Baby's first year: $10,000-22,000??

I was watching Dr. Phil the other day and there was a couple on who were living paycheck-to-paycheck, but the wife really wanted a baby now. Dr. Phil gave her a wake-up call by saying that a baby costs $10,000 to $22,000 for the first year alone. Could you help me break that down, because it seems high.

  1. Assume the birth itself is not included
  2. I assume the range occurs because some babies go to daycare and some don’t? Part of the cost may be missed salary for a stay-at-home parent??
  3. Breast milk vs. formula would make a big difference

So let’s try to minimize baby’s first year:

One parent works and the other stays home, so no day care. One salary is enough to pay for everything, so opportunity cost of wages not counted. Minimal formula used. Assume birth and doctor’s visits covered by insurance.

Diapers about .35 each, average, 8/day, about $1000
Equipment (car seat, stroller, etc.)
Clothes for various sizes
Baby Food
Supplemental Formula

I think the estimates are pretty inflated. We just had our son 2 months ago and while there are weekly expenses of diapers and formula and clothes, and initial expenses of equipment, I don’t see going over $10,000 unless your going nuts buying the latest and greatest everything for them.
You can save a lot of money brest feeding. If not, a can of powdered formula runs about $23 and lasts about 5 days. That’s around $1700 for a year.
All they really need for clothes are onesies and sleepers which are cheap. You don’t have to dress them in outfits.
Nursery furniture can get expensive ($1000) but you can get stuff that will do the job for $400 (crib, dresser/changing table, rocker).

I’d like to see the itemized list for the person spending $20,000.

Well, the first thing you have to remember is that Dr. Phil is full of shit.

The world is full of people who don’t even make $22K, and still manage to successfully raise children. Sometimes more than one, even!

The couple in question had about $120 after their bills each month. She felt that they would have nine months to save up, and she was only working full-time and could increase her hours to get more money together. $120/month seemed tight but $10,000 seemed high.

That’s a useful starting point for every discussion involving that moron.

If $10,000 - $22,000 for a baby’s first year is correct, then I don’t know *anybody *who could afford to have children. My 3-month-old nephew is doing very nicely in his hand-me-down crib, thrift store stroller, and hand-me-down clothes.

He can be right depending on how you figure it. My new baby daughter was born 6 days ago. Thank You!

If you figured up every little thing associated with just her during her first year, the total could be very high to extremely high. One comcrete number is that her day care will cost $1000 a month starting right at 8 weeks. That brings us to $10,000 the first year right there. I can add in or exclude other costs such as family member travel expenses to help care for her to bring the total to whatever I choose.

The most conservative estimate for us would be about $17,000 for the first year. Of course, not everyone spends that. Their are women that live in shacks in Louisiana that stay at home, breastfeed, and give the baby whatever comes by. Any number associated with this type of thing is simply the result of whatever bias someone wants to include or exclude. However, the cost of an infant can be quite high for any couple with both spouses working. I don’t think $10,000 is inflated at all as a lower bound average.

What’s the deal with 8 diapers per day? I remember about half that on a bad day. Are babies making more messes today?

You can’t assume doctors’ visits are covered by insurance. Even if they are, there’s usually a co-pay. Back in the day (when dinosaurs ruled the earth) when I was birthin’ babies, NO well-baby visits, or immunizations, were covered. Neither were office visits for illnesses, only for injuries.

I’m sure insurance coverage is better for many folks now, but of course, you have to factor in the cost of the insurance. Many, many employers pay only a portion of the health insurance. I have no idea what one would pay as an additional cost today for family vs. individual health insurance, but am sure it’s not trivial.

And of course, there are folks, believe it or not, whose employer doesn’t offer family coverage, or who can’t afford the extra cost.

If they have health insurance, the costs wouldn’t be terrible. I could see a baby costing that much or more for a couple living paycheck to paycheck without insurance.

A couple I know is about to have their first baby, and I was just thinking this very thing.

They are looking at an $800 stroller. $800! Also a $300 rocking chair, a $150 car seat…I was amazed at the amounts of money they are willing to spend on this new baby. And I was wondering how anyone else could afford to have a baby at these prices. I mean, when you look at baby stores everything is pretty expensive. My aunts raised me for four years on pennies.

I just made that up to be sure to cover to the higher end of the “blow-them-out” regularly spectrum.

No, I know, I just wanted to see what the best possible situation would cost.

Any woman who thinks that she could continue to not only work full-time but actually increase her hours during 9 months of pregnancy is crazy. She’ll need time off for doctor’s visits, morning sickness, general fatigue, and could be ordered to bedrest. This may not apply in all pregnancies, but to plan to work harder and longer hours while pregnant is just plain stupid.

As for the expenses, my daughter’s 15 months old, and going through my expenses for the past year and a half, I’d say I’ve spent about $11-12 thousand on her. (And I define maternity clothes as a baby expense, :wink: )

I generally get diapers for 22 cents apiece or less, and the Hordling has gone from using 12 a day to 7-8 a day. She’s never drunk formula, and we only dump the powder in her cereal to add calories. But we never paid for that – the formula companies throw a few cans at you in the early days, along with a fistful of ten-dollar off coupons for their overpriced powdered milk.

About 2/3 of that price is daycare, from September until now. But if we didn’t have daycare, either my wife or I would have to stay at home, which would put a significant crimp in our earnings.

On the other hand, the employer-paid portion of my family’s health care is very high, and our share is very low. I’ve paid nothing for the half-dozen ‘wellness’ visits my kid has made, and have only had one appt where I had to make a co-pay. She’s never needed any medicine either, aside from infant’s Tylenol and Advil. I assume that’s not the case for everyone, and your insurance costs could jump if you have a kid. Weirddave probably has a good idea how much.

My insurance (public school teacher, so middle middle class) goes up over $300/month if I go to “child” coverage as opposed to just myself. Add the $500 deductable and the copays, and medical costs that first year could easily be $5000. Not to mention my own $500 deductable–and all this assumes that baby’s first year matches the annual 12-month deductable–I might have to pay it twice for each of us if the timing was poor.

Medical costs could get you to 10K much faster than you might think. And I come from a family that never bought a bassinet when there were dresser drawers to spare.

I should mention that $1000 a month is for only 3 days of day care a week. The cost drops as they get older but that first year is brutal. That means that mom or dad can sacrifice virtually all income and stay at home full-time with the baby or put the baby in day-care and try to earn more than the cost of that. Our combination of 3 days a week day-care means that you have to fill in the other two days resulting in other costs and possibly loss of some income. These are the day-care costs in much of the Northeast and other expensive areas like California. The housing market generally means that mother and father have to work to own a home at all. If you want me to go into detail, I can easily show you how a couple well into the 6 figures can still be cutting corners in order to keep their home and a couple of kids taken care of 24/7. It is pretty grim if you live in one of the expensive place. I have set down and tried to figure out how people that make less than us make it. The numbers have never come out right and we have cut out any luxury vacations, drive nice but very used cars etc. It is a matter of choice of course but the numbers can be eye-popping if you know all that is involved.

I believe I slept in a banana crate for the first little while. :slight_smile:

A lot depends on your family. I am constantly amazed at how much money I save because of hand-me-downs of furniture, toys, clothes, etc. not to speak of babysitting from relatives. If I didn’t have that support, it would be a lor more expensive.

So, four per day? That works out to changing the diaper every six hours. If we tried that, each of those diapers would weigh about 15 lbs. apiece.

I think 8 diapers is a pretty high number if it representative of an average. When I pack for trips, I usually pack 6 diapers per day we’ll be gone. Most of the time, I come back with a handful of diapers.

As far as cutting costs for a baby’s first year:
When my oldest son (now nine) was born, I was single, had moved back in with my mother, and was waiting tables for a living.

I resisted the urge to go buck wild in the baby section of any store. A baby doesn’t need 10,000 bottles, for instance. I would buy a four-pack of basic bottles and replenish that supply when the nipples got too old. My mother, on the other hand, being the overzealous grandma used to come home with bagfuls of all kinds of pacifiers (which my son never took to) and shoes (for a baby who isn’t walking?) and other crap I never got to use.

Chances are, the baby may wear that Really Cute Outfit once, if that…and never again. Someone mentioned that onesies and sleepers were all the wardrobe a baby needs for quite a while. I totally agree with that. Hand-me-downs from friends or relatives were also a great source for a lot of clothes for little to no money.

My son’s furniture/accessories consisted of the following: a plastic rolling cart with drawers for his socks and stuff, a collapsible crib/playpen for his bed, a stroller (that I bought), and an infant car seat from a friend (the ultra-careful mother of twins I mentioned above). I didn’t have a plastic baby bath tub because he fit in the sink for a long time. I bought generic baby hygiene products. To this day with my 22-month-old, I use Luvs diapers which have always lived up to their self-professed quality.

I qualified for WIC at the time my oldest was born. I got eight cans of formula per month which I had to supplement with as many as three at my own expense. Back then, cans of formula were $15-$18 depending on where I bought them. As he got older within that first year, they started giving me baby cereals and whatnot. With my new son, I haven’t needed to reach out for those services, but a girl I know was on WIC for her daughter. She had boxes of baby cereals stockpiled in her kitchen. She gave them to me just so she could get rid of them.

My first didn’t go to daycare until he was two. Any babysitting that I needed was done by friends who didn’t charge me an arm and a leg or relatives who would do it for free. With the new one, I have a babysitter who runs daycare out of her home 24 hours a day. I take the baby to her a couple times a week so I can work my shifts. She charges in 12-hour increments. I pay $15 for up to 12-hours about twice a week. If I used daycare, I would be spending anywhere from $300 to $500 a month.

With my 22-month-old, the insurance that we have pays for doctor visits, but it doesn’t pay for vaccinations or lab tests, which completely sucks. Instead of shelling out the bucks for his shots (which can be incredibly expensive when you have to pay retail), I take him to our county health department for his vaccinations.

You are right. My doc told me when the baby was a newborn that she should poop around 6 times a day…and if they wet in between, that’s even more. In answer to the OP, though…

Babies are like anything else…there are easy ways to economize when spending money on baby things. On your list for example:

Furniture: The only furniture you really need to get is a crib. Instead of a regular, wooden, full-size crib, you can get a portable “pack n play” for $60. You can get an inexpensive dresser at a yard sale or flea market & paint it. You don’t need a changing table…you can change a baby on the floor or the bed (they make pads for this purpose that cost $10.) Other furniture won’t be necessary for a while, certainly not the first year.

**Equipment: ** You need an infant car seat. I think ours cost around $50-60 dollars. They have stroller frames for around $50 that you just strap the car seat into. Once the baby starts eating food, you will need a high chair. I bought a booster chair for around $20 & strapped it onto a chair in my kitchen (saves space, too…I have a very small kitchen). It’s nice to have an exersaucer, bouncy chair, or a sling or other type of carrier for the baby, but they are not necessary. Even if you desperately want a bouncy chair (they are nice to have), you can get one for probaby around $20-25. Not a major expense.

Clothes: Hard to judge…you don’t need that much, but you do have to buy bigger sizes fairly frequently. You can buy them at Wal-Mart, though, and it’s really not that expensive. I’m sure you could get a baby’s entire first-year wardrobe for less than $500. This is an area it is easy to spend a lot, if you are not careful…the difference between what a baby NEEDS and what the mom might WANT to buy can be very wide.

**Toys & books: ** Babies do not need a whole lot, and if you are thrifty you can get some as hand-me downs, on e-Bay, etc. There are a lot of pricey toys out there, and babies do not know the difference.

Baby food & Formula: You can nurse for the whole year easily if you are a stay-at-home mom (and if you don’t have trouble breastfeeding, of course). If you use 1 bottle of formula a day as a supplement, it will probably take a month to go through a can (and you will get at least a couple of these cans for free). If you do this for 6 months, it’s only $150. You don’t need to buy baby food at all. If the baby is in daycare, you probably have to, but if you are home with the baby, you just mash up whatever you are eating in a food masher & give it to the baby (unless you are only eating junk food…then it’s not such a good idea). Babies don’t eat enough to make a giant dent in your food budget.

Diapers: That is pretty much a fixed cost as you put it. I never figured it out, but $1000 seems like it could be reasonable. Of course, if you are REALLY worried about finances, you could get cloth and wash them yourself (still costs extra for water & electricity, but I’m willing to bet it’s not as expensive as disposables).

**Medical care: ** I am not sure how much it all costs, because I have insurance. This is probably a fairly big area of expense if you don’t.

Shagnasty is right (and BTW, congratulations!!! :slight_smile: )…when you work, and need daycare, it’s a whole different story. Not only do you need daycare, but you need a whole lot of other conveniences & equipment that you wouldn’t need otherwise. But, if you are a stay at home, you can do it pretty darn cheaply if you put your mind to it.

When they get older, that’s another story.