Our Cost of Having a Baby

15 Jan

This post is aimed at sharing what has worked for our family to save money while also raising a child.  Many people assume that raising children is costly, and in the long run you can probably expect to pay more than you’d like.  But, in the beginning, you can try to save money so that the burden is a lot less to bear.  Remember, these ideas are not for everyone; what works for us may not work for you.  The biggest part of saving money during this stage is being willing to spend less on your child.  Lots of parents get caught up in buying unnecessary products for their new babies because they see them advertised or they think they’ll need the products, but later find them barely used.  Our own financial situation forced our hands to be intentional about only buying what we absolutely need for our son.  However, we have been glad to find we can provide a loving, fun, and engaging home for him without the extra cost.

Here are the steps we took:

1. Cloth diapering.

The most obvious.  When I first heard about cloth diapering, I was very hesitant because I remembered how my little sister was cloth diapered: with prefolds and pins.  It sounded like much more work than I was willing to do.  However, when I visited my family the summer before we got pregnant, my sister-in-law Danielle showed us her cloth diapering system (for the fun of it).  I was blown away.  She had several different brands and styles of cloth diapers.  Often, when cloth diapering, you need to find what works for your family financially and what works for your child.  Finding the right fit can take some trial and error.  After Danielle showed me what she had and walked me through how to care for them, I was intrigued.  Later, when we found out we were pregnant, we took the time to do our own research.

Modern cloth diapers come in various styles, including the old-school prefolds and pins.  Now, you can buy diapers that are one-size, meaning they have  system of snaps or hook-and-loop fasteners that adjust in different rises based on the size and weight of the baby.  These diapers normally fit babies from 8 lbs to potty-trained.  These are the diapers we fell in love with.  We tried out a one-size pocket diaper and knew that was the system we wanted.

The upfront cost of cloth diapering can dissuade many from making the switch from disposables.  We were very fortunate that Danielle threw us a cloth diaper shower and many of our friends invested for us.  We started out with 15 one-size pocket diapers (Blueberry).  When Atticus was born, he weighed 9 lbs 3 ounces.  We finished off the newborn disposable pack we received in the hospital and then started him out on his first cloth diaper at 9 days old.  He fit right into them!  Over the course of six months, we added five more of the same diapers to our stash.  Fifteen is about the minimum required to start cloth diapering.  You can expect to spend about $300 starting your cloth diaper stash if you don’t have help.  There are much cheaper diapers than the ones we use, but like I mentioned above, you have to find what’s right for your own baby.  Blueberry brand diapers tend to be on the more expensive end.

Because we cloth diaper, we spend $0/month on diapering our son.  What about wipes?  We also use cloth wipes.  We have a 12-pack of fleece wipes, and a $12-pack of regular cloth wipes made by a work-at-home mom.  We use a spray bottle of water to wet the wipes, and clean-up is super easy.   Realistically, we spend a little amount of money per month washing the cloth diapers, but I do not have the means to come up with that number.  Our rent covers the cost of water, but not heat or electricity.  Still doesn’t come close to how expensive it is to buy disposables.

Remember, cloth diapering isn’t for everyone.  There was a time back when Atticus was about four months that we had to buy some disposables because he developed a horrible rash.  We were forced to strip our diapers (routine ammonia build-up) and even change detergents.  Some babies are severely allergic to having chemicals that close to their skin.  It is wise to remember to always go with what works for your child, even if it is not the cheapest route.

2. Breastfeeding

Again, let me specify, that not every step works for everyone.  This is one of the most controversial because women can become hostile while discussing breastfeeding.  Always remember to do what is in the best interest of your child and your family and yourself.  Breastfeeding is a mutual relationship.  Many women feel guilted into continuing breastfeeding even when their problems have not been resolved.

We decided to try breastfeeding, and I feel incredibly fortunate that when Atticus was born, he took to it like a champ.  The only issue we ever had was oversupply in the beginning.  Other than constantly leaking, breastfeeding has been an easy ride.  Atticus is now seven months and I am excited to start solids with him.  Solids are not necessary until babies are a year old.  However, we were gifted a Baby Bullet and I love using it.  Just recently, I put two bananas and one ounce of breastmilk in the bullet and it made six full servings of the baby bullet containers.  I froze all but one and we have been starting feeding.  He has really taken to it.  I did try him on the store-bought food and he did not like it at all.  Not sure what his deal was, but he thoroughly enjoys the homemade version better.  We plan to do a different variety every week (starting with avocados next week).

3. Cosleeping/Bedsharing

Also another controversial topic.  We chose to bedshare because we are breastfeeding and I was falling asleep while sitting up and nursing him.  With the side-laying nursing position, I can nurse him without having to stay awake with him.  Obviously, if bedsharing, safe cosleeping needs to be practiced.  Atticus sleeps between Steven and me, without a blanket or pillow, and never on his stomach (unless it’s a nap during the day while I’m in the same room).  We have not purchased a crib and we do not plan to.  When he’s old enough to graduate from our bed, he will either get a toddler bed or a twin mattress on the floor, when we are ready.

This option is not available to many families, for a myriad of reasons (hard sleepers, wakeful baby, etc.).  In these cases, a crib might be necessary.  Cribs can be quite expensive, but be careful trying to purchase these second-hand.  Cribs should always meet safety requirements.  However, unless in the case of recall or change in safety regulations, cribs can be reused for subsequent children.

4. Clothing

Steven and I feel very fortunate to have a wonderful, giving circle of friends.  Before Atticus was born, we were gifted tons of clothes, as I’m sure is the norm.  People like buying baby clothes.  It’s an easy gift.  We have only ever bought two sets of baby outfits, and those were both impulse-buys, never needs.  When Atticus was about three months old, a good friend of Steve’s gifted us a ton of baby boy clothes all the way up to 2T because her son had outgrown them.  We will never have to buy him clothes until he’s almost three years old!  Clothes can be expensive, but you can always find baby clothes on clearance at stores like Target or Meijer.

5. Toys

Some people might argue that toys are unnecessary.  Untrue.  Children should be engaged by activities, and sometimes toys, and you will be grateful you own a few that can distract him.  However, what might be considered a toy?  Before Atticus was born, Steve’s sister brought over an entire container full of her daughter’s toys she’d outgrown.  All washed and ready, we gladly accepted them.  Looking back now, did we need them?  No!  Atticus’s favorite toys consist of shoes, kitchen spatulas, our cellphones, his bulb syringe, his water squirt bottle, and any cables he can get his hands on.  He also loves his baby spoon.  Atticus does have a few favorite traditional toys such as his teether and his rattle.  Though, you will find children will be entertained by just about anything.

When they get older, it is wise to find activities and toys that engage and educate your children.  It is wise to find activities that you can do together, as well.

6. Bathing

I knew before Atticus was born that I did not want to waste money on a baby bathtub.  The reason wasn’t because I didn’t think I’d need one, it was because I didn’t want to have to fuss with one.  My sister-in-law mentioned that she bought a baby bath sponge, and after researching it, I knew I had to have one.  We were fortunate (again) that someone gifted this to us from our registry.  At the time, it was only about $5, and never runs for more than $10.  I could probably argue that even this is not truly necessary if you want to save all the money you can.  Atticus and I shared many baths together without any bath aids such as the sponge or baby bath.  And we have also taken many family showers together.  However, for those times when I did not want to enter the bath with him, it was nice to be able to fill the tub with a few inches of warm water and lay him on the sponge for a bath.  Depending on what baby wash/shampooing products you buy, you can save money there, too.  

Buying for baby can be extremely expensive.  The biggest thing to remember is that many things advertised for babies are unnecessary.  If you’re trying to save money, remember to only buy what you need.

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2 Responses to “Our Cost of Having a Baby”

  1. Donalyn Garrick January 15, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

    Well said, Grace! Well said! The breastfeeding was a life saver for us! Not only can I not imagine having to purchase formula to feed TWINS exclusively, I can’t imagine not giving my boys the health benefits provided by breast milk. As it is, I never did produce enough to nurse exclusively and still had to supplement about 1/2 of the boys’ intake with formula, but I am SO glad I was able to do what I could – even when I had to pump and feed it to one through a syringe w/ a catheter tube attached to it (the joys of preemies!).

    We were given two cradles which stayed right beside our bed until the boys outgrew them. Given their preemie status and the every two hour feedings whether they were hungry and awake or not, those cradles were a lifesaver. We borrowed both cribs the boys moved into, though one of the boys never did spend much time in his. As you said…. you do what’s right for your baby. One of the twins slept like an angel in his crib. Fell asleep by himself, stayed asleep all night, and woke us up in the morning talking and cooing to himself. And for our other one…. he started out the night in his crib … and always ended up in our bed because he didn’t sleep (and I needed mine). He would sit between my husband and me and play until he fell asleep. This process was repeated several times a night. I’m happy to say that at 14 he does sleep in his own bed and has been there for years … contrary to what my step-mother believed would happen.

    I love how you provide your take on things and yet acknowledge that what you do and did may not work for everyone. Children are all unique. Parents are unique. Each situation is unique. But we can all learn from each other. Great job, Grace!!!

    • Grace January 15, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

      Awesome, Donalyn! I’m so glad you shared about your experience because I always wonder about twins. When I was pregnant, I always said, “Gosh I wish I had twins inside because then all the weight I’m gaining would be worth it!” And then when I had him, it was so much work that I regretted that comment. Twins is hard, hard work. I don’t think I would consider cosleeping with twins–not enough room for mommy and daddy! But you did what worked, and every parent has to find what works for them. There’s no formula for what is the “best” plan for parents. We all have to adapt to our babies. And you’re right, “Children are unique.” This is what makes me afraid of having another because Atticus is such an easy baby; I’m afraid the next kid will be much different!

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