10 Ways to Save on First Year Baby Costs

Babies are tiny little blessings sent straight from heaven, but, MY, do they cost a lot! Don’t believe what the reports say, though, that babies cost an average of $12,000 the first year. That’s a bunch of malarkey. You can definitely save a pretty penny if you really want to, and I’m going to share with you how.

In a world where we are inundated with the latest and greatest must-haves, it’s hard to imagine living with anything less. Having a baby is one of those times when you just impulsively spend your money on everything you think the baby needs. I’m here to tell you that most of that stuff is pointless and babies can live without a lot of those “must-haves.”

Babies are blessings but can come with a hefty price tag! Here are 10 ways you can cut costs on the first year.© katrinaelena / Dollar Photo Club

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10 Ways to Save on First-Year Baby Costs

There were a number of things I chose to do as soon as my babies were born so we could save as much money as possible. Many of these money-saving endeavors have actually added to the memories I have of those first few weeks and months. I look on them with joy and gladness.

Not everyone loves saving money, so I understand if some of these things are not for you. But if you could use some inspiration, I hope these ideas will give you just that.

1. Gender Neutral Items

We knew that we didn’t want just one child, so when we were picking out car seats, toys, and even my diaper bag we tried to go as gender neutral as possible. If we had known our second child would also be a girl, we obviously wouldn’t have been so concerned about the gender neutral thing. But, the thing is, you don’t know what your next child will be, so it only makes sense to plan for a change of gender and get gender neutral items.

If you happen to have the same gender twice in a row, your savings on clothing will be quite significant. So keep those clothes until you absolutely need to get rid of them!

Estimated yearly savings: $350

2. Breastfeeding

I knew I wanted to breastfeed, so I did everything in my power to stay that course. At first, it felt like things might not work out how I planned. Our first daughter spent a couple days in the NICU, and I couldn’t get her to breastfeed really well. She ended up drinking formula for the first week and a half. Once we got her home from the hospital, I did what I had to do to wean her from formula and get her to start breastfeeding. Besides the fact that I felt like it was the healthiest option for my child, breastfeeding was going to be the best way to save some money and avoid buying expensive formula.

Keep in mind that, if you do breastfeed, you should try to eat the healthiest foods possible, which could mean your grocery bill increases.

Estimated yearly savings: $1,000

3. Homemade Diaper Wipes

I have never done a cost comparison to find out if it was actually worth it to make all our diaper wipes. I started making diaper wipes when Sofía was about 3 weeks old, and I didn’t stop until Bella was about 13 months old. They are easy enough to make and are free of scent and other ingredients that are probably in commercial diaper wipes, so we went with it.

Estimated yearly savings: $25

4. Cloth Diapers

I spent right around $300 for all of our cloth diapers. Sofía started with them at one month and continued to use them until about 7 months old. I only stopped because we moved in with my parents at that time and my mom didn’t want me to wash the diapers in her washer. We were able to use the same diapers on Bella from about 2 months until 9 months. I stopped because it was becoming a nuisance for me.

If I had continued to use the diapers for longer on both girls, I feel like it would have been completely worth it. Overall, I did save money by using cloth diapers, but not as much as I wanted to.

Estimated yearly savings: $300

Babies are blessings but can come with a hefty price tag! Here are 10 ways you can cut costs on the first year.5. Homemade Baby Food

You don’t have to be a chef to make your baby’s food once they start on solids. Both of my girls started eating purees around 6 months old. I know I saved money over buying jarred baby food, because with Bella I did a cost comparison and found it to be about $200 cheaper overall. Those savings may not seem significant to you unless you are trying to save as much money as possible, but $200 is $200.

Estimated yearly savings: $200


6. Thrifty Clothes and Toys

I never used to shop at the thrift store, but now it’s nearly the only place I shop for my girl’s clothes. I haven’t bought toys there because we have plenty of toys at our house, but I’ve heard from others that you can find really great toys and just clean them up before using.

It’s also possible to spend nearly the same amount you would at the thrift store by shopping store sales. Online and in-store sales (especially right at the end of a season) at Kohl’s, Carter’s, and Gymboree* can be a great way to clothe your child for less.

Estimated yearly savings: $200

7. Used Items

Buying used can be a great way to have the furniture you want for a steeply discounted price. We found a great dresser with a spot for the changing pad at a garage sale about a month before Sofía was born. I’m guessing it would have cost us at least $200 new, but we paid a mere $35! How’s that for saving a pretty penny?

My parents wanted to buy a few things when our first daughter was born, and they chose to buy the rocking chair and the car seat. The rocking chair was used, but, guess what? It still worked just fine and we still have it in our living room. We used it for both of our daughters and expect to use it in the future. We also got the crib used (although I’m pretty sure this is a no-no) at a yard sale for just $45.

Estimated yearly savings: $250

Babies are blessings but can come with a hefty price tag! Here are 10 ways you can cut costs on the first year.8. Borrowed Items

I was fortunate enough to not have to buy a lot of things (like a swing, a boppy, and a bouncy chair) because people either gave us their used ones or I borrowed them from my sister. I was 100% fine with my baby hanging out in a hand-me-down bouncy chair. In fact, the bouncy chair we received lasted through both of our girls and it might still work if we have a third child.

I am very grateful we had the option to use what someone else no longer needed. No point in buying something new when there are perfectly good ones just laying around.

Estimated yearly savings: $150

9. Baby Shower

If you are having your first baby, you can save a significant amount by having a baby shower. I personally had a secondhand baby shower. Most of the people who came to my shower bought something from my registry, but many of them also gave me some baby items they no longer needed. Having a secondhand baby shower was a great way to get some extra things just in case we needed them. We got plenty of clothes, blankets, and toys by going this route. Even if you have just a normal baby shower, you can surely save a ton of money on your first baby’s expenses. I estimated that we saved about $1,672 by having a baby shower.

Estimated savings: $1,500

10. Child Care

I quit my job right after my first daughter was born and became a stay-at-home mom. This is probably the toughest decision many parents have to make, but for us it was what we always wanted. Child care can be very expensive, especially if your child’s grandparents or someone you know and trust cannot care for them. Instead of going back to work and putting my daughters in a daycare, we saved that money. Child care can run from as low as $3,900 per year all the way to $16,000 per year depending on where you live. Where I live it is about $7,500 a year for an infant. Find out what it costs in your state.

Estimated yearly savings: $4,000 (this is the low end)

The estimated savings total comes out to $7,975!

Remember, this is how much we likely saved. I was very conservative with these estimates. You might be able to save more or maybe less. Overall, I really don’t think first-year baby costs need to be any more than $5,000.

Can you think of any other ways you can save on baby’s first year?

Linked to: Frugal Friday

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I'm a mom of 3 on a journey to feed my family nourishing foods. Personally, I believe that you can feed your family healthy, delicious meals without spending a fortune or slaving away in the kitchen.


  1. These are all great ideas! I wish I would’ve used some of them with our first baby. Cloth diapering and breastfeeding are probably my favorites. It always bums me out when a mom has to quit because she doesn’t have enough support. Our culture is not very open about breastfeeding issues, but I think we’re headed in the right direction!

    • Yes, it seems like more and more people are becoming educated about breastfeeding issues. I was uber excited to cloth diaper my first baby, but then when I had to start washing the diapers it was a different story! Ha!

  2. Great tips! We did most of these with baby #2 and 3. When I went back to work, we ended up going with formula and saved by getting it at Costco-but it still ran us about $100 a month. Childcare is another huge one-If both my little kiddos were in daycare full time it would be as much as our mortgage!

  3. FrugalDebtFreeLife says:

    Borrowing items was the #1 for me. There is so much people tell you that you need when you really don’t.

  4. Kris Bell Slager says:

    You forgot to skip the crib! Co-sleeping (aka “family bed”) has been found to be healthier for mom and baby and safer than baby sleeping alone. Most of the world practices this; unfortunately, our society is still way behind the times on this subject! 🙂

  5. Stevie says:

    I wanted to use cloth diapers, but the ones I bought -before she was born- are still too big 3 months later. What brand did you use?

    • I used FuzziBunz and Bum Genius. What type of cloth diaper did you buy? I always bought pocket diapers because I felt like they would be the easiest to use.

      • Stevie says:

        Hi! Thanks for getting back to me 🙂
        I bought Thirsties. They’re a little confusing to me because I was under the impression all cloth diapers were pocket (I saw them on a TV show, Deals, while we were waiting for our little one) so when I got them, I had no clue. I really prefer the idea of the pockets, so I appreciate the help 🙂

        • The only thing I can think of as to why they may not fit your baby is if you haven’t sized them yourself yet. I was confused when I first got mine, and then I looked on the Bum Genius website (I believe) and they had a little tutorial about how to resize them. If you’ve already done that, then I’m not sure why they aren’t fitting. Is your baby small?

          • Stevie says:

            I didn’t think of that. Like I said, I had no clue. No, she’s a good size for 3 months, growing fast! So I should probably try to size them soon!
            Thank you 🙂

  6. Jenji says:

    I skip baby shampoo and lotion and go with a family body wash suitable for sensitive skin like dove sensitive and a community hypoallergenic lotion. Also I skip baby wipes all together and simply rinse baby’s bum off in lukewarm water under sink at home and dry with handtowel ( perfect size) in public wet paper towel with warm water and wipe then dry if uncomfortable rinsing in sink. Also skip powder and use corn starch when needed. Oh and My babies grow so quickly that I start clothes ar 12 months, saves a bundle teust me. My first didn’t wear 1/2 of what was given to us before he outgrew it. Hope this helps😉


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