A quick Google search will tell you that your first child will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $16,000 a year. Apparently the cost of a second child goes down to 80% of what the first one costs.
Holy guacamole! I’m pretty certain that we have not spent that much on all four of our kids combined!
Thankfully I never bought into any of those norms or averages. When we decided to have our first, we had a roof over our heads (ironically we lived in a basement then, too) and food on the table. We had jobs and health insurance. A baby doesn’t need a whole lot more than that, and when he or she does, it comes gradually.
Because the numbers have always sounded so ridiculous to me, I decided it would be fun to start a little expense case study when our daughter was born last April. I’ve been keeping track of everything we have spent on her so I can give you the lowdown. She’s six months old now, so I thought I’d give a mid-year report on what we’ve spent so far.
Here’s the premise:
For those of you who aren’t regulars around here, I’ll set the scene for you so you know where we’re coming from. Here are some factors that play into the costs associated with our littlest one:
- Subsequent baby (of same gender)– Baby N is the fourth kiddo in our home. She has a 7-year-old sister, 6-year-old brother, and 4-year-old brother.
- Cloth diapered— We started cloth diapering her at about 6 weeks. We cloth diapered our last son for his last year of diapers.
- Exclusively breastfeed— I have never purchased formula. I’ve always had a plentiful milk supply.
- Stay-at-home mom— I have not worked outside the home since my first was born, so we have never paid for any childcare. My in-laws watch the kids for us for a once-a-month date night.
This is post a case study of our family. My intent isn’t to brag or win a frugal mom award. My purpose is to show that with some forethought, frugality, creativity, and thrift, you can spend much, much less than any of the popular estimates about the cost of a baby.
Every family’s circumstances, needs, choices, and preferences are unique. I don’t expect that everything that works for us will work for everyone else. If you are looking for ways to save, maybe you can get some ideas based on what we use/don’t use or bought/didn’t buy.
If your family does things completely different, that’s totally cool too! We can still be friends. 🙂
What we’re using that we already had
For us, the cost of subsequent babies was much less than 80% of the cost of the first (as claimed by Internet baby experts). Here are the things that gave us a head-start on baby number two (and three and four):
Pack-n-Play— While we have a crib that our other kids used (in fact, we have two), it takes up more room than we like, so the babe sleeps in a pack-n-play in our bedroom. It works wonderfully!
Car Seat— We had an infant car seat that we were using, but we got a newer model (actually a travel system combo) in exchange for an honest review of the product on the company’s site. Had that opportunity not come along we would have kept the car seat we had. Instead, we passed it along for a friend to use.
Stroller— We’re covered here. We have a very well-loved double jogging stroller that I bought at a yard sale years ago, a Sit-n-Stand that we actually bought brand spankin’ new when our second was born, and now the stroller that goes with the travel system.
Exersaucer— When my sisters and I each got married and started having kids, we all lived in the same state (now we’re in three different states). At one point there was a new baby every six months like clockwork! My parents bought an Exersaucer that we passed around between us. We ended up with it when there was a lull in baby-having (after four cousins in two years) and ours was the last one.
Bumbo— We had sold the Bumbo we used with our other kids, but I found one about a year ago for a couple of dollars on half price day at the thrift store, so I picked it up. We really only used it a couple of times.
Booster chair— Instead of a high chair, we have used a booster seat with all of our kids. We bought them second hand and have kept one of them around. It comes in handy when we have friends over who have a baby.
Cloth Diapers— I didn’t use cloth diapers with my two oldest, just my son (who is now 4) and my baby (you can read about why we switched). I could have done fine on the stash that I had (you can see pictures of my cloth diaper stash on the post about how I got my diapers free or cheap), but as you’ll read below, I wanted to add some girly diapers into the mix.
Clothes— I saved the clothes that I liked most from when my oldest was a baby (she’s 7 now). I did decide that seven years was long enough, and I’m purging (both boy and girl clothes) as I go.
Swaddleme— We didn’t discover Swaddlemes until our older son was born (he’s 6 now), but we love them! I got two for his baby shower and I have picked up a couple more when I have run across them at thrift stores because I know that I love them.
Breast pump— I have a manual pump (that I bought and love) and an electric pump (that insurance paid for years ago). I don’t use either regularly because I’m home with my baby. I do have an emergency supply of breastmilk in the deep freeze from our hospital stay and from a day trip I took.
Blankets, bedding, burp cloths— These accumulate pretty quickly. Each one has a story and I love them all! They are pretty sentimental (well the quilts are, not so much the burp cloths), so we tend to keep them around.
Disposable diapers— Despite my resistance (we didn’t need anything), a good friend insisted on throwing a shower for me. Because we were waiting to find out the gender of our baby, most people either brought diapers/wipes or freezer meals (these were wonderful!). The diapers mostly carried us through the first six weeks (until we switched to cloth). We also received a big box of size 2 diapers, which I used occasionally (and donated the rest when our little girl outgrew them) and a big box of size 3 diapers, which I’m using at night now.
What we’ve spent:
$6— newborn diapers (generic)
$5— baby bath tub (purchased used)– We’ve only used the bath tub a couple of times this time around. We used our baby tub faithfully with our first two, but with the last two, it’s been easier to just to take the baby into the shower with one of us. We’re getting rid of the tub. Next time we’ll go tub-less.
$4— pacifiers– Our kids only kind of take pacifiers and only for the first couple of weeks. We actually had plenty of them at home, but this was an emergency purchase when my daughter went back into the hospital.
$23— Nystatin– She and I got thrush at the end of her first week. Ugh. Miserable. Painful. I cringe just thinking about how painful that is!
$15— acidophilus– Something else to fight that terrible thrush with.
$9— baby girl clothes from the thrift store
$10— ErgoBaby Carrier (purchased with Zulily credit)– We already had a Baby Bjorn carrier, but it hurt my back because our babies come out big and get heavy fast. I always wanted an Ergo, but couldn’t justify the cost until I saw this one on Zulily for $60 and need to use $50 of credit anyway.
$19— cloth diapers (girly ones from ebay)
$35— more girly cloth diapers
$4— teether— She still loves this teether!
$5— hair bows– I relied on these to hold her hair out of her eyes until I had the guts to finally cut it. Yes, it’s crazy to cut a 3-month-old’s hair, but she’s needed it pretty much since day 1!
$6— teething medicine– At six months old now she has five teeth in (and two more coming).
$4— baby girl clothes from the thrift store– Our closest thrift store has a stuff-a-bag fro $4 sale on Fridays.
$0— antibiotics for ear infection (covered by insurance)
Oh, and there’s birth
I didn’t include the cost of the actual delivery because from what I can tell the standard “how much does a baby cost” figures don’t account for that. For the record, we spend $2,234 out of pocket.
I keep things pretty simple by delivering within an hour of arriving at the hospital (for my past three deliveries– not intentional, my babies just come fast) and not having an epidural (I’m not crazy, just terrified by the thought of a giant needle in my spine).
That’s just hospital costs– it doesn’t include paying the OB. I paid that over time during pregnancy, so by the time of delivery the doctor was paid in full.
In another six months I’ll be able to tell you how the first year shapes up. So far things aren’t looking much different though.
How About You?
- What do you think about the cost estimates for babies?
- Did your kids cost that much?
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