21st Century Dad
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How to Prepare for a Baby’s Arrival on a Budget

April 10th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Isn’t it amazing that such a small mammal requires so much stuff? Preparing for a baby’s arrival is a huge undertaking. You don’t have to buy brand new. Used is perfectly OK. I will even tell you how to get things for free!

Are you one of those people who likes shiny, brand new things? Get over it! You’re about to have a baby. Some outfits are worn only once or twice as babies grow so rapidly. Clothes still look fresh enough even after a couple hand-me-down cycles. Maternity clothing only gets a couple months of wear as moms expand into the next size up.

Friends and Family

Once you share the joyous news, anyone with available hand-me-downs will speak up. The easy way out would be to just donate the items, but most people would rather offer their help someone they know. Our friend Barb has a daughter a year older than Twilli. She gave us an entire suitcase full of very cute and stylish clothing.

Thrift Stores

You can’t blog about bargains without mentioning thrift stores. Just about everything you’d need except diapers, wipes, and formula is available here. If the expectant grandparents are around, bring them along. The Goodwill chain of thrift stores here offer discounts to senior citizens. On a recent trip to the thrift store, we found an outfit identical to one Twilli had as a newborn, except this one is her current size.

Freesource and Freecycle

I’ve used Freesource and The Freecycle Network to de-clutter my house. When we learned the joyous news, we knew we had to work the groups for free baby stuff.

In large metropolitan areas, there are several groups that you can join within reasonable distance. Baby items are abundant, offered almost daily. You might also score some items that aren’t posted to the boards when you pick up the item you claimed. We got most of the clothes, bedding, blankets, a bath basin, a bassinet, and some toys.


We got our crib for $40 and changing table for $35. The lady who sold us the changing table also threw in a bunch of other goodies she had lying around. Children grow out of things. They are fickle creatures. Many nearly-new toys and items are sold here too.

The Baby Shower and Gift Registry

I’m not saying you should mooch off your friends and family, but creating a baby registry is a great way to obtain some of the items you will need. Your friends and family are genuinely happy for you and they want the opportunity to express their joy. They don’t want to play a guessing game. Ask and ye shall receive. Sometimes, a group will pool together to get you a big-ticket item, but this is not the time to be greedy. Some retailers offer you a discount if you buy items on your registry that your friends and family did not pick out.

Twilli’s mom and I were overwhelmed at the show of support at our baby shower. We’re socially outgoing and we were able to leverage the relationship equity that we spent years building up. Traditionally, this is a women-only affair, but we elected to have a co-ed baby shower to be more inclusive of all our friends. The friends who could not make it to the big bash and our out-of-town friends also came through. We got to know our UPS driver very well.

We couldn’t have pulled it off ourselves. Our dear friend Shantelle is a party and event planner. Part of her gift to us was to provide her services. Now she has built up a successful business organizing tea parties for young girls. You better believe that in a few years, Twilli will be having a tea party.

Take What You Can Get… You’ll Need It.

The arrival of a child is an exciting time. It’s easy to get carried away and fall into the trap of consumerism. You want the very best for your child, but the very best also means that you, as parents, are financially responsible parents too.

When you announce that you are expecting your first child, everyone you meet, especially people who already have children, become very supportive. You’ll need all the help you can get. Accept it graciously. It takes a village.


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6 Responses to “How to Prepare for a Baby’s Arrival on a Budget”

  1. comment number 1 by: nancypants

    Hear hear! Very true, all of this. We love Freecycle. It makes decluttering a cinch and we’ve found some really great things that we needed on it.

  2. comment number 2 by: La Rêveuse

    Don’t forget garage sales! I went to one for a baby item, and found the entire street full of sales with baby items. Due to a tornado watch and everyone wanting to close up shop, the prices dropped super-quick and I filled my car–trunk, backseat, and passenger seat–for 65 bucks. These are a great way to get stuff!

  3. comment number 3 by: Amberlynn

    Well said. The only addition I would make is to buy nothing until you need it (really, it’s ok to wait until after the baby is born). That way, you’ll either hold off until someone gives it to you – or you’ll never have to regret buying that stack of baby contraptions that never get used.

  4. comment number 4 by: Alex in OC

    Diapers, wipes, and formula?!?!?! All you have to do is register for/ask for cloth diapers as baby gifts, and you’re set—for ALL the babies that come after. You can use cheap baby washcloths as wipes, and/or the dry end of the diaper. I got my washcloths at garage sales. My baby is 11 mos and we have used less than 3 commercial boxes of wipes, since I just used them for massive messes and the diaper bag. Diaper wash is not a big deal at all. I just soak them overnight in the washer every 2-5 days and start it up in the morning.

    And formula? Breast is better AND free. Even if you have to buy/rent a pump you’ll save money and give your baby health benefits that even the fanciest formula can’t provide. Find your La Leche League/any lactation consultants available (ie through the hospital) before you have your baby. Know that there is NO such thing as you not having enough milk, if you nurse on demand. Doctors were WRONG when they told generations of women this. Kellymom.com is a GREAT breastfeeding resource. There are likely to be 1 or 2 challenges for you, but that is no reason to abandon the effort to use an expensive fake milk. My baby was jaundiced, and I said no again and again to formula, and she was FINE. Since we have a lot of food allergies, I’m just starting solids at 11 months, and she is a big, healthy, happy baby at 22 lbs. Even big babies are fine with breastmilk.

    As I step off my soapbox, I have to mention that the affluent areas around here have much better clothes/deals than thrift stores. We also shop the resale store Children’s Orchard–there is likely to be one by you.

  5. comment number 5 by: 21st Century Dad

    Thanks everyone! There are some great suggestions that I missed.

  6. […] How to Prepare for a Baby’s Arrival on a Budget is an excellent resource for expectant parents. I have several blogging friends out there expecting a child, or who have just recently celebrated the birth of a child. Read this one to keep those baby costs low. @21st Century Dad […]

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