Raising a child supposedly costs you a quarter of a million dollars, but it can honestly be more daunting to face the idea of spending $80 on bottle nipples in a single month. Expense Report gives us a look into the spending, scrimping, and wishing that defines parenthood, from what moms spend on birthdays, to childcare, to sleep, to self-care (we wish!), and beyond.
Ask people how much you'll spend on baby after they arrive, and you'll hear anything from "just get a car seat and you're good," to "order the $3,000 crib and don't look back." So what do the costs look like for an average family? This UK-based family offers one answer.
Family: A Mom And Dad In Their Late 20s and early 30s
Location: The United Kingdom
Annual income: About $34,000
Number of children: 1 (4 months old)
As an only child whose first and only cousin arrived when I was an adult, growing up, I had zero experience with babies. So, it makes sense that I literally had no idea how much it would cost to prepare for and bring a baby into the world — including the emotional cost!
In terms of material possessions, I had no clue as to what exactly a baby needs or how much any of it would set my husband and me back. I was in for a pretty big shock.
It’s worth mentioning that I class myself as an aspiring minimalist. So there was no way that I wanted to bring a ton of unnecessary junk into our home because it was just what people did when they had babies. I didn’t want to buy every single thing my mom friends recommended, nor did I want to fall victim to the myriad of endorsements I was seeing from mommy YouTubers and Instagrammers. But, blame it on the nesting stage, I fell from my minimalist high horse. Hard.
In addition to buying things in preparation for our baby boy, we ended up buying EVEN MORE stuff during the first three months of his life, as we began to work out what he actually needed. I must divulge that we have an incredible support network of family and friends and we were gifted a fair amount of the below, especially the big ticket items. But considering we helped pick out the majority of our gifts, we knew exactly how much everything cost.
So, here’s what we spent in preparation for our baby’s arrival and up to three months after his birth, excluding consumables.
NB: As we’re based in England, everything was purchased in pounds, and prices were then converted to USD and rounded to the nearest dollar. At time of writing £1 = $1.27.
In the UK, it’s recommended by health professionals that your newborn sleeps in your bedroom until they’re 6 months old. Although I love the idea of bed-sharing, it’s a no-no, plus being a worry wart and this being my first baby, we decided to have a bedside crib that attaches to our bed so our baby could be as close as possible to us, without actually sharing our bed. In addition to this, we got a Moses basket for his daytime naps.
In a hilarious turn of events, our baby would only sleep in the Moses basket for the first couple of months of his life; rendering his expensive bedside crib almost useless. However, we did use the bedside crib to put the Moses basket inside of, so we could reach him more easily. So if you’re on a tight budget, I’d recommend using a Moses basket for the first few months.
Aldi Moses basket, $38
Subtotal = $431
Nursery & Clothing
When you’re expecting a baby, most people are ridiculously happy for you. This can equate to folks showing their love to you via gifts. I was absolutely blown away by the kindness and generosity of our friends and family, especially at my baby shower. In the end, we hardly had to buy any clothing aside from basics due to the fact that my little bean had been spoilt rotten before he’d even arrived. If you’re having a baby shower, I’d recommend holding off buying any clothes, toys and keepsakes until afterwards, because these are the things that people tend to gift expectant mothers — or at least that was true in my case!
Mostly basic clothing from high street stores, approx. $191
Subtotal = $618
Before having my son, I was absolutely set on breastfeeding. Breast milk is nutritionally better for your babe than formula milk, it’s more convenient, and it’s free! There are many more benefits, too, but I’m sure you already know them if you’re expecting a little one.
Long story short, breastfeeding didn’t work out for me, so after almost six weeks, we transitioned to formula milk. We didn’t have any of the equipment that we needed, so we invested in some pieces to make our lives easier.
It might be wise to buy at least some equipment for formula feeding pre-birth, just in case breastfeeding doesn’t work out, so that you’re more prepared than we were. You could always return the items or gift them to a pregnant friend if you don’t end up using them.
Tips: if there’s ever anything you can borrow from your mom friends, do it! We managed to borrow a bottle sterilizer from our friends, who’ve kindly let us keep it until we’re finished with it. We also used a couple of store gift cards we’d been saving to help us pay for the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine as it was an unexpected expense – it’s RRP is circa $115, but we got it for $83. It pays to save your gift cards for times like these!
Subtotal = $196
Hygiene & Health
We started out with a top ‘n’ tail bowl, that has one compartment to wash your baby’s top half and another for the bottom, as they don’t actually need a bath for the first few days but you’ll obviously want to keep them clean.
After the first week or two, we moved on to bathing our son in a proper little baby bath — which, by the way, is the cutest thing ever!
Subtotal = $65
My in-laws bought us a complete travel system, which is basically a stroller (or pram, as we Brits like to call it) and a car seat. It comes with two bases so baby can use it from birth and also sit up in it when they’re older. This was by far the most expensive item, but you can’t put a price on safety.
Subtotal = $737
As you’ll soon discover, time flies by after you’ve given birth. When you’re pregnant and waiting for the stork to arrive, time seems to slow down dramatically — especially if you’re overdue, like I was. However, when your bundle of joy arrives, the days turn into weeks and before you know it they’re a few months old. They are soon noticing things, interacting with things, and needing more stimulation.
So you may want to pick up some baby toys and equipment to keep them entertained and help them learn how the world works, while having fun, too. Also, equipment like a bouncy chair that they can use from birth, is a godsend in helping you have your arms back for a little while, or tackle the mountain of dishes piling up.
Subtotal = $64
Yep, you don’t just need stuff for your baby, you need stuff for you too! There are some seriously gorgeous diaper bags out there, but we opted for a backpack as it’s way more functional and much easier to carry than a satchel style.
I also needed some items prior to having the baby, like a large gym ball for bouncing on to get him to turn around and a digital hypnobirthing course to help me feel relaxed.
Subtotal = $195
GRAND TOTAL = $2,306
My final word: There are plenty of unexpected expenses leading up to and after having a baby, so start saving!
Prices for each item may vary.