We’ve been able to really dig deep, look around and find 5 ways to save money on baby gear to help prepare us for our baby boy, who is coming in three very short months! How many of us started out with no strategy on saving money for baby? Buying used, when safe to do so, and buying things when they are on sale are now our major strategies. I will admit, however, that before I got pregnant, I was obsessively watching Youtube baby gear haul videos and saving expensive strollers, car seats, and other unnecessary gear to my running list of potential registry items.
Targeted ad campaigns and social pressure make it feel like it is normal to spend a lot of money on a baby, when really, the baby needs food, diapers, clothes, a car seat and a safe place to sleep. According to the Baby Bargains Book (12th Ed.), which I would highly recommend purchasing, the average American spends over $7000 from birth to age one on baby gear. Let’s be the cohort of Americans that spend less than average and save some money! Here are five ways to save money on baby gear.
1. Buy Clothes and Gear Second-Hand
I made the mistake of going to the Target baby section and grabbing a onesie for the baby. Don’t follow in my footsteps because I fell into the trap. I paid almost $15 for this really cute outfit, but I kicked myself after seeing what I could get in bulk from second-hand sites like OfferUp, Mercari and Poshmark. I was able to snag a 10 lb box of baby clothes (sizes up to 9 months) for under $50 on Mercari!
The clothes were in excellent condition, with no stains, rips or tears. Some of the items still had the tags on! The best part is, the box was shipped to me, which was way more convenient than driving to someone’s home to pick them up. I washed them as soon as I got them, attempted to sort them, and now they are in a pile in the baby’s crib. I will get to those eventually, haha.
Moral of the story, check out these online marketplaces, garage sales and thrift stores. You can also ask for hand-me-downs from other parents who are done having kids, but we didn’t have anyone in our network who had gender neutral or boy clothes to donate to us. We also got an Ergobaby carrier and a box of 50 swaddle blankets at super low prices. If there is one category you don’t need to pay full price for, it’s definitely the clothes. In terms of gear, we paid $100 for a Baby Jogger City Select in Like New condition. That’s like a $300 savings! And, we can convert it to a double stroller later on. Just take a look, you might find an amazing deal.
2. Save on Baby Books
Baby books are surprisingly expensive to purchase brand new, but don’t let that keep you from reading to your baby. Most of the baby books we have are hand-me-downs from my own book collection from when I was little. Those are mainly Dr. Seuss books and some classics that won’t get outdated. We also got several books on thriftbooks.com, which sells gently used books at a discount. Some discounts are better than others, so I would shop around and compare prices.
And finally, the most frugal book tip of them all, check out some books from your local library. It’s totally free, and there are tons of options to choose from. You can also make a day out of it when the baby gets a little bit older and have them participate in the free library enrichment activities on the weekends, or teach them how to pick out books they like. I think the library has become such an underutilized resource since the internet became popular. And, let me remind you again, it’s free!
3. Registry Samples
Even if you don’t plan on using a baby registry, create an account with major retailers like Target, Amazon, Babylist, and Buy Buy Baby, and snag your free registry welcome bag. Some of these require a nominal fee for shipping (Noobie Box), or that you spend around $10 that goes toward purchasing on your registry (Babylist). However, that fee is very worth it to me, especially for the Amazon box. From all sources, we have received several pacifiers, full-size bottles, a swaddle blanket, a onesie, detergent samples, coupons and SEVERAL diaper and wipe samples. I plan on using the diapers and wipes for the diaper bag, since they are already in travel-size packaging. These are all things you can and will likely use for the baby, which reduces what you actually need to pay for out-of-pocket.
4. Buy on Sale, Don’t Pay Full Price
There are definitely certain items I would be wary of purchasing used, especially where safety is a concern. This is where the sales come in. If you can, wait until Black Friday to get deep discounts on things like car seats and bassinets. Our baby might be here before then, so we jumped on the best sale we could find. We got our Chicco Keyfit 30 Zip from Albee Baby at a 40% discount, and also saved $75 on our GB Lufta Playard/Bassinet, which we will keep downstairs in the living room for naptime.
We are still looking for a great deal on the smaller bassinet we were eyeing for our bedroom. At least we have something just in case the baby arrives before the deal does. In addition to the sales, take advantage of your registry completion discount, which can be up to 15% off. Even if you are not planning on having a baby shower, put what you really need on there so you can take advantage of the discount!
5. Cloth Diapering
We are going to try cloth diapering, but we might decide it’s worth the cost to just use disposable diapers. Disposable diapers are convenient and a little bit wasteful in comparison to cloth diapers. I only say a little bit, because you do use quite a bit of water to properly wash cloth diapers. Leaving the wastefulness out of the conversation, cloth diapering can be very cost effective, especially if you plan on re-using them with multiple kids. It can cost from $300-$500 to build an entire stash of new, high-end cloth diapers. However, you can find some inexpensive brands on Amazon (Alvababy). Divide out the cost of the diapers over the total number of years that you are planning to diaper. Compare this cost to the $900 per year spent on disposable diapers, and you can see the savings add up quickly.
Alternatively, you can buy second-hand cloth diapers from places like OfferUp or Mercari and save a ton of money on building up a diaper stash. Then, stretch that cost over the span of time you plan on diapering. I am not saying that cloth diapers are better than disposable diapers, nor am I judging anyone for using disposable diapers, because I might end up being one of those people! I just think it’s a cost-effective strategy for an unavoidable cost, and it is not broadly advertised. Look into it and give it a try. There are lots of Youtube videos out that describe cloth diapering routines and review cloth diapers if you don’t know where to start.
Put That Money Towards Something Else
Finally, the best way to save money is to only buy what you need. The baby industry, much like the wedding industry, is all about selling the latest, greatest and best thing, often at astronomical costs. For example, do you really need that brand new UppaBaby Vista or the Snoo Sleeper? Especially when items like the two previously mentioned ones run at or upwards of $1000 each, I think we should stop and question if that extra cost is really going to add to our child’s quality of life. Maybe get something used or something less expensive, without sacrificing safety of course, and putting the rest of the money towards things the baby really needs: diapers, formula, and a college savings account.
Obviously, if you have plenty of money to spend, I’m not judging you. I just want to be one of the voices out there that helps alleviate that pressure of needing to keep up with the Instagram moms out there. I don’t think anyone is going to judge you if you buy second-hand or if your nursery isn’t put together by an interior designer. Do what’s best for your family’s financial situation, because there is nothing like being able to give the gift of financial security to your kids.