With spring in full swing, birds are chirping, bees are buzzing, and babies are uh…popping out! The cost of raising a child can be daunting, especially in the first year when you’re busy adjusting to an additional member to your family. According to The United States Department of Agriculture, the average cost of raising a child to the age of 18 in the United States is over $200,000. Before you collapse thinking about that number, there are some ways that you can cut the sting a bit, at least in the first few years of raising your child.
Although some babies have difficulty in the first few days of breast feeding, a lactation consultant can easily help with latching issues. Breast feeding is much cheaper than bottle feeding obviously because it costs nothing. Though one would need to buy a pump, this still pales in comparison to the cost of formula feeding. However, if you are considering formula feeding (there is nothing wrong with that), you can opt for the store brand version because the Food and Drug Agency ensure that there is a standard of nutrients found in formula.
Make Your Own Baby Food
Once your baby is old enough to eat solid or baby foods, you’ll probably want to start introducing these. No one really buys Gerber’s baby food anymore probably, but if you still do, you might want to consider making your own baby food. Not only is it better because you know what is going into your baby’s food (because you’re blending/ making it), but you’ll also save a substantial amount of money as well. According to iVillage.com it is about a 50% savings.
The Baby Bullet (which costs about $60 at Toys R Us) is BPA free and is a great way to make your own baby food (not to mention it looks pretty darn cute).
Swap Daycare With a Friend
Daycare is expensive. On a monthly basis, it can range from $900 to $1200 depending on where you are. In Vancouver, this is how much daycare usually costs. A friend of mine worked part-time and swapped childcare with her friend who also had a child 1-2 years of age. This worked out well and she only had to pay $300 for one day a week childcare. In addition, she got to spend quality time with her son (and her son’s new friend).
Buying used clothes, blankets, or accepting hand-me-downs from friends or family is a great way to save money. It might be tempting to dress up your baby in adorable fresh-off-the-clothing-rack goods, but babies really don’t care what they look like. The one thing that you probably would not want to skimp on is a baby seat. Transport Canada advises that baby seats have expiry dates on them because the plastic becomes dated and aged. The average expiry “best used” date for most baby car seats is about six years. Not reusing your child car seat can also ensure that any new regulations regarding child seats changes are noted.
Cloth Diapers are Your Friend
Even though they don’t seem like it (because it is probably much easier to chuck that full diaper in the garbage), cloth diapers can be your friend. Consumer Reports has a great article on the cost savings between cloth diapers and disposable diapers. They argued that it costs approximately $2500 for disposable diapers until your child becomes potty trained whereas it only costs $1000 for cloth diapers for the same period. Cloth diapers really aren’t what they used to be – there are cloth diaper services available which can pick up your bin of dirty diapers for you. Even with this service, cloth diapers still is cheaper than disposable diapers. Besides, with cloth diapers you won’t be adding to that Great Pacific Garbage Patch of plastic in the middle of the ocean.
As you can see, there are some easy changes that you can make to save money on the first few years of your new bundle of joy. As mentioned, saving money by breast feeding, considering swapping daycare with a friend, buying used items, and using cloth diapers are a great way to cut the newborn costs. The first few years can set the stage for how much you’ll spend on your children! Enjoy this time while it lasts because pretty soon they will be asking for $700 iPads for their birthdays.