Having a baby is rough on your finances. Between the medical bills, baby gear, maternity leave, and–oh, yeah!–essentials necessary to help you survive pregnancy, consider your wallet adequately drained. Sometimes it feels like having a baby on a budget is an incredible feat.
During my pregnancy, I was definitely feeling the pressure. We lived just outside of Seattle, where the cost of living gets higher by the minute. As luck would have it, my unborn daughter was far from cooperative. 6–yes, 6–ultrasounds and a breech pregnancy later, we were bleeding benjamins.
Even though we planned on extra expenses, this added financial burden hurt. Worse yet, we were really struggling to purchase the essentials we knew our newborn needed.
I don’t know what you’re situation is, if you’re in dire straits right now because of your financial situation or if you’re just a frugal-minded mama looking to save some money during pregnancy. Whatever your situation, I know that if we can go through pregnancy on a budget, you can too. Here’s how!
With these simple tips, going through pregnancy on a budget may be easier than you think.
- 17 Legitimate Pregnancy Freebies You’ll Actually Use
- How to Choose a Pediatrician Perfect for Your Baby
- Birth It Up! Natural Series Review
10 Legit Hacks to Prepare for a Baby on A Budget
It may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of the links I will make a small commission at no charge to you. Blunders in Babyland does not diagnose, treat, or give out any professional advice for any medical conditions.
1 Maternity Clothes
With so many medical bills and so much baby gear left to buy, it’s hard to whip out your wallet to purchase anything for yourself.
Don’t feel bad about buying maternity clothes, but DO be strategic about it. You have two goals when buying maternity clothes: 1. Make sure they last well into the FOURTH trimester. 2. Never buy anything that’s not on sale or discounted in some way.
Clothes you actually need to buy:
- 2-3 Maternity Shorts (if your third trimester is in the summer)
- 2-3 Maternity Pants
- 2-3 Maternity T-Shirts
- 2-3 Maternity Dress Shirts (if absolutely needed)
Most people will tell you to wait as long as possible to purchase maternity clothes.
I tend to disagree with this strategy.
If you wait until you actually NEED your maternity clothes, you’re going to spend so much more money because, chances are, it won’t align with any sales. If you’e worried that you won’t actually need maternity clothes or you’ll grow to big for the sizes you buy, you can play it safe and only purchase one item of each during a sale. Then, as you begin to grow (say, in your 2nd or 3rd trimester), you’ll have at least one pair of maternity pants you can wear until the next sale.
(Motherhood Maternity has a great style guide that explains how maternity sizes work.)
The rest of your wardrobe can be substituted by clothes already in your closet:
- Your husband’s t-shirts
- Your husband’s belts
- Loose button-ups
Places to Shop for Maternity Clothes
Motherhood Maternity or Destination Maternity is probably your first go-to for maternity clothes. You should be shopping there if–and only if–they are having a fantastic sale. Sometimes I’ve seen maternity bras as cheap as $9 or t-shirts less than $7. If you catch them outside a sale you will bleed money.
When they aren’t having sales, check out these other retailers:
- Consignment Shops (be careful though, sometimes they are overpriced)
- Old Navy (Also during sales)
- TJ Maxx
- ThredUP (spectacular online resale shop)
Also make sure you hit up your mommy friends. Most of the time, they will totally be willing to let you borrow their maternity clothes. Facebook shout-outs usually produce amazing results!
2 Save on Childbirth Classes by Going Online
Maternity classes might be another “luxury” you decide to skimp out on because you’re low on cash. And, honestly, you’re gut feeling is probably right. You actually may not have enough money to attend a traditional labor class.
I believe that every woman should take a labor class. Labor can be so scary for first time moms; There are so many unknowns that can turn into full-blown disasters when you’re not sure how to react.
But labor can also be a beautiful, special time. You deserve an amazing experience, not one tainted by fear and unbearable pain.
Learning everything you can about the topic empowers you and will help you have a smoother labor (fear LITERALLY slows down labor).
Thanks to the internet, labor classes are totally affordable. If you’re having a baby on a budget, I highly recommend signing up for the Birth It Up Class by Mommy Labor Nurse. She offers two courses, one for moms that want to go natural and another for moms that want an epidural. Both classes are less than $40 and will teach you everything you need to know about labor.
It’s the best investment you can make.
I also recommend taking a breastfeeding class if you’re even curious about breastfeeding. I loved the Ultimate Breastfeeding Class by Milkology because it’s quick and literally walks you through every step of establishing your milk supply, getting your baby to latch, and maintaining a healthy breastfeeding relationship for as long as you want to. It’s also less than $20. 🙂
RELATED POST: The Birth It Up! Class Natural Series Review
3 Create a Registry and Get Free Baby Stuff
If done correctly, your baby registry can invaluable way to prepare for baby on a budget. But, just like maternity clothes, you should be strategic.
Focus on the registries that offer completion discounts and freebies, such as Welcome Boxes.
Welcome Boxes often offer pregnancy and baby samples that can actually get you buy for a while. These “samples” often include full-blown products, such as swaddling blankets, bottles, pacifiers, and diapers.
Completion discounts usually go live after your baby shower date. You’ll receive a 15% discount coupon (valid for one purchase) to use on your remaining registry items (like a car seat or crib, *hint* *hint*).
My favorite baby registries are:
- Amazon – Offers a GREAT welcome box + 15% completion discount
- Target – Another amazing welcome box + 10% completion discount
- Walmart – Welcome box
Read more about getting pregnancy freebies here!
What to Put on Your Baby Registry
Short answer: only the absolute essentials and big ticket baby gear items. Most attendees will buy the smaller items, so you need to be really strategic about which items are on there. Avoiding putting variations of the same item on different lists (i.e. asking for 7 different sheets between your Amazon and Target registry.) If you’re still looking for ideas on what to put on your registry, I loved this post from Very Well Family that highlights the bare essentials you need for a baby).
Adding your big ticket items (like a crib, car seat, etc.) is still essential. While most people will not buy the bigger items, adding them allows people to contribute to the overall cost (for Target’s registry) and it allows you to receive a completion discount later.
4 Maximize Baby Showers
If someone offers to host a baby shower for you then CONGRATULATIONS you’ve just saved a couple hundred dollars.
A good hostess will ask for your desires and needs.If she gives you the option, I would suggest having a diaper raffle: essentially asking your guests to bring a box of diapers in order to enter to win a cute little prize. It’s a fun activity for your guests and it ultimately helps you build up your diaper stockpile.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the “Bring your favorite book thing”, but when you’re having a baby on a budget, you need to limit your expectations.
A baby shower is also a fabulous time to receive baby hand-me-downs as well. You can even have your hostess request hand-me-downs or old baby toys instead of diapers for the raffle.
If no one is hosting the baby shower for you, I would still consider having one. If enough people come, you can come out on top. Just consider these tips:
- Provide light snacks vs. lunch
- Host in your own home or in someone else’s home
- Purchase decorations/plates/silverware at Amazon or Dollar Store
- Prizes bought at Dollar Store
Diapers will be the bane of your existence until you potty train your toddler (at which time you find yourself oddly attached to them).
Most babies will use around 3,000 diapers during their first year. Of course, that number definitely depends on your baby, breastfeeding vs. formula, and how often you change your baby’s diaper.
But, let’s just say your baby uses 3,000 diapers a year and you pay around $.28 per diaper. That’s $840 a year spent JUST on diapers!
Many parents shrug their shoulders and move on with life. If you’re having a baby on a budget, that’s just not an option. You need to either move to cloth diapers or get those costs down. Since I’m not really a cloth diaper kind of gal, let me tell you about how I saved on disposable diapers.
This method has its advantages and disadvantages for sure. If you stockpile, that is buy tons of diapers during sales before your baby is born, you can save a significant amount of money. But, if your baby has a skin sensitivity or turns out to be tiny/large you also run the risk of losing money as well.
I say, definitely put diapers on your registry but definitely err on the side of caution and ask for multiple brands and sizes. Once your baby is born, you can use the diaper planner diaper calculator to see how many diapers you should stockpile.
Below is a rough guideline of how I stockpiled while I was still pregnant. These diapers were on my registry and I purchased them on sale as well:
- Newborn Diapers (240) – Pampers Swaddlers (Luckily enough, this was the only diaper my daughter could wear without getting a rash).
- Size 1 (594ish) – Pampers Swaddlers or Huggies Little Snugglers
- Size 2 (594) – Pampers Swaddlers or Huggies Little Snugglers (Registry Only)
That’s it. Of course, I was gifted several other diapers of varying sizes and brands from my baby shower. I waited until my daughter was born to stockpile the rest. I used a combination of Pampers Swaddlers, Huggies Little Snugglers, LUVS, and Costco and Target brands.
Couponing, Sales, and Where to Buy
Never pay full price for diapers. Ever. If you buy diapers either 1. Use coupons, 2. Purchase them with a rebate app or 3. Buy them on sale.
If you’re in to coupon clipping, some moms have found great success with CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid during their sales. You can also keep an eye on your Welcome Boxes from Amazon and Target for coupons to get your started.
Personally, I really like waiting until Costco or Sam’s Club has a sale on their diapers and purchasing then. Then, if you purchase Huggies, you can get an additional discount by scanning the receipt in their rewards app.
Diaper Subscriptions and Reward Systems
Which brings us to our next savings strategy.
Pampers and Huggies offer a reward system that allows you to scan your receipts and earn reward points. Huggies, for example, offers 10 points for every dollar you spend (as of right now, a $10 egift card is 5,000 points). You can also make your purchases using Ebates to double-dip (more on that below).
Diaper Subscriptions are extremely convenient and can actually save you a ton of money.
Amazon diaper subscriptions are very popular, but you can also purchase a year of diapers from Incredibundles and save about $100 a year, depending on your baby’s diapering needs. The cool thing about Incredibundles is that you can request gift cards and add the annual subscription to your registry to encourage people to purchase it.
6 Labor and Delivery
C-Sections vs. Vaginal Births
According to the Cut, the out-of-pocket cost for a c-section tends to be around $400 higher than a vaginal birth (although that cost rises steeply when you’re not insured). When you factor in other costs, such as time away from work or extra childcare to help with recovery times, vaginal births are definitely less expensive.
Of course, most women can’t choose how they’ll give birth. Still, you can stack the odds in your favor by focusing on a healthy pregnancy, regularly practicing baby positioning exercises, and increasing your knowledge of the labor process.
Talk to Your Insurance Company
You need to have discussions with your insurance company immediately after becoming pregnant. Your goal is to find the best treatment and provider for the best prices. In order to do that, you need to know who is in your coverage network and how they rank against competing practices.
The type of provider also matters. For example, if you choose to go with a midwife instead of an OB-GYN, you can significantly save on your office visits. You just need to make sure that a midwife is covered under your insurance!
7 Creating the Perfect (Budget-Friendly) Nursery
Look, mama, you may be having a baby when you’re broke, but you absolutely still can create a beautiful nursery. You just need to find creative solutions.
First, let’s talk baby furniture. Here are the items that you actually need:
- Convertible crib – Does not need to be new, but does need to be up to code.
- Chair- Rocking chair, sitting chair, something comfy for those late night feeds
- Diaper Pail – You can buy this used but I would rather have something new when poop is involved.
Everything else, such as a dresser, diaper changing station, or decorations, you can get creative with. The picture above was my daughter’s actual nursery. I furnished it for about $250. The crib was given to us new, but everything else we purchased at Target or refinished old items. We purchased the decorations at Home Goods, Hobby Lobby (for DIY items), and Amazon.
Your nursery may be simple, but that’s okay. It just needs to be soothing for you and baby.
8 More Income, Less Expenses
If you’re really struggling to keep up with all of those medical bills, taking on a temporary (easy) part-time job just to cover additional expenses and build up your emergency fund can really help. However, if you’re already overworked as it is, there are ways to earn extra cash.
Sign Up for Reward Programs
From now until your baby gets a job, you need to use Ebates.
Ebates is a program that allows you to earn cashback (real money, not reward points) on your purchases online and even in-store.
Best of all, credit isn’t involved. Basically, Ebates is an affiliate for several large brands. Meaning, when you buy things with their app, they make a small commission and share a small percentage of it with you. If you’re making any purchases online (including at big retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, and Amazon) you can earn anywhere from 1-10% cashback.
Plus, with my link, you’ll automatically earn $10.
There are plenty of side-hustles you can pursue from home as well, such as filling out surveys, working as a virtual assistant, blogging (my personal favorite, although it does take time to get established), and even freelance writing. During the entirety of my pregnancy, I actually worked a few hours a week writing articles for Textbroker. I earned around $400 extra a month, which paid for those extra expenses and baby gear!
This probably goes without saying, but if you’ve been considering reworking (or creating) a budget, now is the time. I absolutely love the budget system Dave Ramsey created and would recommend it to anyone!
If you’re having trouble keeping track of this extra spending, you can always start a separate account just for baby. Make a list of all the items you need and gradually add to that list. If you don’t already have one set up, speaking to your insurance company to open an HSA or FSA is extremely important. It allows you to spend pre-tax dollars on your medical expenses!
9 Baby Gear
Feel free to buy cheap baby carriers, high chairs, and swings, but ultimately, you need a good car seat. (I opted for an infant car seat for maximum protection).
Having said that, you NEVER want to buy a car seat at full price. Just like your crib and rocking chair, add it to your baby registry so that if no one buys it for you, you can at least get that completion discount.
Also, when you sign up for Buy Buy Baby’s mailing list they offer a 20% off coupon for a single purchase. We just discovered this deal and saved $40 on a new car seat!
Facebook marketplace, consignment shops, and occasionally garage sales are great places to find smaller baby gear items. Consignment sales, typically local events advertised on Facebook, are also great for finding inexpensive baby clothes and toys.
I know you’ve probably heard this before, but breastfeeding can save you so much money that’s definitely worth mentioning again.
Parents spend anywhere from $800-$3100 on formula alone during baby’s first year. Breastfeeding, however, is incredibly inexpensive and comes with tons of additional benefits. Your only costs are really any extras you decide to purchase (such as a nursing bra, any supplements, teas, pumps, etc.).
If you’re totally freaked out by breastfeeding and don’t know where to start, seriously try out the Ultimate Breastfeeding Course by Milkology. That class will take out all of the unknowns of the experience and will give you the confidence you need to start right!
When Preparing for a Baby on a Budget, Do Not Compromise Your Health
When the going gets tough, you may be tempted to skip a doctor’s appointment, eat less expensive junk food, or skip out on expensive vitamins. This is a totally counterproductive approach to saving money. Those expensive vitamins deliver nutrients that are essential for your unborn baby’s development. Great food can help you have an easier labor, sustain your mental health, and give you the energy you need to survive pregnancy.
Failing to take care of yourself will only result in more doctors visits and a less than pleasant pregnancy experience.
Instead, reduce grocery costs by meal planning and spending smart. Meal planning does not have to be time-consuming or expensive, especially when you have a guideline. Personally, I love the Pregnancy Cookbook by Mommy Labor Nurse, because it gives you practical and inexpensive meals that deliver the nutrients you and your baby need.
As someone who has gone through the inner turmoil of preparing for baby on a budget, I hope you’ll believe me when I say, this does get easier. You learn to adjust and these sacrifices that feel hard today will be a natural part of your life tomorrow. Some of these methods won’t work for you and that’s okay. Start out small, giving up one or two things gradually, and implementing the techniques that make sense for your lifestyle. I think you’ll be surprised by the results!
Learning how to have a baby when you’re broke is not easy, but I promise you can do it and it’s SO worth the effort. If you need some help, don’t forget to snag your copy of the Baby on a Budget Planner!
By the way, I’d love for you to tell me what strategies are working for you and what’s not. Let me know in the comments below!