11 Money Saving Tips for Parents with Babies

When it comes to money saving ideas, some people go way out of their way to save a dime while others casually use products that cost hundreds of dollars. For example, is it worth drying a piece of Saran wrap?  Some folks (mostly from a previous generation) would put the wrap on the window to dry just to save a few cents. Because most people overspend on babies, I collected some money saving tips for parents with babies to share with you.

The thing is that some of these ideas are genius, and others are simply a waste of time.  For the frugal minded parents, many of these will be genius ideas. For the rest, they’ll probably sound like a complete waste of time.  Which is right?  I’ll let you decide.

At the end of the day, what is most important is that both the husband and wife agree that the effort is worth the reward.  Otherwise, you’ll end up with some more marriage and money problems.

Photo by gabi_menashe via Flickr.

11 Money Saving Ideas For Babies

1. Cloth diapers instead of disposables

Yes, it is nasty.  My counterparts in North America have told me there are ways to avoid the whole hand in the toilet thing, but we do it the old fashioned way.  Fortunately, you can become numb to the nastiness.

My vote: Disposables are for wimps.  Cloth is worth the savings.

2. Breast Feeding instead of Formula

Hey, I’m not going to say a lot about this one because I know this topic deals with a lot more than just money.  There are discussions about health and the mother’s schedule that I really don’t want to get into. But, in term of cost savings, this is one of the best ways to save a lot of money.

My vote: Why buy what God has already given?

3. Laundry basket instead of a bassinet

My daughter slept for about two weeks in a laundry basket.  Fortunately, we didn’t buy a bassinet — there was a bassinet in part of our Pack N Play.  However, if someone were going to buy an actual bassinet, I’d say just use a laundry basket.

My vote: Surely kids could survive a few week/months in a laundry basket — go for it.

4. DIY baby wipes

You can make your own inexpensive wipes by soaking small paper napkins or double-ply toilet tissue in a shallow bowl of baby oil. Once the oil is absorbed, put it in a Ziploc bag or plastic container. We actually make our own wipes, mostly because they are sometimes hard to find and often expensive.  We just cut strips of cloth and keep them moist with water.

My vote: The idea of making your own wipes doesn’t seem like the most effective money saving idea.  I’d use store bought wipes combined with the ‘strategy’ in #5.

5.  Use toilet paper instead of (in addition to) wipes.

I think round one cleaning should be done with regular toilet paper.  To get a thorough clean, finish up with a wipe.

My vote: If it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for them.

6.  Use tape to mend cloth diaper covers/plastic pants.

We’ve never done this.  The covers we find in town are about $2, so there is not much point in repairing them.  If we had more expensive covers I wouldn’t be surprised if one of my kiddos had to crawl around patched with tape.

My vote: Use the tape and then put shorts on the kid.  No one will ever know.

7.  During the first few months, dress kids in the opposite gender clothes.

If you were smart, you would have bought gender neutral clothes the first time around.  However, the question is, would you put a pink onesie on a one month old baby boy?  I think we ran out of clothes once and that was all that was left for my son.  It had been a long time since I cried as a grown man.

My vote: Please don’t ever make me look at my son in pink again.  In life or death situations that is fine, but not a good game plan.  Buy gender neutral the first time around.

8.  DIY diaper cream.

You can crush an antacid tablet (like Tums) and mix it with petroleum jelly to make your own diaper cream. Here’s one of those jobs I don’t think is worth the time.  We actually have a ton of diaper cream around our house so the idea of becoming a scientist and experimenting with diaper creams doesn’t sound appealing.

My vote: Squeeze and go.  Leave the diaper cream to the professionals.

9.  Make your own baby food.

Did it.  My wife would cook up some vegetables, puree the food, put them in ice trays and freeze it.  All we would need to do is pull out a cube and melt it for a meal. But, that was then.  I guess having three kids 4 and under doesn’t leave my wife with a lot of time to puree food for the baby.  Sorry, baby #3 you’re going to be a Gerber baby.

My vote: A healthy alternative, but a lot of work.  Tough call.

10.  A simple diaper pail with lid instead of high tech diaper pail

Diaper pails can get expensive.  Deodorizers.  Replacement bags.  Plus the actual cost of the diaper pail. We opted with a pail that had a flip top lid and a small compartment for a deodorizer.  I think it was about $10.  Anyways, we love it because we used it for disposable diapers and then cloth when we made the switch.  Sometimes we just stick some old Bounce pads into the deodorizer compartment.

My vote: Simple and cheap — a frugal idea worth trying.  Give me a diaper pail that doesn’t require instructions.

11.  Use an old T-shirt as a bib for baby.

Never done this one.

My vote: Seems like a good idea to me.

Now, I’ll let you decide if these ideas are frugal or cheap?  Do you have any other money saving tips for parents of young kids?

About the Author

By , on Mar 9, 2010
Craig Ford
Craig Ford is a fulltime missionary in Papua New Guinea who writes Money Help For Christians and Help Me Travel Cheap, a frugal family travel blog. He is the author of Money Wisdom From Proverbs, has a Masters of Divinity degree, and (most importantly) eats homemade pizza with his family every Friday night.

Leave Your Comment (13 Comments)

  1. Wise Mom says:

    Awesome tips! I also accepted hand me downs even for my first born. Some friends and even my neighbour were so excited, they have given us plenty. We also did buy lots of new baby clothes but we later regretted it. We didn’t know that babies grow up sooooo fast they only wear clothes for 3 months before they are too big for them. Oh well, we also “donated” them to our new niece since we still can’t afford to have another baby. And when we do have another one, we would again gladly accept hand me downs as it saves us money. Whats more is that when there is a baby emergency, we know where to turn to for fast money.

  2. Alexis says:

    Love this article! Thank you for sharing. I will be honest, God has taken us through some learning experiences & now that the arrival of baby #3 is more near than I realize, I appreciate all the DIY baby tips I can get. Thank you & God bless you & yours!

  3. Lauren Dikkema says:

    London Drugs (in Canada) lets you coupon stack so i save up enough diaper coupons and wipe coupons with different barcodes and then head over there for cheap diapers and wipes. Since the start of my pregnancy I have spent about 40.00 on 8 packs of diapers and 5 packs of wipes so completely worth it.

  4. JW says:

    The active ingredient in diaper cream is zinc oxide, which helps soothe irritated skin. The active ingredient in Tums is calcium carbonate. They are not the same thing. If calcium carbonate worked on diaper rash we’d all be rubbing chalk on our babies’ behinds, but we don’t.

    Best leave medications and creams to the pros, as you write.

  5. James says:

    i like the list top to bottom. i would have never thought of any of these as savings tips but i like all your ideas. thanks for the information

  6. Ted says:

    I just can’t do cloth diapers… just can’t. So we used nicer diapers when they were little and switched to cheaper options later. For some reason the cheapos leaked early on but not later. We also use target brand wipes and formula. They were cheaper (sometimes HALF) yet just as grand. We did breastfeed (well my wife did) for a few months (8 for one 6 the other). Formula gave my wife her time and ability to work so that made up for it.

    Our kids slept in their car seats for a month or so- saving on a bassinet. They were such wigglers, it was the only way to let them sleep! They both slept through the night at 6 weeks or less.

  7. Rose says:

    this was so funny reading the author’s thoughts. good article and i agree with almost all of what he thought. some things just aren’t worth the effort…but if you have the time and talent go for it!

  8. Christina says:

    I tried cloth diapers before but when she turned 6 months I switch to disposable diapers. Well, I never thought there are so many ways to save for your babies needs..I just didn’t apply most of it. I only breast fed for 3 months then that’s it…well I guess this will be useful when I have my next baby.

  9. Victorino says:

    These 10 saving tips will work. I believe it. One thing I can add to the list to save money for nurturing our beloved babies, is to make sure that they are healthy (preventive health solutions). We know that hospital and medical bills will destroy our parental finance. Thank you for sharing your post.

  10. kt says:

    you shouldn’t have started with the cloth diaper thing… yuck. i also beg to differ with “disposables are for wimps” thing because the last time i checked i was not a wimp :)

  11. ctreit says:

    I didn’t follow all these savings ideas when my kids were little. Well, I did try clothes diapers but I would recommend against it. Changing diapers gets pretty nasty once the little ones eat regular food. By the time this happened we had fortunately given up on clothe diapers. – Toilet paper does not work as well as wipes do. No comparison. – Make your own baby food. We bought a lot more baby food than we made, but we had a little food mill that allowed us to turn our own dinners into baby food. That worked really well. But as it is the case with children, making our own baby food did not last for more than a few months. Kids grow out of everything way too fast!

  12. Kevin K. says:

    Great post Craig.. some of these ideas are controversial (extended breastfeeding) and non-mainstream (cloth diapers)but simple thing like making your own baby food should go a long way to save your family money. Plus, its healthier.

  13. Jamel Rose says:

    Parents need to specify where their assets should go.

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