Fool-Proof Frugal Baby Tips to Survive the First Year (+ Free Baby Budget Worksheet)

Inside: Stressed about finances with a new baby on the way? These frugal baby tips will help you survive the first year, and create a realistic budget for life with baby. Learn to focus on what’s really important, and use our baby on a budget checklist and baby budget worksheet to get organized, fast!

Stressed about finances with a new baby on the way? These frugal baby tips will help you survive the first year, and create a realistic budget for life with baby. Learn to focus on what's really important, and use our baby on a budget checklist and baby budget worksheet to get organized, fast!

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I made one innocent online search for baby gear. Big mistake. Huge!

Instantly, everywhere I looked was filled with the newest, shiniest baby products. Thousands of dollars for a stroller. Hundreds for the perfect crib bedding set.

Ads upon ads trying to sell me on all this stuff for my baby.

I didn’t buy it. Not the second time around, at least.

You see. Babies do actually need some stuff. There are a few essentials that you really can’t live without for your baby’s first year.

But in reality, babies need a lot less than we’re led to believe. They need love. They need protection. They need care and full bellies and warm hugs.

But all that extra stuff? They can take it or leave it.

You shouldn’t have to go into debt or max out your credit cards to provide for your baby. And guess what?

You don’t!

These frugal baby tips and essential checklist will help you decide what’s really important and what you can live without for your baby’s first year. Read on for my mom-tested money-saving baby tips. Be sure to grab the free printable baby budget worksheet from our resource library!

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Fool-Proof Frugal Baby Tips

Ready for some tips to save money and give your baby an awesome first year? Remember, less is more.

What your baby really needs is you, not more stuff!

Be sure to download our baby budget worksheet to start planning and put these tips to use!


As much as you want to deck out your baby’s nursery from ceiling to floor, resist the urge! Having a baby on a budget may mean being intentional about keeping it simple.

Check with friends for second-hand cribs and furniture. Double-check that each item still complies with safety codes, and secure furniture to the wall if necessary!

We bought a cute used dresser online for $50. I cleaned it up and painted it a pretty shade of coral pink. It became the perfect changing table and dresser for my daughter’s nursery! You can also buy a portable changing pad with storage for diapers and wipes. This is a great frugal alternative to a pricey changing table!

If you don’t want to spend money on expensive black-out curtains, try this tip: Tape tin foil to the inside of your baby’s window. It will block out 99% of the light and create the perfect environment for deep sleep! The regular window blinds will conceal the tin foil. Perfect!

The best money-saving tip for decorating your baby’s nursery is to simplify. Your baby’s room doesn’t have to be stuffed with beautiful things. The most beautiful thing will be your little one sleeping in that crib. It’s OK to simplify!


Simple is best when it comes to your baby’s crib. Filling the crib with blankets and stuffed animals just isn’t safe for young babies. Keep it super simple with a few sets of fitted sheets and a breathable mesh bumper. When your child is old enough for blankets, you’ll only need two or three.

One of the best baby sleep items I ever bought was the Woombie swaddle. This swaddle zips all the way up and down for super easy diaper access in the middle of the night. It’s easy on your budget, too with low to mid-priced options. I buy one for every new mom, it’s just that awesome!


Feeding your baby is a full-time job, but at least there are ways to lower the cost! Whether you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding, you can still take on a minimalist mindset and avoid spending a fortune.

Choose to breastfeed if at all possible. This alone will save you about $30 per week! There are so many wonderful reasons to breastfeed your baby, but the money-saving motivation was a big factor for me. If you choose to breastfeed for one year, you’ll save over $1,500 over formula-feeding costs!

Choosing to formula feed? Look for powdered formula instead of ready-mixed to save money. Or head to your favorite formula brand’s website and sign up for their newsletter. Chances are they’ll send you deals or samples! Don’t forget to try store brand formulas, too. By law, they have to comply with the same nutritional guidelines as the big brands. If your baby needs specialty formula, check to see if your insurance will cover the cost.

You can also save on bottles. Don’t be afraid to sanitize used or hand-me-down bottles. You can always just invest in new nipples that fit the bottles, but you’ll save big money on pricey bottle sets!

Once your baby is ready for solid foods, try making your own baby food to save on costly jarred food! Don’t waste your cash on a special all-in-one baby food machine, either. All you need is a steamer basket, food processor, and ice cube trays to make delicious food for your baby at home! I love this Wholesome Baby Food Guide book to inspire easy DIY recipes!


Spending money on baby clothes is a major temptation for most parents! Those onesies and matching outfits are irresistibly cute! But babies grow so quickly, buying new clothes is literally like flushing money down the drain.

Instead, find like-new baby clothing on Facebook groups, LetGo, or other online yard sale apps. Other great spots for frugal baby clothes are thrift stores or consignment shops like Once Upon a Child.

The truth is that most of the time your baby will be most comfy in pajamas or simple play clothes. Save the splurges for holidays or special events. If you skip buying just one $20 outfit each month, you’ll save big time in the long run!

Break up your baby clothing budget into sizes for the first year: 0-3 month, 3-6 month, 6-9 month, and 9-12 months. Think about what the weather and seasons will be like when your baby grows into those sizes. If your baby will be 6 months old during the summer, chances are she won’t need that size 6-month jacket, no matter how cute it is!

Expect to budget for new or used baby clothes around every three months as your baby grows to the next size.


One of the easiest ways to save money on baby items is in the diaper department. If you’re up for it, cloth diapering is a cheaper alternative to disposable diapers. The upfront cost will be more significant, but the long-term savings could be worth it!

If you’re choosing to use disposable diapers, consider buying store brand diapers instead of the more expensive name brands. With our babies, our gameplan was to use store brand diapers during the day. At bedtime, we would use Pampers or Huggies to make sure a wet diaper didn’t disturb precious nighttime sleep.

Most babies will go through about eight diapers a day. Newborns can use up to 10-12 per day. That adds up quickly! Saving just $5 per box on diapers will go a long way each month. Create a diaper stockpile to get ahead on the diaper game!

Baths and Hygiene

With my firstborn, I remember stocking up enough baby shampoo to literally fill the bathtub with bottles and jars! He ended up with sensitive skin and eczema, so we quickly switched to more natural options.

It turns out that babies really don’t need those expensive and heavily perfumed shampoos! If you’re looking for frugal baby tips, try getting back to nature with your baby’s hygiene.

My favorite baby soaps are both budget-friendly and gentle for delicate baby skin. I’ve also found that a big jar of coconut oil works wonders on baby skin and lasts forever! You can buy quality coconut oil to moisturize your baby’s skin at a fraction of the cost of fancy baby lotions. Buy a big tub for the best bargain, but keep a small portion in a jar in the bathroom to massage your baby after a bath. It’s both cheap and super nourishing for your baby’s skin!

You can also save money by skipping items like baby washcloths and towels. We used our regular household cloths and towels. There’s really no need to spend extra cash on fancy washcloths and hooded towels. Your baby will look just as snuggly and picture-perfect in a regular bath towel, promise!

Stressed about finances with a new baby on the way? These frugal baby tips will help you survive the first year, and create a realistic budget for life with baby. Learn to focus on what's really important, and use our printable checklist and baby budget to get organized, fast!

Baby on a Budget Checklist for the Whole First Year!

Let’s put all of these frugal baby tips together. What do you actually need for your baby’s first year? What do you NOT need? This checklist will set you on the right track as you fill our the baby budget worksheet. Be sure to download the worksheet to get started!

Check out this baby on a budget checklist to help you survive the first year!

Printable Baby on a Budget Checklist



For Breastfeeding or Pumping

  • 2-3 nursing bras
  • washable nursing pads
  • disposable nursing pads
  • cloth diapers for burp cloths and quick wipe ups
  • Medela hand pump kit with storage bottles (optional) I had great results with this pump without the noise or hassle of a full electric breast pump! Check with your insurance to get a breast pump for free!
  • milk storage bags

For Bottle Feeding

  • (6-8) 4 oz bottles
  • (6-8) 8 oz bottles
  • bottle brush
  • formula

For Solid Foods

Baths and Hygiene

  • baby bathtub (optional, use the sink!)
  • unscented shampoo
  • coconut oil
  • nail clippers
  • baby brush
  • thermometer


For Disposable Diapering

  • 2 boxes newborn
  • disposable wipes
  • diaper pail or trash can with lid

For Cloth Diapering

  • 3-4 dozen reusable cloth diapers
  • 8-10 diaper covers
  • snaps to secure the cloth diapers


This basic layette will get you through the first three months! You can expect to need the next size up about every three months for the first year.

  • 8-10 onesies (short or long-sleeved)
  • 8-10 pajamas (Go with the zippered PJs. Trust me!)
  • 6-8 socks
  • 3-4 pants or leggings
  • 1 hat
  • 1 jacket
  • 2 pairs mittens to prevent scratching
  • 2 dress-up outfits

Other Essential Baby Items

  • car seat (As long as it hasn’t been in an accident and meets current safety codes, a used car seat is fine!)
  • baby sling or carrier (This option is much more frugal than a stroller set!)
  • stroller (optional)
  • pacifiers (optional)
  • books and toys (Don’t go overboard here! Wash used toys or shop books at a local second-hand store.)
  • sturdy dresser (This does double duty as clothes storage and a changing table!)

Create a Baby Budget Worksheet

With these frugal baby tips in mind, you’re ready to create a plan! Using a baby budget spreadsheet will help you feel confident about your finances as you prepare for a baby.

Here’s how it works: Use these tips with our printable baby budget worksheet!

  • Write in your baby items underneath each category. Don’t need a stroller? Skip it! Have you decided on cloth diapering? Write in what you need!
  • Do a quick scan online to get a realistic price for each item. If you’re certain you can get an item for free, write that in as well.
  • Fill out the expected amount in the budgeted column.
  • Start putting away a bit of money each month, and designate it for your baby budget.
  • As you purchase or receive each item, mark town that number in the actual column. This will help you stay on budget and keep accountable!

Your Turn

Listen, babies don’t come with a guidebook. Sometimes there may be unexpected baby expenses you just can’t avoid. That’s OK!

Embracing this simplified mindset will still let you reap the rewards of creating a realistic baby budget. Go in with the attitude that less is more. It will get you a long way and give you a buffer for when those unexpected expenses do pop up.

I hope this baby on a budget checklist and worksheet will help get you motivated and organized as you prepare for your baby!

What are your favorite frugal baby tips? Do you love embracing a simpler way of caring for your new baby? Share with us in the comments below!

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