It’s hard to believe our littlest one is already nine months. The baby time (well, time in general) seems to go faster with each one. Even though we have been through all the exciting milestones with our three older children, it’s just as magical and fun when #4 reaches them.
The latest fun milestone is that she can now wave”hi” toward someone instead of waving backward toward herself. It’s pretty darn cute if I do say so myself.
While my excitement with cute baby milestones hasn’t changed even with experience, my parenting savvy has changed for the better. Budgeting for baby has gotten easier with each child. Of course the cost goes down with subsequent children, but that’s due, in part, to experienced parents knowing the truth behind these myths.
Here are 5 myths that often fool new parents into spending more than they should and what you can do to avoid them.
Myth #1– You need a wipes warmer (and other newfangled accessories)
Walking up and down the aisles of baby products, you will be astounded by a universe of have-to-have gadgets that you had no idea existed. The advertising on the packages is compelling. You can really envision how a baby wipe warmer will make your infant’s life wonderful, and it seems an obvious choice to buy it right now, or at least register for it. And how about that food processor exclusively for baby food?
Truth: Just because a baby accessory purports to serve a purpose doesn’t mean you need it. You can quickly drain your wallet and clutter your house by buying load of ridiculously unnecessary baby products.
And of course the wipes warmer isn’t going to mention it’s also a “wipes drier-outer,” leaving you with less effective wipes all the time, and a baby trained to flip out when you have to use un-warmed wipes whenever you’re out and about.
Myth #2– Name brand diapers are worth the difference in price
You’re definitely going to need diapers — there’s no denying that. As a first time mom, cloth diapers were not even on my radar as a possibility. The hospital trains you to need name brand diapers, so many parents don’t even consider anything else.
Truth: Generic diapers do the job just fine and can cost half as much! We’ve tested all sorts of diapers, from store brands like Target or the even less expensive DG brand from Dollar General, to national brands like Pampers, Huggies, and Luvs. In the end do you know what we did? We threw them all away– Ha! 🙂
As long as the diapers serve their purpose, we prefer to throw as little money away as possible. Of course, you’ll want to avoid diapers that simply don’t work for your baby (not all generic diapers are created equal), but for diapers at low prices we have had a good experience with DG. With their digital coupons we can usually knock the price down even more!
Myth #3– You should buy everything you’ll need before baby arrives
You’ve got nine months to plan for this baby’s arrival, so it’s understandable that you want to start preparing. Your nesting instinct might put you into stockpiling mode. You think that you need to have everything that you might possibly need before you even bring your baby home.
Truth: Besides a few essentials that you are sure to need (diapers, wipes, car seat, some onesies and sleepers, a few receiving blankets, etc), go easy on the prepping. Wait to stock up on pacifiers until you know what kind your baby likes or if your baby will even take them.
Socking away money instead of stuff is always a safe bet. When you find out you’re expecting (or better yet, long before) start saving money. Then wait to spend it until you find that you actually need something you don’t have yet. You’ll be surprised how many things you think are needs really aren’t. If you’re having a baby shower, you’ll probably get lots of goodies to get you started.
Myth #4– You need to buy all your baby equipment new
With baby showers and gift registries, new parents are conditioned to look at and long for brand-spankin’ new baby things. Strollers, cribs, high chairs, and swings are on new parents’ lists.
Truth: You can buy most baby equipment used for a fraction of the price. Look for used baby equipment at thrift stores, consignment sales, yard sales, and online. Consider borrowing equipment from a friend or family member.
Many baby items are used for a short time before they are outgrown or no longer needed. Think bassinets, Bumbos, and bouncers. These are the items you definitely don’t need to buy new. Since no one uses them long, the used version really is as good as new.
Myth #5– Generic care products aren’t good enough for my baby
Of course you want a baby shampoo that isn’t going to sting if (well, when) it gets into your baby’s eyes. You want products that do the job they were intended for. New parents are willing to take a serious hit to the wallet when choosing the name brand because they believe their child deserves the best, which must be the name brand.
Truth: The truth is, you’ll find essentially the same ingredients in the generic brand as the national brand. And for a fraction of the price! We love our babies to the moon and back and we use this stuff. It works perfectly. There is no reason to overpay for the national brands when the generic will do!
It doesn’t stop here!
Oh there are more! Do you know what they all have in common? Emotion is at the heart of all of these budget-busting baby myths. Any time you are tempted to spend extra as an indicator of your love for your baby, you had better make sure you aren’t being fooled into overspending. The baby products industry has experts who spend all their time figuring out how to turn your love for your baby into the feeling that you have just got to have their particular overpriced products.
And it’s not just the baby industry preying on the emotions of new parents. Whenever we are worried about what others think, we have fallen into the trap of keeping up with the Joneses. What your neighbor, or your sister-in-law, or the other new mom at work has for her baby may not be what’s right or necessary for your own baby or your family budget.
What your baby needs most is your love and attention, which is something you can’t buy at any price.
How about you?
- What budget-breaking myths did you believe as a new parent?
- What’s your best money-saving baby advice for first-time parents?
This post brought to you by Dollar General. The content and opinions are my own.
Thank you for this! A lot of the time I felt like a tight wad because I never “bought in” to the baby product industry (I have only ever bought used clothes for my child, used all hand me down furniture, purchased an ok stroller (nothing fancy), etc). So it’s nice to have some affirmation that it’s ok to watch your money when it comes to babies. It’s amazing how others make you feel that buying the top of the line product equates love for your child.
Way to not be swayed by our commercialized society Abby! 🙂
Used, used, used! Considering that babies wear clothes for about 2 weeks before growing out of them, this seems like the best option to me. The same goes for toys and gear. As for diapers and wipes, cloth is king! I make my own wipe solution and use cloth wipes (cut up old t-shirts) whenever I can. I do use disposables at night and when we are going somewhere where changing the babe is inconvenient, but I do my best to save where I can.
Hi Stephanie, I love your site. I struggle a bit when it comes to my kids: all our gear (except car seats) and clothes (unless gifts) are second hand, but when it comes to food & daily use items (shampoo, laundry soap, etc) I find myself stuck paying higher prices than I would like (I’m currently working on couponing). I think part of it is: I’m concerned about the chemical makeup of what goes in or on my kids – we use a lot of EWG rated A/B items and try to stay within that range, this results in us using $6 hand soap and dish soap because it has less chemicals, is better for their bodies and better for the environment. For a while I was making my own laundry soap, but when we went to cloth diapering the quality of soap couldn’t compete with the poo 😉 Any tips or suggestions on saving money on quality daily use goods? I’ll keep reading to find tips to save, thank you!
[email protected] says
I think we registered for too much stuff with out first child and ended up with a few unnecessary things. We had a baby bathtub that was huge and nowhere to store it. We passed it on to a friend and bathed our younger two in the bathtub the same way my mom did in the 70s, by putting an inch of water and a small hand towel on the bottom of the tub. We used cloth with our first and wish we had waited to see what we felt was easier and fit him best. We had some pocket diapers to begin with, and they ended up not working well with our son’s skinny legs. They leaked right out the side. The old fashioned prefolds and covers worked much better, and would have been cheaper.
That’s a good one. We had the opposite problem with cloth– chunky thighs (though we didn’t start cloth until our 3rd was around 10 months old, so we knew that going into it).
The carseat/stroller combo was a waste for us. I really wished we had spent our money on a convertible infant to toddler car eat instead and gotten a different/cheap stroller that wouldn’t have been so bulky and awkward. Or we could have gotten the same stroller for a small fraction of the price at the local consignment store and would have had a better, longer lasting carseat. We were lucky our kids were small and could stay in their infant seat for longer, but having to buy another carseat so soon after spending the so much on the first one was a hard lesson.
That’s a tough one Mindy! Those travel systems aren’t cheap! We bought a used one from a friend for $40 with our first (then I sold it later for more than half that). Buying it new is painful!
Buying used will save you tons of money. I never understood why you need to warm up the wipes. When you wipe yourself when you’re on the toilet, do you warm up your toilet paper? When it comes to baby equipment, really the only thing you need before the baby arrives are a crib, a change table, and a car seat. Everything else can wait IMO.
I used to just rub the wipes in my hands a little to knock the chill off then wipe away.
Yep! That’s what we do too! 🙂
We’ve actually never even had a changing table. We use the floor or our bed! And our baby sleeps in a pack-n-play (we have a crib, it just takes up too much room for our bedroom).
We also tried many different types of diapers on all my kids but with the last child we used dollar general brand diapers. They were are reasonably priced and do a good job. I think it is a good idea to save money on disposable things like diapers. Also, plain old washcloths work just like wipes and you can save your wipes for when you are out and about. I made my own baby food. I simply cooked veggies/fruits,etc., blended in a blender, froze in ice cube trays,then popped into freezer bags. I would just pick one day a week to do several batches and that made it easy. My children were practically raised on yard sale clothes. You can find high end, high quality clothes a yard sales ,especially for babies, because they outgrow them so fast. Another good item to buy at yard sales is baby toys, So many of them are the exact same ones still in stores and can be easily disinfected. Speaking of baby toys, babies don’t know if things are toys or not. They love to play with canning rings tied together, wooden spoons, and bowls/pans as long as they are too big to swallow. Babies don’t need much and they don’t take up a lot of space. So if you don’t have a “nursery” your baby will not mind at all. If you are a first time parent my advice is too not get too worked up over things you don’t have because necessary things can be acquired over time.
Great ideas Jennifer! Making your own baby food (or feeding your baby what you’re eating) is a great way to save. We do the ice cube tray thing too! And my kids (not just babies) love playing with canning jar rings. 🙂
[email protected] says
I would say too that a lot of “educational toys” marketed toward babies are a huge waste of money as well as space. We didn’t really have to purchase too many toys for any of our babies as relatives like to gift them, but for the most part, our babies prefer playing with everyday objects and quickly become bored with “smart toys.” I also found that multi-piece toys resulted in a lot more work on my part as my little ones preferred to take the toy apart and drag it all over the house :).
Yes! We are pretty minimalistic on toys too. A set of measuring cups is my go-to “toy” when I’m making dinner. And there no batteries to change!
Money Beagle says
Diapers are one thing that we found you have to ‘test out’. Some generics worked just fine but others were incompatible and we ended up with a lot more messes. We were generally able to find one name brand and one off brand that seemed to do well for each kid.
Agreed! All generics definitely are not equal!
Store brand formula! This is a big guilt purchase because many parents already feel guilt that they choose or need to feed their baby with formula. Store brands must meet the same very strict FDA requirements as name brands and are so much less expensive. Plus, there are usually more coupons available. Larger stores carry an assortment in their lines as well, such as gas or reflux. There is even a site storebrandformula.com that explains why name brands cost more but are no better for your baby.
That’s a good one! I’ve never had to buy formula, but you’re totally right!
[email protected] says
We definitely receive a lot of items as hand me downs from other parents. And, I’m so grateful! I would add a note about the diapers. I warn new moms not to stock up on a bunch of diapers before the baby is born. All of my children have had incredibly sensitive skin and broke out into rashes with generic diapers–actually any diapers but Pampers. My youngest even ended up in the hospital with a staph infection when he was just 7 days old due to irritation from a Huggies diaper that rubbed him raw. So, wait and see what kind of diapers work best for your little one. That way you won’t end up with bunches of diapers that you can’t use!
That’s a good tip. Before you stock up on anything (diapers, food, etc) make sure it’s something you like! Your poor sensitive babies! My babies have been super easy in that regard.