Baby products are a $9.8 billion industry in the U.S., with hundreds of new products added to the lineup each year. With an ever increasing range of choices, and seemingly limitless options, shopping for a new baby can be daunting and expensive. Retailers and manufacturers are smart, though. They realize that new parents want the best for their baby and that we’re willing to shell out for the privilege. It’s no wonder that a typical middle-income family with one child in the United States will spend an average of $14,320 on baby’s first year alone, according to Expenditures on Children by Families, an annual USDA report.
The good news? You can spend less, get better value and still buy high-quality, safe baby products. Here are six smart ways to save.
Breast feed. Breast-feeding will save you $2,000 during your baby’s first year, which is the money you’d otherwise spend on infant formula.
Go with store-brand infant formula. If you want or need to use infant formula, go with the store brand. Store-brand infant formulas, labeled with the names of retail-store brands, such as Target (Up & UP), Walmart (Parent’s Choice), CVS (CVS brand), Babies R Us (Babies R Us), Sam’s Club (Simply Right), Kroger (Comforts), Toys R Us (Babies R Us) and Walgreen’s (W), have to be as nutritionally complete as national brand formulas as per FDA regulations, yet cost up to 50% less, which can add up to a savings of $1,000 or more per year if you formula feed your baby without supplementing with breast milk.
Use a stroller frame for your baby’s first stroller. Instead of shelling out hundreds for a stroller, snap your baby’s infant car seat into a bare-bones stroller frame, such as the Baby Trend Snap ‘n Go (around $70). The carrier frame will do the job until your baby outgrows his infant car seat (at about a year). It’s compatible with most brands of infant car seats. A stroller frame will buy you time, saving you from having to pair your baby’s infant car seat with a traditional coordinating stroller from day one. You’ll know so much more about your stroller needs once you’ve got some parenting experience under your belt.
Skip the designer clothes. Sure, they’re cute. But it’s silly to spend $75 on, say, a super-stylish romper, if your baby will outgrow it in a month or two, which inspires new-parent guilt and the sense that the money could have been better spent on diapers, wipes or formula. If you can’t resist, watch for sales at your favorite baby stores and scout for designer wear at secondhand shops.
Shop mid-week. Shoppers tend to flood stores on the weekends due to work schedules. But you’ll often find the best deals on baby gear during the week because retailers want to generate consumer traffic. Get on the e-mail list of your favorite baby stores, such as Babies R Us, and keep your eyes peeled for notices of cyber and in-store sales. Like grocery shopping, though, stick to your list. Impulse buys on stuff you really don’t need can wipe out your savings.