Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Frugal Living for New Parents

As a new parent, you may be feeling like the expenses are piling on, and you may not be able to keep up. Don’t stress. There are lots of ways you can provide for your family while sticking to a tight budget. Some of the best parents find themselves in a financial crisis, but with a little knowledge, you can stay afloat or maybe even come out on top.

Your Baby Doesn’t Need Everything

It is not at all necessary to buy your baby everything you see in a commercial. The media tries to convince new parents that they need to get their children the newest bouncy seat, educational toy, or other baby gadget, but the reality is that these products are not necessities for a happy, healthy baby. Most baby gear can be bought secondhand, or even borrowed for a short period of time. For example, most babies grow out of their swing within a few months, so this is something you may be able to borrow from a friend until you don’t need it anymore. However, when it comes to your child’s car seat, safety should always come before saving. New technology comes out every year to make car seats safer, and a secondhand car seat could have been damaged in a car accident.

Most of the things you will absolutely need for your baby can be put onto a gift registry, or bought at a local secondhand store. However, you should avoid buying things to entertain your child before they are born. Until you really get to know your child, you won’t know for sure what he or she will like to play with. Most children are happy enough to play with your keys or the pots and pans in your cupboard. Fancy, expensive gadgets aren’t usually necessary.

Dress for Less

It’s no secret that babies grow out of their clothes fast. If you’re staying in for the day, onesies and creepers work fine. They are a lot less pricy than buying them a new outfit every day. For the special days, having five to ten outfits in one size will be plenty. You don’t want your child to have so many items of clothing that they only wear each one once, twice, or not at all. Ask for clothing in many different sizes for your baby showers, and if you get too many in one size you can always exchange them.

Secondhand shopping can also benefit your child’s wardrobe. Search for a local store specializing in buying and selling children’s clothes. They will most likely have a huge variety of clothes in different sizes that are very gently used. Then, when your child grows out of the clothes you have, sell them back to the store for a little extra cash or to buy them more clothes.

Experts have said that it is not necessary for children to wear shoes while they learn to walk. It’s actually better if they don’t because it is easier for them to grip the floor. Soft-soled baby shoes can be used if you want to make sure your baby’s feet are warm. Only a few pairs will be necessary, and they can also be found at a secondhand store or borrowed from a friend.

Diapers and Food

Diapers can be the most expensive part of your baby budget, but you should know that you have options. Store brands can be just as comfortable for your child, and as long as you change the diaper regularly, they won’t leak. also has a special promotion where you can subscribe to get diapers on a regular basis and you receive a discount (Check out Amazon Mom Subscribe and Save). Cloth diapers are also a very frugal option for your family. Some companies offer to wash the diapers for you, but for a price. Buying (or registering for) good quality cloth diapers and washing them yourself can save you a lot in the long run.

When it comes to newborns, breastfeeding will not only be healthy for your baby, but it will also be the most cost effective option. Once your baby is old enough for solid foods, pureeing the fruits and vegetables that the rest of the family is eating will be just fine. As long as the baby food is taken out before fats and spices are added, this could be a frugal and healthy option for your child.

Sometimes frugality is more about what you don’t buy than what you do buy. Finding ways to save a little here and there on the things you need and thinking about what things you can do without will make you a smart and frugal new parent.

Amy Young is an author of finance articles who writes about various topics including advice on your first credit card at

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