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Reader Comment: Newborn Baby Expenses!

Last week, I posted my early retirement series and within the first article I stated:

I also PLAN to have kids, but don’t have any currently so I really don’t know how much they’re going to cost..

George, a regular reader and comment contributer, made a detailed explanation on how much a newborn can potentially cost. This may be helpful for those who are planning to have children, like myself, and would like to financially prepare for them. Here is the comment:

You mention that you don’t yet have kids, and that you’re not sure how much they’ll cost. While this is something that’s highly variable, here are some rough guides…

1) Diapers cost about $80/month for a newborn, and slowly the cost drops until potty training. Purchasing cloth diapers (we got ours from www.motherease.com) can cut the diaper costs dramatically, but increase the amount of laundry you need to do.

2) If you need it, daycare is the single largest child-related expense you’ll have. A good daycare can easily cost over $800/month. Dayhomes can be a cheaper option, but they have their own pitfalls. Having “free” daycare from grandparents, if possible, is the cheapest solution.

3) The initial “set-up” cost for a nursery is around $500, less if you can get things used.

4) If you end up bottle feeding, baby formula costs up to $25/can for powder, and a can lasts about ten days – that’s $75/month for formula alone. Obviously breast feeding is cheaper, but it isn’t always possible.

5) Baby clothing adds up very quickly. We got a large amount of our baby clothes from friends and from Freecycle, which helped out immensely.

So looking at the list, here is what a newborn child would cost my wife and I:

  1. Diapers: $80/month
  2. Day Care: $0/month (two sets of grandparents in town)
  3. Nursury: $400 – We have a new nephew in our family, so our first child will most likely be getting hand me downs.
  4. Bottle Feeding: $75/month – have to check with the wife on this one ;)
  5. Baby Clothing – Depends on the gender of my first child. If my first child is a boy, then he will get hand me downs from my nephew. If my first child is a GIRL, then we'll most likely be purchasing baby clothing (new and second hand) – $75/month.

Total: $230/month + a setup fee of $400. Kinda sounds like I'm getting a second mortgage from the bank. :)

For those new parents out there, what do you think of my numbers? Am I missing anything?

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FrugalTrader About the author: FrugalTrader is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.

{ 79 comments… add one }

  • Thrifty Karen November 18, 2007, 12:24 am

    Alex, You really only have 2 loads of laundry every week? My husband’s clothes by themselves take up at least a load.

  • michael January 23, 2008, 11:29 am

    ha! You said that $250 sounds like a 2nd mortgage! Try all this in NYC. We had to move to a slightly bigger apartment (old one had zero light – inward facing courtyard). That alone is an extra $400 per month.

    Daycare here – if we can get in – may be close to $2000 a month! Yikes! Wish us luck…

  • Thrifty Karen January 23, 2008, 12:19 pm

    Michael,

    I couldn’t imagine paying the prices you’re paying in NYC, but doesn’t your income match the expenses there? I live in North Carolina and most people I know make $28,000-$35,000 per year.

    Karen
    Thrifty Mommy

  • Thrifty Karen January 23, 2008, 12:25 pm

    Oops. I forgot to mention, last year I wrote an article about saving money with a baby. Here’s the link:

    http://www.thriftymommy.com/25-ways-to-save-money-with-a-baby/

  • Rebecca January 25, 2008, 5:54 pm

    I live in Canada and I have been buying Simlac Advance for my newborn (which is what he was put on at the hospital) and it was $32.99 a can. I am currently switching to the Superstore brand (Presidents Choice) which is only 13.99-19.99.

    But another cheaper formula is Parents Choice (found at Wal-Mart in both Canada & the States). It measures up nutritionally with Nestle Good Start (which is what they are now recommending here).

    As for diapers I went to Costco. I got 234 Diapers (Costco Brand..which is Kirkland) for $38.99. They are great, no leaks or anything. But if you wanted to go with Huggies Brand they are $39.99 for 228 of them at Costco. However i’m not sure how different the prices are in the states. I just know they are a lot cheaper in Canada so they probably are cheaper there in the States too!

    Hope this info helps!

  • Rebecca January 25, 2008, 6:57 pm

    Also at Wal-mart I saw a beautiful crib for $99 which I was going to buy for my son (this was on the US walmart website). I ended up buying a second hand crib that was barely used (worth about $300) for $70.00. Just check out second hand websites and stuff! Great deals! Some stuff hasn’t even been used. kijiji.com (for USA) or kijiji.ca (for Canada) is the best site for second hand items)

    My stroller (which came with an infant car seat) came to about $230 all together (although it was with a 10% discount). I bought this at Zellers in Canada. But I have seen them cheaper.

    Bottles: Playtex Drop-Ins. They have disposible liners. You can just put the bottle part itself right in the dishwasher because the milk doesn’t touch it. I buy Parents Choice liners which are about $5.00 for 100 of them. They are easy because they don’t require sterilization (except for nipples and caps).

    Another tip: Sears is the most expensive for baby items (as well as other items too). My crib bedding set at Sears was on sale for $119.00 from $140.00 some and someone found it at Wal-Mart for $49.50. I have found this with many of their items.

  • paulette April 14, 2008, 12:50 pm

    The best to at least survive the expenses of having a newborn baby is to save early. So when the time comes that you have a baby, it will be easier for you.

  • Justine May 10, 2008, 1:07 am

    There are many great ways to save on baby expenses. First, you don’t need to buy everything brand new! Second, you don’t need half the stuff people tell you that you need. For instance, our crib became an expensive laundry basket because the best way for all of us to get sleep when the baby was born was to co-sleep. When our son was ready for his own bed, we bought a double futon for him.

    Breastfeeding is cheap and convenient. If you have trouble establishing breastfeeding, do yourself and your bank account a favour and hire a lactation consultant, call La Leche League or go to a breastfeeding clinic. Breastfeeding will save you thousands of dollars.

    You don’t NEED a stroller. Get a good baby carrier like a Mei Tai, Sling, Wrap or Pouch and you’re good to go. I didn’t buy a stroller until my son was nearly 2 and even then didn’t use it much.

    Change tables are a huge waste of money. Put a change pad on the floor or bed and change baby there. Less cost and more safe.

    Playpens are also high up there on my list of giant wastes of money. Our was quickly given away as it was never used.

    My advice is to get the basic; a good quality convertible car seat, a good baby carrier or two, diapers (I used a cloth diaper service for the first 1.5 years then switched to ‘sposies); clothes and if you don’t plan on co-sleeping, a second hand quality crip that converts to a toddler bed. You can figure out what else you actually need after the baby comes.

  • red June 10, 2008, 1:47 pm

    My son is now three and a half. At the height of it, we figured we were spending about 120 bucks a month on his arse:
    diapers
    diaper genie refill
    arse cream.

    It was worth it.

    FOr the last several months he’s been crapping in the toilet, like a big boy, and life is good.

  • Emily July 22, 2008, 10:29 pm

    I found found newborns fickle. One refused to use the crib. The second refused to sleep in my bed.

    My advice, before making large purchases, see if you can borrow things and try them out first with your newborn. Then if it works for you, go ahead and buy it. I did that with stroller, sling, highchair and exersaucer.

    Don’t count on what works well with one baby in your family working for the second. Their personalities are all over the map and frankly, when you’re tired your ultimate goal is catching some shut eye. The price tag can lose meaning if you haven’t slept for longer than 20 minutes intervals in 2 months with a colicky baby.

    I tried cloth diapers with my first. They worked so well for one of my friends who gave me a ton of different kinds of cloth diapers from her extensive stash. It was a mess! After waivering between the free cloth and disposables for a while, we switched to disposables. Convenience in a hectic household won out.

    Breastfeeding went swimmingly with the first. The second child, it was a disaster. I pumped for the first year with a Medela Pump In Style. Not easy, but saved on formula in the long run and didn’t deal with as much guilt that one child had breastmilk and the other didn’t.

    In the early days with a newborn, exhaustion is a tough opponent. You may find yourself favouring convenience and sleep over price and principles.

  • Robbin September 30, 2008, 11:24 pm

    Breastfeed! It costs less and is much better for your child. It is the best gift you can give a new baby. Health Canada and the World Health Organization recommends doing it for at least 6 months – preferably up to 2 years or more.

  • Angela November 10, 2008, 4:54 pm

    What about Dr’s visits? My friends said there will be about 7 for the first year for the baby for vaccines and such. I’m trying to figure out how much to save for these co-pay visits.
    And what about a good guess for the number of visits for moms?

  • George November 10, 2008, 10:08 pm

    Angela: Here in Canada visits to the doctor aren’t really an issue (financially, at least). With our two kids we didn’t pay a cent for doctor’s visits in the first year. In the first two years we had vaccinations at 2, 4, 6, 12, and 18 months, with doctor’s visits about every 2-3 months in the first year. Where I live the vaccinations are given by a community health nurse instead of at the doctor’s office, so it’s a separate visit. There are no co-pays involved as the visits are covered under the provincial health plan.

  • San Francisco Financial Planner November 14, 2008, 2:22 pm

    Great ideas on how to plan for the baby and all the expenses that come with raising your bundle of joy. I would also add that you should consider waiting until you know more about your baby’s interests and personality and what your lifestyle will be like with baby. What you think you want pre-baby may change after you actually have your baby and see what the reality is. If you absolutely must have the $2,000 crib, consider getting a less expensive stroller. Most importantly, if you want the top of the line crib, plan for it and give yourself permission to spend the money and enjoy it. Know where the money is coming from to do all of the start-up stuff: is it from your income, on a credit card, or from your savings? I your situation, you could draw from your savings (emergency fund and./or extra cash in the checking) and just plan to replenish that account over the next 4-6 months.

  • Amy January 8, 2009, 5:26 pm

    Does anyone have a suggestion for where to get cloth diapers in Vancouver?

  • DAvid January 9, 2009, 12:15 am

    Amy:

    Here

    DAvid

  • Al February 9, 2009, 2:35 pm

    If you live in the GTA call the diaper warehouse. They sell No Name brand diapers and wipes that wills ave you approx 50% off retail prices. They don;t have a website but can be reached at 905-270-8888

  • Horlic April 1, 2009, 1:39 am

    I’m not new parents here but how about medical cost? I think should start to save money for your new born baby education and should start buy insurance as well.

  • sara May 7, 2009, 7:58 pm

    Hi Horlic,

    Living in Canada, medical costs are free so no insurance to buy either.

  • Christian May 14, 2009, 1:34 pm

    Jason said:

    “Sure we won’t have a new car, not to mention 2 of them, no big vacations every year, and not the latest gadgets, but that’s our sacrifice to our kids.”

    I find this a ridiculous statement. When you mention not having a new car, no big vacations, not the latest gadgets.. and then it’s a sacrifice FOR THE KIDS?

    Bear in mind that not having suitable transportation AFFECTS the KIDS in terms of their quality of life. No “big vacations” AFFECTS the KIDS in terms of their intellectual growth and exposure to new experiences. Not the “latest gadgets” AFFECTS the KIDS in terms of their exposure to new technology (like the computer, for instance). And then you have the temerity and gall to say “that it’s a sacrifice (you) made for the kids”.. shame on you! these decisions must not be blamed on anyone else – including the kids – you must OWN THEM. Eventually you’ll end up having expectations of “the kids” that are outlandish because of your “sacrifice” to have them – grow up, be an adult and take responsiblity for your own ego/biological driven decision to have kids – or better yet, do have kids only when you’re truly ready and able to support new human beings in the manner which is required to GUARANTEE them a good life, and not one SECOND before that.

  • George May 14, 2009, 2:48 pm

    @Christian: I think you need to relax some more. It’s quite possible to have happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids despite not having new vehicles, big vacations, and the latest gadgets. Last I checked, spending a ton of money and racking up debts solely to “guarantee” children a “good life” usually results in spoiled children that think that the world should be handed to them on a silver platter.

    I think it’s far more important to spend TIME with your children, rather than spending MONEY on them.

    A couple of things to think about:

    1) Transportation: “Suitable transportation” and “new car” aren’t the same thing. We have a 7-year old vehicle that is perfectly adequate to transport the kids wherever and whenever they need to get somewhere. Would a brand-new Cadillac Escalade improve their “quality of life” by any measurable degree? I don’t think so.

    2) Vacations: Kids can get plenty of “intellectual growth” and “exposure to new experiences” without spending thousands of dollars on “big” vacations. My kids have had plenty of experiences going to local museums and nearby vacation spots – somehow I think they’ll survive if they don’t get taken to Europe or a backpacking trip through Nepal on a yearly basis.

    3) Technology: Kids don’t need the latest and greatest technology to be able to function in the modern world. A two-year old computer will cost 20% of what a “bleeding edge” computer will cost, and the only difference to a child is that their game might take an extra few seconds to load. Their quality of life won’t be affected in any way.

    Giving children a good life has more to do with how you spend your time with them than how much money you blow buying them expensive things. I think that children should learn that $200 shoes, iPods, international vacations and brand-new cars are luxuries, not necessities.

  • Isabelle September 16, 2009, 8:03 pm

    Hi, everyone! My bf and I live in Alberta, and we net 70 grand a year (until baby of course!). Our unexpected baby cost us 600.00 before the birth, and will cost an additional 200.00 each month of the first year. We use a diaper linen service, and have chosen to breastfeed. In the future, I will make baby food instead of purchasing it.

    The things that we bought new were a carseat, baby mattress, and a baby sling (I take baby everywhere!!!). We received a playpen and swing as gifts. Other items were purchased used. I used my Aeroplan points and drugstore points for miscellaneous drugstore and department store needs.

    The only other cost that was quite unexpected was clothing – for me! It was a struggle to keep up with my constant need for clothes – ultimately, I spent about 400.00 on clothes. I’ll be able to continue wearing about half of it.

    Finally, I lost wages due to not working, but it was ok.

    We saved a few thousand during my pregnancy (I made a fuss to get more hours at work and bf agreed to match my savings) for baby’s RESP and we hope to continue contributing each month! We are also saving for a family sabbatical overseas.

  • ioana June 11, 2010, 2:17 pm

    Daycare downtown toronto 2007 was 1700$ a month.

  • Mark April 8, 2011, 7:58 am

    As a rough guide how much you can take your baby probably will be during the day by taking an average of 70 g a formula for every 450 g of weight of your baby. For example, babies 4500 g heavy will eat about 700 g formula for 24 hours. Keep in mind that this will not apply to smaller babies, premature babies or babies over 6 months of age.
    It is also important to remember that all babies are different, some have a greater appetite than others bearing in mind that your baby is still physically progressing and if your pediatrician is satisfied with his / her progress, then why you do not have to worry about.
    You will notice that generally baby taking less milk you do not feel good, and more milk when you grow faster (this typically occurs between 2.3. and 6 weeks and 3 and 6 months of age), and this is completely normal.

  • Yolanda August 15, 2011, 4:34 am

    It’s really expensive mostly because of diapers, but there are a lot of tips for saving like buy ecologic diapers. Check in craiglist for toys in good condition, and so on… Also if you like I can recommend you a great site with newborn baby clothes: http://www.monishka.net/flower-tutu-onesie/

  • DJ September 12, 2011, 1:05 am

    If you’re planning on having a baby, throw your budget out the window.

    It seems as each month progresses, there is something else that needs to be purchased. Soothers, teethers, medicine, bigger clothes, multiple pairs of shoes for daycare, haircut, carseats, accessories, RESP contributions, books, toys, organic food, driving around in your car for hours (read=higher gas bill) to get them to nap etc. the list is essentially endless.

    If you drive a small or very small car, plan on upgrading to a van or suv. Also, your house will feel about half the size — you may want to move to a bigger house.

  • RateSupermarket.ca May 2, 2013, 11:34 am

    I just had another baby and we’ve been looking at daycare costs when my wife returns to work from mat leave – costs almost as much as rent! Anybody have any recommendations for private care in the Toronto area?

  • Diane May 2, 2013, 11:53 am

    One good idea is to open a day home in your own home. You get to watch your child grow up, your child has social interactions, and you make great money. A portion of your household expenses can be claimed in your business. It just seems like a win-win solution.

  • Jess @ Best Credit Cards Canada February 5, 2015, 8:42 pm

    We have an 8 month old baby and my favourite cost saver has definitely been cloth diapers! Before she was born, I was 100% committed to using cloth, but I have to admit I was a bit intimidated (would it be too much work, would they actually work well, etc). Every other day I throw the diapers in the wash and then hang them on the line to dry. One day I timed myself to see exactly how much time it was taking and it was literally 4 mins to throw the diapers in the wash and 4 mins to hang them to dry. I love how easy it is. And I REALLY love the cost savings. Big investment up front but it has paid off over and over.

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