Guys. Really. Babies are a lot of things. Messy. Slobbery. Adorable. Loud.
But they aren’t expensive.
Although everyone seems to buy into the lie that they are. A quick google search will tell you that the average american family spends $12,000 on baby for their first year of life, and $12,500 during their second year. Uhm, OUCH. But lets think about it. If people with next to no money in 3rd world countries can still manage to raise babies, why are we spending so much? Actually. If people have been having babies since the dawn of time without all these “necessary” baby supplies, why can’t we?
So lets break it down. What is that 12k spent on?
All babies do is eat, sleep, and poop. Everyone knows that. Anything beyond that is a more for the parent than for the baby; which means you could probably do without.
Eating – Obviously the highest priced option here is formula, which averages $1,200 for a whole year. Formula fed babies also average $200 – $600 more in healthcare costs in the first year of lfe. The cheapest (free!) option is breast milk, although I understand this is not an option for everybody. There are great organizations like Eats on Feets and Human Milk 4 Human Babies that can hook you up with free milk from local donating moms. Breastmilk doesn’t even have to be all or nothing. Even if you do half and half, you would save $600 on formula! I will say that bottles and storage bags for breast milk aren’t free, so we’ll say breastfeeding is $100 a year.(Update: It is now also required that your health insurance provide you with 1 breast pump without a copay!)
Now what about baby food? Because that stuff is PRICEY. First of all, new studies show that food shouldn’t be offered until 6 months, rather then the previous recommendation of 3 months. Studies also show that there is little to no value in offering cereal (such as rice cereal) to babies, and that it may actually be harmful. With all of that in mind, baby food averages $75 a month once baby starts solids ($450 for 6 months). A cheaper alternative is making your own baby food, which averages half the cost of store bought, plus the cost of a baby bullet or what-have-you. Now here’s what we did with Jude (and plan to do with August): Share your food. It’s FREE. Food for babies is more for fun and learning than for nutrition. Once Jude was 6 months, I’d offer him some of what I was eating if it was age appropriate. It’s not like I was handing him apple slices at 6 months. But if i was eating a banana, I’d offer him some. If we were having nachos for dinner, we would give him some of the avocado before we made guacamole. You can even give babies egg yolks! Store bought applesauce with no sugar added is the same as baby food applesauce, just chunkier, cheaper, and you can eat some too! Food that you were already buying is perfectly acceptable for baby to eat and explore. Plus it will encourage you to eat healthier since you are sharing with baby.
Sleeping – The average american parents spend $150 to $400 on a crib for baby. Not too bad over the course of the year or 2 baby will spend using it; but there are cheaper alternatives. A pack n’ play, though not as visually appealing, will serve all the same functions as a crib, plus it’s portable! We got our pack n’ play for $85, and it has a changing table attachment. Buying a used crib or pack n’ play will also save you a ton of money. A free option is letting your baby sleep in your bed. Deciding to cosleep is a big deal, and there are safe and unsafe ways to do it, so do your research before you settle on this sleeping arrangement.
Diapers – Disposable diapers cost an average of $1000 a year. Cloth diapering costs $650 the first year (diapers, utilities, and detergent) and $210 the second year (detergent and utilities). I broke this down in a previous post. But even diapering doesn’t have to be an all or nothing solution! Lets say you use 2 disposable diapers every night. Diapers average .25 a piece which means at night you are using $182.50 in diapers a year. If you bought 6 cloth diapers to use only over night, it would cost you roughly $120. You would only have to wash them a couple times a week, even less as baby starts sleeping through the night. Then in the second year, you wouldn’t be spending anything, since you already had the diapers. Although it’s not a big money saver, every little bit counts.
So lets break down our savings so far.
Traditional Costs: Medium Savings: Big Savings:
Formula Feeding $1200 Half/Half Breast milk + Formula $600 Breast Milk $100
Store bought Baby Food $450 Homemade Baby Food $275 Your Food $0
Crib $400 Pack n’ Play $100 Your Bed $0
Disposable Diapers $1000 Nighttime cloth + day disposables $935 Cloth Diapering $650
Total: $3500 Total: $1885 Total: $750
Thats a HUGE difference. But what about the other $8500 (!!!) google says you still need to spend?
Clothes – The average parent of a new baby spends $500 on clothes in the first year. I know how tempting all those cute, clean, perfect onsies at Target are, but come on! One poopy diaper and that onsie will never be the same. Besides it will only fit the baby for a month. 2 months tops. Any veteran mom on a budget can tell you that a baby wardrobe is pretty much complete with 10 stained onsies in each size and a couple of PJ’s during winter. Especially here in Arizona. If its over 80, I don’t bother even dressing the boys unless we are going out somewhere. So where do we get clothes? Well, don’t be afraid to ask around! Lots of people have hand me downs that they don’t know what to do with. Jude has a cousin that is 2 years older then him and we pretty much have dibs on all his hand-me-downs. We have only bought 2 pairs of jeans and a pair of sneakers for Jude in the last year, which we purchased from a kids consignment store for a whopping total of $8. We are also constantly receiving clothes from the grandparents. Now lets say for some reason, you have nobody to give you clothes or hand-me-downs. Our local consignment store sells onsies 10 for $10. So even buying 10 in each size (nb, 3mo, 6mo, 9mo, 12mo) for the first year, that would only cost you $50! Thats a whole lot less then $500. Plus, when you are done with the onsies, you can sell them back to get some more clothes, although you only get about .15 cents per onsie… but still. Better then nothing!
Toys – Parents spend an average of $30 a month on entertaining their babies. WHAT? $360 a year on toys and books that will get ripped up, broken, and forgotten about in a matter of months? No, thank you. In Judes 2 years of life, we have spent $80 on toys. And that was 2 Christmas presents (1 a year) and 2 birthday presents (again, 1 a year). But, if you’ve ever been to our house, you’ll know that Jude has a TON of toys. Why? Because aunts, uncles, and grandparents alike love to give presents. And not just on birthdays and Christmas. Jude gets packages of goodies on valentines, Easter, and even his half birthday! He even got some books from his nana a few weeks ago just because. Even before his toy collection started exploding, he loved playing with things around the house. Any baby can be entertained for hours with some tuperware or a set of keys.
Car Seats – I guess this is technically a need. But there are different price options. It is best to buy a brand new car seat, because you don’t know if a used one has been in an accident or not. There are 2 options: a bucket seat, which is great for carrying baby around in and easy to get in and out of a car, or a convertible car seat, which is pretty bulky, but will last until up to the age of 5. We bought a bucket seat for Jude that was $150, then bought a convertible car seat for $100 when we got pregnant so that August could have the bucket seat. Looking back, I wish we would have just shelled out the money for a nice convertible car seat (average $250) for Jude when he was born, and then another one for August.
Diaper Bag – This one is my weakness. With Jude we used a $20 backpack we got at Target, which was awesome. But when we got pregnant with August, I knew 2 babies worth of cloth diapers was not going to fit into a regular diaper bag (cloth diapers are bulky!). So I set my eyes on a designer diaper bag made for parents of multiples, which cost $180…. But! You can get by with a cheap diaper bag if you have to.
Blankets, Bedding and Bibs – These items average parents $500. The only tip I can offer here is that whether you spend $50 or $10 bucks on a set of burp clothes, they are still gonna get puked on. You can find nice, barely used receiving blankets and bibs at kids consignment stores for a fraction of what new ones cost.
Strollers- I cannot emphasize this one enough: DON’T WASTE MONEY ON A SINGLE STROLLER. Seriously. Single strollers average $150. Jogging ones can go for $300 to $500. I can honestly tell you it is worth it to wait and get a double stroller when you are having a second kid. (I guess you could ignore this advise if you don’t plan on having another….).We got this one for $200 on black friday last year and it is a much better investment. So what do you do with first kid? Well first of all, I would invest in a baby carrier. They are a lot cheaper and more convenient then having to get a stroller in and out of the car. I personally like this one, this one, and the one I have now, which is a bit pricey (the prices are not in US dollars. Make sure to convert it or you might have a heart attack) Once the baby can sit up, you can put them in an umbrella stroller, which only costs $10 to $15 bucks at walmart. That’s a whole lot cheaper then your typical stroller, and it fits in the car better.
Other Gear – This is where things really start to add up. a bassinet, jumperoo, swing, walker, a pack n’ play (if you aren’t using it as a crib), an activity mat, a bumbo seat, a high chair, a baby carrier, baby tub; all averaging between $100 to $200 dollars a piece. My first piece of advice is to not get any of it. Seriously. Babies have been around for centuries, learning to sit, stand, and walk without any equipment. Obviously, some of this stuff is really nice to have, so if you absolutely have to have it, buy used. The few pieces of baby gear we have that I love having are a bouncer (average $40, great alternative to a swing and it’s portable), a boppy pillow, our baby tub (we have a cheap one that cost us $10) and our Mama and Papas chair (a bumbo/highchair hybrid, if you will)
Now, if you’ve been doing the math, there is still about $4,000 unaccounted for in Googles first year costs. What else could you possibly need at this point? Even if you got the high end of everything listed above, your babies first year only cost you $8,000!
Baby Furniture – A changing table, pad, a dresser, a bookshelf, a rocking chair average almost $3000! Especially if you are getting it all as a set to go with the crib. We have a changing table we got for free from a friend, but honestly I usually change the boys on the floor, bed, or pack n’ play. We keep all of the baby’s clothes on a bookshelf (we got from ikea for $60) in 4 containers ($20). I went without a rocking chair for Jude, but I really wanted one with August. We got a La-Z- Boy rocker on clearance for $200, with the stain protection. But you could easily spend no money in this category by emptying a drawer in your dresser and doing without everything else.
That last $1000 dollars is everything else. Wipes, shampoo, binkies, nail clippers, nursing bras. It’s really up to you exactly how much of it you spend. but for my final breakdown, I’ll include this full $1,000, just to be fair. Remember: This is the cost of their ENTIRE first year.
Average American: On a Tight Budget: Bare Necessities:
Diapers, Food, Sleep: $3500 Diapers, Food, Sleep: $1885 Diapers, Food, Sleep: $750
Clothes: $500 Clothes:$250 Clothes: $50
Toys: $360 Toys: $100 Toys: $0
Car Seat: $200 Car Seat: $150 Car Seat: $100
Diaper Bag: $75 Diaper Bag: $35 Diaper Bag: $15
Blankets, Bibs : $500 Blankets, Bibs: $200 Blankets, Bibs: $50
Stroller: $200 Nice Baby Carrier, Umbrella Stroller: $75 Baby Carrier: $45
Gear: $1000 – $2000 Gear: $500 Gear: $150
Furniture: $3000 Furniture: $500 Furniture: $0
Misc: $1000 Misc.:$1000 Misc.: $1000
Total: $11,335 Total: $4695 Total: $2160
So. With all these numbers: Are babies expensive?