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Preparing for Baby continued...

You should first focus on what you and your baby must have, she says. Then figure out how much you have left over to spend on accessories.

Some basic supplies to consider buying include:

  • Car seat
  • Crib
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Changing table
  • A few baby clothes to get you started
  • Baby monitor

A thrifty parent can buy these for about $450 by shopping for bargains.

But don't sacrifice safety to save a buck, especially on the car seat and crib. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you avoid older, used car seats to get maximum protection for your child. Use cribs certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA).

You can save money on diapers and wipes by buying in bulk. A 250-pack of diapers usually costs about $40.

You can also save money by using cloth diapers. Wipes can also be substituted for washcloths, saving you about $10-$15 for a box of almost 400, which typically lasts a few weeks for one child.

Baby clothes are like maternity clothes. You can spend a lot of money or you can save by asking around for gently worn hand-me-downs. Babies outgrow their outfits fast, so this is a great way to trim your budget.

Another important cost when you are getting ready for your baby's arrival is childbirth education, Hill says. Classes range in price from about $50 to $200. They can help you learn how to deal with the trials of pregnancy and childbirth. And the classes can also teach you how to survive the first few weeks with a newborn.

Hospital Expenses

The cost of having a baby can really add up at the hospital. You should make sure you are well-prepared financially for this part of pregnancy, especially if you don't have health insurance.

The costs of childbirth can be steep. The charge for an uncomplicated cesarean section was about $15,800 in 2008. An uncomplicated vaginal birth cost about $9,600, government data show.

Women who have individual health insurance policies often find that maternity care coverage is completely excluded, says Carol Sakala, PhD, director of programs at the nonprofit Childbirth Connection.