Budgeting for Baby

It seems from the moment you announce your pregnancy the naysayers appear with their pocket calculators totalling up the costs associated with having children.

They tell you almost gleefully to kiss goodbye expensive vacations and new tech until your kids are away at college. Oh, and speaking of college that's going cost you a bazillion dollars.

It is true that raising children from babyhood to the time they move out does pack a financial punch, The United States Department Of Agriculture estimates the cost over 18 years to be as much as $245, 340!

Much of those costs are optional and more still are luxuries that can easily be done without.

So many of the items listed on baby shower gift registries are are put there by the soon-to-be Mom and Dad, and they don't know what they need. How could they? All wrapped in excitement, they're easily swayed by advertising and marketing designed to part them from their cash.

A friend of mine who wass expecting her first baby, registered for a bottle warmer, banana slicer, and wipe warmer. Six months in she was using a cup of warm water to warm her baby's bottle, a knife to cut his bananas, and (gasp!) wiping his bum with a room temperature cloth. All three unnecessary products were parked in the cupboard. Their total cost: $110.

It just goes to show, what you think you need and what you actually need often vary greatly, so do yourself a favour and read on for money saving tips when two become three.

Ask seasoned parents for advice

Firstly, you need to speak to some experienced parents, preferably ones who have more than one child and have gone through this process before. Ask them to help you compile your baby shower list to cut back on any unnecessary fluff and make sure you have all the basics covered.

Borrow, lend, beg

Don't be proud, ask friends, family, and co-workers for baby items they no longer need; any products that you can get for free leaves more money for essentials. Besides, people love to help new parents and have probably already offered.

Know where to spend your money

Don't try to skimp on essentials. At a bare minimum, you can't do without health insurance, formula or breastfeeding supplies, diapers, and a way to save for your child's education.

Frequent online freecycle groups

Social media forums have seen a huge surge in freecycle groups, sometimes called "buy nothing" groups, where community members post items they no longer need. I used to run a daycare and when I first set up business, I scored high chairs, cribs, toys, strollers and carriers all for free. All of these items have such a short period of usefulness, and people are more than happy to give them away when the time comes.

What children really need is love, food and shelter; everything else is just stuff. Try to avoid buying things just because they are fashionable or featured in a baby magazine. Ask yourself if you really need it, if your baby really needs it.

Budget for the basics

Your list of absolute baby essentials will be different to the next parent. Some parents don't drive and therefore a car seat isn't needed, others intend to co-sleep, so a crib is moot For some who wish to babywear, a stroller may be unnecessary; moms who plan to breastfeed may not need to purchase bottles. There are tips and tricks to sidestep all sorts of other costs, like making your own baby food and using grandparents as free daycare.


Kitchen paper soaked in a solution of baby oil and baby wash and stored in a sealed container, or simply warm wet cloths can take the place of costly wipes.

Baby's first year: What you really need

  • Baby clothes
  • Diapers
  • Formula, bottles, brushes or breast pump, nursing pillows
  • Baby carrier, stroller, car seat
  • Highchair
  • Bassinet/crib/ plus mattress and bedding
  • Bowls and sippy cups
  • Bathtub and towels
  • Toys
  • Safety gates and monitor

That's it! If your place is one level, you can even forget about the monitor.

Becoming a parent is expensive. Though there are ways to mitigate costs and save a few dollars here and there, there will need to be changes to your spending habits once baby comes along, but believe me, it's worth every penny!