While I'm a neophyte parent, I'm well aware of how expensive babies and children are. But in my very limited experience, I have learned strategies on my own or through my very smart parent friends on how to save money with a new family member in the picture.
*Go Gender Neutral - while it is SO tempting to get all those cute gender specific clothes or furniture, try to steer clear of getting everything in boy or girl styles, particularly if you're planning on having more than one child. I'm not going to sit here and say that my husband and I have nothing girly - we totally do. However, many of our big purchases (like the stroller, car seat, etc) are gender neutral. It doesn't seem to make a ton of sense to spend hundreds of dollars on equipment to last a few years to not be able to use it again if or when another baby is welcomed into your family.
*Have Multipurpose Furniture - who wants to spend a couple hundred bucks on furniture only to have it serve a few years? My husband and I were pretty savvy when it came to shopping for nursery furniture. We purchased a crib that converts into a toddler bed (you can even find some cribs that will convert into a full sized bed), and instead of a changing table, we got a dresser that a changing pad can be secured to and then removed. We wanted to get furniture that would grow with our daughter and viewed it as an investment as opposed to furniture for the baby stage in her life.
*Cloth Diaper - I know that this sounds completely crazy to most people. And it very well could be, as it is not yet something my husband and I have actually done yet. But if you can make the commitment to cloth diaper, it can save you beaucoup bucks (an estimated $1500-$2000 over the diapering process according to Consumer Reports). The value doubles if you can reuse your diapers for another child. And cloth diapers today are totally different than they were a generation ago - no pins, but velcro and snaps instead! Obviously, there might be an initial yuck factor to get over and the startup costs are more steep(anywhere from $12-$20 per diaper), but most likely, the diapers will pay for themselves within the first 6-8 months. Plus, it's good for the environment. Oh yeah, and they're super cute. What's not to like?
*DON'T Register for Clothes - most family and friends are excited to shower your new arrival in clothes - they're cute, easy to pick up and fun to shop for! You may even have some people who want to give you their old baby clothes for free. Save space on your registry for other things you may really need. If you don't get enough baby clothes, they are quite easy and cheap to pick up at places like Target, Babies R Us, or even Goodwill. Also with clothes, be careful of buying too many before baby's here. Your baby may not fit into newborn clothes. Or those cute seasonal clothes (fleece jackets and mittens, or summery clothes) may not fit when the weather's appropriate.
*DON'T Stock Up - I know, this seems counterintuitive. You want to be prepared and in control. But babies have personalities, and just like you, preferences. Maybe they won't like those pricey bottles you have 10 of. Maybe the swaddling blankets you bought 4 of will make baby uncomfortable. Start with getting one of a few different types and see what your baby prefers. It might seem a little wasteful at first, but not using one item sure beats not being able to use a dozen, don't you think?
*Know What to Get Second-Hand - there are plenty of things you can get at Goodwill, on Craig's List or handed down from friends and family. And it will save you a TON. But be careful - baby items are frequently recalled. Do your research and make sure the good deal is also in the best interest of your baby's health and safety. You can't put a price on that.
*Nurse - if you can, breastfeed. Not only have studies shown it's the best for your baby, but it's FREE! :) Of course, breastfeeding does come with expenses (pumps, clothing, accessories, etc), but compared to the costs of formula, you'll save a lot of money. Bonus - it's good for moms! You burn up to 600 calories a day AND it is linked to lower instances of breast cancer!
Hey moms and dads out there! Anything else you did to save money?