I recently came across an estimate of what I can expect to spend on a child in the first year. The official guess? Over $10,000. Yeah, right. Somebody’s sniffing glue. Then again, let’s itemize some of the biggest expenses.
Nearly $7,000 of that estimate is in childcare costs. I will be staying home with the baby, so while we will be losing my income, it’s always been a bit sporadic and unpredictable anyway. And since we can swing it, then there is no one better to take care of our baby then one of us!
$864 in disposable diapers for the first year, so roughly $1,700 from birth through potty training. $228 for the year if I use and wash my own cloth diapers, which should pretty much remain the same through potty training and a sibling. Taking into account the fact that we’ve already purchased our diapers previously and used them with our foster daughter, we only have to purchase a few more prefolds and covers that got lost along the way. It won’t be more than about $100.
Roughly $630 for 6 months worth of formula, compared to zero for exclusive breastfeeding. If I can help it, I will tap into my magical power of milk production!
Another expense that my personal experience cautions me against is saving for college. First of all, not everyone goes to college, and not everyone has to. There are various career fields where our child can be successful without a four-year degree. They may open up their own business. They may be an artist or an athlete. They may have a calling to the religious life, where they may not even need to come out of pocket for their education. Second of all, the first two years of college cover what I believe everyone should know before they graduate high school anyway. College is a right of passage, more about social life than academics. I’m not going to chip away year after year so my kid can have an on-campus experience. Our investment in our child’s education will come in the form of homeschooling – the socially tapped-in kind. That’s up to $1,000 per year we can be applying towards family travel, which can be much more educational than a couple of semesters in a classroom!
Another expense that I can’t promise bc I’m married to Mr. Likes-to-shop is kids’ clothing. Obviously, in the first year of life, a child goes through a lot of clothes for the simple reason of regularly outgrowing them. Yet this is all the more reason not to have 30 outfits in any single size! There are a few staples that will be needed in each size, but I will not apologize for my child wearing the same outfit twice in one week, so long as it’s clean! What’s more, people tend to like buying baby clothes (and toys, another unnecessary expense!) as gifts, so we will only supplement whatever we don’t receive from our generous family and friends!
I mentioned toys. There are some fascinating toys out there, but two caveats with that. One, babies don’t need toys. That doesn’t come into play until they’re a little older. Two, toys are mostly for the adults anyway, to relive their happy childhoods. Kids’ imagination should be encouraged as much as possible. Only a few select classics like books, blocks, a doll or teddy, crayons, etc. are necessary. Many everyday household items can be easily used for pretend play – boxes, pots and pans, mom or dad’s house clothes and accessories for dress up.
Then there’s the baby gear – stuff everyone tries to make you think you need when you actually don’t need it! Most of this stuff is either a luxury that can be bypassed if you don’t mind an extra step here and there, or it’s stuff to distance you from your baby, discouraging close physical contact between the two (three) of you. I won’t go into parenting styles here except to say that I do not believe we have a right to expect our lives not to change, and to try to make our baby fit into our schedule. The baby didn’t ask to join our family. We invited him or her. Therefore, we have to accommodate the baby as best we can with whatever she or he needs to get the best start in life. In our home, this will involve a lot of babywearing, skin-to-skin contact, and just overall togetherness at the expense of whatever was previously considered fun or entertaining for us. Perhaps this is different in different families, but we longed for this baby for years. We want our lives to change, we’ve prepared for our lives to change, and we are willing to change our lives to make room for this little addition.
I’m sure there’s a few other expenses that don’t even come to mind right off the bat, like regular professional photo shoots (I take decent pictures myself, thank you very much.) There’s others, no doubt. One thing that gets talked about a lot is upgrading car and house when baby arrives. This seems laughable to me. We have a 3 bedroom right now that we don’t know what to do with. We’ve been looking for ways to downgrade and simplify, so with a third human family member on the way, we simply won’t, considering we also hope to have grandparents visiting. But you know what? A baby doesn’t need a private room. Again, this touches on parenting style, which is best left for another post. But I see getting your very own room as a right of passage, not a given. The whole home is ours... who’s to say mom and dad can’t sneak out for a romantic romp on the sofa when they need privacy?
At any rate, there’s my first go at a critique of what the powers that be would have me believe about the cost of raising a child. My motto? Don’t believe everything you hear.