Preparing for a Baby the Frugal Way

My life has taken a variety of twists and turns over the years, and our latest twist is that we are possibly (but not certainly) adopting. If it all works out, we will be adopting an older infant, with relatively little notice. I’m sorry that I cant give details, but what I can do is let you know how we are frugally preparing for this possibility.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t really need tons of baby equipment to raise a healthy and happy baby. Making sure your baby is well equipped for eating, sleeping, playing, and traveling is all you really need to do.


Of course the most frugal way to feed a newborn is to breastfeed. It’s generally considered healthiest, too. In some cases, such as adoption, breastfeeding just isn’t possible. In that case, looking for coupons on cans of formula may be your best bet. If you are under certain income limits, WIC can also help you purchase formula for your baby.

When it’s time for solids, making your own baby food isn’t difficult. Just steam up some vegetables and puree them in a food processor or blender. It’s much more cost efficient than buying individual jars of baby food.

Craigslist is a great place to find baby feeding supplies. Even if you’re looking for a specific brand of bottle, you’d be surprised at what you can find used. Second hand baby stores are another good place to look. You don’t need to pay full price for feeding supplies.

For a high chair, we decided on using a booster with a tray that attaches to a regular dining room chair. It’s inexpensive, saves, space, and can be used from infancy through the time a child is old enough to sit in a regular chair.


Your baby needs a place to sleep. I’m not going to debate co-sleeping vs. crib sleeping, but do make sure you have a safe place for your baby to get some rest. For our circumstances, I bought a crib. I chose to spend the money on a brand new crib, as there have been so many crib recalls in the last year. For my older two children, we borrowed cribs and bassinets. If you do this, though, make sure the equipment you’re borrowing (or buying used) isn’t on any recall lists.

Add a few crib sheets and waterproof mattress pads, and your baby will be set for safe sleeping. Quilts, bumper pads, and pillows are all cute, but are unsafe to put in a crib with baby. There’s no need to spend the money on these accessories.


A good carseat is a must, and it’s important to buy new. If there’s one thing you should be willing to spend money on, this is it. It is also important to recognize that carseats expire after about 6 years. If your state is one in which kids need to be in boosters through age 8, you will need at least two carseats in your child’s lifetime. My plan is to buy a good convertible carseat for the early years and switch to a dedicated booster later on.

You will also need a way to transport your baby for walks or in places like shopping malls. A stroller or baby carrier is very convenient to have on hand. Before buying new, though, make sure you check yard sales, second hand stores, and craigslist. I’ve seen some very nice baby carriers on craigslist in recent months.


You really don’t need all kinds of new fangled baby toys to keep your baby happy. The most important thing the baby needs is you. Peek-a-boo, singing, dancing, and rocking all keep a baby entertained and promote healthy bonding.

If you do feel the need to buy baby toys, keep it simple. Soft books and blocks are good choices for babies. If you buy secondhand baby toys, make sure to check for loose parts or other hazards. In some cases, new is better, as toys tend to be recalled frequently.

Add some clothing and diapering supplies, and that’s all you really need for a new baby. Additional baby equipment can certainly be convenient, but if you’re strapped for cash, it’s not necessary.


By , on Jan 23, 2011
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Congratulations! You could look into donor milk programs. I donated 22+ gallons of milk formally through the Mother’s Milk Bank of Ohio. I also informally shared with three other mothers who were unable to produce enough when using a pump while away from their babies. If the infant is older, he or she will not need formula for that long; they can receive whole milk at age 1.

    I second the Amazon Mom program. Sign up for those freebie magazines like Baby Talk as there are often coupon codes in there for Amazon Mom stuff like diapers and wipes. Also use swagbucks to get Amazon gift cards… free diapers and wipes! Applies to cloth diapers as well. There are tons of resources on the internet on making your own cloth diapers.

    You also need a way to carry baby like when out walking with other kids or at the farmer’s market or in the store, before they’re big enough for sitting up in the cart. I used a sling with my daughter and a Moby wrap for my son. I LOVED the Moby. We have a large Somalian population in Columbus and whenever I wore my son in the Moby, Somalian women would come up to me in droves and thank me for wearing my baby and explain that is how they did it at home. It also helps with bonding and keeps your hands free for helping your other children. You can wear baby around the house while cleaning, etc.

    I get all my kids’ clothes for pennies on the dollar at rummage sales and thrift stores. Also Freecycle and Craigslist. And don’t forget to ask around at your church.

  2. what a wonderful possibility! great post

  3. My grandson comes to me every Thursday and he loves to play with 3 toy Pirates which were my own son’s when he was little, a small shrek, baby shrek, tiny dog and tiny gingerbread man – all from Mcdonalds Happy Meals. We play for hours with these every week, which just goes to show you don’t have to spend a fortune on toys.

  4. This is great information. My friend just found out she was expecting, so I will definitely forward the article to her. Nice to know about all the discounts and coupons she can take advantage of as well.

  5. Erica Douglas:

    SOOOOO excited for you and your family! What a great way to add to your family through adoption/fostering. My grandparents had lots of foster babies when I was growing up and they loved giving the babies to their forever families. I hope to be a foster parent one day myself. I’m so happy for you!

  6. sandy:

    Your blog was probably the first one I read regularly so you have a special place in my frugal heart. Congratulations! I wish I had listened to my instinct and done that at an earlier age so YOU GO, MOMMA. Seriously, if you have a PO Box or safe address you don’t mind emailing to me I can send coupons to you for formula, diapers, etc. I would love to do so in exchange for a baby update on the blog periodically.:)

  7. Susan McClellan:

    And love doesn’t cost a thing at all! Best wishes to you and your family! I’ve missed reading you online.

  8. marci357:

    PS – sewing is a great way to keep the clothing cost down also.
    Older kids’ clothing can be cut down and the fabric reused.
    Best wishes on having “a joyful noise” in your home!

  9. marci357:

    Wow! What a joyful occasion!
    I know you will do a wonderful frugal, but fun, job of it!
    Best wishes for you and yours!

  10. I agree with Krysta, cloth diapers can save you LOADS! If you’re crafty, I have a new blog where I am chronicling my own preparation using only items I have in the house already!

  11. Adoptive mothers CAN breastfeed. There is a medication that will help with that. Look into a supplementer system as well. Talk to a lactation consultant about it. your local LLL should help, also the leaky boob on facebook.
    Check out MODERN cloth diapers. We use Smartipants and Flips. CDs can save you $1,500-$3,000 by pottytraining! It costs more to get started ($100-$600) but worth it. We used baby shower gift money.
    Babies r us and toys r us are having a huge trade in event. 25% off if you bring in old stuff. (see their website for details) :)

  12. Gypsie:

    Oh, and Pampers and Huggies both have rewards for using their diapers (ie coupons, free toys etc).

    If you go into Target or Babies R Us and create a baby registry, they will give you coupons, free samples and a “completion coupon” usually good for 10% off anything on your registry.

  13. Gypsie:

    Lynnae, Do you know about Amazon Mom( It’s basically the Amazon Prime membership FREE to caregivers. Plus, you get a 15% discount on diapers and wipes. If you use the subscribe and save program, you get an additional 15% off (total 30%) diapers and wipes and they are delivered to your door with FREE two-day shipping. Also, you can find 20% off Amazon Diaper coupons in Parenting Early Years Magazine and American Baby Magazine which brings your diapers to 50% off! I can get 180+ Pampers Sensitive diapers for less than $20 and don’t forget they are delivered to my door with free two day shipping! Also there are other coupons available that stack as well!

    As for formula and baby food: Subscribe to the websites for Similac, Enfamil, and Gerber for “checks” for formula. These are basically really good coupons ($3.00-$11.00). Then sign up with beechnut for more coupons (free rice cereal and baby food). Some websites (like have forums where you can trade for the coupons you want. Also, most grocery stores also have their own comparable brand of formula and if you sign up with them, more coupons for free formula.

    (I’ve learned a lot since my son was born 4 months ago).

    PS I’ve missed reading your blog!

  14. Congrats, Lynnae! How exciting. I can’t wait to hear more!

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