Babies come with major sticker shock. From the big stuff (like hospital bills, child care, or a reliable car seat) to the everyday necessities (like clothing and diapers) – it’s all important. And yet so many families struggle to pay for the basics. The US Department of Agriculture reports the average middle-income family spends between $12,000 and $14,000 on child-related expenses each year. And even more for newborns. That’s why, when your baby’s on the way, there’s no better time to build a budget – and strategize ways to save!
Serious side note: While having a baby can seem like a real financial burden (literally no one wants to drain their bank account on booty wrappers and overpriced pouches of vegetable puree when there are bills to pay for), try to shift your mindset. Becoming a parent is all sorts of fulfillment you can’t put a price tag on! It’s an incredible, life-changing experience in which you’ll make memories while you grow emotionally, mentally, and physically. It’s 1,000% worth it!
How to use this guide: We want to empower your family to make space in your bank account for your little bundle, so we’re sharing a rough outline on what kinds of expenses to expect, along with some frugal living tips, to get you started. Don’t be daunted by these numbers – while they’re based on the research and experience from some Hello Bello parents, there are plenty of ways to save big bucks on all of it. Remember, prices change and needs vary, so use this as a starting point only!
In your baby’s first year, you’ll be obsessed with keeping them happy and fed – especially in the beginning when you’re still getting the hang of it. Whether you’re breastfeeding, pumping, or using formula, there is always a price to pay. It’s worth mentioning that, yes, while breastfeeding is significantly less expensive than formula, breastfeeding moms pay with their time!
-Formula: The cost varies depending on the brand you choose.
$400–$800 / month
-Breastfeeding/Pumping Supplies: Aside from the one-time purchases (that we’ll cover below), expect to buy nursing pads, nipple cream, or breast milk storage bags on occasion.
$10–$20 / every few months
-Baby Food: While we have some frugal living advice for this line item, some families need to buy their baby food once their wee one starts solids. This cost estimate covers jars and pouches of baby food and baby-approved snacks.
$80–$200 / month
- Join your local “Buy Nothing” group on Facebook and keep your eye out for anyone giving away unused formula containers or baby food – it happens more often than you think! Make sure to ask about the expiration date before you commit.
- Make your own baby food purees or adopt the mindset that your baby can eat what you eat (with necessary modifications). We have some tips to get you started in this article all about mealtime hacks. And if you’re wondering how to encourage healthy eating habits from the start, take a look at these easy-to-implement ideas.
- There’s a big sale going on so you decide to stock up. Sound familiar? If you know your baby’s formula preferences already, then go for it! If baby isn’t here yet, limit yourself to one canister. The last thing you want is to find out your baby doesn’t tolerate the 10 cans of formula you bought on super sale.
That baby bottom needs to stay clean, dry, and rash-free so this is one category you can’t skimp on. Babies and their diaper needs vary during that first year. In the newborn stage, they’ll go through a bazillion diapers a day (okay – it feels like a bazillion, but we’re actually talking 10-12 a day, which is still A LOT!) – and that number will slowly decrease as they grow.
-Diapers: Expect to use a lot of them from birth through potty training time. For peace of mind (and a happy baby butt), try out brands that prioritize fragrance-free, chlorine-free, and sustainable materials (like ours!).
Pro Diaper Tip: You’ll certainly pay less for store brands than you will for luxury brands. But with Hello Bello you get the best of both worlds. Our diapers contain all those fancy features (They’re hypoallergenic, unbelievably plush and absorbent, and made with a plant-derived core liner and sustainably harvested fluff pulp – and we could go on!) without the high price tag. It’s a truly luxe diaper for store brand prices. An entire month of adorable, boutique-level diapers (and wipes!) for only $69.99? Believe it!
$80–$100 / month
-Diapering Supplies: Think wipes, rash cream, and baby powder. AKA everything you need to get the job done. Like the diaper discussion above, diapering products range in price and quality. Generic brands are cheapest and if you want the “best of the best” you’re gonna pay for it. That is, unless you use Hello Bello. Our products are luxury-quality (formulated with plant-based and Certified Organic ingredients) for a fraction of the price. And it gets better – when you become a bundler, you automatically get 15% off additional products.
$20–$40 / every few months
- To help relieve some of the pressure, we’ve come up with a solution called the Diaper Registry Fund where you can crowdsource cash specifically for diapers (as well as anything you see on our website). There are tons of ways to use our Diaper Registry Fund so we hope you’ll check it out, start an account, then point your friends and fam to your “share link” so they can help you out with bucks for booty wrappers!
- Don’t buy too many newborn-sized diapers before your wee one arrives because some babies grow out of them super fast! You don’t want to accidentally pay for a bunch of diapers you’ll never use. (If you do end up with extra diapers–in any size– please consider donating them! One in three families struggles with having to choose between buying diapers or food!)
- Find ways to save on diapering supplies, like through our monthly diaper bundles where any “extras” are 15% off.
You’ll be shocked and amazed at how quickly your baby outgrows their clothes (especially in year one!). Because of this, you can often buy second hand-outfits or receive hand-me-downs that feel brand new! Read on for ways to save on baby wardrobe essentials.
-Basic Clothing: For everyday wear, your little will live in onesies, pants, socks, and footie pajamas. Once again, the costs here vary widely based on the brands you choose. For better prices, buy clothes in packs and watch for sales from your fav brands.
$40–$250 / every few months
- People love to shop for and gift adorable baby clothes! So, register for lots of basics in a variety of sizes because your baby will be out of the Newborn clothes in a matter of months!
- Ask for hand-me-downs from friends and family. Always offer to pay (that way they can get something sweet out of the deal, too!) and if they gift them to you for free, then pay it forward when it’s time to pass on the clothes to another family.
- Buy unisex clothes that can be used by your next baby.
- Check out ebay, thrift Stores, Facebook Marketplace, ThredUp, Poshmark, or your local Buy Nothing Facebook group. Baby clothes get very little wear and tear so even used clothes look brand spanking new!
Babies don’t get all that dirty in the first year, but baths are an important part of a wind-down routine, and they’re vital for the occasional poop-splosion. In addition, there are all sorts of skin situations to prep for so you’ll want to be armed with plenty of lotions and potions.
- For a steeper discount on premium, plant-based products, we offer a fundamentals bundle plus 15% off any extras added to your monthly diaper bundle.
- The AAP recommends bathing your infant three times a week until their first birthday – meaning daily tub time isn’t a requirement, so you can stretch your usage of shampoo + body wash, bubble bath, etc.
Make space in your budget for post-birth provisions. Whether it’s body care, food, or mental health needs, every baby-bearer should plan to be comfortable and cared for during this special season.
-Vitamins and nutrition: You ate well during pregnancy, and it’s just as important to do so during your postpartum period to help your body recover.
$12–$50 / month
-Supplies: As your post-baby bod recovers, you may need additional pads, postpartum undies, ice packs, cooling pads, perineal spray, a sitz bath, or heating pads. Gather a few supplies in advance, but plan extra space in your postpartum budget for unexpected needs.
- Hospitals offer all the basic postpartum supplies you’ll need – especially pads, peri bottles, cooling pads, and mesh underwear. Take home as much of it as you can!
- If you’re building a baby registry, ask for some gift cards. That way, after you get home from the hospital, you can send someone else to the store for your postpartum supplies knowing they’re already paid for!
- There are some brilliant postpartum DIYs out there. Check out this tutorial for padsicles and this recipe for perineal spray.
- Don’t forget to read up on our favorite budget-friendly postpartum food hacks and tips.
Even if your baby will be spending their first months in a bassinet next to you, it pays off to have their nursery set up before they arrive. This category can get costly, but there are plenty of ways to save!
-Furniture: If you’ve got a quintessential nursery in mind, plan on needing a bassinet, crib, crib mattress, rocking chair, dresser and/or changing table, changing pad – along with anything else specific to your baby’s room, like a rug, shelf, nightstand, lamp, or additional storage.
-Sleep Essentials: Your life is about to revolve around sleep and the lack thereof (we know, it’s not gonna be easy!). You will live for your baby’s bedtime routine and bend over backwards to try out any and every sleep hack around. To create a solid sleep foundation, deck out the nursery (and your bedroom) for optimal zzz’s. Get the blackout curtains, fancy schmancy swaddles and sleep sacks, sound machine, crib sheets, baby monitor, and light blocking stickers. Your budget here will really depend on your own preferences.
-Extras: Eventually every parent sees the benefit of a diffuser (thanks, cold season!), fan (thanks, summertime!), air purifier, and simple decor items like a crib mobile or artwork. Have a plan to pay for these needs as they arise!
- It’s A-OK to buy most of your nursery essentials second-hand. For helpful tips and deets, be sure to check out this guide.
- Every parent wants their nursery to be cute, clean, and orderly. And there are easy ways to do it on-the-cheap! We’ve got you covered in this article on brilliant, budget-friendly nursery organizing tips.
CLEANING, GROOMING, & HEALTHCARE
Keeping your baby clean, healthy, and comfortable is one of the more satisfying chores of being a parent. Even if your baby resists at first, they’ll eventually grow to love the warm bath water, soothing suds, and relaxing routine that follows. While you don’t always need baby-specific items in this category, there are certainly some nice-to-haves (For example: no one wants to clip a baby’s nails using adult-sized clippers. Nope!)
-Tub and Post-Tub Essentials: Teeny tiny babies need a safe space to bathe until they're old enough to sit upright in the real tub. Along with a baby bathtub, towels, and washcloths, plan to build a grooming kit with products like a soft-bristle hairbrush, baby-safe nail clippers, and a toothbrush.
-Sick-Day Essentials: Nothing breaks your heart quite like a sick baby, but when that day finally comes, you’ll be glad to have a medicine cabinet stocked with a few tools and OTC soothers. You’ll want a thermometer, bandages, medicine dropper, nasal aspirator, and maybe some meds like acetaminophen, cold relief, and chest rub.
- Some brands sell kits with all the health and grooming products you’ll need. Do some cost comparison to see if it’s cheaper to buy each item separately or in a pack.
- Forget the special baby bath time gear and use what you’ve got. Set aside your softest towels and washcloths for tubby time – and you can even bathe your beauty in the sink or a laundry basket (yup!). Check out the details in this article all about baby bath time hacks.
It’s true, having a baby makes any trip out of the house a whole heckuva lot more than just stepping out the door. But it’s good to get out and about, so you’ll want reliable gear to get you there and back safely.
-Car Seat: It’s one of the first things you’ll use outside the hospital doors, and you’ll definitely want to practice your car seat skills, as well as get it checked out by a car seat technician before the big day arrives. For tons of helpful car seat safety tips, check out this article.
-Stroller: There are some strong opinions on strollers – how many you should have on hand, how much you should spend, and what features to look for. Our opinion? It’s all subjective and based on your family’s activities – so it might be worth waiting to buy! Will you be walking and jogging around the neighborhood? Or only using your stroller while shopping and taking leisurely trips to the park? Do you want to go all out with a travel system stroller (one that comes with a compatible car seat) or keep it simple with an everyday stroller? The answer will help you determine the best stroller for you and your traveling baby.
- For safety reasons, it’s not recommended to buy a second-hand car seat or stroller – Sorry! We explain why in this article. For that reason, we encourage you to pinch your pennies in as many areas as you possibly can, so you can feel good about paying full price for some brand new travel gear.
While we covered recurring feeding expenses earlier in this article, this section talks about those one-time purchases you’ll make. Keep in mind that some of these items are totally optional, but every parent has different requirements whether they’re formula-feeding or breastfeeding.
-Breastfeeding Expenses: There’s a surprising amount of things you need to make breastfeeding possible and comfortable, including a supportive pillow, breast pump, and nursing bras. Some mamas also need some extra guidance through a lactation consultant, so be sure to set aside some funds for YOUR needs, too.
-Formula Expenses: If you’re going with formula 100% of the time, or feeding your baby both formula and breastmilk, plan to use bottles and bottle nipples (in various sizes), a bottle warmer, and a cleaning brush. You may even want a sterilizer, electric formula mixer, dishwasher basket, and special drying mat.
-Solids: Once your baby takes their first bite of food, there’s no turning back! Better be prepared with a high chair, bibs, baby-friendly utensils, drinking cups, and maybe even mini glass baby food jars if you’re planning to make and freeze homemade purees or steamed veggies.
- Rather than buy a pump, check with your health insurance provider or visit the Edgepark website to find out how you can get a free breast pump.
- This is another category where buying used is the way to go. Ask friends, family, and your local Buy Nothing group if there are any feeding accessories and supplies up for grabs. Make sure to give everything a thorough inspection, washing, and drying before you use it on your baby eater.
If you’ve made it this far, well done (and thanks for reading!). By now you can see that having a baby is not cheap, but it can be done with a frugal mindset and a solid budgeting plan. This last category covers anything extra because there will always be unexpected purchases, items that seem optional until you decide you really want them, or needs you simply overlooked in your pre-baby planning.
-Specialty Clothing: Expect to shell out some cash every now and then for special occasions, winter wear, or sun-protective clothing.
$20 – $50
-Misc: There are ALWAYS more things to buy for your baby and while these aren’t absolutely necessary for every parent, they are worth a second glance. Think: a super practical diaper bag, diaper pail, bouncer, swing, seat, pacifier, teether, or baby carrier for your tiny human.
$5 – $500
-Books & Toys: Once your baby is past those first few weeks, it’s super fun to introduce them to age-appropriate playthings and baby books. Don’t go overboard with these in the beginning. As your wee one grows and reaches new milestones, plan to buy a few toys and books that match their interests.
- For books, remember that the library is your friend! Buying used books, whether online or in a secondhand store, is not only better for your wallet, it’s also good for the planet!
- It goes without saying at this point, but check out thrift stores or online groups to see what’s being sold second hand. Lots of parents buy fancy baby gear and accessories and barely use them, so it’s worth a look before you plan to buy anything new.
- Even if you aren’t planning to have a baby shower, create a baby registry and a Diaper Registry Fund! Then tell your friends and family about it, because any little bit helps!
- Be realistic about what you actually need. And if you aren’t sure, don’t buy it until the need shows up!
- If these numbers have your head swirling, don’t panic. Just practice living on less ASAP to see what that looks and feels like for your overall budget and lifestyle. Make adjustments as you need and stay in constant communication with your partner. Money can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be!
- Remember that, if you have more babies, the cost is still significant, but much less steep than with your first. Plan to save and reuse everything!
- Make some parent friends, then coordinate with them to share or try out certain baby items. Some parents have even done a “homemade puree swap” or a “homemade puree party” to make the task less daunting.
How did you budget for your baby’s first year, and what did you learn along the way? Please share your advice in the comments section.