The [Cheap] Green Baby Guide

Nothing brings out the consumerism bug more than having a baby.
Has anyone else noticed that once you find out you're pregnant, you start fantasizing about all the cute things you're going to buy? I did. And then I took one good, long look at our baby budget and realized that I was going to have to work some serious magic.

Aaron and I decided we wanted to spend most of our money on the important things we would use on a daily basis, and then  we would spend what was left over on the less-important things. After reading a few books on being budget-conscious when buying baby items, we saved a lot of money and still got a lot of high-quality baby items. Here are some tips from personal experience, and from the books, blogs, etc. that I've read on the topic. I'm sharing these ideas in hopes that it can help some of you save some money when having a baby, because spending thousands of dollars on material things is not a very smart way to start out teaching your child about smart consumerism.

Simplify and Multipurpose
The first thing you need to do is decide what is the most essential for your baby. In other words, you need to separate what your baby needs from what you want. This one was the hardest for me. "Of course my future baby needs the cutest clothes money can buy..." Not. 
Your baby needs food, sleep, warmth, and to be clean. That's it!
  • Food - breast or bottle. Easy enough.
  • Sleep - Crib, port-a-crib, swing, bassinet, cradle (or with you, which is my favorite).
  • Warmth - sleepers and blankets
  • Clean - diapers, wipes, bathtub, towel, soap, nail clippers
You honestly don't need more than the items listed above. Since we live in a small apartment now--and we lived in an even smaller apartment when Sawyer was born--we can really only keep the most basic items.

For bonus points, try making items multipurpose, like swaddling blankets (we love these). You can use them as a swaddling blanket, car seat cover, and nursing cover. My sister-in-law showed me how to tie two ends together so you can slide it over your head and voila! A nursing cover. I love this because I hate taking a million things with me when I leave the house. With the swaddling blankets you have a 3-in-1 device for covering a car seat, keeping your baby warm, and using as a cover.

You can also turn your purse into a diaper bag, depending on the size of your purse. I was going to buy a cute diaper bag, but ended up just using my old purse and it works fine! Plus, it saved me some money.

DIY or Buy Used
My mom always said that I have "Champagne taste on a water budget." 
I've always wanted the most modern, stylish, organic things for my baby, but I refuse to spend a lot of money, or worse go into debt (gasp!). So I had to work a little bit harder to find high-quality stuff for dirt cheap.

I could not find a baby towel that was cute. It sounds so trivial, I know. But everywhere I looked there were silly patterns or the towels were made of super cheap material! I found a few I like on Etsy, but they were $45!!! 

Instead of paying that much money for a stupid towel, I found a free pattern online and used my Joann's 50% off coupon to buy some super cute material. I made two towels for $9.

I also wanted one of these cool bathtubs, but on Amazon they are super expensive. Craigslist to the rescue! We found a Puj bathtub (lightly used) for $20. We also found:

  • Bumbo chair with tray for $10
  • Two (2) Moby wraps for $2.50 each 
  • ORGANIC crib mattress with 4 sheets for $25,
  • Trek bike trailer for $70
  • All the cloth diapers we'll ever need for $150
  • Baby Gap clothes for less than $5 each (winter coat, Sunday shirt, jeans, and sleepers)
  • Most of our children's books cost less $0.69 each at Value Village
  • A cute baby dresser for FREE (we refinished it)
  • Nice changing pad for FREE.

By the way, buying a lightly used crib mattress is a great idea because the mattress has had time to air out and the flame retardant fumes are not nearly as potent. Buying a used car seat is not as awesome. After doing some research, we decided it would be best to buy a new car seat.

At the end of this post is a list of DIY patterns and instructions for items you can make yourself. These are things that I have personally made and I can testify that they are easy to do if you have a sewing machine and know the basics of how to use it.

Also, there are other resources other than Craigslist. Here are some ideas:

  • Freecycle - lots of free stuff from people in your area.
  • Baby/Mother Exchanges - You can usually find Facebook groups for your specific area. That's where we got the changing pad. 
  • Online Newspaper Classifieds (In Utah we have KSL).
  • Children's used stores and Thrift stores
  • Garage sales, baby!

Patience is a Virtue!
First, just buy the very basic stuff before your baby is born. Don't go out and buy everything that our consumer-driven society says you'll need for a baby. Once the baby is born you can buy items per your needs. That way you will only have to buy the things that you actually need versus buying things you think you might want. There is a very fine line, and I'm not saying I know that line perfectly, but I do know that a wipe warmer is less essential than warm sleeper.

Second, you want to get the best deals on Craigslist items, but you have to have patience. Make a list of items and brands that you would really like to buy, then start checking Craigslist early on to make a mental note of the average price that item is going for. Then be patient and wait for that killer deal to come to you. I almost bought a used Moby wrap for $15, but I waited and my patience paid off: I got TWO Moby Wraps for $5. It doesn't hurt to look on Amazon and find the highest customer rated items and try to find those items used, it really does pay off because you have a high-quality item for the same price you would spend on a brand new lesser-quality item!
If you don't have time to sift through Craigslist ads you can use the If This Then That (IFTT) site to update you on any new items that are posted. For example, if a new item is posted on Craigslist (you choose keywords) then you are notified via text, email, etc.

DIY Links
Moby Wrap - I made one, but I still like the store bought versions a lot better

You can find more DIY projects on my Babies Pinterest Board.

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