I knew having kids would not be cheap. That’s why we held off having a kid after getting married, but only for about a year because we felt like we wanted to have one already. From the time I got pregnant, we began spending more on food because I was as hungry as a horse most days. When we factored in monthly doctor’s checkups, ultrasound scans, new clothing, and savings for the impending hospital bill, we knew we were in this for the long haul.
Now that I have a baby (who is actually a very tall toddler now at 18 months and 33 inches in height!), it’s easy to overspend at times. But I’ve actually not suffered too much of a dent, to tell you the truth! I’ve found plenty of ways to save money with a baby, even as a mom who works from home. Here are a few ways I save with a kid in tow.
1. Be OK with hand-me-downs. In the beginning, I bought lots of clothes for Vito. Within the first few months of his life, I saw how quickly he outgrew those cute little togs. It’s a fact: Babies don’t wear clothes for long, and by the time they’ve outgrown them, they’re rarely worn out. This is especially true of Vito’s “gimmick clothes,” since we stay at home often. His clothes are in such great shape, I’m going to sell them as pre-loved! Not only is this frugal, it’s also eco-friendly: When we buy less, we waste less.
So, if you have a family friend who has recently had a baby, ask if she might have any baby clothes that you could use. Hand-me-downs don’t stop at clothes, though! You might consider buying second-hand cribs, strollers and other items that other parents would love to get out of the way. In fact, Vito’s Crocs (and a few pairs of shoes), his crib and his Aprica car seat were hand-me-downs, so we saved a total of about Php65,000.00 just by receiving high-quality, durable hand me downs!
2. Breastfeed. We all know breastfeeding is less expensive than buying formula, bottles and nipples, and that it’s also better for your baby than formula. Perhaps the only investment you’ll need to put into breastfeeding is good food for yourself as a nursing mom. You have to commit to taking care of yourself diet-wise so that your baby gets all of the nutrients he needs.
Some parents pump and store milk. If that’s the case, you’ll need to invest in a good quality breast pump and milk storage bags or bottles. These are a bit costly, but I don’t recommend your scrimp! After all, you’ll be saving a lot from not buying formula, so you can certainly afford to get a nice, hospital-grade pump. (Try Medela House for a range of reliable breast pumps.)
3. Cloth diaper as much as possible. Sometimes using disposable diapers feels like you’re throwing Php9.00 away every two to three hours. To save on nappy costs, try putting your baby in cloth diapers. Cloth diapering can save you money, as long as you don’t mind washing them. Plus, and they’re better for the environment.
We often use cloth diapers when Vito is at home (I like Next9′s Tushy Wushies. We also use the traditional lampin when our TW’s are in the wash.) However, if you can’t bring yourself to use cloth diapers all day, at least use them during baby’s waking hours. Use disposables at night or during travel. Trust me, you’ll save a lot when you do!
4. Give your kid “upcycled” toy options. Our little boy is content to play with empty plastic water bottles. (We used to buy Dr. Edward’s Water for him when he was younger.) They’ve since become “bowling pins” or “telescopes,” or whatever we can think of to liken them with. He also loves his eco-friendly wooden blocks. In fact, the biggest toy we’ve ever bought for him was a plastic car in Rustan’s he wouldn’t let go off, which was a grand total of Php99.95. No-siree; it doesn’t take much to make our little boy happy.
Instead of splurging on toys (which your baby will ignore after a few encounters), make use of “upcycled” materials such as empty boxes, bottles and such. Or, get second-hand toys from relatives. I know a lot of people have issues sometimes with second-hand stuff, but if the toys are still in primo condition, there should be no problem using them again.
5. Don’t use baby wipes at home. We buy baby wipes every two months maybe. That’s one pack of 80 wipes at about Php85.00 a pack. Most of the time, we just use washcloths and baby wash to clean Vito’s spills at the table. My mom taught me to soak several little washcloths in a solution of baby wash and water, wring out the excess, and put them in a plastic, zip-lock bag for when we out. At home, I keep them in a sealed Tupperware.
We don’t use wipes at home when changing Vito’s dirty nappy either. Instead, we wash him while he’s seated on the potty, using a bidet. We dry him with a towel. Yes, we still use wipes, but we keep their use to a minimum to save on costs. It’s not that we can’t afford to buy wipes, but it makes sense to lessen our waste production, doesn’t it?
These are just some of the small ways we save with a kid. And since we’re thinking of adding more to our brood in the future, there will be lots more expenses with each new addition to the family. Saving is really just about finding good deals that help you save money on baby’s needs. After all, those savings that you’ll make by spending less will all add up, giving you something to put into your bank account!