Babies Cost A Lot?!

Okay, so I was financially prepared to have a baby. Or so I thought. I knew that diapers were not cheap. I knew that daycare was expensive. I knew that baby incidentals would add up. But I wasn't prepared for exactly how much my dear daughter would cost. Thankfully, I figured out a few things to help reduce my DD's costs, both before and after her arrival. Here's what I found:

Baby Care
The largest expenditure any new parent faces as related to Baby is child care. In some parts of the United States, daycare costs are sky high, often coming in right at or slightly under the average income of one parent. So what do you do if working at your office means that the majority of one parental figure's income will be wiped out by child care costs? Oftentimes, one parent decides to stay home with le bebe. In my family's case, this meant that I was in charge of baby care. Thankfully, I love my new job, but for others, the stay-at-home-parent gig may not be ideal.

For that reason, deciding before Baby's a twinkle in your eye can help you figure out some child care reduction strategies like calling on family for help, taking Baby to work, working from home or working opposite shifts from your spouse. If none of these would work, simply planning ahead to save for a little while can help make baby care possible without breaking the bank.

Cheap Out on Diapers
The next most expensive area of baby care is diapers. Seriously. Those suckers are expensive. No one told me that the first month or two my hubby and I would be changing upwards of fifteen or twenty diapers per day. Part of this was because DD's parents (read: my hubby and I) were bumbling idiots with those plastic undergarments: we changed her diaper at every single cry. The other part is that babies actually do soil those pockets of absorbency ten to fifteen times per day in the first few weeks of life.

To combat the diaper expense, many parents turn to cloth diapers, which do save money over the long run, especially if you use them for multiple children. The problem is that cloth diapers cost a lot upfront, and the longer you wait to make you cloth purchase, the less money you save overall. So, if you want to go the cloth route, it may be best to purchase before Baby arrives. That way you can save in the early days of fifteen-per-day diaper changes.

I now have enough experience changing diapers, though, to address an entire post, so later I'll talk about why I decided on disposable diapers, despite the potential savings of cloth. For now, I'll just say two things: buying cloth early maximizes your savings and store brands are better than premium disposables. More on those later!

As we move forward in later posts that discuss baby costs, we'll also address other expenses. But for now, focusing on the two major expenses in baby care can help you identify some areas in which Baby sucks cash (faster than she can down that bottle!).

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Anonymous's picture

Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter wrote:

Wed, 10/10/2012 - 14:31 Comment #: 1

Thanks for the heads up Christa. I know babies can be expensive and there are some things you can't avoid but we are going to try save money when we can. I am definitely going to do cloth diapers. I like the reusable aspect of them which will save some coin. I am also going to make my own baby food with a Vitamix that I have with veggies from the garden.

I have numerous other ideas too. I guess it will be the test to see if this works when we actually start a family.

Anonymous's picture

Alex | Perfecting Parenthood wrote:

Wed, 10/10/2012 - 17:56 Comment #: 2

One way to save on diapers is to change when they smell bad. Just like you can save water with a light flush or skip a flush for adults (If it's yellow, let it mellow), diapers can absorb a lot of pee without needing a change. Poop, on the other hand, is changed as soon as it's nasally detected, just as with adults (if it's brown, flush it down).

We tried non-name or store diapers, but they sucked. They leaked a lot, and so we had to change them more often, plus we had to do more laundry because we had to change the clothes too. Now we buy good diapers and change them when they are stinky and we find that this is the most cost effective. Baby is comfortable because the diapers are very absorbent and remain dry on the skin.

Cloth diapers we ignored because it is trading money for a lot of extra hassle. Some people like them, but we didn't try.

Anonymous's picture

femmefrugality wrote:

Sat, 10/13/2012 - 01:44 Comment #: 3

Before each kid we try to stock up on diapers. We know they're going to be costing us a lot once they arrive, so we buy the diapers a little bit at a time throughout the pregnancy. Then once they get here, we don't have to worry about it until about 6 months in. It's not really a money saver, but a STRESS saver for sure!

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Fri, 10/19/2012 - 13:20 Comment #: 4

Miss T, we were going to go cloth, too, but I didn't buy them right away. By the time I did buy a couple to try them out, it wasn't cost-effective anymore -- laundry costs added up to about $200 shy of breaking even on plastics. That's a price I'll pay for convenience. As for sustainability, I'm not an expert, but I read that it breaks even in energy conservation versus landfill space, since plastic diapers bio-degrade better now.

Alex, we finally learned to wait until the diaper was full of urine or she had pooped! You'd think that would be common sense, but in the moment of Baby crying inconsolably, a 13 cent diaper change doesn't seem terrible, huh? But it all adds up!

FF, great tip! I'll definitely have to buy ahead for the next one, especially since there won't be shower gift diapers next time.

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