Babies Really Don’t Cost That Much

Absence does make the heart grow fonder. After spending my first-ever night away from my littlest baby, I raced home to spend Mother’s Day with my family, feeling luckier than ever to have the wonderful children I do. There’s nothing like twenty-four hours apart to make me want to scoop them up, nibble their chubby arms, and sniff their sweet skin with intensified passion. I am so blessed.

Interestingly, yesterday’s front-page headline of the National Post read: “Why many young women are putting their careers on pause to have children in their 20s.” Apparently there’s a growing movement of young couples choosing to start their families in their twenties, instead of waiting until their mid- to late-thirties when they’ve established a career and are more financially stable. More and more people are realizing that the usual path, despite being viewed as the ‘smart’ and ‘mature’ one to take, actually isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Not only do women have to take maternity leaves at highly inconvenient and possibly inflexible times in their careers, but the bigger issue is that fertility starts plummeting as early as twenty-five.

I probably wouldn’t have chosen to have kids when I did, but now that it’s worked out this way, I am so happy. And yet, there was a time when I believed that financial stability in the form of a house, a car, a good job, etc. was an absolute prerequisite for being a good parent. I no longer believe that. One thing I’ve learned along this journey of motherhood is that babies cost far less than most people think.

Once I read a statistic that babies cost approximately $10,000 in their first year of life. I laughed out loud when I saw that number because it’s absolutely ridiculous. A baby can cost $10,000 if the parents want to spend that much, but it’s not necessary. That number was calculated based on all-new nursery furnishings, baby gear, and a year’s supply of disposable diapers and infant formula – most of which are optional expenses.

My first baby cost almost nothing by comparison. We spent $300 on cloth diapers up front and another $300 on a new car seat when baby was 9 months old – and that was it! Everything else was hand-me-downs from various friends who were thrilled to pass on their stuff – boxes of clothing, bassinet, crib, infant car seat, change table, bath tub, Baby Bjorn carrier and sling, electric swing, bouncy seat, stroller, toys. Nothing matched, but that didn’t matter. I breastfed exclusively, so I didn’t buy formula. All extra clothes come from the thrift store. Everything has been reused by our second son, with the additional purchase of another car seat and crib. I’ll hazard a guess and say that, when it comes to baby-related stuff, we’ve spent less than $2000 on two kids in four years. (I’m not counting babysitting, nursery school, and travel expenses.)

As you can see, our nursery didn’t look quite….
…as swanky as this one, but hey, it served its purpose well!

Having a baby doesn’t have to be an expensive ordeal. At the end of the day, a baby won’t remember his or her matching nursery set and designer clothes (that get stained with bodily fluids anyways). Once kids get older and start participating in more extracurricular activities, parents will be older by then, more financially comfortable, and better able to afford those extra costs. Besides, knowing how to live with a ‘frugality mentality’ is a very valuable skill and one that could benefit your children years down the road.

You might also like:
The Joys (and Frustrations) of a Small House
Why I Like to Keep My Kids’ Toys to a Minimum
Kids Want Happy Parents


7 thoughts on “Babies Really Don’t Cost That Much

  1. Let’s hear it for the hand-me-downs! We typically end up with enough to pass on to one or two other kids. Some of the clothes we get are on their fourth kid and still going strong. I appreciate the environmental and thrifty aspects of used clothes, but more than anything it is a joy to see our friends’ little boy/girl running around town in Son/Daughter’s old clothes. I get to coo over my favorite outfits and see them brought to life again.

  2. Well said Katherine!
    Our first arrived early. We only had the baby hammock which was a gift from my family and a bag of hand-me-down cloth nappies from my sister’s friend. I had to run out when my waters burst (and they keep bursting, it’s not a one off) to buy some sheets and some sleep suits. It made us realise that you don’t need half the rubbish you think you do. In fact, the list of rubbish is in my mind quite obscene.
    And I like your nursery better than the swanky one. For what it’s worth, yours is way swankier than the one we erm, didn’t have! 🙂

  3. In Hamilton, we have a store that is called “Once Upon A Child” It has everything from clothes to baby gates. At a very reasonable price. Most of these are slightly used items and a lot still have the tags on them. You sell your unwanted clothes to the store and they sell them back to other parents. Clothes are usually $2 – $3 dollars. A small tykes picnic table with 2 chairs is $5.00

  4. Amen!!! I have always laughed at the ridiculous estimates of the cost of having a child for the first year! I remember a month or so after my first was born, I received a book that was written by Oprah that was titled (Paraphrased, because I don’t want to look it up) Your Baby For Less Than $10,000….In The First Year. Blah, blah, blah, something like that. Anyways! I laughed, really hard, because we had spent less that $100 at that point, and weren’t likely to ever reach $5000. So, yeah. Woo!

  5. Well said! The estimated costs of having a child are nowhere near what we have spent for my child. Most of the stuff on those estimated costs lists are things that you can add on but most things on their are not needed.

    I wish I had been able to get cloth diapers before my little one was born but she came early so we’ve had to make due with reusable diapers. But second time around we’ll be using them.

    I love you blog!

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