In the Baby Bucks series, we babble about babies and money and sleep deprivation and cuteness overload. In that order.
It seems like just yesterday that Johnny and I brought our baby girl home from the hospital. I’d read every baby book I could get my hands on (this was one of my faves). But despite preparing as much as possible, we couldn’t really learn how to be parents until we actually were parents. That first month came with a very steep (sleep-deprived) learning curve. Johnny and I would try anything to keep our newborn baby happy while attempting to lead our normal lives. For example, in order to shower without our girl screaming her head off, I’d place her in a bouncer, and I’d discovered ONE song that kept her from crying: If You’re Happy and You Know It. I’d sing that song over and over and shower as fast as humanly possible. And that’s the only way I stayed clean those first three months.
And suddenly here we are, nine months later, and we’ve survived new parenthood. Whether it’s a way to save money or a way to save our sanity, Johnny and I are figuring out little parenting hacks each and every day. Our girl still rules the roost, no question, but we’d like to think we’re learning a few tricks for when baby #2 comes along — which is still a ways off.
And so, since all roads lead to budgeting on this ol’ blog, here are some of our favorite money-saving baby hacks we’ve learned as new parents.
Baby Cereal Puffs: 0 Cheerios: 1
When our girl first started eating baby food, I was all gung ho about trying each and every kind of baby food out there. One popular baby snack is cereal puffs. Baby cereal puffs typically come in a travel-friendly, cylinder-shaped $2-$4 container. The price seemed inexpensive, and our girl loved them. But after the first month, she started eating more, and these cylinder containers weren’t lasting very long. One day we were fresh out of the baby cereal puffs, and so I gave our girl Cheerios instead. And then it hit me — I could get 12x the number of Cheerios for the same cost as a container of baby cereal puffs. And then early one morning I was feeding Baby Girl Cheerios, staring bleary eyed at the bright yellow box when something else hit me: Cheerios are iron fortified! Iron is THE supplement that pediatricians breathe down our necks about. And I’m telling you guys, baby iron supplements taste AWFUL. And baby cereal puffs don’t have iron. WHY? I don’t know! But Cheerios do! So not only are Cheerios a cheap snack, but they’re also an easy-peasy way to get a big percentage of your baby’s iron needs for the day. Hallelujah!
On the Go Baby Food Pouches: Expensive No More!
At least once a week, for one reason or another, Johnny and I don’t eat dinner at home. We used to bring pre-made baby food in a plastic container when we were out and about, as well as a plastic spoon and bib. But then Baby Girl started wanting to grab the spoon, which made eating in public one billion times NOT WORTH IT. However, I discovered baby food that comes in little pouches, and my mind was blown. Our girl could just suck the food straight from the pouch. It was fast, easy, and mess-free. But there’s only one caveat. The pouches are expensive! Whereas baby food in a little plastic tub cost about $1.00 for 2 tubs, and homemade baby food is the cost of straight fruit and veggies, the pouches could cost anywhere from $1.30 to $2.50 each. And so I checked the prices on Amazon. And by using Amazon Prime (which has a 30-day trial going on right now) and the Subscribe & Save feature, I was able to get those handy little pouches for less than a dollar each. My wallet was happy, and I was very happy. And Baby Girl’s meals in public are now drama-free! I hear there are also reusable pouches, which are another cheaper option I’m looking into!
Stain-Free Baby Clothes
Before having a baby, I was determined not to let our girl’s clothing get stained. And then we had our baby, and I decided the stain thing was no big deal. Our girl had a couple blowouts the first few months, but nothing that a little soaking in OxiClean couldn’t fix.
However, I failed to realize just how much staining would occur once our girl started eating solids. Oh boy was I unprepared. Pureed carrots are very, very orange. And despite using wonderful bibs (these are my favorite), food gets on her clothing. I suppose I could just keep her naked all day long (Johnny’s preference), but no, I just can’t bring myself to do that. And so I end up with several stained shirts by week’s end. One option is to soak a shirt in OxiClean almost every single night. The only problem with that is that the shirt is then soaking wet, and it also uses up a lot of OxiClean. Another option is to just take the shirt off of my girl and throw it directly in the garbage since that’s where it looks like it belongs. The final option is what I’ve been doing and what has worked like a charm for me:
- Stick her stained clothes in her dirty clothes basket and wait to think about them until week’s end.
- At the end of the week, spray them with Shout, and rub the stain. (If the stain is really terrible, I do this the day the staining occurs and again at the end of the week.)
- After spraying all the stains, fill our washing machine with warm water, detergent, and OxiClean (usually to line 3 or 4 of the OxiClean scoop). We have a top loading washer, and I let all of our girl’s clothes soak in that solution for an hour.
- Lastly, close the lid and let the washing machine do the rest. (If you don’t have a top-loading washer, you could just let the clothes soak in a tub with OxiClean before washing them.)
It’s an easy process, and I’ve yet to have a stain stay on Baby Girl’s clothes. They all look as good as new.
Baby Hacks from Our Readers
Ice Cube Trays for Pre-Made Food: When our son was still in the pureed food stage, I would spend a couple hours on a Sunday and steam a big bag of the Costco organic frozen veggies. I would then puree it in our food processor and divide it into ice cube trays. Once frozen, divide them into ziploc freezer bags and take out portions as needed (the ice cubes are about 1oz portions). I did this for frozen fruit as well. Buying frozen seemed to save money, but still enabled us to give him organic foods.- Caitlin T.
Second-Hand Clothing: We buy pretty much all of our baby’s clothes from this second-hand shop – Once Upon A Child. They have locations all over the US I think and it can be hit or miss, but I have gotten Baby Gap, LL Bean, Old Navy, Gymboree, etc., for a fraction of the cost and the clothes sometimes still have tags on them!! This is also where I have gotten shoes for him — Adidas, Sperrys and other brands for less than $10. He grows out of clothes so quickly — this is the first place I go to look for things. Also, they can have a good selection of toys as well! Some people poo-poo at second hand shops, but you can really find some gems if you are patient and have time to sift through the racks! – Caitlin T.
Amazon Mom: Yes to the Amazon Subscribe and Save. Also, if you join the Amazon Mom (not sure why they discriminate against Dads ) you can get a 20% discount on diapers on top of the subscribe and save discount. Saves multiple trips to the store every month, which would lead to the temptation to walk out of say, Target, with more than just diapers. We’ve really started to use the subscribe and save for many other things — and the more you subscribe, the more you save! – Caitlin T.
Purex Baby: I found that Purex Baby (I’ve only been able to find at Walmart) is the best and is only $5.96 for a 66 load bottle(cheaper if there’s a coupon). We use Dreft spray if it’s from a blowout and Shout spray if it’s food. So far we have only thrown away a few items in 16 months. – Halsy
Local Zoo and Museum Passes: I know this is spending money but it saves a ton, too…but buy a local zoo or kids museum family pass. We were gifted a zoo membership for our family ($100) which I stay home so we go to the zoo almost weekly and sometimes the hubby comes along on weekends. It is normally $14 per adult to get in zoo and $7 for parking so that’s $35 for one visit for our family. However, parking is free for members! It is also a great learning experience and fun. – Halsy
Cloth Diapers (and Cloth Wipes) – Tarynkay
Up and Up (Target brand) Formula: They have imitations of all of the major brands so you can try different types if your baby is sensitive. Obviously, it is still cheapest to breastfeed if that is an option, but the Up and Up formula is about half the price of the name brands for the same ingredients and nutrition. – Tarynkay
Feed Them What You Eat: We fed our son the same food we eat from the beginning. We would mash it with a fork if necessary, but we never did purees. Baby food is expensive! – Tarynkay
Swap Babysitting with Other Parents – Tarynkay
So those are my top three money-saving baby hacks, and some other great baby hacks from some fellow parents and OFB readers. And now it’s time to hear from you. What are some money-saving hacks that have saved your wallet and your sanity that you’d add to this list? Leave your ideas in the comments, and we’ll add them to this post!