[See "8 Smart Ways to Afford a Baby."]
Turn to your parents for help. When Nan Mooney, author of Not Keeping Up with Our Parents, had her first child, she moved from New York to Seattle to live with her parents, which enabled her mother to help her with child care. Such intergenerational arrangements are increasingly common, she says, and can help parents manage their costs while giving grandparents and grandchildren a chance to get to know each other better.
Hire an au pair. Au pairs, or foreign nationals who live with families while caring for children up to 45 hours a week, are usually much cheaper than day care or nannies, largely because they are also receiving room and board. But the program, which is regulated by the State Department, also comes with some drawbacks: Au pairs can't stay with a family for more than a year, which means young children have to face frequent changes in their care providers, and it can be difficult to check references in advance. Only experienced au pairs with more than 200 hours of experience are allowed to care for children under the age of 2.