If I could have a nickel for every time I heard someone talk about how expensive babies are I would be a millionaire. But here’s the funny thing – I don’t think babies are expensive. In fact I think babies are only as expensive as you make them. In that first year of life many of the things that people think are necessities are really just luxuries. Many other things are marketed for convenience and by taking just a little bit of extra time you can save gobs of money. Your newborn isn’t going to know if it slept in a thousand dollar crib or was pushed around town in a high end stroller. The only things your newborn will care about is that his or her nutritional and health needs are met and that they are surrounded by love. And so now with three little girls of my own I want to share how I have chipped away the cost of my “expensive babies.”
Before we move on I want to mention a couple things. First I do realize that not all of these suggestions will work for everyone. It is all about being comfortable and confident in your child rearing techniques. And second there is no right or wrong way to raise a child – this is just my way.
People say that feeding a baby is expensive. I admit that walking past the shelf full of formulas at the grocery store and reading the price tags may be enough to put someone into a panic attack. But guess what? The vast majority of women have the ability to feed their baby for free. Yup, free. Our bodies were made to do it and it’s called breast milk. But what about all those fancy pumps, nursing covers, nursing tops, and so on. You don’t need it! I have successfully fed Willow for going on 9 months without pumping a single time and things like covers and clothing specifically designed for breastfeeding are in my opinion luxuries. A simple supportive sports bra and t-shirt will do the trick.
What about when they start needing to eat solids? This is another topic that will put a parent into sticker shock if they take a stroll down the baby aisle at the super market. Those little jars and containers of baby food can cost nearly $1 each and when you start adding up the amount you will need each day the price just keeps climbing. Well luckily there are a few ways you can save money when it comes to baby food. Skip the store bought jars! Hit up your local farmer’s market and buy some fresh produce. Bring it home and steam, bake, puree to your heart’s content. You can then freeze single servings in ice cube trays and use as needed. I once made over a dozen servings of butternut squash for just one dollar. With my youngest daughter I decided to skip purees completely. We have begun baby led weaning which is a fancy term that simply means we have given her foods that she can feed herself from the beginning. It’s messy, but I haven’t had to purchase special foods – instead she eats what we are eating.
Diapering. I remember buying box after box of disposable diapers for my oldest daughter. I cringed every time I would drop another $40 or so on these little things that would be filled with poo and tossed in the trash. I was throwing my money away – literally! Then I learned about modern cloth diapers. Cloth diapers today are definitely not your grandma’s prefolds, pins, and rubber pants. There are so many options and most snap or Velcro on just like a disposable diaper. The only difference being that you wash them and then use them again. Starting out on this venture may seem a tad expensive since you will most likely drop a couple hundred dollars to build your stash, but then the money saving begins because you won’t be making trips to buy disposables and you can use the same diapers for multiple children. You can even further the money saving by hanging them to dry in the summer time to cut down on electricity usage. When you compare a couple hundred dollars on cloth diapers that can be used on multiple children to the cost of about $1,500 to diaper on child in disposable diapers through potty training the numbers speak for themselves!
So if you would choose to breastfeed, introduce solids through baby led weaning, and cloth diaper your baby instead of that expensive baby costing you thousands of dollars in its first year of life it may only cost you a couple hundred. How about sharing that with those crazy people who think babies are expensive? Oh and a heads up…. I only said babies weren’t expensive… when they get older that’s a whole other story, hehe!
Danielle Harper is a baby wearing, co-sleeping, cloth diapering, breastfeeding mom of three girls that has been blogging at Happenings of the Harper Household for nearly three years. She posts product reviews and giveaways as well as DIY projects, crafts, and tips for living a greener lifestyle. She is also a contributor to the CareOne Debt Relief Services blog, a community that provides debt consolidation and money-saving advice.