The average family may spend $18,000 or more during their baby’s first year. This doesn’t account for college savings, the actual birth and hospital stay or birth center usage fee, or full time daycare. Babycenter’s cost calculator spells out some of the places money goes during this time. That also doesn’t bring to attention the fact that mom hopefully has some time off after baby is born- but that isn’t always the case. I’m going to breakdown the real needs for baby, from a self-proclaimed minimalist.
Diapers- You’ll need some sort of diapering modality for this little milk processing plant. Cloth diapering is the most economical, whether you choose to use a service or purchase and care for your own diapers.
· Diaper services can run, on average, $140/month. This includes pickup, drop off, and laundering, for most services. Some may include cloth wipes, a special hamper for diapers, and other add-ons.
· Purchasing your own cloth diapers varies in expense, from $3/diaper to $40+/diaper. If you’re going cheap, the Chinese made versions such as Happy Flute, Kawaii, can be purchased online in bulk, and will last from newborn-potty training in most cases, and often for more than one baby. For quality, brand name diapers can be found at baby boutiques, on Etsy, and by numerous stay-at-home-mom online boutiques. Many of these are made of bamboo or hemp, as opposed to the low cost alternatives like microfiber. G-Diapers are an environmentally friendly, middle of the road choice, and widely available at Babies R Us and Target. They also can be used with disposable, flushable inserts that are biodegradable and reduce some of the “ick factor that comes with cloth diapering. Most families with one baby only do 1-2 extra loads of laundry each week. Cloth wipes can be made simply by cutting old receiving blankets in to 6x6 or 8x8 squares and reusing an old plastic wipes container. There are many recipes to be found online for a wet solution to add to your homemade wipes that will be gentle on baby’s skin.
· Disposable diapers are the most common choice. They also vary in price, breaking down to approximately $50-$80/month for typical brands. Many retailers now offer delivery, and once you’re set on brand, you can get a subscription through Amazon Mom, Target.com, or Diapers.com which offers a modest discount. Wipes are, of course, extra, though usually add about $20/month.
Feeding- Babies DO need to be fed, one way or another. There aren’t many options on modality here, but there are formula options such as organic, cow’s milk, soy, etc.
· Formula feeding- Whatever your reasons for formula feeding, it is certainly a valid choice for many parents in modern society. It is, however, expensive. Depending on your preferences and your baby, you may be able to get away with a $22 can every 5-7 days. Some babies need a more gentle, non-dairy milk based, or less allergenic formula, which can run into the $100’s and are only sometimes covered by medical insurance. The other associated costs include bottles, liners(as needed), nipples, water for mixing, and refrigeration if you decide to make the formula in larger batches. Some families also purchase a sterilizer for this equipment. It’s not on my “minimal” list. One last thing to account for is the possibility that baby will be sick more often, having not got the antibodies for common illnesses from mom via breastfeeding. This can result in missed days of work/daycare if mom is working. DO look for a formula that doesn’t contain corn syrup. This filler is contributing to obesity in the USA.
· Supplementing with formula AND breastfeeding- Many parents find this method works for them. Formula and associated costs may be cut in half.
· Exclusive breastfeeding. This method is by far the least expensive(Free!) and requires the least “stuff”. Some moms find they need breastpads to prevent leaking through shirts. A few need small additions like nipple shields, lanolin cream(can be substituted with coconut oil or even olive oil you already have!), and nursing bras/tanks. Nursing tops are often cumbersome, unattractive, and unnecessary. Layered tees and tanks or button up shirts do a great job keeping mom’s modesty while allowing access as needed. Working moms may need a breastpump to express milk while she’s away. If so, I recommend spending the money on a good pump, once. Medela’s Pump in Style or Freestyle are always at the top of this list.
Sleep- Babies need a basic, safe place to sleep. Fancy bedding they’ll never actually use or that gorgeous round bassinet they’ll be in for 3 months can be a huge waste of money!
· For breastfeeding moms, bedsharing or co-sleeping is often the simplest, safest choice. Breastfeeding moms are more in tune on an instinctual level with their babies, and retain a higher level of awareness for baby’s safety even while asleep. Babies who bed share or co-sleep have been shown to sleep less deeply, sensing their mother nearby and waking to nurse often. This has resulted in lower levels of SIDS. Some parents bedshare only(free!), and some use a nearby or attached co-sleeper such as the Arm’s Reach, or a bassinet. Those often run approximately $100 and should last through all your babies.
· Crib- Other common choices are a crib or bassinet. Cribs can be purchased second hand, assuming they meet current safety standards(NO dropside cribs, slats should be too close together to pass a soda can through, not missing screws or bolts, no recalls), and are in good condition. These can often be found for $50 or less. New cribs can be found for as little as $120 and should last through all your babies, unless safety standards change drastically.
Additionally, you’ll need a carseat and a way to transport baby while walking, usually either a stroller or a baby carrier. I recommend going straight to a rear-facing convertible seat and saving the cost of the infant seat, which they’d only be in for a few months anyway. A carrier such as a wrap, a soft structured carrier like an Ergo or Tula, or a ring sling are great, less expensive options. These reduce or eliminate the need for a stroller(and it’s expensive, bulky accessories), and are great for outings, reducing exposure to germs(not many people will reach into your carrier 6 inches from your face, but they will reach into a carseat in a shopping cart!), and many moms can even nurse hands free in them. All around, great options. A ring sling is probably the most versatile.
A few pieces of clothing, a couple blankets(unless you’re in a particularly cold region), and you’re good to go. Who says having a baby has to be a bank breaker?
A way to feed baby A place for baby to sleep safely A way to diaper baby A carseat Another way to carry baby Basic clothes and blankets That’s it! Good luck!
Let me know if there was something you absolutely couldn’t live without in the comments below. Thanks for reading!