There's nothing that can kill pregnancy bliss like adding up the costs of having a baby. Yes, kids cost money, but a lot of little tricks exist to substantially bring down the cost. When you're budgeting for your new arrival, consider all these essential costs and ways to save yourself money.
Labor, delivery, and physician fees
Physically having a baby is expensive, especially if you are uninsured or underinsured. Take time before baby comes to figure out how much you have to shell out to the doctor or midwife and hospital. Healthpartners.com offers a procedure estimator that can give you a rough idea of what pregnancy, labor and delivery typically cost in your area. Armed with an estimate, you can then check in with your insurer to get an idea of your responsibility.
Savings tip: Many hospitals and healthcare providers offer a pay-in-full discount if you can pay your part of the bill within 30 days after delivery. Start saving during your pregnancy and it could save you big in the end.
Your new baby will need his own place to rest once he comes home. The cost of outfitting a nursery can be substantial, depending on the furniture you choose. You'll definitely want a crib and crib mattress. You may also want a comfy chair for feedings and a dresser or plastic drawers to hold all those baby clothes. Many families like having a changing table, but others do just fine without one.
Savings tip: All cribs must meet the same safety guidelines whether purchased from a discount store or an expensive furniture dealer. More money does not mean a safer product when it comes to cribs. However, make sure and buy one new; safety regulations change often.
If you're excited to rush out and buy a swing, bouncy chair, stroller, high chair, and car seat, hold back a little. Many babies end up not liking some of that expensive gear, especially swings and bouncy seats. Borrow them from a friend first, wait and see how your baby does, and then buy later if you like it. You can also hold off buying a high chair until your little one is six months or older.
Savings tip: Car seats are another item to always buy new. Never use a car seat that has been in an accident, and make sure your seat hasn't passed its expiration date. Strollers, however, are a great item to buy secondhand.
It's hard to pass up those adorable little outfits in the mall, but don't make the mistake of over buying baby clothes. If you have a baby shower, you'll probably get a lot of outfits, not to mention blankets, burp cloths, and diaper bags. Wait to see what you get then take inventory of what you still need. Stock up on simple outfits and blankets that can take a beating and still wash up well.
Savings tip: Babies grow so fast that you can easily find gently used or almost new clothing at yard sales, thrift stores or children's consignment stores. Used clothing is a great way to save, and baby will never know the difference.
Diapers and feeding
Breastfeeding, if you can, is the number one way to save money after baby is born. Even if you have to pay for a few sessions with a lactation consultant, breastfeeding still makes good financial sense. If you choose to use disposable diapers, stock up when they go on sale, and try bargain brands until you find one you like.
Savings tip: Cloth diapers have come a long way since your grandma's plastic pants and pins. Modern cloth diapers are washer and dryer safe and have easy-to-use features like velcro closures and all-in-one designs that go on like disposables. Cloth diapering saves families thousands of dollars per child.
Congratulations on your new little one. Have fun stocking up on those newborn necessities, confident in your ability to find a good deal. Remember that babies really don't demand much. All they really need is your love and attention; the baby gear is just details.
Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan, mom to two crazy boys, and wife to one amazing husband. You can learn more about her eco-conscious lifestyle at moderatelycrunchy.com.