Do Babies Have to Cost a Lot?

One of the number one reasons I hear couples say that they are waiting to have kids is to be financially stable. I definitely think there is merit to this desire. Children do cost money (as well as time and effort!). Perhaps you already have many other expenses. If you are struggling to make your bills before having children, it may be wise to wait a bit, pay down more debt, and make sure you will be able to feed another mouth comfortably before taking the plunge into parenthood.

I do, however, see a trend in today’s society of parents spending more money on having kids than they have in times past. Many couples may think that they cannot afford to have a baby, and many parents with children may think that kids are way too expensive. I would like to propose that this doesn’t have to be the case. Having children can be a quite reasonable financial endeavor in many instances.

Let’s look at some examples of how parents can save money on children. Keep in mind that if you can implement even just one or two of these ideas, you are already saving a lot! Every little bit helps, so do what you can and don’t stress about the rest. Here it goes:

Birth– This is one scenario where I think it’s worth paying for a good care provider, but if you can’t afford your ideal care, try to pick a doctor or midwife who is covered by your insurance and who has a similar birth philosophy to yours. In our case, we had no insurance and were told Medicaid would not cover our birth. Hence, we paid out of pocket via monthly installments. We paid off the global cost of our maternity care by 36 weeks.

Breastfeed– Breastfeeding is not only great for your baby’s health, it’s also free! (And the health benefits provided by breast milk save you in doctor’s bills.) Even after purchasing a pump and buying nursing pads, freezer bags, etc., the cost is still far lower than formula feeding. Plus, breastfeeding expenses are tax-deductible. Check out these cost comparison charts of breastfeeding vs. formula feeding at Kellymom.

Cloth Diaper– Our cloth diapers- covers, inserts, wet bags, wipes, and all- cost about $250. (We bought Flip diapers from Diaper Daisy because of their versatility and overall low cost.) At the newborn pooping rate, our diapers paid for themselves by the time our baby was 3-4 months old. You can maximize your cloth diaper savings by purchasing one-size diapers (meaning they adjust as your baby grows) and laundering them yourself (diaper services cost good money!).

Make Your Own Baby Food– It may sound like a lot to do, but it’s really very simple. Buy fresh or frozen fruits and veggies, cook & puree them, and freeze them into ice cube trays so you have individual portions to pop out and feed your baby anytime. (The book Super Baby Food outlines this method in great detail.) Jarred Gerber sweet potatoes were about $0.63 when I was buying them; we figured that our homemade sweet potato serving cost about $0.03. You can see how these savings can really add up over time.

Hand-Me-Downs– This one seems like a no-brainer to me. My son has 2 cousins who are about 1 year older than him. Guess what? My kiddo wears all of last season’s designs, and it doesn’t hurt him a bit. However, I know of a lot of women who feel embarrassed about taking used clothing and toys. I won’t tell you what you should or shouldn’t do, but I will tell you this- most people around you won’t know the difference, and your child definitely won’t know the difference- and he’ll grow out of it just as fast whether its new or old.

Thrift Stores, Yard Sales, Church Sales, etc.- Here are just a few of my favorite finds from these locations. Bag stuffed full of clothes: $4. Umbrella Stroller: free. Traditional stroller: free. Exersaucer: free. (People want to get rid of this stuff!) Block puzzle toy, normally averaging $60, $2. Nice boy’s boots that look like they’ve only been worn once: $2.

Bargains & Good Prices- Whatever you do buy new, shop around! You can always find good prices and better deals if you do your homework before you buy. We got a lovely, simple, and new DaVinci crib for $170, normally around $250-300, depending on where we looked. We got a Britax car seat for $160 instead of $280, because it was a discontinued pattern. These are just a few examples of buying nice new items for decent prices.

Child Care- Weigh the cost of childcare against the money you make working. Some families truly need the extra income to make the bills, and some find that the income they actually take home doesn’t make up for the time away from family. Make sure you factor in costs such as commuting, convenience meals, work expenses, etc. when considering this option.

Lower Your Standards- Your baby doesn’t know about keeping up with the Jones’. Resist the urge to feel like you have to have everything the newest, nicest, and fanciest. You don’t actually need the $1500 crib. Or the designer toys. Or 3 pairs of baby UGGs. If what you have is safe, clean, and comfortable, you really don’t need anything else. I am not passing judgement on parents who buy very nice things for their children. I am simply challenging you to consider making more modest purchases if you find that buying the nicest items creates financial strain on your family.

It is wise to prepare financially for a baby, and I am not suggesting to haphazardly jump into parenting without first examining your finances. I am suggesting, however, that it may not be as difficult to afford raising a child as you think! Think through what you really need for a child (your love, your nourishment, and some basic clothing needs), decide what you can and can’t live without, and then decide if you feel you are financially ready for a child. If you already have children, think through ways you could ease the financial burden on your family by adapting the way you spend your money.

Babies don’t need a lot of things- what they need is a lot of love, time, and closeness. No matter what you decide to buy for your baby, it is most important that you keep these items on the very top of your list. ❤

5 responses to this post.

  1. Good point :). And it is all very true!!!


  2. Posted by dac on March 11, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Very good points. i know a couple who were waiting until they were “financially stable” to have children. The woman drifted into early menopause during the wait, and she was unable to conceive. They were heartbroken, and could not take back their choices.


  3. Posted by SDR on March 12, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    You have a lot of valid points, but it’s worth remembering that the unexpected can happen and things can end up costing a lot more than planned. Our first had a severe dairy & soy allergy and ended up on a prescription formula that ran around $800/month and wasn’t covered by insurance. At the time I was earning a six figure salary and because of her health issues daycare wasn’t an option and we needed to hire a private sitter at double the cost.


    • Thank you for your comment. You’re right that the unexpected can, and sometimes does, happen! That is a difficult situation, to be sure. I hope that no one feels that every mom has to subscribe to every one of my ideas listed above; Rather, I hope that even just one or two ideas could be helpful for saving money as is possible for each individual family.


  4. […] reader commented on my recent post, Do Babies Have to Cost a Lot?, reminding me that the unexpected can sometimes happen, causing your frugal intentions to go out […]


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