The Real Costs of Having a Baby

stack of baby clothes

Whether you’re just thinking about having a baby or if you already have a baby on the way, it’s never too early to start making a “baby budget.” It’s not cheap to have a baby these days – and there are more expenses than you might realize – but if you plan ahead, you can make smart budget choices for your baby and your family.

Budgeting for Nursery Basics

One way of getting started with your baby’s budget is to break items down between nursery basics and ongoing costs for the year ahead. Many new mothers, especially first-time moms, register at a store for basic items such as equipment and furniture and look forward to getting those items as gifts at a baby shower. But be careful: You can’t count on getting every item that you need as a gift. You’re also likely to get duplicates, such as multiple hand-crocheted baby blankets. If you view your gifts as welcome surprises – rather than counting on others to provide the basic supplies – you will be much better prepared when the baby arrives.

Here are a few basic “start-up costs” for baby, broken down by category, and their approximate costs

baby nursery

Baby’s Room

Crib $100-$600 Crib mattress $50-$150 Crib sheets $40-$150 Bassinet: $50-$200 Mobile $30 Rocking chair $200-$400 Diaper changing table $100-$300 Diaper pail $25-$35 Baby books $20-$50 Baby monitor: $30-$100

Baby Clothing

Pajamas, 5 pairs: $40-$100 Onesies, 5 to 10: $30-$80 Play outfits, 5: $30-$80 Sleep sack, 2: $20-$45 Bibs, 5: $20-$40 Blankets, 4: $30-$80

Other Baby Equipment

Infant car seat and base: $40-$300 Convertible car seat: $80-$300 Stroller: $120-$500 Play mat: $25-$60 Swing: $80-$125 Bouncer: $45-$100 Soft or musical toys: $25-$60 Sling or other baby carrier: $40-$100

Baby Care and Feeding

Bathtub: $25 Baby shampoo and lotion: $20 Bath towels and washrags: $30-$50 Humidifier: $30-$60 Pacifiers, 4: $15 Breast pump and breast milk storage bags (if you are breastfeeding): $150-$300 Bottles, set of 6: $25-$40 Bottle brush: $5 Baby spoons and bowls: $15-$25 Safety gates: $100

Total: $1,685 to $4,625

Although the list may appear overwhelming, there are plenty of places to economize as long as you’re willing to think creatively (and as long as you don’t compromise on safety). For instance, a diaper table is a nice convenience, but you don’t really need a formal table to change your baby’s diaper; you can easily set up a special station on the floor. Similarly, instead of buying a baby bathtub, you can plan to bathe your infant in the sink until he or she is old enough to sit in the regular bathtub. And you can use a blanket rather than a play mat as a soft place for your baby to play on the floor. Above all, don’t forget to check out second-hand and consignment stores. Many times you can find barely used items for a fraction of the retail cost.

baby crib

Budgeting for Ongoing Baby Costs

Aside from the one-time costs of getting ready for your little one, you’ll need to plan for ongoing costs throughout the year. Those costs will vary depending on whether you are formula-feeding or breastfeeding, whether you are going to need child care, how much your well-baby and other doctors’ visits will cost, and so forth. These estimates should give you some ideas to get you started:

Baby formula (if you are formula feeding): $100 per month Diapers: $60 per month Wipes: $15 per month Baby food (starting at approximately 6 months): $30 per month Doctor visits: $25-$100 per month Childcare: $400-$2800 per month Medicine/Hygiene: $10-$20 per month Toys and books: $15-$40 per month Photo developing and mementos: $15-$20 per month Contributions to education fund: $50-$300 per month

Feeling spent yet? It’s true, a baby can cost a lot of money. But once your baby becomes a member of the family, you will hardly even remember what it was like without him or her. So plan carefully, and then prepare to enjoy your new little person.