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How Much Does Baby "Stuff" Really Cost?

A baby swing...just one of the many things parents buy for their babies

After reading Molly and Monica’s posts on how much a baby costs at the hospital, I got to thinking: how much does all that other stuff you buy for baby cost?  All the clothes, diapers, gear, furniture, etc.?  So let’s take a look, today, at what the average family really spends on this stuff!

Babies can be expensive.  I say can be because they really do not have to be as expensive as people make them.  I remember seeing lots of estimates of what babies cost before my daughter was born.  They seemed entirely ridiculous to me!  I just couldn’t see spending so much on one tiny baby! 

Let’s break it down, what stuff can really cost.  And tomorrow, we’ll talk about how to save money on all this stuff (because we ultimately didn’t spend anywhere near these costs!).

Please note that these costs are assuming you buy new, you buy everything yourself (i.e. don’t receive items for shower gifts) and the higher prices include designer options.

Car Seat — Your baby must have one.  Some babies have more than one even in the first year, depending on how big they are.  Most infant seats are around $100, but can be up to $250.  Convertible car seats can be from $50 – $300 (and they’ll last often from birth to age 3 – 5).

Crib – Babies need a place to sleep and most will have a crib.  The crib alone (not mattress) usually costs anywhere from $125 – $2000.  It depends on how fancy you want to go.

Crib Mattress — The crib needs a mattress.  These can cost from around $50 on up to nearly $400 (for organic ones).

Bedding — Many baby bedding sets are around $200.  A few sheets and blankets can be about $50, with high-end bedding up near $500.

Stroller — These can cost anywhere from $150 new to over $1600.  Umbrella strollers can be had for as little as $15, but these aren’t suitable for a newborn.

Carrier — A lot of moms these days enjoy wearing their babies.  Carriers can cost $50 – $200, and maybe more if you get a custom made one.

Dresser/Changing Table — I’m lumping these together because there are a lot of combo models these days, and some opt not to have a separate changing area at all.  These cost $200 – $1000, depending on how solid they are.

High Chair — Although you won’t need one right away, most do buy one eventually.  These can cost from $50 to $300, depending on the model you get (and I’m sure there are designer models that cost even more).

Decorations — This includes paint, wall paper, hangings, etc.  You can go cheap and spend about $30 to paint a room, or up to $500 (possibly more) for perfectly coordinating decorations.

Rocking Chair/Glider — Most moms like one of these.  They can range from $100 – $600, with a few probably even pricier.

Baby Feeding Equipment — You’ll probably either need a pump and a few bottles, or an entire bottle feeding system.  Regardless you’ll probably spend $50 – $400 for all of these items (especially when you add in baby’s cups, spoons, bowls, etc. later in the year).

Swing – Most parents like to buy one, even if their baby doesn’t end up using it (some return it).  These cost from $50 – $200 or so, depending on the features you get.

Pack’n’play — Although not “required,” many parents prefer to buy one.  They are maybe $50 or so on the low end, but the high-end ones with changing station, bassinet, toys, etc. are more like $250.

Baby Sitters/Entertainment — This includes things like a Bumbo seat, a Jumperoo, an Exersaucer, etc.  These each cost $30 – $75 and many parents buy more than one.  So, you’re looking at a total cost from $30 – $200.

Diaper Bag — You can find a basic one for $20 or so, but designer bags can cost up to $500.

Clothes — Babies typically need 4 or 5 sizes in their first year.  Parents can spend $200 – $500 per size (depending on how much they buy and what brands), resulting in a total cost of $800 to $2500 for clothes.

Diapers – A baby in disposable diapers goes through 8 – 12 diapers per day in the first year.  Assuming an average cost of $0.25 per diaper (according to Amazon; more for “premium” brands but less for store brands), this will cost you about $700 – $1200.  (Just for the first year.)  Wipes cost about $0.03 each, and assuming 2 per diaper change (obviously sometimes more and sometimes less), you’ll spend about $150 – $300 in the first year.  For cloth diapers, assuming using one-size diapers and having 24, they’ll cost $450 (and last till potty training).  Cloth wipes will cost about $12 (assuming 12 for $6 and having 24).  Washing is a factor, but two extra loads a week might cost an extra $50 per year.

Baby Bathtub — A lot of parents like to have these.  They can range from $10 – $50, depending on the style you choose.

Baby Toys — Go simple and spend perhaps $25 on rattles, books, stacking rings, etc.; or go wild and spend over $1000 on top-of-the-line baby entertainment.

Formula – If you don’t breastfeed (or do so part-time), you’ll need to buy formula.  It can cost anywhere from $0.10/oz. (powder, store-brand) to more than $0.50/oz. (ready-to-feed formulas).  A few babies on special formulas may cost up to $1/oz.  Assuming babies eat on average 30 oz. per day, this will cost anywhere from $1100 to $11,000 per year.

Baby Food — Most babies these days start on food around 4 months of age (which is too soon, but that’s another post entirely).  Babies eat an average of 3 jars per day (much less at the beginning, but much more towards the end).  Jars cost around $0.50 each.  So, assuming 3 jars per day for 8 months, that’s about $350 (and that doesn’t include snacks, finger foods, cereals, etc.).  With the ‘snacks,’ you could spend over $500 in the first year on baby food.

Misc. — This includes shoes, hats, medicines, and other “stuff” that babies need that isn’t in the above categories.  This could be $100 – $2000 (probably more), depending on what exactly you buy.

The grand total?

$3,900 to $27,500.

That is a lot of money for one tiny person!  Most parents will probably spend somewhere in the middle of these numbers. 

But, babies don’t even have to be that expensive.  Tomorrow I’ll tell you how we bought what we needed…without spending anywhere close to this amount (even the bottom number). 

How much did you spend on your major baby purchases in the first year?

Top image by jencu

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