Five ways to save money with a new baby.

Meg is an Employment and Labor Attorney and mother of one.

1. Discover Fun Opportunities that are Affordable or Free.

Sure, you can sign up for expensive baby yoga classes, but you’ll be more relaxed at the end of the month knowing you can afford groceries. There are so many affordable activities to do with babies and toddlers. A few ideas to get you started: strolls with baby through a neighborhood you haven’t explored; sledding and tobogganing in the winter if you live in a snow region; public swimming pools in the summer. Look into theaters, gyms, and museums in your area because many may offer free programming for kids. Free activities are also a great way to meet other parents. Singing wheels-on-the-bus out loud during Circle Time feels a lot less awkward if you can laugh about it with your BPF (Best Parent Friend).

2. Don’t Overload on Baby and Maternity Items.

Items marketed towards babies and expectant mothers often come with an inflated price tag. The novelty of a first pregnancy or first child can influence new parents to purchase everything they’ve been told they “need.” The reality is: a lot of maternity and baby gear is regular merchandise with a fancy new name. Instead of buying maternity clothes, just go up a size or two. Tempted to grab an expensive breastfeeding pillow? A regular pillow will do.

3. Trade with Other Parents.

There’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on a variety of novelty toys when your child can be entertained by one or two special ones. When your little one gets a bit older, buy only a handful of well-made, durable toy options. Next, organize a toy-swap once a month with other parents who have kids around the same age. This keeps costs down, introduces your child to new items regularly, and avoids an overflowing closet full of colorful plastic. You can also trade babysitting nights with other parents, allowing for evenings out without the added costs of a babysitter.

4. Borrow What You Can.

Babies and toddlers love a good bedtime story, but buying new books every month does damage to your bank account. Use the library for fresh picks and story-time variety. If available, try to borrow items from friends or family during the first year, like seasonal baby clothing, infant accessories, and big-ticket items like an exersaucer or bassinet (which you’ll only use for a few months). Borrow from other parents to return later, or pay it forward to someone else who’s expecting.

5. Cut Out Unnecessary Extras.

One of the best things you can do as a new parent is figure out how to rearrange your lifestyle. Your financial routine changes when you have a baby, so figure out where to spend less in some places in order to afford more in others. Cutting out even a few items every month can make a big difference to your baby budget. Remember that your daily $3 Americano adds up to $1,000 annually. Try a rotating potluck with friends instead of dining out and work out at home with a fitness app when you find the time. Think of your new baby-related costs as a redistribution of expenses rather than adding more purchases to your life.

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