It is overwhelming at first, having a baby, when you consider all of the items you need to purchase and to keep stocked in your house. There are a few main staples that you will buy endlessly, but there are also those that you buy infrequently, yet still need in your house.
Let’s start with the two largest needs, formula and diapers. I made it my goal to breastfeed for the first 6 months minimum, for multiple reasons. Whether or not to breastfeed your baby is your own personal choice and one that should be arrived at by you and your partner in this endeavor, no one else matters.
If you do choose to breastfeed, don’t think it’s free. You may need to purchase Fenugreek or other vitamins to help you boost your production. You very likely will need a breast pump and beast milk storage bags or containers. These all add up. A pump can run anywhere from $20 for a hand pump to $300+ for a quality dual electric pump. A hand pump is fine for occasional use, but not realistic for storing breast milk if you are returning to work. I purchased an electric pump for $45, and while I heard some negativity about said pump, it served for me and got me through.
If you watch for sales, or shop online, you can find sterile milk storage bags decently priced. They run from $0.14 per bag to $0.30 per bag. Use your calculator when shopping so you know what you are paying per item. I have found no reason to use the more expensive storage bags, they make no difference.
Now, if you choose to formula feed or you supplement formula, or (as I did) need formula for the last few months of their first year, be prepared for some hard numbers. If you qualify for any assistance programs in this area, take full advantage. I found, at 7 months of age, my baby was going through 2 large canisters of formula a week. That’s as much as $60 per week in formula.
How do you make this a manageable number? First, sign up for every baby club you can. Winn Dixie and Publix grocery stores as well as Target, each have excellent baby clubs. Check with your local stores to see if they have one. Sign up with every manufacturer and brand of every baby product you can think of, especially Gerber, Similac, Enfamil, Pampers, Huggies and Luvs.
The formula companies will each send you free samples for each registered name and address as well as regularly sending vendor “checks” or coupons. These are checks written from the company for use of any of their own products and they are usually $5 each, but can be as much as $10 or even $12. These can be used with other coupons, as these aren’t coupons, they are checks.
The baby clubs will send you quarterly or monthly coupons in the mail, sometimes brand specific and sometimes they are generic “any formula” coupons for their store. Watch for brand coupons in your newspapers or online printables. You can find these for as little as a few cents on up to $4 or $5. Watch your local grocery store for their weekly sales. And watch the expiration dates on your coupons. Don’t rush right out to use them, but don’t let them expire.
Now, when you have a collection of coupons, you should be able to watch for those weekly sales. When you see “Brand X” go on sale for the week for $5 less, pull out your coupons and find your store coupon for $3 off any formula, find the vendor coupon for $4 off their brand and grab your vendor check for $5 off. That $32 tub of formula just turned into a $15 tub of formula. And if you use a second vendor coupon and check, your second canister that week is $18 a tub. If you can make this happen for all of your formula, you can save $100-150 a month on the formula alone.
How about diapers? Same concept, except I have yet to see one of the diaper companies send out vendor checks. That said, almost all stores (don’t forget your pharmacy) put diapers on sale all of the time. And there are coupons out there, as well as those baby club coupons. Save them up, use them together and save. Too, know what diapers cost and don’t be afraid to go generic. I have used Target, Walgreens, Walmart, CVS and Winn Dixie’s own brands and all have easily sufficed for daily use without any detriment to my child. Often these are so much cheaper than the name brands that you just can’t beat using them. The cheapest I’ve bought disposable diapers for was $0.07 per diaper for an off brand. That said, name brand diapers average around $0.30 each. That’s too high. I use name brand diapers for overnight and off brand during the day. Average price with sales is around $0.12-$0.22 per diaper.
Now let’s talk other needs. Things like lotions, soaps, medicines etc. The best savings I have found are indeed the grocery store baby clubs for their coupons and watching the weekly ads. If I have one or the other, I will then search the internet for a vendor coupon to attach to it. I only buy the item if I know I’m going to use it, or if I already need it.
How about baby food? Well, there are several coupons out there for baby foods, and they can be utilized in the same way, but I have truly found it cheaper to make my own. It isn’t hard, it isn’t time consuming, and it is much, much cheaper. Example: Stage 1 peas, on sale, with coupons, run as low as $0.50 per serving. If I buy 2 bags of frozen peas on sale for $1 per bag, I can boil them, blend them in the blender I already own, freeze them in the ice cube trays I already own and store them in either zip bags or tupperwear that I already own and I will have around 25 servings or more. It takes very little time, little mess and it’s so much more palatable.
That covers most of the items that are shopped for on a regular basis. Do your own research as needed. Form your own decisions and don’t let anyone make you feel as if your choice wasn’t good enough. No one knows your life like you do.