I'll admit it - I never understood how babies could be expensive. They're so little, and they don't eat much. Then I had one (and then three more) and I began to realize that babies cost money. Sometimes, they cost a lot of money!
Fortunately, there are good ways to save money without sacrificing the happiness or safety of your bundle of joy. You may find different ways to save; share your thoughts in the comments!
Don't Buy NewFor big items, and most clothes, used is fine. Check out yard sales, consignment shops, and Craigslist for cribs, high chairs, exersaucers, swings & bouncy seats. The only things I bought new were a car seat, for safety reasons, and a stroller, because they tend to get really gross. Everything else was purchased second hand or borrowed from someone in between children. If you need something, ask everyone in your network. Someone surely has what you need in a tub in their basement. Also, be sure your friends know that you're accepting hand-me-downs.
Consider BreastfeedingThis doesn't work for everyone, but it is economical and convenient. Invest the time in a good class before the baby is born, and get help if it is hard. Military Treatment Facilities have breastfeeding consultants on staff, and there are free community resources such as La Leche League. Many people who think that they can't breastfeed just need some help getting things right. Tricare now offers free, better-quality breast pumps.
Returns and ExchangesIf you're blessed to have a shower, or friends send gifts, don't be shy about returning things and exchanging them for items that are more useful to you. One of the blessings of living away from family is that Aunt Jane will never know that you took back the purple velour playsuit and bought a case of diapers instead. I'm not suggesting that you be callous or rude, but just be sensible. Do returns promptly to get the full value.
Get Good At LaundryOften, the hardest part about keeping the baby well dressed is getting stains out of things. The internet has a million stain removal recipes. Experiment until you find the right stain removal tools for your child's special messes.
Another advantage to keep on top of the laundry is that you'll need a lot fewer outfits, blankets, and other supplies. I figure it is better to have five fabulous outfits that are worn all the time than 100 cute things that maybe get worn once.
Join All The ClubsSign up for every single baby-related mailing list and club that you can find. Diapers, formula, clothes, pacifiers, baby wash, everything. You'll receive coupons and sometimes samples - great for travel. The major chain stores often have baby clubs, and Amazon has a program called Amazon Family.
Make Your Own FoodIf you have a way to mush food, like a food processor or a blender or a food mill, you can make baby food easily and super-cheap. Ounce for ounce, prepared baby food is ridiculously expensive. Even if you buy a food processor and splurge on nifty little freezer containers, you'll still probably save money if you make your own food.
Be PreparedKeep a well-stocked bag in each car, including a change of clothes for each parent, at least one outfit for the baby, diapers, wipes, lotions, and anything else you could need. Invariably, you'll need these items when you can only purchase them at full price, or worse, convenience store price. Having a good supply of items in your car will save you a bundle.
This is not a comprehensive list! There are thousands of "how to save money on babies" articles available on the internet, and each one says something a teensy bit different. Take the time to read more and figure out which places you are comfortable saving.