Do Babies Really Cost That Much?

By Misty Pratt, CD(DONA)

When we found out we were pregnant with my first, one of our concerns was whether we could afford to have a baby. You'd think a 28 year-old woman and 26 year-old man would be financially comfortable at that point in life, but we did what many others of our generation did - we went to school for a long time and racked up a lot of student debt!

My family doctor quickly dispelled the myth that babies cost a lot, and as I learned more about pregnancy, birth and postpartum, I realized he was right.

Did you know that many couples spend thousands of dollars on their first born? It's easy! We're told we *need* a giant list of essentials. And hey, we're new parents, what do we know?! If friends tell us we must buy a wipe warmer, we're bound to follow the advice.

In my blog post yesterday, I outlined some of the ways to prepare for life with a baby, including budgeting for a prenatal class and lactation consultant. My idea of "essentials" probably differs from the norm, but here are a few things that may help you save money and avoid the consumer trap:

1. Registries are great, as you can direct your friends and family to purchase truly useful items. A friend of mine created a registry for second-hand baby items!

2. Shop consignment - you'll find items that are practically brand new, at a much lower cost.

3. Ask around - we're all trying to reduce the amount of "stuff" we have laying around our house. You probably know many people who are done having babies, so do them a favour and take the baby things off their hands!

4. Don't buy the "trendy" items (think Bumbo) - these are things that you'll use for 2-3 weeks, and then discover, a) your baby detests the toy/machine/play thing; or b) it only worked for a short period of time. If you really want to try out the trendy item, ask to borrow one from a friend!

5. Remember that newborns are simple beings - they won't want to play with toys, and if you try shaking something in front of their face, they're bound to yawn and go to sleep. Your newborn wants three things - milk, warm arms, and sleep!

So what do you absolutely need to have? Here are my thoughts, and feel free to add to the list in the comments below!

- car seat
- some kind of sleeping surface, unless you want to co-sleep (which contrary to popular opinion, is not dangerous if done right). A bassinet or crib beside your bed works well.
- clothing (your baby will stay in PJs for a number of weeks....or if you're like me, months)
- diapers: cloth or disposable
- baby blankets and wash cloths
- good nursing bras

And that's it....really. There are SO many "nice-to-have" items - a sling or wrap will probably save your arms! And there are many things down the road that you might find you need (e.g. bottles perhaps). But if you're worried about money, and wanting to simplify the process, focus on the essentials.

Did you find you spent a lot of money on your first born?