People who are thinking about becoming parents often ask themselves how much does a baby cost?
While plenty of people know deep down that having a baby can be pricey, during the pregnancy and delivery, when the child is a newborn, and right through until he’s 18, a lot of people fail to understand that exact cost of a new family member.
Of course, having a new baby doesn’t mean you have to bust your budget or start spending money like it’s going out of style.
Blogger Crystal over at Money Saving Mom created an entire series on “Having a Baby Without Breaking the Bank .” Her series includes tips for parents on ways not to spend themselves in oblivion when waiting for a newborn to arrive or after the baby is born.
A key piece of advice she gives involves the newborn checklist, or those “must-have” baby items you think you need.
When her first baby was born, she and her husband didn’t buy a lot of stuff, in part because they couldn’t afford it, but also because they had no room. You’ll trim your costs considerably if you skip the non-essential baby items, such as lots of onesies and every single newborn toy ever made.
While it’s possible to have a baby on the cheap, there are still a few pricey items that you’ll need to acquire. Here’s a rundown of the most expensive items on most people’s newborn checklist, plus some ideas for ways to get them inexpensively.
Remember, the answer to how much does a baby cost varies based on where you live and how many babies you’ve had already.
A baby needs to sleep somewhere and a lot of parents choose to put their baby in a crib. Depending on your furniture tastes, the crib can be one of the most expensive items you purchase for your baby.
It’s possible to purchase a new crib from a place such as Ikea for around $100, if that suits you. Other models can cost considerably more, and that’s before you add the bedding and a mattress.
One way to save on the crib is to buy used, but you do need to be careful. A lot of older cribs don’t live up to newer safety standards.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission released new standards in 2011 that prohibit the use of drop-sides on cribs, call for more durable crib slats and better hardware. An older used crib might not be worth the risk.
Another way to save money when preparing for baby is to strike the bassinet off of your newborn checklist. Newborns can only use a bassinet for a short period of time, since it is on the small side. Most babies can go right into the crib and don’t need a bassinet.
Not all strollers are super expensive, but a few models are.
Take the Silver Cross Surf Aston Martin edition stroller. It costs a jaw-dropping $3,000, which is beyond the budget of most average parents. The materials used to produce the stroller are the same materials used to make Aston Martin’s high-end sports cars.
It’s possible to find a stroller for under $100, but a number of brands expect new parents to shell out $200 or $300.
If you’re looking to trim new baby expenses, I’d ask you to consider if you actually need a stroller at all. Unless you plan on going for long walks with the baby, it might an accessory you can skip.
Used strollers or hand-me-downs can also save you a lot of money.
One baby expense that you really can’t avoid is diapers. Whether you go with disposable or cloth, you can expect to be keeping your kid in diapers for at least the first two, if not three, years.
The average cost of diapers from birth to potty training time can be between $1,000 and $2,500 according to Consumer Reports.
Cloth diapers do cost less out-of-pocket, since you can reuse them. Washing the diapers yourself is the cheapest option. Another, slightly more expensive option is to use a diaper service. It saves you the often messy hassle of laundering used diapers yourself.
Disposable diapers offer new parents the most convenience, but at the highest price. A jumbo-box of disposable diapers can cost around $40, depending on the brand and where you buy it.
The best way to trim your disposable diaper costs is to buy in bulk (the bigger the box, the lower per diaper price) and to avoid the name brands. Really, your baby won’t know that you are using Brand X diapers on him/her instead of Pampers or Luvs.
Kelly Anderson is a financial planner who blogs about financial advice you can use in your everyday life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.