How to Save Money on Baby Gear
How to Save Money on Baby Gear
August 11, 2022

How to Save Money on Baby Gear

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How to Save Money on Baby Gear.
How to Save Money on Baby Gear

Diapers and wipes, bottles and formula, bassinets and swings, cribs and swaddles…the list goes on. It’s funny how someone so small can possibly need so much stuff—and shocking just how much all of that stuff can cost.

But having a baby—and all the gear that comes with them—doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank. There are a lot of simple ways to save money on baby gear. We’re sharing our top suggestions so you can spend less time budgeting and more time enjoying your new addition.

1. Find the freebies

Love getting free stuff? You’re in luck. Baby brands know just how valuable you’re about to become as a new parent—because you’ll also be a new customer. There are lots of ways to get all kinds of free baby stuff when you’re pregnant and after you’ve had your baby.

  • A baby registry box is a welcome box filled with samples for you and for your new arrival that you can receive by signing up for a baby registry at various retailers. The contents of these boxes vary, but examples include things like swaddles, pacifiers, diaper samples, baby shampoo, nursing pads, laundry detergent and lots more. While you may not use or need everything, there will likely be plenty of items that you’ll like and they may even help you discover a new brand or two. Babylist, Amazon and Target all have free welcome kits and boxes; just be sure to follow the specific directions on each site when you sign up.
  • Use rewards programs to access free samples, discounts and other goodies for things like baby formula and diapers. Formula brands Enfamil, Similac and Gerber all have rewards programs. Some diaper brands also have free sample packs available so you can try before you buy. (Dyper, Cuties and Pampers are just a few examples.) You can also always check with your pediatrician and your OB to check if they have any free samples on hand.
  • Don’t be shy about taking lots of samples from the hospital if that’s where you’re giving birth. Hospitals are often well stocked with baby items like diapers, wipes, diaper cream, pacifiers and more as well as with things for birthing parents like pads, disposable mesh underwear, perineal spray, breast pads and other postpartum products.

2. Use your registry discounts

And speaking of baby registries, most retailers offer a registry completion discount—a discount on unpurchased items remaining on your registry for a certain window of time. Most registry completion discounts are around 15% and are a great way to stock up on the items you need at a reduced price if you haven’t already been gifted them. Just be sure to pay attention to the specific timeframe so you don’t miss your discount window.

3. Embrace minimalism

Between TikTok and Instagram, recommendations from other new parents and that pair of tiny baby sneakers you just can’t stop thinking about, it’s easy to get caught up in all the things you think you need for a baby.

Reality check: babies don’t actually need all that much stuff. If you’re looking to save money on baby gear, start by…simply not buying all that much baby gear. Keep it minimal and stick to the basics: a safe place to sleep like a crib or a bassinet, diapers, clothing (not a ton!) and a few bottles and some formula if you choose not to breastfeed or if you’re planning on supplementing.

A few other money-saving tips:

  • Don’t want to spend on a crib? A playard with a bassinet attachment can be used from day one all the way through the toddler years, and it works for travel, too.
  • Choose an audio monitor or another budget-friendly pick instead of a video or WiFi monitor. They’re much cheaper and still get the job done.
  • Opt for a travel system instead of a separate car seat + stroller; a combo deal is often less expensive than buying each item individually.
  • Choose one “baby holder” (swing, bouncer, infant lounger etc.), as that’s really all you need.
  • Don’t splurge on special baby detergent. Any free-and-clear option is fine to use for washing baby clothes.
  • Instead of shopping for clothing piece by piece, look for a layette set and check all the basics off of your list at once.

4. Register for needs, not wants

Tempted to add all the things to your baby registry? It can be hard to resist, but don’t overdo it, especially on items that fall into the “want to have” category instead of the “need to have.”

This means if you’re building a budget-friendly baby registry you’ll want to focus on the big must-haves like a stroller, a car seat, a crib or playard and a high chair, as well as the smaller items that add up over time like diapers, wipes, diaper cream and even clothing in larger sizes.

Is a pack of diapers as exciting to open up at your baby shower as the latest and greatest baby swing with 15 speeds and 10 built-in nature sounds? Probably not, but you’re going to need a lot of diapers over the next few years, and you (and your wallet) will be happy to have a stockpile.

5. Stock up on secondhand

So much baby gear has a limited window of use. A swing, for example, is the perfect spot for your baby to chill while you get other things done, but once your little one starts sitting up and rolling over (think sometime around six months) it’s game over. The same goes for lots of other big-ticket baby items like a bassinet, a bouncer, an infant seat and even some types of swaddle blankets.

Buying used baby gear is a budget-friendly strategy you can start before your baby is even born. You’ll need to know where to shop, though, as well as what baby gear is safe to buy used and what isn’t.

  • Facebook swap groups and Marketplace are two of the best destinations for gently used baby gear. Swap groups are usually local to your area and run by other parents, and Marketplace is managed by Facebook and covers a larger geographic area.
  • Online marketplaces like Weepea and OfferUp both sell gently used children’s gear and clothing. Also check ThredUp (there’s a dedicated kids’ section) and Ebay’s baby section.
  • GoodBuy Gear is an online resale marketplace for high-quality baby gear. Unlike other online sellers, GoodBuy’s gear experts inspect and clean all items before listing them and never sell recalled items. They also sell open-box items from popular brands.

Here’s what to keep in mind from a safety perspective when shopping for used baby gear:

  • Items like strollers, baby carriers, playards, swings and bouncers, activity centers and play gyms, infant seats, nursery furniture like a glider or a dresser, baby bathtubs, baby clothes, toys and books are all good secondhand buys. If you’re buying used gear, always check for recalls and be sure the item is structurally sound before purchasing, and always give everything a good scrub before using it with your baby.
  • It’s not recommended to buy car seats, cribs or crib mattresses secondhand. Car seats may have been involved in a crash (or even dropped) without you knowing and may be structurally compromised. Cribs and crib mattresses are both held to very high (and constantly evolving) safety standards and tend to weaken and sag over time. It’s best to buy all of these products new.

6. Consider a rental

Did you know you can rent baby gear? If you need a specific item for a short, one-time window of use—think a travel high chair or a super lightweight travel crib, for example, or even a bundle of beach toys—it may be more cost-effective to rent rather than buy, especially if you don’t think you’ll ever use those items again. It’s also convenient; depending on your location, many baby gear rental companies deliver the items right to your door. (Some even ship.) BabyQuip, Baby’s Away and Rents4baby are three good options to check out.

7. Shop for gear that goes the distance

This is a good tip to keep in mind when you’re shopping for any type of baby gear, but especially helpful when you’re trying to save money. If you ever have the option for gear that’s multi-use or that grows with your child—go for it. It may cost you a bit more upfront, but the savings over time will make it worthwhile.

Examples of these types of baby products include:

  • A convertible crib—a crib that converts to a toddler bed or even a twin bed.
  • An all-in-one car seat that will take you from the baby days all the way through elementary school.
  • A convertible stroller that grows with your family and holds two (or more) kids.
  • A playard with a built-in bassinet and changing station, or a high chair that works for babies and big kids.
  • A dresser + portable changing pad (rather than a changing table) so you can use it beyond the diapering days.
  • Multi-function gear like a sound machine that does triple duty as a night light and toddler alarm clock, an activity center that turns into a play table or a humidifier that’s also a diffuser.

8. Shop store brands

From diapers and wipes to bubble baths and beyond, most big retailers have their own store brands across many different baby product categories. Most of the time they’re just as good, if not better, than many big name brands and come at significant cost savings. Here’s what to shop for the next time you head out on an emergency toilet paper run and find yourself wandering the baby aisle of your favorite big box store.

  • Target. Ah, Target, where you walk in with your shopping list of six items and walk out with 16. There are so many Target-owned brands to love, but some of the best are Up & Up diapers and infant formula, Cloud Island sleepers, Cat & Jack baby clothing and the adorable Pillowfort line of kids’ decor.
  • Walmart. This budget-friendly retailer’s store brand, Parent’s Choice, makes a huge range of baby items, but the standouts are the diapers and wipes and the infant formula.
  • Costco. If you have a Costco nearby, a yearly membership may be something to consider to access the store’s money-saving bulk buys. Their Kirkland wipes can’t be beat (they’re fragrance-free and really affordable) and many parents swear by their diapers, too. The store carries tons of name-brand baby items as well, like Huggies, Similac, Enfamil and more, and you’ll save money by buying in bulk.
  • Amazon. Yup, the mega online retailer is also in on the owned brand game. Their Mama Bear line includes diapers and wipes, infant formula and more, and is an affordable diapering alternative to other big-name competitors. Another favorite is their Earth & Eden line of eco-conscious diapers.

9. Take a little time to shop around

Finding the time to do just about anything other than care for your new baby can be tricky, but shopping around to find the best price (and keeping an eye out for sales) is definitely time well spent. Stuff you’ll be buying on the regular—think diapers, wipes and formula, for instance—quickly adds up. Spending a few minutes comparing prices from a few different stores and websites and doing some simple math like calculating a unit price (e.g., 128 diapers for $45.00 is a unit price of about 35 cents per diaper) can go a long way for your wallet.

Another tip: look out for car seat trade-in programs, like Target’s event that happens twice each year. All you need to do is bring your old, expired or damaged car seat to the store, and Target will recycle it and issue you a coupon for 20% off a new car seat, stroller or other select baby gear. It’s an easy way to save money and help the planet at the same time.

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