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3 big ways to save on baby stuff

3 Big Ways to Save on Baby Stuff

For tiny creatures, babies can be expensive, which is why I spent so much time looking for ways to save on baby stuff. My older daughter cost nearly $1 million in medical expenses her first year; while we didn’t have to pay all of that out of pocket, we definitely had to cut other expenses. 

I am always looking for ways to save money (see 4 Unexpected Ways to Save Money), especially when it comes to necessary expenses. I have to diaper and clothe my kids, but I don’t have to be wasteful when doing so.

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Use cloth diapers to save money on baby stuff

Cloth diapering can save a lot of money, especially when the diapers are used for multiple babies. Buying used diapers for a single child will also save money on upfront costs, but the increase in electric & water usage will cut into that margin.

Types of cloth diapers

Nerdy Mommas has an extensive list of the types of cloth diapers & their features, so I’m just giving a brief overview here. 

I personally used a combination of AIO and pocket diapers, with bamboo & charcoal liners. My oldest has a bladder condition so she doesn’t urinate much on her own, which made cloth diapering a breeze. I didn’t cloth diaper as long with my second daughter & her typical bladder, because of leaking. If I had had more time, I could have problem-solved more, but I just didn’t put that effort in.

All-in-One (AIO) diaper

The water-resistant outer cover is attached to two sections of the absorbent liner. You can add extra absorbency by using a liner, but this is the easiest type of diaper to use.

Pocket diaper

The pocket diaper has an outer, water-resistant cover sewn to a fleece inner liner. There is an opening between the two layers, where you slide in absorbent material. You have to buy absorbent liners to use this type and separate the liners from the covers to wash (and then reassemble when clean). This type of diaper is usually cheaper than AIOs, as well as more customizable to your baby’s needs.

Flat & Pre-fold diapers

These diapers are basically a big piece of woven cloth, folded in a specific way & covered with a separate water-resistant cover. You can reuse the outer cover, which reduces laundry a bit. These diapers take more effort to learn to use correctly. 

How to buy cloth diapers

It’s really easy to go overboard with buying cloth diapers (especially when it’s your first baby and you want to buy the newest, best options), but there are ways to save too. Forget the cutest prints & focus on value. 

You can buy cloth diapers used from Facebook cloth diapering groups or from a local buy/sell group. Buying used is a good way to try out different styles and figure out what works. 

Of course, you can also buy brand new cloth diapers. Watch for sales around Earth Day in April & Black Friday in November. You can sign up for email updates from specific companies and probably get coupon codes or notices of upcoming sales. 

How to care for cloth diapers

It’s important to soak used (new to you) diapers in bleach before using them, even if you got them from someone you know. I bleached the diapers in between my own kids, just to make sure any lingering germs were gone. 

You also need to research what type of detergent is best for the diapers (I used Tide powder) and what settings to use on your washing machine. It typically takes two wash cycles to clean a load of diapers, so you will use more water & electricity.

Fluff Love University is a great resource for instructions on bleach soaks, stripping diapers, which detergent to use, and which settings to use on your specific washing machine. 

You’ll need to do a load of cloth diapers every 2-3 days; waiting any longer will likely lead to a smelly situation. Store the dirty diapers in a plastic-lined wet bag until you wash them. Then, make sure to turn the bag inside out & wash it too.

How to handle poop

When I mentioned cloth diapering to my husband for the first time, he was immediately grossed out by the thought of baby poop in the washing machine. To clarify, there should only be traces of feces on the diapers when you wash them.

To handle poop in cloth diapers, you can purchase diaper liners to basically catch the solids. You then throw out or flush the liner & its contents.

You can also use a diaper sprayer & rinse everything off the diaper into the toilet.

Or just buy diapers & wipes in bulk

If you have a membership to a warehouse store, like Costco, stock up on disposable diapers and baby wipes to save a lot on good quality products. 

Although you can probably get diapers and wipes for less when they’re on extreme sale at other stores or on Amazon, the time-savings of just grabbing a giant box from Costco is worth it. I never had time to compare the cost per diaper between two sales when I had an infant grumbling at me. 

3 big ways to save on baby stuff

Buy clothing carefully

Babies grow so fast that it almost seems silly to buy them clothes. Both of my girls wore newborn-sized clothes for just a couple of weeks. Honestly, you could probably get away with just buying footed sleepers, and babies can totally pull off that look.

Buy used

The most important thing to remember when buying baby clothes is used clothes are perfectly fine. On Facebook marketplace, you can usually find someone selling a lot of clothing, everything your child needs in that size, for a fraction of the retail price. 

My niece is 18 months older than my oldest daughter. My sister bought all the clothes a little girl could need, used, then handed them down to my daughter. I also used those clothes for my second daughter. That “poor” child has only had a handful of brand new clothes in her entire life, but she doesn’t know the difference. The clothes are all still in good condition, even after at least 4 kids. 

Clothing for babies under 6 months:

  • 6 pairs of footed pajamas
  • 12 onesies, a mix of short & long-sleeve depending on the weather & season
  • 6 pairs of pants
  • 2 cardigans or sweatshirts
  • 1-2 lighter jackets
  • A fleece snowsuit, if weather appropriate
  • 6 pairs of socks
  • 2 sleep sacks of each weight that is weather appropriate
  • Hat & mittens in winter

Younger babies need more tops because they’re more prone to reflux or spitting up. Having extra tops makes life easier, so you’re not forced to do laundry every night. Even with the recommendations above, you’ll have to do laundry at least twice a week. I found that waiting an entire week between washings lead to smelly clothes. 

For pajamas, the style that zips up is the easiest to use. The snap-up pajamas are good for hospital stays when the baby will have cords to a heart or oxygen monitor. Snaps are also nice for diaper changes in the cold (so you don’t have to expose the baby’s chest).

Sleep sacks are the best invention ever. A sleep sack is basically a blanket bag that the baby wears. Since infants can’t have blankets (or anything else) in the crib, a sleep sack allows you to regulate the baby’s temperature during sleep. There are different weights of sleep sacks, from light muslin to fleece, so you can mix & match the sleep sack weight with the pajama material to keep the baby comfortable.

Babies don’t really need shoes until they start walking, but booties are nice to keep their socks on. A company local to me, Little Pitterpat, makes amazing booties that actually stay on. They were all my girls wore for their first months. 

Clothing for babies 6-12 months:

  • 6 pairs of footed pajamas
  • 8 onesies, a mix of short & long-sleeve depending on the weather & season
  • 6 pairs of pants
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 2 cardigans or sweatshirts
  • 1-2 lighter jackets
  • A fleece snowsuit, if weather appropriate
  • A fleece jacket for the car seat
  • 6 pairs of socks
  • 2 sleep sacks of each weight that is weather appropriate
  • Hat & mittens in winter

I like fleece jackets for the car seat. You can’t use down coats or anything puffy, but fleece is warm enough and thin enough to be safe. My 5-year-old still wears a fleece jacket in her car seat.

Holiday clothing 

I make a point to never buy single-use clothing, like the cute tops for baby’s first Christmas. If I happened to have a season-appropriate outfit in the hand-me-downs, that was great. Single-use clothing seems like a waste of money to me. If you love holidays though, you can almost always find an outfit used or on clearance close to the day. 

I would rather choose frugal gifts with intention than spend money on cute outfits. Those outfits are either worn once or ruined by food stains quickly.

I also rarely buy the girls fancy dresses, but they have plenty in their hand-me-downs. My husband likes to pick out Easter dresses as part of their gift, and I have purchased new dresses for weddings. I don’t want to buy a dress for Christmas or a photo opportunity that they’ll never wear again. 

3 big ways to save on baby stuff

More ways to save on baby stuff

Purchasing intentionally is a great way to save on baby stuff. That means you don’t need to buy everything for your baby and you don’t have to buy everything brand new.

Wipes warmer

While a wipes warmer sounds nice in theory, it’s unnecessary. I never bought one for either of my girls because I knew I’d be changing diapers on the go, with cold baby wipes. I didn’t want them to be accustomed to warm wipes, then be loudly shocked with cold wipes during a car diaper change. 

Dock-a-Tot

The most important thing to remember about a Dock-a-Tot is that it is not safe for sleep. Let me repeat that: it is not safe for an infant to sleep in a Dock-a-Tot.

So, if you purchase one, you either need to move your baby if they fall asleep or sit & watch them sleep. If you have that kind of time, go ahead and buy a Dock-a-Tot. 

Honestly, you can just lay the baby on the floor, in the center of your bed, or in a playpen (assuming those places are safe). Yes, the baby might roll, but creating a safe environment to start with is much cheaper & easier than using a special product like a Dock-a-Tot.

All the equipment, all purchased new

There are approximately 1,000 different types of baby containment devices: swings, playpens, bouncers, random chairs, special cushions & pillows, bassinets, co-sleepers, and more. Not buying these things new was one of my favorite ways to save on baby stuff. Between my two children, I can’t think of a single equipment item that we bought new. 

My first daughter slept in a Rock n Play (way before the recall); my second was born a month after the recall. I had no idea what else a baby should sleep in since the RnP was so great for my oldest’s sleep, so I purchased two different bassinets used from the Facebook marketplace to test out what would work for my new baby. 

She hated one style of bassinet & slept great in the other. After she transitioned to her crib, I was able to sell both bassinets for the same price I paid for them. Of course, I washed the covers a couple of times before using them, but I saved SO much money by buying these items used. 

You also don’t need every containment device: one swing, 1-2 places to sleep, and a safe way to lay on the floor are all you really need. I also love baby-wearing, but you only really need 1 option for that too. You don’t need three different swings, and some babies don’t even need ONE swing. Eventually you’ll need a high chair of some type and maybe a stroller.

Depending on how picky your baby is, you may need to buy a couple of different options to see what works best. That’s why buying used is so nice – you can cheaply test out different options, decide what works best for your baby, and re-sell the other items. 

So, don’t go crazy buying multiple brand new items for your baby – buy used, see what works, and minimize the amount of equipment you have in your home.

If you have friends with slightly older kids, ask if they want to get rid of any of their baby equipment. Chances are they’ll be so happy to have the free space back that they won’t even ask for money. 

What should you buy new?

A few things should be purchased brand new for safety’s sake.  Cutting safety is not a way to save on baby stuff.

If at all possible, always buy a brand new car seat. You don’t know the true history of a used car seat, and it’s just not worth the risk if you can afford a new one. 

There are some pretty affordable options available,  and Target makes them even cheaper when they have their trade-in sale. You can trade in a used car seat & Target will give you a 20% off coupon for a certain items. These sales are usually held in the spring & fall.

I would also recommend buying a new crib. Some older cribs are a legit safety hazard, so it’s best to just buy a new one. My second daughter got my older daughter’s hand-me-down crib, but I knew it was still safe to use. Obviously, I have no problem buying a used bassinet, but cribs are used for much longer after the baby becomes mobile, so there’s more room for error. 

How have you saved money on baby stuff?

4 thoughts on “3 Big Ways to Save on Baby Stuff”

  1. I love this! I’m always looking for ways to save. I loved buying used clothes for my girls. They grow so fast I hate to waste on things they’ll only wear once. Great post!

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