Having a new baby is an exciting experience – and a costly one as well. This little bundle requires so much gear: diapers, wipes, clothes, car seat and many other things, not to mention the cost of child care. Add in doctor’s visits and you can easily spend thousands of dollars in your baby’s first year alone. In fact, a survey of new moms done by BabyCenter in 2011 showed that most parents spend close to $10,000 in the first year of their child’s life.
Start before birth
Ideally, planning for medical costs should start before conception. Make sure the policy does not have any clauses that will lessen prenatal coverage. Calculate how much it will cost in out-of-pocket medical expenses and plan to put that amount in a pretax health insurance savings plan.
Prenatal care should always be the top priority. A wrong move in pregnancy or at birth can cause problems that will follow a person for life on top of causing long, costly hospital stays. Read all you can and take any free or cheap classes offered to expectant mothers that may be offered in your community. Take care of your own health with steps to include losing weight before becoming pregnant (being overweight can cause complications during delivery as well as being unhealthy for the baby).
Samples and coupons
Take advantage of any free samples and coupons you can get your hands on. Hospital staff may offer you some after your baby is born. Even if you think you can’t use them right away, hold on to them, as there is no telling what might be needed.
Check the Sunday newspaper and sites to include Coupons.com for specials. There are diaper coupons available almost every week. There are also various websites where you can sign up for free baby products, such as diapers and coupons.
If you and your baby are both willing, plan to breastfeed. A can of formula can cost you $20 or more, which adds up to more than $1,700 in one year. Although you will still need a breast pump and bottles if you choose to breastfeed, these supplies will pay for themselves.
If you plan to use disposable diapers, buy them in bulk. The more you buy, the less they cost per diaper, and this also saves time.
For those willing to invest the time and deal with the mess, cloth diapers can save up to $1,000 per year. They are also better for the environment.
Buy as you go
It doesn’t make sense to buy every item right when the baby is born. Expected and actual needs can differ, and babies often grow out of things before they are even used. Hold back and keep an eye open for deals.
Even a crib does not have to be purchased right away. Some babies sleep in bassinets or in their parents’ beds until they get older.
Buy store brands
The diapers do not have to be made by Huggies or Pampers and your baby’s clothes do not need to be from a fancy department store. Your baby will quickly outgrow them in her first year of life, so focus on comfort rather than price. Clothes only costing a few dollars will often suit your child better than more expensive ones that will be spit on and stained anyway.
However, know that some store brands offer less quality than the more popular brands. For example, some generic diapers can cause a baby to suffer more rashes and skin problems. The same goes for formula. Although all formulas are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some contain different vitamins and minerals than others, so check with your pediatrician before choosing one.
Borrow baby equipment
If you have friends or relative who have children and are done using their equipment, ask if you can borrow it or buy it cheap. Many parents often have used cribs, high chairs, changing tables, toys and outgrown clothing that they are willing to give away, as these things take up a lot of space in a home.
You can also check thrift stores and yard sales for deals on baby items. Many have barely-used clothing and toys. Once Upon a Child is a store that sells gently-used children’s clothing and equipment. You can find great deals there as well.
Baby goods are one of the best things to get on auction as babies tend to outgrow them before they see much wear. In many cases, things can be bought, used and then sold back on auction again.
Consider convertible products
Often times, products such as convertible cribs or baby strollers that double as car seats for babies offer the best value as well as convenience.
Going back to work
Calculate whether it is worth it to go back to work after the baby is born. A month of daycare can cost $1,000 or more, especially in metropolitan areas. If you have multiple children, the yearly cost of daycare can cost $30,000, which can be about three-quarters of an average person’s income. Once you figure in the costs of going to work, such as gas, wear and tear on the vehicle, clothing and food, it may be more economical for one parent to stay at home full time or work from home.
With the internet, there are a lot of opportunities to work from home to consider.
If you do opt for child care, be sure to take advantage of the tax benefits. A large portion of the amount can be claimed on your income tax.
Forget the unnecessary items
Sure, stuffed animals and pillows look cute in your baby’s crib, but they are not must-have items, and babies typically only attach to a select few anyway. Not only that, but crib pillows can pose a health risk to sleeping babies.
Skip the Diaper Genies as well. These devices, marketed to deodorize the room, are expensive and require refills that are also costly when all you really have to do is take the diaper outside to the garbage.
Baby monitors are not really needed either, especially for those who live in apartments and small homes. If you do opt for one, choose a basic model. Features to include video will offer very few real benefits for the extra cost.
Forego buying the baby food maker as well. If you already have a blender, that will work just fine. A baby food maker is convenient because it warms the food, but you will end up paying a couple hundred dollars for that added convenience.