Budgeting Tips for Families with New Babies

Smiling baby and mother.

Babies change everything. When you sleep, what you eat, where you go, and how you spend your money. Luckily on that last one there are things you can do to prepare yourself and your budget for the many, many, many new costs you'll encounter as a parent to a new baby. Here are just a few.

You don’t have to have best of the best

Is the most expensive version of an item always the best? Sometimes, but not usually. Name brands are okay, and are known for higher quality than others, but always do your research. A less expensive brand might actually be a better fit for you.

The cost of baby furniture can be a budget-breaker. Weigh your options and your priorities. Do you need something designer or high end? Or can you find something more affordable that also comes with good reviews?

Make a list and stick to it

Well before the baby arrives, you should list out the things you know you'll need. Divide the list into “must-haves” and “things I want.” This will help you stick with your priorities. Buy the must-haves first and then prioritize the wants.

Try waiting until the baby is born to see if you need any of the things on your “want” list. You’ll probably find you can do without a lot of those items.

Don’t let your emotions make the decision for you

Emotions will be running high, but don't let them dictate what you buy. Try to stay rational and focused on your priorities. Avoid making any quick, impulse decisions. Make yourself wait at least 24 hours before making any non-essential purchases. That should give you enough time to let your logical side figure out if you're about to make a bad decision.  

Use coupons

If you're not a fan of using coupons, now's the time to change that attitude. Sign up for mailing lists at your local baby store. Check online coupon sites before making any major purchases. Just saving 10% on a couple big purchases can add up.  

Bargain shop

Babies tend to outgrow their possessions long before they wear them out. That means there's a ton of lightly used baby goods out there. 

Look at flea markets, resale shops, garage sales and Goodwill for accessories and other furniture you can repurpose. A coat of paint and a new knob can have a huge impact on an old nightstand. Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook marketplace are great resources for second hand items.

Ask friends and family for recommendations

Firsthand advice is always the best. Your friends will tell you what they use and what’s not necessary. Don’t have any friends with kids? There are a ton of online message boards about all things baby. Post your thoughts or questions – you’ll get very open and honest feedback. There are a lot of things out there that you don’t really need. Think carefully about your decision and weigh your options.


Plain and simple—breastfeeding saves money. Baby formula is distressingly expensive, so if you're able to breastfeed that can be a massive source of savings.

When your child is eating solids, making your own baby food is another way to potentially cut costs. Of course, you'll be sacrificing time and convenience, so you'll have to weight which option is best for your needs.  


Ask a friend if you can borrow her maternity clothes. Offer to pay a small rental fee if you feel rude asking her. Check out garage sales for bags of maternity or baby clothes at a discount price. Once your baby grows out of his or her clothes, offer them to a friend.

At the end of the day, the baby budgeting rules are the same as your everyday budget. Stop worrying about what everyone else will think. Live within your means. Buy what you can afford and weigh your options.

Need a little more help managing your new baby expenses? We can't find you a deal on baby food, but we can help you improve your budget and make the most of your money. We offer free financial counseling to anyone who needs help making ends meet. Counseling is available 24/7, online and over the phone.

Tagged in Advice for families, Budget tips, Navigating change

Jesse Campbell photo.

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, with over ten years of experience creating valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

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