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Saving Up for Baby

Get the lowdown on just how much baby's going to cost — and learn how to save up now.
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Updated November 20, 2019
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The baby bucks can add up quickly, especially when you factor in things like lost wages and child care — not to mention the optional luxuries, like a doula or night nurse. Of course, some of you living in large urban areas may wind up spending even more than this huge chunk of change, while others across the country may get away with spending much less. The out-of-pocket expense can vary dramatically based on the cost of living in your area, your health insurance plan, the amount of gear received as gifts, whether or not your MIL is up for babysitting, and so on.

Check out the figures below — we worked with financial experts to get a handle on the basics. Let this be your inspiration to write down some numbers of your own and do a bit of math with your better half. And when you’re done, check out our deals and offers page for baby gear discounts.

Supplies: $6,500

Nursing + Formula: $1,000-$2,500

For the first six months, your baby will only drink milk. If you are using formula, the typical baby will drink an average of $35 worth of formula a week. That adds up to about $1,820 over one year. After you introduce food, around the six-month mark, you will need to add an average of $3-$4 per day to that, given that a jar of baby food costs about a dollar — adding up to an additional $1,095 or more.

Ways to save: Breastfeed as long as you can. Buying an electric breast pump will run you anywhere from $150 to $300, compared to the $1,000 to $2,500 spent on formula for a whole year. If breastfeeding isn’t an option, buy formula and baby food in bulk. Or you can also puree your own baby food once your child moves to solid foods.

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Nursery Setup: $2,000

There are several must-haves. For a crib with a mattress, you’ll spend anywhere between $160 and $750, depending on what style and brand you go with. You’ll also need the following:

  • Bedding set ($35-$270)
  • Crib blankets and sheets ($8-$20 each)
  • Mattress cover ($10-$20)

Beyond the crib, a changing table will cost somewhere between $70 and $600, then add $40 for a changing pad and cover. Buy one that’s convertible to get more bang for your buck.

A dresser ranges between $90 and $650; and finally, you’ll spend $90-$500 on a rocking chair, if you want one.

Ways to save: Do your nursery furniture research and prioritize. You may want to spend more on the rocking chair to use for future generations, and less on the crib and dresser.

Baby Gear: $425-$2,770

Get a good stroller ($50-$800). Investing in a high-quality stroller is especially important if you do a lot of walking. Other items for outside the nursery:

  • Car seat ($40-$280)
  • Playpen or portable crib ($60-$180)
  • Baby carrier or sling ($40- $180)

For at home, you may want a play center ($50-$125); a swing ($45-$200); and a bouncer seat ($30-$120). And you’ll definitely need a baby monitor (about $30-$300); a high chair ($45-$240); a diaper bag (about $35); and a baby gate ($35-$250).

Ways to save: Buy double-duty gear. Some strollers convert to high chairs for an easy switch at the restaurant; and many diaper bags can take you from newborn to toddler in function and style.

Diapers + Supplies: $1,000

Newborn babies use an average of 75 diapers per week and up to 320 diapers per month. At about $.25 per diaper, that adds up over the year. Tack on at least two boxes of wipes per month ($3 each), and baby soap, lotion, powder, oil, and diaper rash ointment (about $14 month) and you have an additional $240 per year. Cloth diapers will save you money, if you plan to do the laundering, however using a diaper service costs about the same as disposable diapers.

Ways to save: Buy diapers in bulk and online. You can save between 5% and 10% through large orders and online deals. For instance, on Amazon, you can get 132 Pampers brand diapers for $38. If you go to CVS, you’ll end up paying $31.49 for 88 Pampers brand diapers.

Clothes: $1,000

On top of maternity wear for those nine months, invest in staple items for baby. You’ll need:

  • Sleepers ($8 each)
  • Hats ($5 each)
  • Booties and socks ($2-3each)
  • Gowns ($8 each)
  • Outfits for warm and cold temps (about $15)
  • Coats ($25 each)
  • Shirts and pants ($10 each)

Considering you’ll go from 0-3 months to 3-6 months, 6-9 months, and so on, you’ll need several sets in every size.

Ways to save: Buy outfits in multiples. Stock up off-season, and if you see something cute on sale, get it in two or three sizes to save money down the line. Scout out hand-me-downs from parent pals, or check out consignment shops for gently used clothes at a discount.

Check out our Money Saving Tips:

Image: Lindsey Balbierz

OTHER (OPTIONAL) EXPENSES: $24,200

Maternity leave: $8,400

Depending on your salary and work policy, you’ll end up with lost wages after taking 12 weeks maternity leave. The typical policy will pay between 60% and 70% of your gross income for the first six weeks. With an average 50K salary and a policy that doles out 60% of wages for the first six weeks and no wages for the second 6 weeks, you’ll end up with $8,400 in lost wages after 12 weeks. Below is a quick breakdown of lost wages on a 50K salary. This number increases as your salary increases. (And, this is, of course, presuming you are in the nearly 60 percent of American workers who are eligible for the Family and Medical Leave Act these days.)

  • First six weeks: $2,400
  • Second six weeks: $6,000
  • Total: $8,400

Tip: Whether or not you’ll receive salary while on leave, map out your expected income and expenses for during this time to make sure you can make ends meet.

Child care: $9,000

Childcare is a biggie, considering that costs range from $5,000 - $24,000 per year, depending on the city and childcare center. Enrollment at a daycare center costs an average of $12,000 per year. For a full-time nanny in a city like New York, you’ll easily pay between $22 - $32K.

Tip: Decide whether going back to work or staying at home is the best decision for you, money-wise. Also consider whether your employer will allow you to work from home, or if your parents (or other family members) can take care of the baby while you’re at work.

Health Insurance: $4,800

It costs an average of $400 per month to add a dependent onto the average health insurance plan. Before you commit to a plan, sit down and compare your health plans to find out which one is the most comprehensive and cost-effective.

Support Services: $500 - $2,500

Lactation consultant, doula, night nurse, birthing coach — decide whether you’ll need an extra hand for the first couple weeks. Coaching and a helping hand before and after baby arrives will allow for more relaxed parents and a happy baby.

Life Insurance: $500

Run the numbers using one of many online worksheets to find out how much life insurance you really need to buy. You’ll have to estimate the number of years you want to support, and any other big-ticket items (mortgage, college) you want to cover. For a 30-year-old seeking a 20-year-term, $500,000 life insurance policy, you’ll pay about $30 a month. For a 40-year-old, the monthly premium falls between $30-$40 per month; and between $83 and $92 for a 50-year-old.

Ways to Save: The younger you are when you commit to a policy, the cheaper it will be. Also, many companies offer better deals to those in good health – so taking care of yourself by doing small things – like not smoking – can earn you a discount.

Legal Fees and Will Preparation: $1000-$4,000

Between updating your will — to name a guardian for your child and outline financials in the case of your passing — and updating your 401K or retirement account, you’ll incur some legal fees. A simple will costs about $400, and a more customized document can cost between $1,000 and $3,500.

GRAND TOTAL: $30,000 and up!

OTHER EXPENDITURES TO CONSIDER

  • Pre- and post-natal healthcare and hospital stay (if uninsured): $5,000-$8,000
  • New car to accommodate baby gear: $10,000-$40,000
  • Renovations to set up baby space: $1,000-$5,000

Sources: Christine Zuchora-Walske, co-author, Getting Organized for Your Baby, American Pregnancy Association, SureBaby.com, National Association of Diaper Services,Finance.Yahoo.com

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