The New Parent Sticker Shock

Friends of mine are expecting their first baby this fall and it has been amusing to me to discuss the cost of everything with the father.  He has joked to me “I’ll have to sell an organ here just to afford all this baby stuff.”

I can relate.  When we were expecting our first I also quickly found you can go deep into debt for baby gear if you want to.  Key word there was “‘want”.  It is possible to have kids and not break the bank, it just takes more planning.

  1. Don’t Underestimate Baby Gifts.  I was shocked with the volume of clothes we got when our first son was born.  In some cases the kid only wore a outfit a couple of times before he out grew it.  So if I was to do it over again I would only buy a few sleepers to start with and then got shopping after the baby gift train has come to a complete stop.
  2. Realize the Baby Does Not Care.  Really the difference between the hardwood crib and the used one from a garage sale is price and what you think of it.  The baby could not care less what it is sleeping in.  Even as they get older they will likely have no memory of their crib.  So don’t buy expensive “for the baby” you are really doing it for yourself.
  3. Try Breastfeeding.  Formula is grossly expensive, so save a small fortune in costs and give breastfeeding a go.  Beyond the money savings you will also be giving your baby a great start in life.  Numerous medical studies have been done on the benefits so do some research if you want to learn more.
  4. Avoid Brand Name.  Do you know why all hospitals have Pampers or Huggies?  Because they want to get you sucked into a certain brand from the start.  Don’t fall for it.  I have a friend that has worked at commissioning a diaper plant and trust me there is almost no physical difference between the brand name diapers and store brands.  So save the money.  That applies to most baby products.  No name is just fine.
  5. Avoid the Extras. You don’t need a change table.  In fact I’ve never changed a diaper on one in my life.  There are lots of nice things to buy when baby comes, but for the start just keep to the basics like a place to sleep, infant carrier/car seat and some sleepers.  You can pick up diapers on the way home from the hospital.

Well that’s my new parent advice summary, but I curious what other new parents have found out after their baby.  So if you have a tip, please share.

6 thoughts on “The New Parent Sticker Shock”

  1. Great post, I’m expecting a baby in a couple of months so very well timed. I think checking kijiji and craigslist is a great way to save money, I’ve seen chariots and strollers for 1/3 to 1/2 of the price of new ones.

  2. When my wife and I had our first we made the choice to use cloth diapers – never mind name brand disposables. The cost is significantly less, even accounting for increased washing and they are no more hassle than emptying the garbage daily. Good for the environment and good for the pocket book. Otherwise, I agree with the baby gift thing – wait until the gifts are done to go shopping – you probably won’t need to. For us, this has continued through birthdays and Christmas…I don’t really buy many clothes for my 2 year old. Also, ask specifically for toys that are free from batteries. Not having the noise or having to replace the batteries regularly will make life cheaper and calmer.

  3. Being at the end of my son’s first year I can completely relate to each of these points. A lot of new parents fall into the trap of believing they “need” everything in the baby section which is just not true.

    The best thing I realized was that you have time to prepare for things: you get 9 months to get your newborn things together, you get another 8 months to childproof your electrical and low-hanging hazards, etc. Most people seem to wait until the last minute and then try to scrounge up the money to do everything at once.

  4. So true!
    The one I think most parents fall victim to the most is #2. The baby doesn’t care if it’s wearing a brand new Guess brand sleeper or a hand-me down no-name one from a friend/relative.

    Though your third statement in that point contradicts the first. “The baby could care less what it is sleeping in.“. Just a tiny typo, I think! The baby couldn’t care less. If it could care less, then it means that it does care. 😉

    I also agree with Daryll – cloth diapers can save a bundle! they also look really adorable. My friends with the 1-year old use cloth, and they have a rainbow of colours, so the baby always has a diaper to match her outfit. A little yellow cloth diaper under a little yellow dress is just too cute.

  5. Darryl,

    Great point. Thanks for adding it.


    Opps! Thanks for finding the typo. I’ve fixed that one and another I found while reading the post again.


  6. Babies can be nearly free if you do elimination communication, cosleeping, babywearing, and breastfeeding.

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