Updated on 08.22.07

Having A Second Child? Seven Frugal Tips For Getting Ready

Trent Hamm

At our house, we’re waist-deep in preparations for the arrival of a second child, which makes for interesting times and interesting choices. Our house is filled with this air of imminent change; even our son can sense it and he’s already talking about the baby as though he knows she’s about to arrive.

Here are seven tips we’ve figured out along the way to get things ready for the arrival of the baby.

Reuse everything you possibly can from the first child. Even though she’s going to be a girl, we’re going to dress her in all sorts of clothes that our son wore, especially early on. We might select gender-appropriate outfits for going out in public, but around the house? There’s no reason not to dress her, especially as an infant and as a toddler, in her older brother’s outgrown clothes around the house. Even the camouflage stuff. Along these same lines, we’ve pulled bottles and other such things out of storage as well.

Evaluate new purchases in terms of hand-down-ability. Similarly, our most recent purchases for our son, especially in terms of clothes, revolve at least to an extent on the possibility of being handed down to his younger sister. Things like corduroy and denim work well for both genders, so we give preference to clothes like that.

Watch for tremendous diaper deals. If you have closet space, any time you know you have a child coming, whether it be the first or second or third or even more, watch for great deals on diapers and stock up on the size one diapers. You will use them, so be patient and look for really stellar deals, then pick them up and stick them in the closet. To a degree, you can do the same thing with formula, just be mindful of the expiration dates.

Prepare lots of food in advance. Immediately after the birth, life is very chaotic, so prepare a lot of food in advance that can be frozen and prepared very quickly and easily. This way, you can spend time bonding with the new child instead of preparing food or burning a lot of money on takeout or delivery.

Simulate the experience of having a baby around with the older child. Our son has a doll that we’ve been using to pretend that a baby is already there. The baby lays in the crib and the bassinet and on the changing table, and he hugs it occasionally and tells us to be quiet sometimes around it. We encourage his imagination down this path in realistic ways. How is this frugal? It saves on a lot of disruption and other issues when the baby actually arrives, again allowing for more bonding time.

Clean everything. We’re re-washing all of the baby blankets and thoroughly cleaning our room and the baby’s room, not to the point of sterility, but to the point that it’s a clean environment with minimal germ contact. This improves the chances that the baby will experience good health in the early months.

Invite family to stay with you. This one is sure to arouse some curiosity, but it can be invaluable. My mother has already offered to stay for as long as we wish to help with the transition. We will be using this some, particularly in the weeks after the birth, probably for a number of short periods. This will enable her to bond with both of her grandchildren and also provide us some nearly free relief from constant management of two children in diapers.

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  1. Ashley says:

    I don’t have any kids of my own but I have little brothers. When they were in diapers my mom participated in diaper studies and would get boxes of them for free. You should definitely try this if you haven’t before.

  2. meg.b says:

    Hi we’re also expecting a little girl (in December) and we have a toddler boy. We’re going to reuse the many many saved baby clothes we have in storage. We have quite a few gender neutral things (by design) for going out in public.

    A few things that you didn’t mention that we’re planning on doing – The first is breastfeeding. My son nursed for quite a while, and went right from nursing to table food.The second is cloth diapers. I saved the diapers that we used with my son and aside from needing new cloth wipes ($1/yd flannel that I’ve already started to sew up myself) I am set through the toddler years diaper wise. There are all sorts of cloth diapering options out there – we went with prefolds and fleece covers.

    Best of luck!

  3. Kat says:

    Why don’t you use cloth diapers? That would save you money and the baby’s bottom. My parents used cloth for all the kids and none of us ever had diaper rash. Plus it helps the earth.

  4. From a financial standpoint, you’re lucky it was boy first, then girl. It’s very easy to dress up a boyish outfit with a hair ribbon, or some such. It’s much more difficult to turn truly “girly” outfits into something fit for a boy.

    And don’t be afraid to hit garage sales and/or flea markets. Young babies hardly put any wear and tear on their clothes, so you can get tons of great stuff for a song.

  5. Yvonne says:

    I have to agree with what Kat said about breastfeeding. If you want to save money, thats the way to go. My little girl is now four and I never understood what all the hubbub was about – the only thing we ever really paid for was diapers and the occasional outfit (but that came from her being the only baby in the family!)

  6. fiveberries says:

    From experience, it’s always when your sweet little girl is dressed in baseball pajamas that you end up with a middle of the night trip to the ER!

  7. Heather says:

    Breastfeeding would certainly be cheaper than formula, no matter how discounted it is. Also, another consideration is that the antibodies passed from mom to baby through breastfeeding are more effective at preventing illness than attempting to sterilize your house — especially if the baby is nursed until she has a more fully functional immune system (2+ years old).

    Also, cloth diapers are much cheaper than even store brand disposables. We use second hand prefolds ($20 per dozen new) and PUL covers ($6-10 per cover). These would be even cheaper still if you use your homemade detergent.

  8. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    My wife breastfeeds, but we often have to supplement with formula when she is working – her job doesn’t afford her many opportunities to pump. We have a great pump that does the job quickly and effectively when she does find time, but formula is pretty much a part of our child’s diet.

  9. linablue says:

    Speaking from experience (3 little kids in this house), if you are going to stockpile diapers, you will use far more 2’s and 3’s (and probably 4’s) than 1’s. We usually found our kids grew out of the 1’s pretty quickly. Not to mention, we never even got a chance to buy the cute little newborn sized ones. ;)

  10. Have you ever used Parent’s Choice formula from Wal-Mart? My wife breast fed and pumped, but on occasion we needed to use formula. It was a good bit cheaper than the name brands and every bit as good.

  11. Brian says:

    We definitely reused nearly EVERYTHING from crib to clothes to unused diapers. We kept a hoard of stuff in our garage for the second child.

    My wife fought me a bit on this because she wanted the second child to have new clothes like the first one did. Seriously – do you think a 3 month old is going to have issues with hand-me-downs?

  12. happy says:

    Yeah, if you really want to save money breastfeeding is the way to go. I am also expecting my second (another boy) and really the only expense I expect for this new little one is diapers. And yes, stockpiling on size 3 diapers makes more sense to me. My first son was born 7lb12ounces and by a month old he was already 11lbs. He had outgrown size 1-2 diapers by the time he was 3 months old. You do go through a lot of the 1-2 diapers at the beginning (8-10 a day at very beginning) but baby will probably will be in size 3 diapers longer.
    I also went back to work with my son when he was 12 weeks and I invested on an electric breast pump. That was my only big expense for feeding the baby for the first year. Minor expenses included bottles and milk storage bags; way less than the annual cost of buying formula.

    However, if breastfeeding is not for you, you might want to check out the free formula sample by Sam’s. Check out their website membersmark.com for it. Also, pass the word around other friends of family who might be having babies at the same time our around and see if you can get some of those promotinal checks formula companies mail new moms. You can trade or if they decide to breastfeed only you can use theirs. I was always giving mine away. I also made my own baby food, it tastes so much better than the jarred stuff. I couldn’t imagine feeding my child any jarred foods they were always disgusting in my view.
    As far as clothes, since I am having a second boy I am making sure I buy quality clothes for him now, so they hold up better by the time second child gets to use them.

  13. Kenny says:


    Don’t underestimate the importance of STOPPING AT TWO KIDS.

    The world is designed for family units of 4. Amusement park rides are designed for pairs. Family sedans have comfortable seating for 4. Regular houses have 3 bedrooms now and are easily available. Mom takes one kid, Dad takes another and all the bases are covered out in public. Even the one parent can hold on to both kids when alone.

    Adding a third kid messses things up, logistically speaking. You must cram into a car or get a bigger minivan (which uses more gas). You don’t have enough hands to hold on to three or four kids, and they usually don’t want to hold each other’s hands, so you have the increased risl of losing one of them.

    Two kids is good. It continues your family line without contributing to the overpopulation concerns.

    Trust me, I speak from experience. My wife had two pregnancies, and the second one was a set of twins. We love all three, but struggle with these logistics daily.

    Struggle is too strong a word, but you understand my point, I trust.

  14. plonkee says:

    You know, the kid won’t realise that its wearing other gender clothes for ages. And who cares what the neighbours think, it’ll make great photos to show their girl/boyfriend when they are older.

  15. Laura says:

    Remember to label all the pictures of the new baby! If she’s wearing clothes from the first baby, it will be easy to mix up the pictures.

  16. mommylove says:

    Kenny – How sad for your struggle. It is probably best that your family is complete with the problems you have. I’m due (today, actually) to have my 4th child, and we couldn’t be happier. Parenting is always a challenge, whether it is 1, 2 or 10 kids. It’s in attidude and faith that we have the strength to manage the 3 and soon the 4th. Do I have enough hands to handle even 1 kid and a load of groceries? No, that’s what the cart is for. We use a double stroller for the little ones to keep them from running off.

    Love multiplies with each child – and sometimes finances takes a backseat (in the trunk!) to the joy that kids bring you. It isn’t just about continuing a family line, and don’t get me started on the overpopulation myth. We are a one income family practicing frugal living and continuing with reducing our past debt. We don’t take fancy trips, don’t drive fancy cars or live in an upscale home, but for us those things aren’t important.

    Trent, we’re also cloth diapering and saves a ton of money. I’d do it in a heartbeat even for 1 child. We use FuzziBunz which allow our children to grow without worring they will outgrow a size 1 or 2 before we use up the disposables. (We do use a small set of disposables when relatives babysit – they don’t “get” the cloth diaper thing – go figure.)

    We also are expecting to supplement slightly with formula – milk supplies for mothers can vary and my milk production with baby 3 wasn’t enough to fully feed him, so we breastfed as much as we could and supplemented his hunger with formula when we had to. Nothing wrong with that, you do what is best for your family.

    Congratulations on your 2nd child, I wish the best for you, your wife, son, and everyone else out there who awaits the birth of their next child.

  17. Dan says:

    Once we had our second child, we were much better at budgeting for items. All those shocks with the first child like health care not covered by insurance, clothing, and the amazing amount of laundry we did suddenly became a little more manageable and understandable.

    By kid #2 we knew that we would have at least $500/yr in medical bills not covered by insurance, and used the Health Savings Account at my work to set aside this money tax-free.

    The best advice we received was to buy one of those hand-held blenders – for about $20 it made making babyfood incredibly easy, and simple to clean up after.

  18. Daria says:

    Fiveberrries: I don’t see a problem with a girl in baseball clothes or any other “boy” clothes. And I think if you’re in the ER you have bigger concerns than what people think.

  19. Sandy says:

    For my daughter’s 3rd child, instead of making a baby shower where she’d get things she either already had or didn’t need, we made a DIPE N WIPE party where all invited only brought diapers, all different sizes. She had enough diapers for the first year after my grandaughter’s birth. It saved them a lot of money this way and wasn’t such a financial burden on each invitee to bring a pack of diapers.

  20. Meredith says:

    One of the great joys of having a baby girl (after having a son) is dressing her in beautiful little clothes!

    I’m as cheap as anyone I know, but we resold my son’s boyish baby clothes to a children’s consignment shop. I took the money to a few thrift shops and had a frugal shopping spree. Smocked dresses, ruffled onesies, soft pink blankets–a small luxury, but well worth it.

    Perhaps your wife is as utilitarian as you are; if not, don’t deprive her of the fun of dressing a new baby girl.

    Best wishes!

  21. Christa says:

    I am a mother of 4 and when I was pregnant with my twins I prepared several casseroles in advance and froze them. Those meals were so wonderful to have after the twins were born. They really saved us a lot of trouble. I am glad you listed that idea.

  22. Kenny says:

    Oh, mommylove, I said I struggled with the logistics, not the finances or amount of love for the children.

    It’s a logistical nightmare for me because all three kids want to hold my hands, but I have but two hands to offer.

    Since I can’t grow a third arm, or have one attached, that means one child will have none of my hands to hold.

    I dread the time where none of the three will even want to be seen with me, so I want to hold all of their hands whenever I can!

    Logistical struggle in absolutely no way indicates that I am disappointed with having three children. Indeed, I lobbied for a fourth myself, but it was vetoed because our history indicated no guarantee for a singleton.

    In many ways, a fourth child would have made things easier, for the same logistical reasons.

    Yeah, I just re-read my original entry but still don’t quite see how it could have whipped up all that emotion from you. Sorry for any misunderstanding there…

    Good luck with your fourth!

  23. mommylove says:

    Sorry to get slightly off topic,
    Kenny – no issue here against you. I’m probably more sensitive than ususal right now (hormones and the anticipation)and I usually just read, not post. I erroneosly jumped to a conclusion based on what was written regarding family size. It grates on me how, like you said in your post, society in general defines “family” as only 4 persons. Like the rest of us aren’t a family?
    Anyways, the misunderstanding was also mine, I was wrong to judge. Peace.

  24. ablemabel says:

    “Gender appropriate”? I didn’t realize it was inappropriate for girls to wear camouflage. Maybe we need to suggest to all the women serving in the armed forces that they only wear their uniforms “around the house”.

    Trent, I’m disappointed. I thought you were more egalitarian than this.

  25. fiveberries says:

    Daria — it was tongue in cheek, honestly! My little girl never has girly pajamas, unless they are a gift from someone else!

    I guess we’ve just been to the ER in the middle of the night so many times that I started thinking it was funny. That, and I sometimes got tired of explaining that the little person in front of the doctor was indeed a girl, not a boy, wearing firetrucks or spacemen.

  26. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    ablemabel: I don’t care if my daughter wears camouflage if it is her choice, but choosing to dress my daughter in camouflage makes a specific statement that I don’t feel comfortable in making in rural Iowa. I’d rather just dress all my kids in plain colors or at best stripes until they can choose their own – my child isn’t an extension of my own fashion statements or political beliefs.

  27. DivaJean says:

    Don’t forget that with a second child, you’ve likely developed other families with kids who are outgrowing clothes and can be a great resource.

    We have 4 kids and have an elaborate network of friends and families that share clothes. The rule is: no selling- we let the clothes ebb & flow in & out of our families for use, not for moneymaking. Changes of season for us usually means evaluating where there might be some gaps in what we’ve obtained recently- back to school usually means more sneaker & shoe shopping than anything else (kids seem to wear their shoes particularly hard in our clique) and maybe underwear for one or two of the kids.

  28. DivaJean says:

    that should be “developed relationships with other families” in my first sentence.

  29. Pam says:

    All of the frugal ideas are great – except for telling someone not the contribute to the world’s population problems. ?????

    I have three kids. We cram into our vehicle, they argue over who gets to sit next to me, it costs more, AND I NEVER LOST ONE.

    @Kenny – you don’t understand why people are worked up? It’s fine for someone to suggest cloth diapers or hand-me-downs, but suggesting how many babies a family should have is too much. BTW – like you said – enjoy your little ones while they still want to be seen with you! Time passes quickly. :)

  30. Mitch says:

    To add to DivaJean’s comments, it’s good to keep in mind that on average (IIRC), the first child is born weighing more, and boy babies statistically tend to weigh more than girl babies. And each kid might have a different growth pattern. And girls on average can potty train younger. So the diaper sizes and clothing seasons you need might not line up exactly with what you already have. That can be a tricky bet to place. But you’re pretty much guaranteed to at least briefly pass through each size. (8

    As for clothing styles, having a pacifist Christian family, I’d say that dressing your boy in camouflage may look like a very loud political statement! But anyway, only if the other kids are really uptight do you need to worry about a girl wearing school and play clothes with bold colors and dinosaurs. You may not need much more than a few dress-up/church outfits.

  31. Bill says:

    We didn’t worry about any political statements when shopping at yard sales for our kids.

    If the clothes in the best shape had been camouflage they would’ve been bought & worn, boy or girl. :)

    Don’t forget to solicit clothing from friends with older kids!

  32. Michelle says:

    I think evryone is being too hard on Kenny. I dont mind how many kids people choose to have, but the minute they start complaining about how tough a time they are having with time/money etc, is the minute I lose respect for them since they obviously had no foresight to the consequeces of their choices.

  33. DivaJean says:

    None of my kids get uptight about clothes. We point out to the two oldest (8 & 5) that if we can save money on clothes, we’ll have more money to budget for play. This means monthly visits to the amusement park during the summer, more trips to the lake, more fun stuff. They’d rather wear the secondhand stuff and have more places to go- and not have to worry about keeping clothes perfect too.

  34. Kenny says:

    Really the “overpopulation” comment was just a throwaway thing to put in there, and I surely didn’t mean to start a political discussion.

    I suppose I’ll measure my comments before making them again. My intent was not to rock the boat or start a flame war or anything…

  35. Margaret says:

    I second that about not getting too many size one diapers. My second was 10 10 and we didn’t even get through the second box. Of course, in my and my husband’s families, any baby under 8 pounds is considered small.

  36. Emily says:

    My boy went through exactly one small package of newborn sized diapers, and not quite one package of size 1 diapers. He was in size 2’s for two months, size 3’s for three months, and has been in size 4’s since then.

  37. SAHMmy Says says:

    Wow-it’s getting hot in here! All I was going to say is that stockpiling diapers in size 3 is the way to go–you never know how big the baby will be when she gets here, or how fast she will grow! Best of luck to your growing family!

  38. Charlotte says:

    For frugal baby raising, go to freecycle.org website and sign up. We have received free cloth diapers, clothing, toys, formula, etc… on this website. Likewise, we have given generously to people who need items we no longer use. Excellent for those who don’t have a large group of friends or family to pass along hand me downs. Plus, it keeps our landfills from expanding at atrocious rates.

  39. Suzanne says:

    This is a great conversation! Just wanted to add my two cents. Another idea about diapers is to buy prepaid Pampers gift certificates (if you use disposables). The certificates are for 1, 3, 6 or even a year supply of diapers. We live in a small 2 bd apartment with 4 year old son and do not have space for storage. My son also skipped sizes very quickly so this will be a good alternative for our #2.

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