Baby on a Budget: Breastfeeding Supplies

Mother nursing baby

When money is tight, you need to think clearly about every baby prep purchase. The essential shopping list for breastfeeding support is short.

Let’s start with a super short version of this post: you don’t need to buy anything to breastfeed. All you need is a baby and a breast.

On the other hand, you might find a few things useful, so I will share my experience to help you decide how to meet your needs on a budget.

Breastfeeding Supplies

The Essentials

Just you and your baby. Breastfeeding is a natural process. It requires no stuff.

Nice to Have

There are a few items that support breastfeeding that are predictably common. You will probably use them, so you could buy before your baby is born or wait until you feel the need. Once the baby arrives, though, there will be a lot of other things to think about. Items on this list would make a nice gift for a pregnant woman will plans to breastfeed.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. You will have questions about breastfeeding. You can ask in a La Leche League meeting, but sometimes it is nice to do background reading so you know what questions to ask. The Womanly Art is the classic breastfeeding book. If you talk to our staff in the store, we’ll help you decide whether this, Dr Sears’ Breastfeeding Book, or another book will be best for you as a basic how-to guide.

Nursing bra. If you are large breasted, you will probably want support, and it’s a lot easier to work around a nursing bra than a regular one. If you are small breasted, you might not need a nursing bra, but you might also be surprised when you become large breasted. For some, a breastfeeding tank can serve a similar purpose—giving a little support while making it quick and easy to unsnap and feed baby. You might want to buy your nursing bra in-store so experienced staff can help you get a bra that fits well and will work for the way you live.

Breast pads. Your breasts will probably leak. You might want to have 1-2 sets of absorbent breast pads on hand before you start breastfeeding. They are easy to wash with clothes. On the other hand, if you aren’t going out and don’t care how it looks, you’ll probably be fine using cloths or some other absorbent material you have around the house.

Lanolin. Most women experience some nipple dryness with breastfeeding. To soothe your skin without harming your baby, you need to choose your nipple soothing cream carefully. A lot of women use lanolin (from sheep), which is safe for babies when refined. There are other choices for soothing as well. This isn’t necessary until you do have dryness, but it’s a safe bet.

Tea & Cookies. Traditional herbal galactagogues (lactation promoters) can help build up your milk. Most women use the herbs by drinking tea, but cookies have been popular for the same purpose. Nice to have, but you don’t necessarily need herbal support. What you really need is a healthy diet of whole foods that nourishes both you and your baby.

Breastfeeding Station. This isn’t really a thing you buy but more a space you create. When you are going to be spending hours sitting, you might want to create a space where you have what you need: water, a book, a blanket, and a comfortable spot to put your feet up.

Depends on Your Needs

Despite being a natural process, there is a learning curve to breastfeeding. Most mothers need guidance—and sometimes stuff—to help the process go more smoothly.

You won’t know what you need until you need it, though. For this list, it’s best to wait.

More breast pads. If you find that you get a lot of leaking, you might want more washable breast pads. They come in a lot of different materials. Or, you might want to try silicone breast pads, which prevent the leaking in the first place.

Nursing clothes. If you want something more convenient than lifting your shirt, you might want to buy a few nursing shirts. Whether you need more clothes with hidden opening for nursing depends on your needs. I lived in my nursing nightgown, but I really hated the frumpy nursing tops I bought. If you buy, make sure that you can still be you while wearing the clothes. For many, a nursing tank will be enough to stretch an existing wardrobe.

Breast Pump, freezer trays, and bottles. You will probably leave your baby sometime while you are still breastfeeding. In that case, you will probably pump milk and leave it for another caregiver to feed your baby. How simple your system needs to be for saving milk depends on your lifestyle. If you will be working while continuing to breastfeed full time, you will need a powerful pump as well as a cooler to store your milk until you get home. Hold off buying these accessories until you know what you will need.

Nursing Pillow. A lot of women love their nursing pillows. I had one; I could probably have done without, though it was useful for a few months as a prop for my baby. It does help to have some support when you are exhausted, but you might want to wait to see if you can make do with what you have before you buy a pillow specifically for nursing.

Rocking Chair. It is nice to hold a baby and rock, but you can certainly breastfeed without. Another lifestyle choice.

Don’t Bother

Breastfeeding Cover. These baffle me. I do understand not wanting to bare one’s breasts to the world. It seems to me that a giant tent over a nursing baby draws quite a bit of attention, though. There are more discrete ways to cover up, such as a nursing shirt or the baby’s blanket. Still, a lot of people seem to love them. (A colleague has pointed out to me that this can help if you need to pump in a shared office. In that case, it could move up to the “Depends on Your Needs” list.)

More Baby on a Budget

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Baby on a Budget: Cloth Diapers

Baby wearing Bummis cloth diaper

In my quest to save you from buying piles of baby stuff you won’t use, I’ve been outlining the essential baby basics on a budget.

You will change a lot of diapers. Elimination is one of those baby needs you meet one way or another.

As with baby carriers, you save money when you buy diapers that can be used from baby through toddler. We’ve got the solution for even a tiny diaper budget.

How Many Diapers Will a Baby Use?

Short answer: you will change 3000 – 6000 diapers on your baby.

During the first couple of months, you will probably have 12 diaper changes or more a day. If your newborn eliminates every hour, you change the diaper every hour in order to avoid discomfort and rash for your baby. That number will gradually dwindle to 4-5 diapers a day before your toddler uses the toilet.

12 x 30 x 3 = 1080
10 x 30 x 6 = 1800
8 x 30 x 6 = 1440
6 x 30 x 3 = 540
4 x 30 x 3 = 360
Total = 5220

Even if you are lucky and find that your child learns to use the toilet early and doesn’t eliminate as often, the lowest estimate for number of diaper changes per child is about 3000. I’m going to use that lowest number so I have a generous place to start when comparing with disposable diapers, but I want you to realize that it could be almost double that number. Babies’ needs vary.

How Many Diapers Do I Need?

Short answer: you need 24 prefolds and 4 one-size diaper covers.

On a budget, choose the lowest number of diapers you will need. I’ve seen more than one family make do with a dozen diapers, but you will end up washing more than once a day or leaving your baby in a wet diaper (which can cause irritation and rash). I consider 18 the minimum to start for a family washing diapers every day. The number of diapers used per day will go down quickly, so your laundry will go down quickly.

Just to keep being generous with the numbers, I am going to use 24 as my comparison number. Buy 24 prefold cloth diapers and 4 one-size covers, and a few accessories (like wipes or wash cloths and a bucket to hold the dirties), and you are set.

Compare Diaper Prices

  • $690 Disposable Diapers
  • $600 Cloth All-in-one Diapers plus Newborn
  • $240 Cloth One-size All-in-one Diapers
  • $231 ($195) Cloth prefolds with sized covers
  • $177 Cloth prefolds with one-size covers

The clear winner is prefold diapers with one-sized covers.

1 set of 12 Organic Cotton Prefolds, Infant Size
1 set of 12 Organic Cotton Prefolds, Premium Size
4 Bummis Simply Lite one-size diaper covers (Made in Canada!)

Our calculations

  • Disposable diapers – 3000 diaper changes x $.20-25 each = $690 ($.23 x 3000)
  • All-in-one one-size (no newborn) – 12 AIO x $20 = $240
  • All-in-one one-size plus newborn – $240 + (18 Newborn x $20 = $360) = $600
  • Prefolds with sized covers – 12 organic cotton Infant prefolds $44.96 + 12 organic cotton Premium prefolds $59.98 + (3 x 3 x $14 = $126) = $231  SPECIAL: Bummis Super Brite sized covers are on special right now for $10 per cover. Knock that total down to $195.
  • Prefolds with one-size covers – 12 organic cotton Infant prefolds $44.96 + 12 organic cotton Premium prefolds $59.98 + 4 one-size diaper covers $71.92 (4 x $17.98) = $177

Simple diaper bonus: prefold cloth diapers are by far the easiest diapers to wash. You can use and accidentally abuse cotton, and it still performs. For answers to your diaper cleaning questions, start at our Cloth Diaper Laundry Hub.

Why Shopping Local Will Save You Money in the Long Run

Saving money with diapers isn’t just a matter of the price you pay up front. I’ve heard many sad stories of people who thought they had found great diaper deals, but it turned out that they bought trouble.

Nature Mom has outlined the reasons shopping at or any other local store will save you money when you are buying for baby. The store in Orillia has a staff that is trained to help you succeed.

We’ll help make sure the diapers you choose are best for your individual circumstances. You won’t have to try multiple styles to get it right. We can help narrow down the many choices to the absolute best choices for you.

Every cloth diaper purchase from includes our 10 years of experience helping thousands of parents with cloth diapering. We’ll ensure you get off to a good start from day one, with everything you need to be successful.

We’re easy to get in touch with when you need help. Email, phone, or stop by the store, and we can help troubleshoot with fit, leaking, overnight diapering, washing issues, etc. This saves time weeding through the crazy responses online. (We joke, please don’t put your diapers in the dishwasher! This could be a costly mistake.)

Many local stores offer consignment sales so when you are done with your diapers, if you choose quality brands and followed recommended washing instructions, you might be able to resell your diapers through the local stores. Our next cloth diaper consignment sale at (our Repeat Sale) is coming up fast already! We’ll start registering consignors next month for our Spring Sale on March 22nd. (Check in on Facebook or get our newsletter for updates.)

How do you know if your diaper is safe, a counterfeit, or under warranty? When you talk to us in the store, we help you understand these issues. They do matter. It’s like having insurance for your investment. Authorized retailers can also help with warranty issues, and there are many unauthorized sellers online.

Bottom line, cloth diapers are an investment. Spending your money with a local retailer helps to secure this investment. That $50 or $100 you might think you’re saving buying from a big box store is easily worth the independent retailer’s time and expertise when you need it, as well as your own peace of mind throughout your cloth diapering experience.

Are You a Super Saver?

Go diaper free with infant pottying (or elimination communication). You will still need some diapers but not nearly as many as you would cloth diapering full time.

More Baby on a Budget

Next week I’ll talk about breastfeeding essentials. As you can guess, doesn’t involve much more than you and your baby.

Baby on a Budget: Just One Baby Carrier

Wrapsody Hybrid Baby Carrier Wrap


Before you have a baby, you probably aren’t sure exactly what you need. I’m sharing my experience to help you avoid buying stuff you won’t use.

A baby carrier is one of the baby essentials I recommend for you, even if you have a short list and a tight budget. Save money by buying just one baby carrier.

Why Is a Baby Carrier Essential?

  • Your baby gets what s/he wants: being close to you.
  • You keep baby close enough to kiss, so you become atuned to your baby’s needs. (The “attachment” in attachment parenting.)
  • You are free to use your arms and keep moving.

Especially in the first few months, most babies want to be very close to their parents. After babies start to move around, they will still spend a lot of time asking to be picked up. You have a higher vantage point to see the world. You are comfort when there is too much stimulation. Even a toddler wants to be held a lot. I still think of my little boy (before he was 6′ tall) saying, “Hold me,” and me getting out the sling that was sturdy enough to hold a toddler.

You will hold your child a lot. A baby carrier makes that a lot easier.

How to Save Money on Baby Carriers

Baby carriers are an expensive item because they involve a lot of high-quality fabric. I wouldn’t advise you to save money by getting a low-quality carrier or low-quality fabric. This is a safety issue. The baby carrier industry has done a great job in the past few years creating a standard that keeps your baby safe. It’s worth choosing a carrier that adheres to the high standard.

So, my alternative method of saving on baby carriers is to get just one carrier that works for all sizes and situations.

The One Baby Carrier: Wrapsody Bali Stretch Hybrid

The staff at recommends the Wrapsody Bali Stretch Hybrid as their most versatile and economical carrier over the lifetime of your use.

  • Wear newborn to toddler
  • Use as front carrier, hip carrier, or back carrier
  • One size fits all. 6 yards of fabric with hemmed, tapered ends so it is easy to tie
  • Soft fabric doesn’t create pressure points on your body, like heavier wraps or too quick wrapping sometimes creates
  • Compact enough to fit in your bag
  • Includes a DVD to help you learn wrapping

It is perfect for newborn.
Wrapsody Bali Stretch Wrap Aphrodite pattern

Perfect for napping babies.
Wrapsody Bali Stretch Wrap Alyssa

And also perfect for toddlers who really need to see the world.
Wrapsody Bali Stretch Wrap Chronos

What makes this carrier a particular favorite is the soft, stretchy fabric. This 100% cotton fabric is soft like a stretchy wrap but strong and supportive enough to function like a woven wrap.

One of the most important things for about a baby carrier, since you will be spending a lot of time wearing it over the next few years, is what it looks like. I hated my baby sling that had pastel baby patterns on it. I always reached for the one that matched my clothes (black). Think about how you dress, and buy your baby carrier accordingly. You will save yourself having to buy another one because you hesitate to wear the first.

With the Wrapsody Bali, the choices are gorgeous. Each one is unique because of the variations in hand-dyed and batiked fabric (from Bali, Indonesia). You can get a beautiful pattern, if that fits you, or a rainbow stripe, or a more subtle, neutral color. You have choices, and they are all dyed with baby-safe dyes (no heavy metals). You baby will suck and chew on the carrier, so that is important.

You will probably be wearing this carrier every day for a year, most days for the year after that, and occasionally into the third year. You will get a lot of wear out of your baby carrier. Don’t let the price tag scare you into skipping the baby carrier or opting for a cheaper version that you will have to replace.

Choose wisely the first time, and you will save in the long run.

More Baby on a Budget

All this month we will feature posts on saving money with babies.

See my short list of baby essentials and the stuff you will find on all of the other lists but you probably won’t use: “Baby on a Budget: What Do You Really Need?”

What is the best way to save on cloth diapers? Find out in “Baby on a Budget: Cloth Diapers.”

And, simplest of all, what do you need to buy to breastfeed? My answer in “Baby on a Budget: Breastfeeding Supplies.”