parent tip: add some food delivery gift cards to your registry because trust me, you will not feel like cooking right after the baby arrives and it’s a great way to save on meal costs in those postpartum weeks. 

Grab the goody bag 

I read about this in one of my “expecting moms” groups and was floored to realize it was true: When you leave the hospital after delivering your baby, you can take a ton of stuff with you… for free. I took everything that was offered – from formula samples, pacifiers and swaddle blankets to bottles, baby hats and a nasal aspirator. And then there were all the tools for my own postpartum needs, like aPeribottle, nipple cream, nipple covers, disposable mesh underwear, maxi pads, numbing spray and even a sitz bath. If you know, you know… and who really wants to go out and buy this kind of stuff? 

My husband and I felt a little like we were robbing the hospital when we wheeled out our many bags of “gifts,” but trust me, when you get that first hefty hospital bill, you will be glad you took some freebies with you! And it’s kinda like going to an award show… you can’t leave without your swag bag. 

Know your insurance coverage 

Have a Flex Spending Account or Health Savings Account? Look into what types of baby products or services can be purchased through these accounts. Amazon even has a way to filter your shopping search by HSA- and FSA-eligible items. I was able to use my HSA to pay for diaper cream, baby sunscreen, medication, doctor’s appointments and more. And my FSA covered a portion of my baby’s daycare. 

Also, don’t forget to look into what breast pumps are covered by your insurance before buying one. I made the mistake of paying for one out of pocket before I realized I could have ordered the same one – for free – through my insurance carrier. 

Borrow vs. buy

There is no guarantee your baby will like that fancy swing your friend recommended because it was her baby’s favorite. One child may love constant motion while the next hates any kind of movement altogether. Try posting a message on your local online neighborhood group to see if any parents have any of these things you can borrow or try-before-you-buy. Ask relatives and friends for recommendations and “rentals.” Other baby gear I tested out before I invested: rockers, bouncers, baby carriers, slings and sleep sacks.  

Register for a diaper subscription

Not only are diaper subscriptions incredibly convenient for new parents, they also allow you to budget for the cost of diapers ahead of time. I liked knowing that we were going to spend X amount on diapers per month and then we were able to budget and save accordingly. And there’s nothing better than receiving that box on your doorstep just as you realize you’re running out. 

Another subscription I loved: same-day grocery delivery service. While we pay a yearly fee and a delivery tip each time we order, we knew we were saving money by not impulse shopping in the store each week. Having the subscription also allowed us to budget for what we were spending each month on food, toiletries and more, and take advantage of coupons and rewards through the store apps. 

While none of these tips and tricks are going to necessarily make you rich, they will hopefully allow you to stretch your dollar just a little bit further. And don’t be afraid to join a mom or parent group (either online or in person) to gain even more advice about anything from how to deal with the terrible twos to where to get the best deal on fruit pouches. Whether you’re scrolling on social media, or chatting to another mom at the park, you’ll find that people love to share their parenting wisdom. 

By Ali M.