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 answers ranging from $1,000 on up. But what does a second baby cost? This New York-based family offers one answer. As told to Sara Nolan.
Family: A mom and dad in their mid-thirties
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Annual income: Approximately $180,000
Number of children: Two (now ages 3 and 5)
When I asked my husband what he felt was most different in preparing for baby #2, he said the lack of fear. (Fear does not have a price on an Excel sheet!) Since he didn’t have a lot of experience around newborns before baby #1, he didn’t know what to expect. This made him nervous and more susceptible to the marketing of baby gear. With baby #2, he was much more confident, i.e., any old towel can handle spit up. That made him, and us, less susceptible to marketing.
I also laugh looking back: for baby #1, I made spreadsheets based on suggestions from family, friends, websites and books, making sure we had all the gear, plenty of food in the freezer, a fully stocked hospital bag. I stopped working a week before her due date, convinced that I needed the rest. (She ended up being four days past due date).
With baby #2 there were no lists, no meal prep, no baby showers. I went into labor on a Saturday night (nine days before my due date) after I had been through a full work week and had spent the day with my older kid and her friends at the zoo. I had to email my office after baby #2’s delivery to tell them I wasn’t coming in on Monday!
I knew that all I really needed for the hospital was a change of clothes, a toothbrush, and a phone charger. We knew that my husband would be going back home as soon as he could to get our older kid so he could bring back anything else I needed.
We started both kids in a Rock 'n Play bassinet in our room (Editor’s Note: The Fisher Price Rock ‘n’ Play has been recalled due to safety concerns) and then transitioned them to the crib when they were around 4 months. The challenge with baby #2 was that that (same) crib was in shared bedroom with toddler. So we were pleasantly surprised it wasn’t as difficult to transition him into crib as we had feared. He was pretty amenable to getting on her schedule which helped.
We still use a basic Philips audio monitor that also had lights. You could turn the volume way down and see if they moved still.
It was much later, when he was close to 6 months old, when we finally got a video monitor from my husband’s work. That’s more helpful when you have two toddlers and want to see if they are actually in bed.
Fisher-Price Moonlight Meadow Rock 'n Play, $59 (recalled), Philips Avent Dect Audio Baby Monitor SCD560/10, $76, Luvable Friends flannel crib sheet, $10, Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise Machine, $45, velcro swaddles, $40, Bedtime Originals jungle buddies crib sheet, $7, SpaSilk unisex-baby newborn 2-pack thermal receiving ark blanket, $12
Sleep subtotal baby #1: $249
Bedtime Originals crib fitted sheet, choo choo, $9, Delta Children LX Deluxe Portable Baby Play Yard With Removable Bassinet and Changing Table, Eclipse, $55, video monitor, free, pacifier, $9, pacifier clips, $12
Sleep subtotal baby #2: $85
Transportation (Carseat & Stroller)
The only stuff we felt we needed was double stroller, our biggest expenditure, and it was more for second kid than the first. We were still wearing the baby a lot and putting the baby in carseat and in retrospect wish we hadn’t bought a double. There was a very short window where we really needed it. We ended up adding a roller-board fairly soon after and using that more than the second seat.
Britax B Agile Lightweight, Meadow $150, Britax Stroller organizer with cup holders, $30, Britax B Agile Pathway stroller tray, $20, Britax B Safe infant car seat, $150, Britax head and body support carseat insert, $20, Britax B Agile stroller rain cover, $20
Transportation subtotal baby #1: $390
Transportation subtotal baby #2: $700
We were really fortunate, my sister kept giving us hand-me-down clothes for our daughter. Her daughter is nine months older than mine, and so we really didn’t have to buy clothes at all.
You can’t shop for gender neutral clothes in most online stores — they make you pick a BOYS or GIRLS department before you can select specific items. So as soon as I found out I was having boy, I started shopping for shoes and things that could transfer or be handed down better when I was buying items for my older daughter.
2 x Little Me unisex baby ducks outfit, $20, 6 x onesies, $20
Clothing subtotal baby #1: $40
Clothing subtotal baby #2: $25
We were the first ones of our close friends in Brooklyn to have kids. For our first baby, we had four showers thrown for us! Most of the big ticket items were picked up by other people, who generously bought the things we thought we needed. (We were also up to our elbows in clothes and books.)
The only things we bought used (and kept for both kids) were a crib and dresser which we turned into changing table. We had the same crib, changing combo, and ottoman/glider for baby #2. Our older child moved herself into a bed a week before he was born, so we didn’t have to have that dreaded conversation about her being kicked out of the crib. We’d moved apartments, set up her big girl bed, and she got excited about it and transitioned on her own.
Crib, $150, used on Craigslist, dresser, $150, used on Craigslist, Status Veneto glider and nursing ottoman, $180, Graco Blossom 6-in-1 high chair, $180
Furniture subtotal baby #1: $635
Furniture subtotal baby #2: $0
What we spent on feeding the second baby felt small but adds up: breast pads and all the breastfeeding stuff. Breastmilk is cheaper than formula, but still, to be working mom, you really need the hands-free pump and breast milk storage items — not cheap. Those were some of the unanticipated costs.
The first time, everyone said buy three kinds of bottles because you don’t know what the baby will want. But with our second — because he was easy or because we just said no — we just used the Medela bottles that came with pump, so I didn’t have to do transfer from receptacle to receptacle. We tried to keep it more streamlined.
I nursed our first until she was about fourteen months and our second about the same. The pump was covered by insurance but I also bought a used travel pump that had battery pack. Then I gave it to another mom, because I pay it forward.
We found microfiber Amazon basic car washing clothes felt better than burp clothes, but we still had lots of burp cloths because we got them as gifts.
Microfiber clothes, $7, bottle brush, $12, The First Years Spin Stack bottle drying rack, $11, Medela Pump and Save Breast Milk Bags, 50 Count breast milk storage bags, $28, 2 x nursing sleep bra, $20, 2 x hands free pumping bra, $80, Medela, breast milk storage solution set, $32, sterilizer bags, $12, Tommee Tippee newborn bottle Starter Set, $36, Born Free bottles, $25, Boppy slipcover, $25, burp clothes, $10, Spasilk Unisex-Baby Newborn 3-pack feeder bibs, $9
Feeding subtotal baby #1: $311
Breast milk storage system, $ 32, Amazon, Nursing pads, $ 27, Amazon, Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream, $ 7, Amazon, Medela bottles, $12.79, Target
Feeding subtotal baby #2: $79
I don’t want to shill for Amazon but one good thing we did was invest in “subscribe and save” — we had a standing order so diapers and wipes would be delivered regularly.
Setting it up this way checked the box saying “I don’t have to think about this!”
With our second we bought new changing pad covers, because those you need to replace.
We stocked up on size 1 diapers because we knew we were going to have a big baby — we skipped the newborn diapers. With [our first] we didn’t know she would be so big, so we didn’t think to skip a size. Our first was 9.14 pounds and he was 9.8 pounds — we didn’t need newborn clothes either.
Looking back did I need a diaper bag? No. But I still had one. A friend bought us a backpack and said you will never need a diaper bag. My husband took that bag though.
We did use the same Diaper Genie for five years. I go back and forth on on its usefulness — because it seems wasteful to have a specific space just for diapers. But unless you’re really taking your trash out frequently, it does contain the smell and mess.
How about those burp clothes second time round? Nope. Car wash clothes!
Skip Hop Dash Deluxe Ice Blue Diaper Bag, $30, Diaper Genie Elite Diaper Disposal Pail with Refill, 270-Count, $25, Playtex Diaper Genie Refills, $14, Pampers Newborn Diapers-- oops!, $45, Pampers Sensitive Wipes, $40, 2 x Skip Hop Changing Pad Cover, Mod Dot $20, Munchkin Diaper Duty Organizer Diaper Organizer, $14, Summer Infant Contoured Changing Pad, $15
Diaper bag subtotal baby #1: $198
Diaper bag subtotal baby #2: $61
Health & Hygiene
I also ordered their body wash by subscription from Amazon. My husband still laughs at me because I have enough body wash stockpiled to get them both to college. They are going to smell like Burt’s Bees forever.
You do not need 400 bath towels but those are the things people like to give.
Fisher Price 4-in-1 sling in seat baby bathtub, $32, Burts Bees body wash shampoo, subscription, $9, Skip Hop Moby blue bath elbow rest, $16, humidifer, $41, Spasilk 3-pack soft terry hooded towel set, yellow, $16, Spasilk 10-pack soft terry washcloth, yellow, $7
Health & Hygiene subtotal baby #1: $121
Health & Hygiene subtotal baby #2: $12
Second-hand freebies: ($925, not included)
TOTAL BABY #1: $1,944
TOTAL BABY #2: $962
We realized after having had one kid and having seen a lot of friends go through the preparation that there is a big difference between what you thought you needed versus what you actually needed.
After our first kid aged out of them, we lent out a lot of the things (all that first year stuff). We realized with second kid that we had most of what we needed, once we got stuff back we’d lent out (in Brooklyn no one has space to store much, so as soon as you’re done you’re ready to pass along). We had given another family our bouncer, our rocker, our playmat and baby tub — and they gave it back with interest.