How to Save Money on a New Baby: Wait to Find Out the Gender


I’ve been to quite a few baby showers in the past ten years. For the majority of those parties the mother-to-be already knew the baby’s gender. In the case of baby boys light blue invitations with sailboats and puppy dogs were mailed, for baby girls sparkly images of pink ribbons and sprinkled cupcakes.

As a guest at these events I’ve noticed an interesting trend. When the gender is known and revealed prior to the shower the number of baby outfits and clothes provided as gifts increases exponentially.

From my experience knowing the gender seems to increase the odds that guests will avoid more functional presents in favor of cute little clothes that make women oh and ah.

As I mentioned in my last post my husband and I chose not to find out the gender of our first born child in advance and will do the same this time around. At our baby shower we received a plethora of practical items from our registry and very few clothing related items.

In comparison I attended a baby shower last February where the mother-to-be was inundated with gift bags full of clothes. Other than a box or two of diapers and practical items from one or two family members she received very little from her registry.

It was a HUGE shower with a room full of guests and almost each and every one of them opted for something cute over something practical. As someone who is ridiculously prudent it pained my heart to see so much money wasted on teeny tiny baby clothes that would be outgrown within a matter of weeks.

I’ve witnessed similar scenarios time and time again particularly from moms expecting baby girls. When the mom is finished opening the gifts the room is overflowing with pink dresses, dainty shoes for a baby who won’t be old enough to walk in them and barrettes for a child who may not have hair.

From my personal experience it seems that the temptation to buy cute outfits is avoided when the gender is unknown. I’m not sure why that happens, perhaps it’s just harder to find clothes in gender neutral colors.

Of course, gender isn’t the only predictor of what types of gifts moms-to-be might receive. Some moms don’t take price into consideration when registering. If you choose too many high end items or too many inexpensive ones you won’t get what you want either. I wrote a post back in February explaining this in more detail. If you really want friends and family to buy what you want it’s important to consider price points and store locations carefully.

In our case we received play mats, strollers, nursery items and bath toys in neutral colors. Even the guests who chose to avoid the registry picked gender neutral items like sheets with jungle themed prints and sorting toys. Not a single gift was wasted and each one can be used the second time around regardless of whether baby two turns out to be a boy or a girl.

My son currently sleeps in a yellow room with green sheets. The next baby can easily move into that same room without changing a single thing in it. In fact, even at age three, with the exception of his Thomas trains, most of his toys are gender neutral.

I think having a boy first gives us an overall advantage in the clothing department. A little girl can wear blue much more easily than a little boy can wear pink. In general I find that the girls clothing is quite girly, while the boy’s clothing is much more gender neutral.

Most moms I know that had a daughter before a son agree with me. They said the majority of their little girls clothing was donated or sold and that whole new wardrobes had to be purchased or borrowed for their second child.

While we didn’t receive many clothes at our shower I did purchase quite a few in the span of that first year. I took a peek in the box today and found that the majority of clothing in 0 to 9 months can be worn by either gender. If my children were born at the same time of year I don’t think we would need to buy anything new for the first six to nine months. Of course that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t want to buy a few feminine outfits, but more importantly that the need wouldn’t exist.

I’d love to hear your opinions on this topic. If you knew the gender in advance of your baby shower did you receive a lot of clothing? If you waited did you find the majority of guests purchased practical items directly from your registry? Also, since girls can wear boys clothes do you think there is an economic advantage to having a boy before a girl?

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12 thoughts on “How to Save Money on a New Baby: Wait to Find Out the Gender”

  1. We waited to know if we were having a boy or a girl and our shower gifts were very practical. Lots of receiving blankets, bath products, books, and a spattering of adorable gender neutral outfits. Plus the big stuff.

    As a mother of a baby girl, let me just say that unless your daughter is wearing pink, she will be called a boy. Doesn’t matter if she’s in a dress, or is wearing hair clips, if there’s no pink, it’s an automatic boy.

    I’d argue it’s impossible to actually tell the sex of a baby because they all look like babies, but I’d argue that the presence or absence of the colour pink plays a HUGE role in how people make the call now.

    • That’s interesting. I never dressed my son in particularly boyish outfits, but in his three years on this earth only one person has ever mistaken him for a girl. I never thought of women using pink as a way to demonstrate gender. I just always thought moms liked pink for little girls.

  2. We also waited to find out our first child’s gender until birth, and my shower gifts were pretty practical too. I also made sure to register for gender neutral colors for the car seat, baby room decor, etc. I had a joint shower at work with 2 other women, one having a boy and one having a girl, and I definitely received less clothes than the ladies who had found out if they were having a boy or girl.

    My sister had a baby boy this summer, and I was able to give her almost all by newborn and 0-3 month clothes because they were mainly white, yellow, and green.

    I found out I was having a girl with my second child before she was born, but since her due date was my first daughters second birthday, she barely has any new clothes. Everything matched up perfectly size and season-wise, so she wears 90% hand-me-downs.

    Yeah, and if your baby girl isn’t in head to toe pink, people will tell you what a cute baby boy you have, even if the baby is in dress covered in red strawberries …. No pink = boy. But people in general are clueless, I’ve had at least 2 strangers ask if my girls were twins when there is 2 years between them!

    • Thanks for the comment. It’s interesting to see a similar pattern in the baby showers you attended. It’s funny that someone would think children two years apart could be twins. By your comment I’m guessing they aren’t of similar size. Do they at least look alike?

  3. I knew that we couldn’t keep the gender a secret because PiC just couldn’t contain himself but I agree with much of this. I’d told everyone in advance that no matter what the gender, the colors we preferred were not going to be along the pink/blue divide. It’s helping and we have a lot of hand me downs that I’ve sorted through to pick out gender neutral colors. We aren’t having a real shower so we won’t be able to see how well people follow instructions though. šŸ™‚

    Our friends had twins (1 boy, 1 girl) and I both agree and disagree with Emily – I could easily tell them apart even as newborns but PiC had a little trouble with it. I can’t remember if they even dressed them in pink or boy but just looking at their faces, I thought it was clear which was which. Might not be so obvious when you don’t have a set containing one of each to compare though. šŸ˜‰

    • I’m curious. Did you purposefully decide against having a shower? I considered not having one, but my husband arranged it without my knowing. I must admit I felt so much love from the people who attended.

      I rarely have trouble distinguishing gender, but now I wonder if it has to do with the clothes the parents pick out. I suppose I don’t see too many very young infants out and about wearing gender neutral colors. Maybe the clothes give it away and I just never thought about it. Like you I always thought you could kind of just tell the difference.

      By the way I love that you are picking out gender neutral clothes even though you know the gender!

      • Yeah I suppose you don’t see a ton of gender neutral colors b/c of this strong propensity for blueing/pinking. I don’t really care whether strangers know if I’ve got a boy or a girl in tow, so it doesn’t bother me to dress LB in any color. My rule is: no more than 15% of any color. šŸ™‚

        We did choose not to have a real shower for a few reasons. Travel/expense: I didn’t want to travel for one and it’d be hugely selfish (IMO) to ask dozens of friends to travel for a shower. A baby shower just doesn’t warrant a cross country flight or trip upstate, I don’t think. So I was made that decision for the potential guests. Also, the only people who offered to organize one were out of state friends and relatives, in-state (immediate) family were only maybe interested in attending, but not helping. So that felt like it would have been way too much work for the organizers.
        We just celebrated our wedding reception last year, 2 yrs after the fact, we couldn’t really justify having another big ‘do to ourselves.

        A relative was *really* still wanting to organize something, though, so we worked out a compromise of an-almost shower that I may share in a future blog post.

        • I suppose we have the same rule about color. I have taken thousands of photographs of my son in the first three years of his life and I decided early on that I didn’t want to look at him dressed in the same color in photo after photo. I was never worried about people knowing his gender either. In fact I still get angry about the gender wars. We were at a birthday party where the mom handed out different colored favors. My son asked for a purple one, (his favorite color), and we got quite a few looks from other parents about his selection. Really, he was two!!!

          I completely understand why you wouldn’t hold a baby shower, but you might want to consider creating a baby registry if you haven’t already. You may have family members or friends who want to buy and ship you something. Although we had a shower I received a number of gifts from friends of my parents or coworkers who wanted to buy us something. Those gifts were all surprises to us! Secondly, registries offer completion discounts of 10% on items you may need to purchase yourself. That in and of itself is a nice perk!

  4. We knew the gender ahead of time both times, but our shower gifts still tended towards practical rather than cute (although we did get a lot of cute clothes, too!). I still haven’t had to buy any baby bath products (baby wash/shampoo, lotion, etc) and we are more than two years in. We got a ton of books and stuffed animals. I registered for gender neutral prints for the big items like car seat, high chair, swing, and while we got things like sheets that are pretty girly, I don’t care if my son sleeps on pink sheets. We are not having a shower at all for our second baby because we don’t need anything else.

    I attended a baby shower yesterday for twin girls that also leaned practical. It’s possible that my group of friends just leans that way, though, instead of towards the frilly side of things.

    • I think the mindset of guests definitely makes a difference. I tend to think practically, because I would want practical gifts. If your friends are similar in nature or know that you aren’t the frilly, pink dress kind of mom, then you will probably end up with more functional items.

      I also wouldn’t care if my son slept in pink sheets, but I know many parents who would. In fact, for most of his first two years he rode around in a pink, flowered car seat. That option was so much cheaper than the basic black version which other than the color was actually the same.

      I’m not a fan of stuffed animals. I think they are little dust magnets. My son has a giant box of them and I actually had to ask people to stop buying them for him. I didn’t receive too many at the shower, but somehow they multiplied overnight!

    • I can’t guarantee you’ll receive more practical gifts, but in my experience it does make a HUGE difference in the gifts you’ll receive.

      I think you’ll have a hard time keeping it a secret once you know the gender though šŸ™‚ I don’t know anyone who found out and kept it a secret. It seems once you find out you want to share that news with the world šŸ™‚


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