Are Babies Expensive?

I remember reading some estimates that it costs a family about $6,000 for the first year of the first baby’s life. So I decided to see how we compare. 🙂 I kept track of all our baby-related expenses, from the time I was pregnant until J. turned one.

Some of the figures are rounded (say we bought a package of disposable diapers on a grocery store trip; we know the price of the diapers but the sales tax gets added only at the cashier, and I didn’t always bother to find the calculator to get the exact amount at home). Some things might be missing – I tried to write everything down but sometimes I forgot to do it right away, and had to go back and try to remember…

Also, this calculation does not include things like extra laundry detergent, photo prints, postage for thank you cards, etc… And I haven’t factored in the loss of income, both during pregnancy (hello, mornings sickness…) and after. However, I also haven’t included gift cards, cash gifts from people or the government tax credits. This is simply the stuff we bought.

So here’s how we compare with the national average:

Pregnancy and birth:

Clothing                                                                      $117.05
Birth (incl. doula fees, pool rental, etc.)       $563.00
Total                                                                                                 $680.05

Big things:

Crib & mattress                                                        $266.38
Stroller & car seat                                                   $0 (gift)
Baby carriers of all sorts                                      $137.00
Baby gate                                                                    $27.01
Bath tub                                                                       $7.00
Other                                                                             $50.79
Total                                                                                                $488.18


Cloth                                                                            $285.57
Disposable                                                                 $135.07
Total                                                                                                   $420.64

Clothing, shoes, etc:                                                                               $213.45

Toys:                                                                                                             $88.76

Medical stuff:

Teething relief                                                          $177.00
Cold relief                                                                   $82.00
Lotions, creams, etc.                                             $34.00
Total                                                                                                 $293.00

Other:                                                                                                          $76.44

Expenses during our Christmas time trip:                                   $200.00
(estimate; this includes diapers, etc. baby stuff as well as a visit to a doctor when J. was sick)

Baby-proofing:                                                                                         $50.00
(estimate; this includes containers, magazine boxes, etc….)

Pregnancy, parenting, etc. books:                                                   $150.00
(estimate; I didn’t keep track of this from the beginning)

Grand total:                                                                                                $2,660.52

Sorry about the crookedness of the “table” above – it’s really hard to get all the numbers lined up using the space bar… 😐

That is a fair amount of money… But we’re still way short of the assumed average of $6,000. We would be even better off if we hadn’t used disposable diapers at all, if we hadn’t bought J. toys (most of which were not needed anyway since he’s had lots of hand-me-downs; we got some because they were simply irresistible!), and if we had read library books instead of buying them. Overall, though, we haven’t done badly at all.

And what’s the secret for all the savings? Accepting hand-me-downs with gratitude! There are several little boys in our circle of acquaintances who are about a year older than J. I got a lot of maternity clothing from their moms, and we continue to get clothing and shoes for him. Most of our cloth diapers are hand-me-downs as well – some are ten years old, and at least 8 kids have used them before! That’s some serious environmentalism right there. Also, thrift stores, baby consignment shops, and are great resources for good or decent quality baby gear, for cheap or for free. And I’ve passed on things we didn’t need or won’t need anymore – sold some, given away lots. What goes around comes around.

My final verdict is that babies don’t need to be VERY expensive… But family finances do take some planning, especially when you’re down to one income. It’s doable, though, and the second child will cost less because most of the stuff is already there.


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