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The Best Budget-Friendly Baby Buys for 2015

February 12, 2015
By Sandra Gordon - Contributing Writer , OVParent

From a car seat and crib to diapers and day care, little ones come with big expenses. In fact, American parents spend an average of $14,000 on their baby's first year. It's easy to feel overexcited in the baby superstore and fill up your cart with products you may not need or use. But these money-saving strategies can help you buy the best for your baby for less.

Think neutral. If you're planning on having more than one child, register or buy gender-neutral-colored products now so you'll feel comfortable using that product again for your next baby. This year, purple is the new pink or blue. You also can't go wrong with lime green, red, orange, yellow, silver, black or green.

Try reusable diapers. If you use disposable diapers, you can anticipate spending an average of $80 per month per child, for a total cost of around $2,400 from birth to potty training (at around age 2 1/2). In comparison, using cloth/reusable diapers costs $500 or less for a complete stash that you can use for your next baby, too (and your next). Today's cloth diapers are almost as easy to use as disposables. They're better for the environment, too. Even using cloth diapers some of the time, such as on the weekends, can help reduce your diaper overhead.

Article Photos

Rocco, 7 months

Buy products that multitask. It pays to buy gear that does more than one thing or that can be repurposed later. Opt for a diaper pail that can be converted to a trash can, a plastic "grass" baby bottle drying rack that also can dry your delicate wine glasses, a baby blanket that's also a nursing cover and a play mat, and a play yard that functions as a mobile changing table and a travel crib. These days, you can even use your cell phone as a baby monitor.

Get a free breast pump. As a result of the Affordable Care Act, as many as 80 percent of health insurance companies are now covering the cost of a double electric breast pump. Insurance companies don't have to provide such a premium model for free, but they know it gives moms the best shot at breastfeeding success, which ultimately helps reduce medical costs.

Call your health insurance company to find out what type of pump you can get and the brand options.

Shop store brands. While breast milk is best, store-brand infant formula is a great option for moms who want to formula feed or supplement breast milk with formula. Infant formula is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Consequently, store-brand formulas must be nutritionally equivalent to name-brand formulas, yet cost up to 50 percent less. Store-brand formula can save you up to $600 a year. Try store-brand disposable diapers and wipes, too. They aren't federally regulated, so the quality can vary. Online reviews can help narrow the field. For the greatest savings, buy the largest size package of store brand diapers and wipes you can find.

Ditch your virtual cart. When shopping online, go ahead and fill your cart, then leave it for a day or so. Retailers can tell when your shopping cart is loaded but idle. Walking away can buy you time to get discounts or rebates sent right to your email that entice you to click the "buy" button. They can be worth the wait.

- Sandra Gordon is the author of "Save a Bundle: 50+ Ways to Save Big on Baby Gear" and "The Reunion Diet."



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