Having a baby, especially the first, is a time to be cherished and enjoyed, not burdened with financial woes. But in truth, many soon-to-be parents are stressed at the sheer expense of welcoming a new child into the family. The nursery needs setting up and the baby needs clothes, food, diapers, and toys, not to mention hospitals bills and doctor visits — and this is just year one. No wonder expecting parents feel the strain. If this is you, here are some money-saving tips to help prepare for the baby’s arrival. [Also See: Can You Afford to Have Kids? Things to Consider Before Starting a Family]

The Nursery

Preparations begin well before the due date, and often start with the nursery. There are many ways to outfit a nursery on the cheap. Furniture bought online is less costly than the offerings in bricks-and-mortar baby stores, and items like rocking chairs and dressers often turn up at thrift stores and yard sales. Then too, adult furniture can be transformed into kid-themed pieces with a spot of paint and imagination. Make a point of researching the newest safety standards for cribs to ensure that the one you choose, especially if purchased second-hand, complies. As for decorations, you can easily make them yourself on a very limited budget: stenciled wall designs can replace pricey wall paper, framed baby shower cards make for cute wall mounts, and shelving can be decorative as well as functional.

Car Seat

Babies require more than just a bright and cozy nursery. One major and costly requirement is a car seat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stresses that children should ride in the rear-facing position in the back seat for the first year of life, and as long as possible after that. One huge money saver is a convertible car seat that can accommodate your baby in the rear-facing position and later in the front- facing position when the child is bigger and older. This design means you don’t have to buy two types of car seats within the first couple of years. Check out cheap car seat buying guides to learn about the must-have features and convertible-car-seat options.

Prenatal Care and Delivery Expenses

Other unavoidable expenses when having a baby include the cost of prenatal care and delivery-related fees for the doctor and hospital. The best way to save on medical bills is to have health insurance that covers part of these costs. Check with your insurance provider to see if prenatal care and delivery qualify, and if so, at what percentage. Most insurance companies don’t cover everything, so one way to reduce your outlay is to shop around for a doctor in the network and/or one whose fees fit your budget. It never hurts to ask if there’s a discount for paying cash or paying all costs upfront. Also make sure that the doctor has privileges at several different hospitals and get quotes to find the most affordable. About.com notes that giving birth at home or at a birthing center is cheaper than a hospital, so if you’re comfortable with these alternate arrangements, they are viable options. And finally, your doctor will likely prescribe prenatal vitamins; there are many over-the-counter (and cheaper) products that provide the same benefits as the pricier prescription versions.

The Cheapest Item of All

In all the excitement of having a baby, it’s easy to get carried away and buy cute little outfits, extravagant equipment, high-end toys, and the latest electronic gadgets. But the one thing all babies need more than anything is their parents’ love and attention. And that can be given free of charge. So with a bit of frugal planning, you’ll spend less time worrying about finances and more time nurturing your baby.

Raechel Conover writes for Cheapism.com, a review site that serves consumers on a budget who want the best value for their money. Cheapism is the only review site that focuses exclusively on low-price products, a part of the market often overlooked by experts.



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