Posted by: Zsuzsanna | September 7, 2008

How expensive is a baby?

This post was inspired by my last blog post. It got me thinking about how ridiculous and astronomical all the answers I have ever read are to the question “How much does a baby cost during the first year?” Most figures range in the neighborhood of $10,000, which is not counting the medical expenses for birth and checkups or daycare cost, so it basically just includes furniture, clothes, food, diapers, etc.

Here is my own little break-down:

Hosptital birth: $ 20,000 – 30,000
Home birth: $ 2,000 – 4,000

Even if 1 in 10 attempted home births will need to transfer to the hospital, your savings would be significant, and most midwives have much lower transfer rates than that. Don’t be fooled into thinking “I have insurance to pay for that!” Insurance companies are not welfare. You pay for what you get through the astronomical premiums. The whole concept is based on the fact that people will end up paying more in premiums than they would have paid out of pocket, but the cost is evenly spread out every month rather than having to take a “hit” if one does need a doctor. The extra money you pay is what finances the insurance companies. Everyone would save money if they dropped the insurance and instead invested that same amount of money, ready to use if needed. Not only that, but you would also enjoy better health by avoiding the doctor.

Well-baby checkups: $ 70 – 120 each, at least 6 during the first year
Going in if baby is actually sick: $70 – $120 maybe once during the first year

You will actually pay even more if you take your baby for checkups because of the sickness that they will pick up from going to the office, which in turn will make it necessary to purchase medicine for them. Since I “saw the light” on this issue and stopped bringing healthy babies to the doctor, two of our youngest three have never been to a doctor, and when I took Miriam it was a complete waste of time and money as I was told everything was fine and she would recover on her own in a couple of days. Such is the health of children who are not drugged at birth, vaccinated, fed formula, and left with babysitters/daycare centers/church nurseries (i.e. leper colonies).

Formula: $ 1,000 – $2,300 depending on brand/type
Mom: $ 0

For women using formula, again the actual cost is much higher because of such necessities as bottles, sterilizers, etc. Breastfeeding women not only do not need any of these things (or a breast pump for that matter), but they actually SHOULD NOT buy them because they might be tempted to use them if their milk supply is down for a day or two due to sickness, etc. Giving a baby a bottle under those circumstances will only aggravate the problem. Most breastfeeding moms eat much less than normal (the body’s natural way to lose baby fat) so extra food for mom is not a factor.

Jarred baby food: $.60 – $1.50/jar
Home-cooked food: practically $0 for the amount a baby eats

By the time a baby is old enough for solids (around 8 months of age), it can go straight to table foods such as mashed banana/avocado/potatoes/peas/etc., cooked oatmeal/rice pudding/cream of wheat, applesauce, all-natural crackers, and many more foods that are part of every family’s normal routine, which completely eliminated the expensive (but oh-so-cute) baby food jar phase. That stuff tastes revolting, anyway.

Crib + bedding: $ 200 – $800 (and much more if you want designer stuff)
Parents’ bed: $ 0

Yes, our babies sleep in bed with us, and let me tell you: it’s priceless! Waking up to sweet milk breath and the scent of baby skin and hair right under your nose must be one of the most rewarding things in life for any parent. You may need to buy a bed rail once baby gets older (about $30). If you have a waterbed or a bed with a very poor (i.e. saggy) mattress, you should invest in a nicer mattress instead of buying a crib. If you do buy a crib but are the attached type of parent that finds it natural to nurture their baby, you will have gotten yourself a very expensive clothes hamper.

Clothes: $500 – $1,200
My cost: about $200 – $300 if I don’t have any clothes to pass down, much less when I have several babies of the same gender right in a row

Changing table: $70 – $600
Your bed: $10 for a waterproof pad for beginners, pros can change a diaper in less than 30 seconds and know how to avoid “accidents”

When I had a changing table, it suffered the same fate as the crib: we stored our clothes on it. Using the bed/sofa or whatever other flat surface you are near is so much more convenient (“So-and-so, get me a diaper and wipes, please!”) than lugging the baby to the changing table. Plus, once the baby knows how to roll over it is a lot harder to keep them up there than on a large surface such as a bed.

I could go on and on about other useless purchases. Instead, here is a list of all the things I think you really need. Items that are not absolutely necessary but are nice to have are in italics.

– car seat
– clothes
– (receiving) blankets
– sling/carrier
– diapers + wipes
– bouncy seat, swing, or Bumbo (to keep baby busy for a few minutes when your hands are full)
– stroller
– bassinet (to keep baby near during daytime naps)
– nursing pillow
– a couple of new, soft towels (NOT the flimsy baby towels)
– high chair (once baby is about 6 months old and would enjoy sitting with the family at meals even if they are not yet eating)

That’s it. I didn’t forget anything on that list, and most moms with lots of children would probably agree. It’s not that we couldn’t afford to buy the other stuff, but they are mostly useless gadgets to keep first-time parents busy because they really do just waste time and take up space.

Remember: pregnancy hormones and BabiesRUs are a bad combination. Now on my 5th baby, I couldn’t spend a $1,000 gift card in there if I had to – it’s a plastic world for plastic babies. Human babies need Mom, and that’s pretty much all they need.

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