Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Babies are Expensive?

Posted in children, frugal by Kathy on March 15, 2008

Continuing the frugal posts, I’m going to move from food to kids. I wish I had written down how much our kids have cost us, but since I didn’t, I’ll link to this blog that did. My kids are now three years old and 21 months old, and I confess I’ve written down very few specifics, so I’ll go on memory:

Food–no clue, since I never bought formula or baby food. I also didn’t really keep track of our total food expenditures, so will just have to guesstimate from the USDA food chart. But it doesn’t show food for the first year of life, so that doesn’t really help too much. I think they assume that babies will either breastfeed which is free, or drink formula which is expensive; and then move to expensive commercial baby food. I breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, and then added in table food gradually. I wasn’t compulsive about it–basically if there was something on the table that he could eat (soft enough and not heavily spiced), I’d put food on his high chair tray; and if there wasn’t, no biggie–I’d just nurse him. So my kids ate very cheaply for the first year of life. Since my family’s monthly food expenditures are on track with the “thrifty” monthly expenditures of the USDA chart, I’ll assume those are accurate for my kids at their current ages.

Diapers–I used disposables until my older son was 7 months old. Then I switched to cloth. Currently, I use cloth at home and disposables when we’re out and at night. My older son is potty-trained, but uses diapers at naptime and overnight, as well as on car trips that take over say half an hour (he will go in his car seat if it takes too long). My younger son is working on potty-training–every time I put him on the potty he produces something, but he’ll happily pee in the floor too, so he’s not quite got it down. So I currently spend about $30 a month on diapers for the two of them. Cloth diapers can be extremely cheap, but I’ve seen some that would rival the cost of disposables, because these diapers come in several different sizes, and require several different wraps. I got my cloth diapers from clothdiaper.com and the vinyl covers from TLCare. Do not get the Gerber plastic covers–they tear within a few washings. I got 4 dozen of the “regular” size diapers; then when my younger son was born, got a couple dozen of the infant size. I could probably have folded the larger diapers in such a way to make them fit a newborn, but that’s an awful lot of diaper on a tiny babe. With shipping and everything, it probably was about $100. If you get some of the fitted diapers and especially the all-in-one diapers, be aware that they take forever to dry, so you’ll need to factor in extra energy if you dry them in the dryer, and extra time if you hang them to dry. I probably spent about $315 on disposables in my first son’s first year of life, plus more on the diaper wipes. I use old washcloths cut in half for my wet wipes when I change a cloth diaper.

I did buy a breast pump for about $40 when we had to go on a trip when my older son was a baby, but I didn’t use it much other than that.

Clothes–probably spent about $100 (all from yard sales!) for my older son’s clothes through about 15 months of age; after that, my brother handed me down his kids’ clothes, so I haven’t had to buy them any clothes since then.

Doctors’ visits and medications–maybe $500 total for both kids. They’re rarely sick, but we don’t have insurance so we have to pay the full amount out of pocket when we do go.

Our crib (including mattress) cost $65, and we got a matching changing table at the same yard sale for $30. I bought a toddler bed when I was pregnant with my younger son, for $20 (including mattress).

Toys, books, birthday presents–typically gotten at yard sales, and I’ve probably spent about $50 total for both kids. You can get a lot of toys and books for $50!

I bought a double stroller from my brother for $25, and a high chair from a yard sale for $10.

Everything else–playpen, exersaucer, single stroller, car seats–has been handed down to us. There are advantages to having grandkids #7 & 9.

So I estimate the total to be $1600, plus the cost of food. And I will likely resell most everything once I’m done with it, so will recoup some of that money. Actually, I already have sold all of the baby clothes I purchased. I’m keeping the more durable items because I might have another child, and I’m afraid that I won’t be able to find them for the price I’d sell them for. Still, if we were to move before I got pregnant, I’d have no problem selling them so I wouldn’t have to move them.


3 Responses

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  1. asimplesinner said, on May 2, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    The beauty of the large family « Full Quiver Living

    This made me think of you and your writing.

    You are wise to be thinking of this. No one likes to talk about the coming demographic winter of Europe or the reasons that Islam is outpacing Christian growth… But fertility and our attitude toward children – so little discussed in too many Christian corners – are at the heart of it.

    God bless you in your efforts. I hope you have a dozen! They would, we can at least be sure, have a pretty bright mom!

  2. […] Babies are Expensive? « Kathy Petersen’s Blog Babies are Expensive? « Kathy Petersen’s Blog […]

  3. asimplesinner said, on July 4, 2008 at 4:40 am

    This made me think of you…

    Yet Another One on Being Open To Life

    Haven’t stopped by in awhile – hope things are going well on your spiritual journey.

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