Buying baby items in bulk is smart for a few reasons. First, baby supplies are expensive, but purchasing goods in larger quantities often saves a hefty amount of money. In fact, prices at buy-in-bulk warehouse clubs like Costco are between 29 and 33 percent lower than supermarket chains, according to a Consumers' Checkbook survey. Second, running out of baby basics is just the worst. It always seems to happen halfway through the night, in the middle of a diaper blowout or as soon as you’ve returned from your latest Target run. *D’oh! And lastly, it feels darn good to be the slightest bit organized when so much of new parenthood is pure unadulterated chaos.
Not all baby goods should be bought en masse—or at least, not without a proper test-run first. You want to make sure you and baby both like what you’re buying before your pantry is stuffed full of it. (The parental satisfaction of stocking up on formula will crash pretty fast when baby refuses to drink it; same goes for buying baby bottles in bulk. Wait till you know what your little one digs.) You also don’t want to buy more than you actually need. A changing table brimming with newborn diapers, for instance, won’t get you very far if your baby is a 10-pounder. For help getting your ducks—er, diapers, wipes and baby food—in a row, here’s our guide to the best bulk baby supplies to buy.
Why: Forget about buying newborn diapers in bulk. Baby might arrive already too big to fit in those itsy-bitsy diapers, or outgrow them in a couple weeks. Instead, fast forward to when baby is over 10 pounds and remaining in the same size diaper for longer. That’s when you want to stock up—and at that point, diapers are fantastic bulk baby items. After all, babies go through almost 3,000 diapers a year. Besides, buying small packs are more expensive per diaper. You can grab a 34-pack of size 3 Huggies Snug & Dry for $9 (about $0.26 a pop), or you can bump it up to the 216-pack and pay about $0.18 a diaper instead.
Where: Amazon Family can be a great money saver if you’re buying more than just diapers. Subscribers can get a 20 percent discount on diapers (and other baby musts) if you’ve got five subscriptions arriving at the same time. That said, wholesale clubs like Costco and BJs sell bulk name-brand and store-brand diapers for about $0.16 to $0.20 a diaper.
Shopping tips: In general, baby will be in size 1 for two months, size 2 diapers for two months, and then hold steady in size 3 for roughly three months. While some babies eventually wear size 5, many finish their diapering stint in size 4, wearing them for six months or more. Once you get a handle on how many baby uses a day, bulk-buy away.
Why: Not only will you use these bad boys for each and every diaper change, you’ll find many uses that go well beyond baby bums, like wiping snot, messy faces, crumby tables and more. At Walmart, a 64-count box of Pampers Gentle Clean Sensitive Baby Wipes will shake out to $0.04 a wipe; up the count to 648 wipes and the per-wipe cost drops to $.03. It doesn’t seem like much, but all those pennies add up quick.
Where: You can get bulk baby wipes at big box retail stores like Target and Walmart, plus warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club (you can score them for as little as $0.01 a wipe here). If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you may want to opt into Amazon Family, where you can get 20 percent off baby essentials.
Shopping tips: Before buying bulk baby wipes, check the price per wipe. They’re definitely stock-up-able if they are between $0.01 and $0.02 per wipe. And know that wipes in plastic boxes are always pricer that ones in soft containers. If you prefer hard containers, simply transfer your less-expensive wipes into the box you already have.
Why: If you’re going the formula route, newborns start off with two to three ounces of formula every three to four hours; that bumps up to six to eight ounces for each of the six daily feedings by the time baby is 6 months old. That’s a lot of formula, especially if baby is drinking formula exclusively. The per-ounce price of formula goes down the larger the package, and down even further when purchased in bulk bundles.
Where: Membership stores like Costco and BJs are often still the cheapest when it comes to name-brand and store-brand formula. However, big box stores often offer buy-in-bulk incentives. For instance, a 35-ounce tin of Target’s Up & Up formula cost $22 and yields 70 4-ounce bottles. But if you buy three, you get $10 back for a total of $56. Meanwhile, at Costco, it’s $50 for a three-count of their 34-ounce infant formula.
Shopping tips: Have your child sample the goods before stocking up. Formula-makers like Enfamil and Similac will send you samples and coupons once you register on their websites. Also, know that powder formula is more affordable than the ready-made or concentrated stuff. Plus, all infant formula sold in the US has to meet the same nutritional and safety guidelines, which means store brands are just as good as name-brand formulas.
Why: Laundry detergent is one of the smartest bulk baby items to buy. Why? Because once you’re a mom, laundry is no joke. Not only are you dealing with baby’s poop- and spit-up stained onesies, but your poop- and spit-up stained clothes. And then there are the burp cloths, the bibs, the crib and playard sheets, the towels, the washcloths, the changing table cover and more. You’re going to need oodles of detergent. Stock up on a good stain-fighting, baby-friendly one and buy it massive containers. (Purchasing a 40-ounce container of All Free Clear, for instance, will cost about $0.13 an ounce at Walmart. Up the amount to 140 ounces and it’ll cost $0.08 an ounce.)
Where: You can often find muti- or jumbo packs of some of our fave family-friendly detergents—like All Free Clear, Mrs. Meyer's, ECOS and Seventh Generation—on Boxed.com and at warehouse clubs. At the same time, detergents go on sale quite often at your local drugstore. Keep your eyes peeled, use your store card for extra savings and stock up.
Shopping tips: Instead of loading up on baby detergent, think about filling your laundry room with a family detergent that’s hypoallergenic, chemical- and fragrance-free. It’ll make for less laundry-separating and it’ll save money. Also, laundry detergent notes how many loads are in each bottle. To properly compare prices, divide the price by the number of expected loads. (A good stockpile price would be about $0.05 a load.)
Why: You know what makes baby shampoo and body wash combos kid-friendly? They contain fewer chemicals that can irritate eyes. That’s it. The only real reason to graduate to adult shampoo is for the yummy smells and lather-ability. That means you and baby can use the same stuff for eons. Stock up on multi-packs and big ol’ bottles if you find a good deal. For instance, it’ll cost $5.89 for one 13-ounce bottle of Baby Dove Tip To Toe Wash. Buy it as a three-for-one at Boxed, however, and you’ll save $1.68.
Where: If you spot a sale at your local drugstore, stock up, but know that baby shampoo generally costs more there than at, say, Target. For instance, a 28-ounce bottle of Johnson's Head-to-Toe Baby Wash will cost you $6 at Target and $9 at CVS. You can also find pretty good baby shampoo deals on websites like Overstock.com and Luckyvitamin.com. In fact, you can score a giant 17.5-ounce jug of California Baby Calming Shampoo and Bodywash for $18 at Luckyvitamin.
Shopping tips: Buy pump-style containers, if possible. This helps you waste less product (no accidentally squeezing out too much) and save more money. And if you buy a baby shampoo you like to use yourself, you and baby can share.
Why: While you shouldn’t be slathering sunscreen on babies under 6 months old (they need to avoid the sun’s rays completely), older babies and kids need a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or higher when they’re outdoors. And the truth is, we rarely apply enough on our kiddos. In fact, a survey of 156 dermatologists found that 99 percent of them think we’re slacking in the sunscreen department. In short, if you stock up, there’s less chance of skimping.
Where: While you can often score two-for-one deals at the drugstore or big box store, it’s a good idea to look at online specialty retailers like SwimOutlet too. For instance, you can buy a big ol’ 32-ounce bottle of Rocky Mountain Sunscreen SPF 30 Kids for $28. That’s about five bottles worth of sunscreen!
Shopping tips: There’s really no such thing as a “for kids” sunscreen. All sunscreen manufacturer must follows FDA guidelines for sunscreen; there’s no special guideline for labeling it “for kids” or “for babies.” However, child sunscreens are usually composed of gentle-on-the-skin zinc oxide with or without titanium dioxide. Once you know what works on your kiddo (and on you—it’s smart to share), buy away. If you wind up with a huge bottle, simply squirt some in a to-go toiletry container when you need to take the protection with you.
Why: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should introduce baby to solid foods at around 6 months old. In general, you’re looking at about six months worth of purées, with the texture moving from smooth at the start to chunkier once baby is 8 to 10 months old. Once your little one gets into the swing of things, she’ll likely eat about 8 ounces (or two 4-ounce jars or pouches) of baby food a day, with the whole jarred-food thing petering out by her first birthday. Since you’re staring down about 60 jars a month, give or take, it’s a good idea to stock the pantry. After all, buying one-offs can be about $0.30 more expensive per jar.
Where: While membership clubs do carry bulk baby food, there’s not a ton to choose from. For example, Sam’s Club carries Gerber and Plum Organics, BJs has Gerber and Sprout, and Costco and Boxed have Plum Organics. You’ll get a better selection on bulk baby food at Amazon and big boxers like Target and Walmart. For example, Walmart carries multi-packs of Earth’s Best, Beech-Nut and Plum Organics.
Shopping tips: Worried about stocking up on something baby won’t like? Know this: New foods may take up to 10 tries before a kid will come around, so it’s smart to stick with initially rejected eats. That said, look for bulk variety packs.
Why: It seems silly to stock up on cups, doesn’t it? But just wait until you find yourself looking behind the sofa, on the car floor and in the stroller basket and bellowing, “Where are all the dang sippy cups?!” Kids lose these like they’re getting a silver dollar for each one gone.
Where: You can find two- or four-packs at big box and online retailers like Jet.com, Amazon, Target and Walmart. Target, for instance, sells a 4-packer of Nuby No-Spill Super Spout 2 Handle Cup for $15.
Shopping tips: Toddler can be finicky creatures. Try out a sippy before loading up on one brand. Some kids love straws, some prefer soft silicone tips, some only really care about what character decorates the outside.
Why: Honesty, you’ll never be able to leave the house again without a stash of snacks in your purse or diaper bag. Get a variety and shove your cabinets full of them.
Where: Warehouse stores are a big “no-duh” with this one. Costco, for instance, carries items like a 98-count Nature Valley granola bar pack for $15 and a case of 42 single-serve Chex mix bags for $14. Amazon can be a real goldmine in the bulk snack department too, especially if you’re already signed up for Amazon Prime/Family. They’ve got things like a 16-count variety pack of Crispy Green 100% All Natural Freeze-Dried Fruits for $16.
Shopping tips: Grab-n-go eats aren’t just for kids. Harried parents often forget the oxygen mask rule and don’t take care of their own hunger. The smartest thing to do: Stash snacks both you and your child will eat. And yes, buying a giant tub of pretzels and making individual snack bags is more economical than getting pre-packaged ones, but if you have zero minutes for that, your sanity is worth a lot more.
Published May 2018
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