What Babies Really Cost
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Ready for some sticker shock? Here's a look at what you're likely to spend on some basic baby items.
There's no question that your little baby-to-be will be worth every penny (and then some), but having kids does come with a hefty price tag. The U.S. government estimates that middle-income parents of infants born today will spend at least $242,000 each to raise those babies to age 18 — and that's beforeyou factor in college tuition (ouch!). What's more, you'll probably start feeling the pinch even before the stork arrives: Pregnancy tests are about $10 a pop, prenatal vitamins can cost $10 to $25 for a month's supply, and maternity clothes can add up to hundreds, depending on where you shop. Once your little bundle arrives, the fiscal fun really begins (not!). Here's a quick primer on what you can expect to spend on some key baby items. The upshot? Starting a baby budget plan now will give you extra time to sock away savings!
Nursery furniture. For a basic setup — crib, mattress, changing table, and glider chair — you'll pay at least $150 for each item, and that's if you're an eagle-eyed bargain shopper. If you're dying for a chic, super-deluxe look, set aside $3,000 — just for the crib!
Car seat. An absolute must (can't leave the hospital without one!), infant car seats are something you'll need to purchase new to ensure safety. Figure on spending $90 to $350 on one.
Stroller. When your baby's a little older, an inexpensive umbrella-style stroller ($20 to $100) will do. But infants need more support. Durable, all-around stroller systems start at $100 and go up to as much as $1,000! (Yikes!)
Diapers. During your baby's first year, you can expect to change 2,500 dirty diapers (yuk!) at a cost of at least $600 for disposables. Cloth diapers from a diaper service are comparable; if you buy and wash your own, you'll save big (although your water and electric bill will go up, and you'll need to stock up on detergent).
Formula/food. Naturally, breastfeeding has big health as well as cost-saving benefits, though you'll still need to invest in nursing bras (about $20 to $50 each or more) and a pump (from $20 for a simple manual model to $250 or more for an electric double one). For a year's worth of formula, count on spending $1,500 to $2,000 or more, depending on the brand. Bottles run about $5 apiece, and your baby might go through a few different models before finding one he or she likes!
Childcare. A biggie. If both you and your partner will be working full-time, you'll spend an average of $6,750 a year on care for your baby (the cost drops as the baby gets older). Since costs vary widely by location and by type (i.e., daycare versus nanny), you may be looking at a more substantial bill, especially if you live in an urban area.
Clothing and other accessories. All those teeny-tiny, utterly adorable outfits add up. And then there are other baby gear essentials like bouncy seats, swings, and diaper pails to consider. The good news: Friends and family will most likely fill your nursery and your little one's closet with gifts. To encourage that trend (and ease your baby budget burden), take advantage of gift registries. Then fill in the gaps with garage sale and consignment store buys. Since babies grow so fast, it's easy to find good quality, barely used items!