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The Cost of Bringing Up Baby

Target Your Spending

According to Fields, new parents typically shell out nearly $6,000 to buy the crib, stroller, car seat, clothes, and other accoutrements of baby life. But the average family ought to be able to get the job done for at least $2,000 less. "First-time parents tend to go for the Cadillac version of just about every baby product on the market," he says.

Fields suggests going top-of-the-line (or as close to it as you can afford) on only those products that will take a great deal of wear and tear (like a stroller) or that will protect your baby from harm (such as a car seat). Then, compromise on items that look good but serve no real purpose (a frilly pillow, say) or outlive their usefulness almost as soon as you've taken the tags off (newborn-size clothes, for instance). And take an experienced parent with you on your shopping trips to help you separate what's necessary from what's nonsensical.

You can also save money by buying some of the items you'll need at garage sales or consignment shops, and by borrowing from friends. When going secondhand, however, stick with clothes and equipment that are used for only a short time, like a baby swing, though you'll still need to make sure it's safe. And by all means be honest with friends and relatives who ask what you need. Why end up with a sterling silver rattle and a drawer full of delicate designer clothes your baby will wear once, when you could have your nursery half-equipped instead?