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How to afford a baby

Di Odua Images|Shutterstock

Cecilia Pigg - published on 04/27/21

Children are less expensive than you think!

Putting together a baby shower wish list? Wondering if you will ever even be able to afford to have a baby?

Unlike what Instagram, Amazon, Target, and even other moms might have you believe, you really do not need much for a baby to thrive. Will a baby remember how many beautiful outfits and cute accessories he had? Or whether she had a carefully curated nursery or high quality stroller? No. And honestly, you probably won’t remember a few years down the road, either. Certainly, there are a few things you absolutely do need for a baby. But there are many ways to find those items at a minimal cost or even for free.

Are stores and advertising campaigns going to try to use every persuasive tactic in the book to convince you that you need to buy more things for your baby? Of course. They want your money. But at the end of the day, your baby really just needs your love — and some food and a clean bottom.

What you actually need at the outset

Here is what you actually need for a baby to thrive: You need food. If you can persevere through the first few weeks of breastfeeding, then you have a free food source for your child. Most insurance companies will provide you with a free breast pump. Otherwise, you will need formula and bottles.

If you travel by car, you’ll need a car seat. You’ll need a few outfits. You’ll need a place for the baby to sleep and some diapers and wipes. You will also need insurance for the baby for doctors’ visits. Before the baby comes, you will need pregnancy tests and then insurance for doctors’ appointments for you.

Let’s break those costs down (we’ll save insurance costs for a later paragraph). A brand new car seat and portable crib will run you about $150. You can buy two weeks’ worth of brand new baby outfits for $60. You can get a pack of about two hundred disposable diapers for $22 (and those should last you about a month) and a set of bottles for $25. That’s about $200 for a baby supply buy in, if you will.

What you will need as baby grows

Certainly, you’ll need to factor in a budget for diapers every month (and formula if you’re not breastfeeding). But apart from those costs, if you look to thrift stores, Buy Nothing groups, and hand me downs, your clothing costs will be minimal as your baby grows.

Not only that, but if you discover something that would really make your life easier, a stroller for instance, you can find one at a fraction of the cost through one of the above-mentioned alternatives to buying retail. One note about baby clothes: always buy fewer items of clothing than you want or think you need. People love to give baby clothes as presents, and people love babies. Neighbors and acquaintances that you barely know will surprise you by giving you a gift for your baby (and it is usually a sweet little outfit or blanket).

A note on insurance and the cost of healthcare

The most significant costs associated with your baby will be prenatal care for you both, the cost of giving birth, and the cost of doctors’ appointments in the baby’s first year of life. These costs vary widely, so I won’t attempt to provide an average here. If you do not have health insurance currently, and live in the United States, look into healthcare through your state. Check with your local Birthright chapter for doctors who may have a sliding scale for healthcare based on income. There are also many Christian health share programs that make giving birth more affordable.

For insurance especially, but for all costs associated with babies, don’t be afraid to do a little research and price comparison. Much like the wedding industry, there’s a baby industry that will happily sell you something at a premium to take advantage of your natural instinct to do what’s best for your baby. Hospitals in particular overcharge for many services, so pay close attention to any bills you get to avoid double charges and overcharges.

A baby will require more of you than anything or anyone else ever has. But at the same time, a baby is the most rewarding gift you will ever be given. Don’t let society’s unrealistic expectations for a baby’s material needs stop you from accepting the most beautiful experience of your life. 

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