5 Bulk Buys That Won't Save Parents Money
As a new parent, you will have lots to think about—and very little sleep. Running out of something essential like diapers or baby food can feel like the end of the world, so stocking up on the basics can make sense. With all the expenses that come with a new baby, finding a sale on bulk items can be hard to ignore—but buying essentials in bulk doesn't always save you money, especially with a newborn. In fact, bulk-buying can be a waste of money—and product.
"Buying in bulk is generally a great idea, but when it comes to young children, it can sometimes end up costing you more in the long run," Tana Williams, personal finance blogger at Debt Free Forties, tells Parents. Newborns grow really quickly, and as you get to know your new tiny human and their likes, dislikes, and allergies, it might be wiser (and more budget-friendly) to only buy what you need and save the bulk-buying for when things settle down more.
Here are a few common bulk buys that can be a waste of money for new parents, and what you can do instead to save.
Newborns can go through about 3,000 diapers in a year—almost 8 to 12 diapers each day, so stocking up when you see cheap diaper prices to save money might not seem like a such a bad idea. However, since newborns grow so quickly, you could end up wasting money by bulk-buying a size your baby might outgrow very soon.
"If you're bulk-buying diapers and your child goes through a growth spurt, you'll be left with a huge box of diapers that no longer fit," Steffa Mantilla, certified financial education instructor and founder of personal finance site Money Tamer, tells Parents. You will spend more money having to buy diapers in a bigger size, and won't have anywhere to put the diapers you can no longer use.
"After the package has been opened, the only recourse you have to get some money back is to try reselling them. Most likely, though, you'll end up donating them," adds Mantilla.
Instead: Wait until your baby is over 10 pounds and stays the same diaper size for longer, and then stock up, recommends Olivia Tan, a Florida-based finance coach and co-founder of online fax service, CocoFax.
"At that point, diapers are fantastic bulk baby items," says Tan. This way, you actually save money by buying in bulk because you know you will use it. Same goes for wipes—make sure it doesn't irritate your baby's skin before stocking up.
You likely want to save on formula, but it's another item you should avoid buying in bulk until you are sure it agrees with your baby's body.
"Formula is one of the most expensive items you'll have to purchase (besides the hospital bill)," says Williams. "So making sure you have the right one before you stock up is essential," she adds.
Instead: Buy a small amount and see if your baby is allergic or has any stomach issues with the formula.
"Try a small container first to ensure it won't upset your baby's delicate stomach before buying bulk." Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with shopping comparison site DealNews, tells Parents. Ramhold says formula is a great product to eventually buy in bulk, once you know what kind works best for your baby.
3. Baby Detergent
Between spit-ups, diaper blowouts, and other messes, it's no doubt you will be doing laundry more often with a new baby. However, don't go overboard buying baby detergent in bulk—it won't save you as much money as you think. Liquid laundry detergent only has a shelf life of about nine months once opened, according to laundry service Great American Laundry. After that, it starts to break down and won't be as effective in cleaning clothes.
"There's no reason to buy a baby-specific detergent...and it's certainly not worth buying in bulk," says Ramhold.
Instead: Buy a detergent without any harsh dyes or scents that is gentle enough for baby clothes and the rest of your family, suggests Ramhold. No need to buy it in bulk or double up on regular detergent and baby detergent. Buy only what you need; a little goes a long way.
4. Clothes & Shoes
Once again, your baby will outgrow clothes and shoes fast, so as adorable as those tiny outfits are, stocking up when you see cheap prices on baby clothes will end up being a waste in the long run.
Instead: Sure, buy baby clothes, just don't buy too many of the same size in bulk, advises Ramhold. "They're likely to outgrow them before they can wear them," she adds.
Only buy what you need for the moment and for the season, so you don't end up wasting money on clothes that they'll grow out of. Consider hand-me-downs from friends and family members, or look for deals in local Facebook parenting groups; you will likely find other parents trying to get rid of clothes (some with tags still on) that their kid has outgrown.
- Related: 5 Baby Items to Buy Used
5. Food & Snacks
Once your baby starts on solids, it can be tempting to stock up on the foods they like. But kids can be really fickle (and picky), so don't bulk-buy perishables or baby food—it will only go to waste, along with your money.
"I've learned from experience that buying your child's favorite foods and snacks in bulk will not save you money," says Michelle Platt, blogger at My Purse Strings.
Instead: Buy what you need, and save money by using coupons and cash-back deals instead of buying in bulk, advises Lisa Thompson, savings expert for Coupons.com.
"Your 2-year-old may love bananas and broccoli one day, then turn their nose up at them the next," she says. Perishables such as fresh fruits and veggies will go bad if you buy too many and don't eat it all on time. So unless you plan on finishing all of it yourself, or you're sure your child will enjoy it, stick to smaller quantities to save money on your grocery bill.
Bottom Line: Sticking to only what you need until you are more sure of your baby's likes and dislikes is a better way to save money on baby items than stocking up. Don't buy an item in bulk just because it's on sale.
"If you can't pay off that credit card in full every month, you can't afford to buy in bulk. Any savings you earn by purchasing in bulk is often negated by paying interest on that purchase," explains Williams. While it's ok to stock up on certain items, since babies are constantly growing and changing, it can just end up costing you more money.