Is a baby in your future? New moms and dads are likely to shell out between $7,000 and $14,600 between birth and their child's first birthday...

Is a baby in your future? New moms and dads are likely to shell out between $7,000 and $14,600 between birth and their child’s first birthday. Here are some ways to cut expenses:

• Pass up a private hospital room if you have to pay extra for it.

• Don’t turn on the hospital TV if it costs extra. Some hospitals charge patients for television privileges.

• Ask the hospital staff and your pediatrician for coupons and free product samples. Manufacturers often lavish maternity wards with items such as lotion, diaper ointment, and coupons for stuff like baby wash and baby portraits.

• Nurse if you possibly can. It will save you at least $1,400 in your child’s first year.

• Choose unisex shades and styles so you can recycle clothes and use them as hand-me-downs. When it comes to staples like undershirts, all-in-ones and socks, buy them in plain white, which can be bleached for pennies if the clothes get dirty.

• Arrange a swap. Have friends over to exchange old baby clothes.

• When it comes to diapers, think big. Lugging home one of those 228-count cartons from the wholesale club will save you about $170 a year.

• Make baby food. Mash steamed zucchini or a ripe banana, or visit www.parents.com for free recipes.

Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services