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How Much Does Baby "Stuff" Really Cost?

By KateTietje |

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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About KateTietje

katetiejte

KateTietje

Kate Tietje is a food blogger who focuses on natural food and cooking. In addition to Modern Alternative Mama, she has contributed her writing to the Parenting and Pregnancy channels on Babble.

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5 thoughts on “How Much Does Baby "Stuff" Really Cost?

  1. Abby says:

    One word Craigslist. You do NOT need to spend that much. Plus family members are also often willing to get the kid the highchair or next step up car seat when they need them for Christmas or first birthday.

  2. CDN Mummy says:

    I don’t think I spent that much either. I used my old dresser as a changing table with a pad on top, painted a new colour. We got a used crib only used by one baby before us. At about 6 months all drop side cribs were recalled and so my husband screwed the side to the base and reinforced the whole this so it no longer slid down. We painted the room and used pictures I saved from a high end calendar from years ago for a dog theme. I also hung an old wall hanging quilt that was given to me by a grandma with dogs on it. I made the curtains out of left over material form our wedding and sewed ribbon to the button. For the crib I only bought 4 fitted sheets, was given a quilt and blankets at a baby shower and used my sister in-law’s crib skirt, no crib bumpers. I did buy a carpet and hamper from Ikea, my husband made a bookshelf out of recycled wood and we painted it to match. The rest of the room’s things were brought from other parts of the house or stuffed dogs given as gifts. The rocking chair, which I only used for 9 months, was my mother-in-law’s painted and I’m really glad I did not spend a fortune on a glider. I breastfed until 5 months and then used formula which I would only buy on sale. If there was a good sale I would pick up a month’s worth and stock pile it until he was a year old and then switch to cows milk. I always scanned the sales papers for this. Almost every piece of big toy like exercisers was second hand and is still being used by other babies in our families. We did not want a big clunky highchair so I got one that attaches to a chair. Almost anything used I could get I took advantage of except clothes. I mainly used new clothes, not expensive clothes mind you, my favourite kids clothes is at Joe Fresh which is sold in grocery stores in Canada, but I would get so frustrated with snaps that would not stay shut so I stopped using most of the used clothes. My father-in-law scours garage sales and so we were able to get kids slides, swings, picnic table for outside kid stuff as well for 5 dollars here to 2 dollars there. All the things we were able to get for free also freed up money for the things like diapers, formula and clothes. There were certain big things I wanted new like a good stroller, car seat and child carrier but we tried to be smart with our purchases because these items would have to last us for a long time. I guess what I’m getting at is you can really keep the baby expenses low.

  3. Kate says:

    We didn’t buy any of our baby gear new. If you’re willing to accept hand-me-downs, you can save an amazing amount of money. We received a car seat stroller combo, two swings, two bouncy seats, and crib, all for free. We have a high chair on the way, too. The first clothes we had to purchase for our son were size 6 months (he’s 3.5 months but long, with big feet) as all the clothes prior to that were given to us by cousins and friends. We bought a second hand cradle and change table, and used a set of dressers and rocking chair we already owned. To decorate the nursery, we bought wall stickers from the dollar store (an astronaut/space theme). There are umpteen ways to save money on baby stuff!

  4. Rebekah says:

    WOW I am amazed to see how much people often spend on a new baby!
    We were blessed with some things for shower gifts and somethings as hand-me-downs. So even when I went through this list I know we didn’t spend as much as I estimated.
    Car Seat —was given one

    Crib – $40 at a garage sale

    Bedding — were given 2 sheets at a shower and my sister-in-law made a beautiful custom quilt as her gift to us.

    Stroller — given at a shower

    Carrier — given at a shower, and made one like the Ergo for $20.

    Dresser/Changing Table — Used a dresser and bought a changing table pad to go on top of it for $10. A cover for it was a shower gift.

    High Chair — Bought a no frills booster seat for $20. It is wonderful because it is so easy to take when we travel.

    Decorations — $50 for paint, fabric for paint, wall stickers

    Rocking Chair/Glider — Used a rocking recliner we already had. (And didn’t even use it that much.)

    Baby Feeding Equipment —Bought a small electric pump for emergencies, were given bottles, and bought a baby food grinder for $5. Also bought cups, spoons, for about $30.

    Swing – Just used a bouncy seat that I got used for $5.

    Pack’n’play — Was given one for a shower gift.

    Baby Sitters/Entertainment — given a used Exersaucer, borrowed a bumbo seat (glad I did because my daughter would throw herself out of it so we didn’t end up using it!)

    Diaper Bag — Found a basic one for $20

    Clothes — Were blessed with many, many nice handme downs from cousins and friends. Spend maybe $50 on shoes, and other extras we needed.

    Diapers – spent maybe $150 on disposibles and wipes using sales. Also used cloth ones that I got at used for $45. Washing is a factor, but two extra loads a week might cost an extra $50 per year.

    Baby Bathtub — given

    Baby Toys — $25, mostly used given toys.

    Formula – breastfed.

    Baby Food —Made our own food, and only used special baby food for certian times (like traveling) $25-50.

    Misc. — $100? Sure we will add this in just in case I forgot anything.

    Our grand total: $465 maybe more but probably under $500 for sure and that is if you count new toys for Christmas presents etc.

  5. Jessica says:

    Just to correct a statement * Convertible car seats Don’t often fit from birth. There are only like 3 or 4 that will. The box may read 5 lbs, but in reality, the lowest harness position is too high considering the straps must be at or below baby’s shoulder for rear-facing. Most convertibles will not work for most babies until 3-4 months old or so.*

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