How to create a baby on a budget checklist so you can enjoy your newborn and be financially stress-free. It is totally possible to have a baby on a budget, especially if you consider what the baby actually needs for the first few months of life.
We love baby gear and gadgets here at baby gadget list, but the thing is, even we know that there are items out there for babies that parents can live without. The baby industry is huge because there are a lot of babies being born on a regular basis, but the thing is, a lot of these items are made with convenience in mind.
We love that baby gear can save you time and sanity too, but the money required to purchase all that exciting and seemingly essential baby gear can leave a momma stressed right out.
We created this baby on a budget checklist for those families who simply cannot afford all the things for the baby that are recommended. With family and a budget in mind, we came up with a very simple list of the bare minimum essentials that will get you through the first few months of life with baby.
(This post contains affiliate links. Our full disclosure policy is really boring, but you can find it here.)
How Much Does A Baby Cost Every Month?
The cost of having a baby will highly depend on your lifestyle, but there are some general guidelines we can help you with to guide you along your baby on a budget journey.
When it comes to baby stuff, there are a few costs that are reoccurring every month such as wipes, diapers, childcare, formula, clothing, RESP’s, and baby gadgets and gear that you realize you really do require and need to purchase.
As your baby grows older, the diaper packages will cost slightly more and more. It’s a good idea to buy your diapers in bulk packages such as at Costco, or on Amazon. We love Amazon because they will send diapers every month, so if you forget to order them, they will come anyway.
If you choose to use baby wipes at home, then this is going to become a cost you’ll need to add to your budget. You can use cloth wipes instead, and do a little more laundry than you used to, but you’ll have to factor in the cost of doing extra laundry as well.
As far as childcare goes, this will vary on Country and region. Within Canada, our baby gadget list experts have recorded paying a minimum of $1000 per month per child. Do a little research for your region, and see what the costs of childcare are. Some child care costs are out of reach, and therefore a lot of moms become stay-at-home moms to avoid this fee.
If you end up formula feeding instead of breastfeeding, you will need to add formula to the list every month as well. Here is a formula feeding calculator for your baby on a budget checklist to help you prepare financially for your new baby.
Your baby will also be growing really quickly, meaning you’ll need to upgrade the wardrobe constantly. Most families spend an average of $60 a month on clothing.
RESP’s are really important to set up for your baby, and if the budget is tight, the amount doesn’t have to be high. visit your bank and talk to them about the budget you have and the options they have for you.
Tips For Preparing For A Baby Financially
We know that preparing for a baby financially can make your head spin. All the things you need to get, the things you need to do. Despite all that, there are some things you can do to prepare for your new baby financially. The good news is, you have about 9 months to get things done, so it’s not a total rush!
Here are some things you can do to prepare for your new baby financially.
Know Your Maternity Leave Budget: How much money will you receive on maternity leave and how long will that last? Will you go back to work after maternity leave is finished? Make sure to adjust your regular budget to your maternity leave amount so you know exactly where you stand.
Deal With Debt: If you have debt, and are able to make payments on it before baby arrives, then by all means, now is a great time to get that dealt with.
Start Sinking Funds: Babies cost a lot of money. If you can put money away into an envelope and stash it in your closet until the day you need it, then you should go ahead and do that. Thank goodness it’s not as expensive as buying a boat!
Think About RESP: Now is a great time to start thinking about how much you will be able to put away towards RESP’s. Add it into your budget, and see if it is something that is feasible.
Budget Budget Budget: Now is a great time to start a budget if you don’t have one. Here is a great resource on everything about budgeting.
Bare Minimum Baby Essentials To Have Before Baby Arrives
These are the absolute, bare minimum essentials to have before the baby arrives. We aren’t saying that all the other baby gear is bogus, in fact we do go over why we didn’t list some of the other seemingly important items before this list of essentials.
- Car Seat (Cannot leave the hospital without this)
- Receiving Blankets
- Bath (Tub, cloths, lotion and soap)
- Thermometer, Tylenol
- Nail Clippers, Hairbrush
- Diapers (cloth or disposable) and wipes!
- Playpen (in place of crib and bassinet)
This is a BARE MINIMUM list of the things you need for your new baby. Life can be more challenging without some of the other items that we didn’t include on the list, but not impossible.
We want to explain ourselves and why we listed what we did, and if you want our full recommendation of essentials for your baby check out our registry guide here.
For one, the hospital will not let you leave without a car seat, so this is an essential must-have item for your baby.
Your baby will also require some clothing to wear when they get out of the hospital. Some babies do not fit into newborn clothes after birth and go straight to 0-3 months or if they are on the smaller side, the premie sizes. We suggest having at least 10 sleepers, a few onesies, and a handful of socks for your baby all ready to go before she comes home from the hospital.
Receiving blankets will be your godsend, whether you are having a baby on a budget or splurging away on baby stuff. You’ll use your receiving blankets for swaddling, as a blanket, as a puke catcher and cleaner-upper, and more. You’ll want to have as many of these as possible. We discovered that when parents are finished with their receiving blankets, they tend to sell them online for almost nothing and in bundles too. Check out the Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji, Craigslist, or any other website in your area that has options to purchase items from other people in your neighborhood.
If you’re on a super tight budget and cannot afford a stroller, you’ll want a baby carrier or wrap for when you leave the house. A baby carrier is helpful and most can be used from the newborn stages. You can also use the baby carrier in the home when the baby is crying to be held and you have things that need to be tended to.
When it comes to baby hygiene you can splurge and get all the best baby bath products such as this bathtub, these soaps, and these washcloths and towels, or you can use a simple bath that can be used from newborn to 6 months (or until baby can sit up) and then continue bathing baby in the big tub (or shower) in your home. You CAN use regular towels, but the baby hooded towels are easier to use. If your baby has severe cradle cap, you may want to consider a cradle cap shampoo.
There is no denying that a thermometer is a must-have essential baby item to have before the baby arrives. You never want to get stuck in the middle of the night without a thermometer and fevering baby. If you need to call the doctor and let them know what is happening with your baby, they will be asking for the baby’s temperature. This can help you skip a trip to the hospital which can become costly if you’re in the United States.
Tylenol is also great to have on hand for when the baby is teething or has a fever. You’ll want to check with your doctor for appropriate situations for using the Tylenol, but it is a must-have item to have at home.
Babies often have razor-sharp nails and fuzzy hair. You’ll need to keep those trimmed, for her sake and yours too. Keep your baby looking nice by brushing your baby’s hair, which is especially nice after a wash or if the baby has cradle cap.
Whether you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding, bottles are a must-have item when preparing for your baby to arrive. The good news is, if you sign up for FREE baby samples, a lot of these packages come with bottles! Additionally, you can purchase these very inexpensive bottles. If you want to know how many bottles you need for baby, read our guide here.
If your baby has colic or is getting very gassy from the simple bottles, you may have to splurge and get a more expensive bottle, but it is not something that you should worry about right away, especially if money is very tight.
Your baby will need a place to sleep, and while you may be thinking the baby can sleep with you (which is fine, we don’t judge, just keep these safety things in mind) there will be times when you are not sleeping and you need a safe place to put the baby to sleep. A playpen can help you there. The playpen can replace the bassinet and the crib. You will eventually want to get baby into a better bed, but the playpen will help you get through the first little while.
Diapering a baby is unavoidable unless you’re going with the elimination method. You can choose between using cloth diapers which are more expensive up front but save money in the long run, or disposable diapers which cost you a consistent amount every week or so. Regardless of the diapering method you choose, you’ll have to spend money there.
While we are on the subject of diapering, you can use Vaseline instead of baby bum cream. It’s not as fast healing as some of the baby creams with zinc in them, but it does put a nice layer between the diaper and the baby bum which helps diaper rash heal. In fact, ask your doctor while you are at the hospital for a tube of Vaseline.
Items we didn’t include on the list and why..
Laundry Detergent: While it is super nice to be able to wash the baby stuff in special laundry detergent created with babies in mind, sometime that stuff isn’t in the budget and unless the baby develops an allergic reaction to your regular detergent, you don’t NEED to have the special stuff. Although it is super nice to have.
High chair: Your baby will not need a high chair for the first 4-6 months of life, and therefore this is something that you can purchase later, when it’s in the budget. There is no need to have this before the baby arrives.
Stroller: Strollers seem like a must-have item, and they sure are convenient, it is perfectly possible to go out and have the baby in a carrier for long periods of time. It’s more uncomfortable to not be able to throw your bag into the bottom of the stroller, but when you’re on a tight budget, this is something you can skip. You can wait until the baby is old enough for an umbrella stroller, which is cheaper than a travel system, and use that for a long time!
Wipes: Call us crazy, but you actually don’t need wipes at home. They are super convenient and make life so much easier, but for the purpose of a super tight budget, you can forget the wipes. Go for homemade cloth wipes instead if you’re having trouble coming up with the cash for wipes.
Baby Jumper: Baby bouncers / jumperoos / and activity centers are all nice to have items. While it is important for babies to play with toys like this, it is also something you are able to skip if you don’t have the budget for these items.
Baby Vibrating Seat: These baby seats are a lifesaver for most parents who want to put the baby into a chair and have them nearby. While these are super convenient it is simply not a must-have item as the baby and parents will survive without it.
Crib/change table/dresser: These nursery items are all nice to have items that you simply do not NEED when you are becoming a parent. They really do make life more comfortable, and if you have the space to create a nursery, it’s so much fun to be able to make a nice room for your baby. However, if you choose to co-sleep, and put the baby down for sleep in the playpen in your room, there simply isn’t a need for a crib or change table. If you have space for a dresser, by all means, go purchase one, but you can use alternate organizing methods for baby clothing if you’re right on space.
Diaper Cream: Diaper cream is pretty magical, but at $20 a tub for the good stuff that we love you can simply go without it. Remember to substitute Vaseline in place of the bum cream to keep rashes at bay.
Baby Monitor: Chances are, if you are on a tight budget and are not creating a nursery, then you will not require a baby monitor. If your home is small already, you will be able to hear the baby if they wake from their nap. If you do have a baby who has a heart condition, or breathing problems or anything like that, we do recommend you grab the owlet.
Nursing Wardrobe: Hey if you’re a new mom and stressed about money, then you certainly can go without a nursing wardrobe. It can make things more difficult, especially if you’re out in public trying to feed, but you can use a scarf as a nursing cover, or a receiving blanket. We highly recommend you grabbing a nursing bra at the very least, but you CAN live without it.
Nursing Pillow: A nursing pillow can help position the baby for proper breastfeeding, however, a regular pillow can do the same. It might be a little more frustrating at first but it can be done, and you can save yourself some money there.
Diaper Pail: This is a very handy item and can keep your home from smelling like a giant diaper, but you can use your regular trashcan for dirty diapers. We do recommend you to wrap each diaper in a plastic bag to keep down the smell if you are going to do this, or you can try these diaper genie alternatives instead.
Diaper Bag: It’s quite handy to have a diaper bag because they come with bottle pockets and all sorts of compartments to keep your baby gear organized. However, if you have any sort of backpack or large purse, you can use that instead.
Baby Swing: While super convenient, also not a must-have. When your baby is fussy or you need a break from holding her, a baby swing comes in handy. While it is a super convenient item and most moms call it a must-have, it is certainly something you CAN do without. Put the baby down in your playpen if you need a break and cannot afford a swing.
A lot of the items that we skipped are so nice to have and most parents would call us crazy for leaving them off the bare minimum essential list. But listen, your baby and you will survive without these items, it just might be a little more difficult.
Baby On A Budget Checklist
So now you have a list of bare minimum essentials, and some ideas on how to prepare for your baby financially, we have some actionable tips for you to save money on your baby upbringing journey.
List it out
The first thing you’ll want to do is create a list of essentials so you can stay focused on what items are important for your family.
You can go ahead and create a detailed spreadsheet with the item, the cost, the preferred brand, how many you need, and how urgent it is that you get it before baby arrives.
Or you can create a simple checklist in google keep and check things off as you purchase them.
Refer to our list of bare minimum baby essentials or our registry checklist to help you prepare your list.
Stick to your list so you can be sure to avoid spending extra money on baby items that you may not need. It is really exciting to pop into a baby shop and start adding things to your cart because they are too adorable to pass up on.
You’ll want to start shopping for baby stuff as early as possible so you’re not in your third trimester stressing out about all the things you still need to find.
It’s a good idea to not start “too early” just in case there are complications, so it’s a good idea to wait until your 12 week mark before going out to buy your first baby item.
If you’re on the fence about a baby item, keep in mind return policy guidelines so you can be sure to get your money back if you changed your mind after baby arrived.
The third thing to keep in mind is to figure out how you’re going to diaper the baby. If you go ahead and purchase cloth diapers, then your costs for diapering aren’t going to increase every month. You’ll need a minimum of 26 diapers, some wet bags, a pail for dirty diapers, and some diaper cream that will not damage your cloth diapers. Here are some cloth diapering basics to help you get started if you want to go this route.
If you’re going with disposables, then you may want to consider using cheaper diapers during the day and more expensive and absorbent diapers during the night time. The drier the baby feels, the better they will sleep. Usually, store brand diapers are cheaper, which is something you could consider when trying to save money on diapering needs. If you’re thinking of using store-bought wipes, keep in mind that budget wipes are often not very high quality and can rip while you’re wiping your baby’s bum. The Kirkland wipes from Costco are by far the highest quality wipes for the lowest cost.
A great way to save money on formula, bottles and bottle accessories is to breastfeed your baby. This isn’t possible for everyone, and not everyone wants to breastfeed, but it is a good option to help stay on a budget if you cannot afford monthly baby formula.
Baby bottles can get pretty expensive also, especially if you are formula feeding full time, you’re going to need a good collection of bottles at home. Also think about drying racks, sterilizers, bottle brushes, and the time you need to ensure your bottles stay clean and sanitized for your baby.
Breastfeeding can save you some of those financial headaches.
Previously Loved Gear
Another way you can save money on your baby is by purchasing baby clothing and gear that is previously loved. Going to your favorite thrift shop or looking at the Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji for deals is going to help you save a bundle of cash when you’re scouting for baby essentials.
Keep in mind that when you are purchasing items for your baby that are used, you should only buy items that can be washed and sanitized. If the items cannot be thrown into the washer such as clothing, then you may want to skip it. It is important to have clean baby items, so whatever you do purchase second hand, will need a thorough cleaning.
If you’re lucky, some thrift shops have baby items with brand new tags on them and for super cheap. Babies do grow out of their baby stuff quickly and sometimes parents donate items that are brand spanking new to the thrift shops.
Don’t forget yard sales, Varagesale app, Letgo and even Facebook mom buy and sell groups.
You can also sell the baby items that you use as soon as your baby grows out of them, so you can use that money for the new stuff that you require.
Shop Online And Save
When you are shopping online, make sure you do your research before you buy. Some items should be purchased brand new such as a car seat. We don’t trust used car seats simply because you will never know if that car seat was in an accident at some point. Better to be safe and purchase it new. We have some excellent baby gear guides on the baby gadget list website to help your online purchasing journey more simple.
- The Best Double Strollers
- Best Jogging Strollers
- Budget Video Cameras
- Best Baby Toys For The First 12 Months
- Best Cribs For Baby
- Best Ring Sling
- Best Stroller Organizer
- Best Baby Bottle Brush
- Best Non Toxic Pacifiers
- Best Baby Carriers
- Best Baby Towels
- Best Baby Jumpers
Get Free Stuff
While you’re shopping online, be sure to go ahead and sign up for FREE baby stuff!
Visit our baby registry article for more information on how you can get free stuff from your baby registries. Otherwise, there are some websites like Enfamil, Nestle, and Similac that ship boxes of free formula, coupons, and other baby things right to your door.
Here is a helpful resource on how you can get $500 worth of free baby stuff for your baby.
Keep Nursery Simple
Another thing you need to add to your checklist is the nursery decor. You can certainly have an adorable nursery, but you can do so on a budget. If you’re on a super tight budget, skip the nursery altogether and have the baby in your room for a while. But if you have the room in your home and in your budget then set up a nursery, but keep it simple. A lot of nursery decor is super tempting to splurge on, but if you have a baby shower, then you might get some decorative items for the room anyway!
Skip The Toys
When trying to have a baby on a budget you may want to skip the baby toys. Babies can technically play with household items such as wooden spoons, Tupperware containers, and pots. Also, keep in mind that the baby will not be able to play with toys for at least the first three months of life, so you can save money by not buying toys. Toys do help with development, so we recommend having at least a playmat for your little one, but again, for the sake of the budget you can totally skip this.
If you do want to purchase toys, you can look for swap groups in your community. Yes these groups are amazing and they totally exist. You can even do this with friends if you have babies that are close in age. Instead of purchasing new toys, swap your current toys with someone else so your baby has new toys that didn’t cost you a thing.
Don’t stop at toys though, you can do this with all baby gear, especially clothing.
Sometimes there is financial assistance available for new parents. Does your government have a program such as a child benefit? Look into it, and apply if you are eligible.
Talk to your bank and set up the RESP’s for your baby as soon as he is born. Even if you can put in a small amount of money into the RESP’s every month, it’s better than not having it altogether. Try not to skip this step, it will help your baby when they are ready for post secondary school later in life.
Cut Extras From Budget
Another great way to have a baby on a budget is to refer to your budget and see if there is anything that you can cut from your budget when you find out you are pregnant. If you look closely enough, there should be at least one or two things that you can cut from your budget, even if it is your daily Starbucks.
Saving just $2 a day for 40 weeks can help you save $560. That’s a new travel system! The thing is, you’ll have to think hard about your budget and dig deep into it to find the opportunities to save, but this task should not be ignored.
Do Cheaper Things
This may seem like a silly thing, but if you can cut your spending while you’re pregnant, an area you can do this in is in your activities. Can you lower your gym membership? Are you able to eat dinner at your favourite restaurant less? Can you save money by not going to the mall as often? Can that basement renovation wait a little while?
Look for these opportunities and try to do activities that don’t cost you as much.
Another great way to save some money is to skip purchasing new books and go to your local library. You can even grab what to expect when you’re expecting, and what to expect your first year from the library and takes notes. There is no need to own these books if you are on a tight budget. But they are a good read and you should definitely read them.
Once your baby starts eating solid foods, you can save money by using baby-led weaning or making your own purees instead of purchasing them. You don’t have to skip it altogether either, you can purchase some baby food such as baby cereal that is iron-fortified, and supplement with foods you eat yourself such as bananas, avocados and toast.
After you have your baby, you may want a night out here and there. See if you can swap babysitting with friends instead of paying for a neighbor to look after the baby. You can also ask family members and friends to do you a favor and look after the baby so you can have a night out with your husband. This is a good way to save $40 for each evening that you need a babysitter.
With all the things that babies need, you’ll want to have a baby shower so your friends and family members can help you get set up with baby essentials.
Diaper and Wipes Shower
If you already have a lot of baby gear ready to go before the baby comes, there is no shame in having a diaper and wipes shower. Basically, instead of your friends and family purchasing baby items for you, they will purchase diapers and wipes instead. You know you’re going to need them, so it’s not a bad idea to have a shower for these baby necessities.
Keep In Mind The Hospital Has Stuff For You
When you are packing your hospital bag, keep in mind that the hospital does have a lot of essentials for you if you do not have them on hand. They won’t give you a lot of stuff, but they will help you out and give you some essentials such as a few extra diapers, some wipes, a pacifier, Vaseline and even a bathtub if you ask nicely.
Wrapping It Up: Baby On A Budget Checklist
Having a baby on a budget is totally possible, but there are some things that you can do to prepare yourself for the baby financially so you can get some baby gear that will help make your life easier.
Remember that babies do cost money monthly with many reoccurring purchases that need to be made, so you’ll want to figure out your budget nice and early on in the pregnancy so you are fully prepared for the financial aspects of having a baby.
(This post contains affiliate links. Our full disclosure policy is really boring, but you can find it here.)