After nearly 9 months of blissful anticipation (and sometimes trepidation), our son was finally brought to this world one fateful day in April.
His name is Leo. He’s an adventurous and charismatic baby that looks like a peaceful cherub in a blanket when he’s not testing his lung capacity at 3AM.
His arrival in this world meant everything to my husband and I – both of us wanting a shot at building the perfect parent-child relationship – despite the severe lack of REM sleep, the diaper changing marathons, the blood (mine, thanks to the C-section), sweat (mostly my husband’s, who did more than his fair share of parental heavy lifting, literally and figuratively) and tears (all of ours, including the baby, albeit for vastly different reasons).
All that matter is, our lives have changed for the better (for the most part). Even when the going gets tough, any lingering doubt shatters when my heart radiates happiness at the faint trace of a smile from Leo.
Alas, I’m starting to sound like a mom blogger.
In an ideal world where time is plentiful and babies wipe their own butts, I might seriously consider starting a mom blog called Casual Mommy Talk. It’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
Anyhow, a lengthy prose about the joy and challenges of new parenthood is probably not what you’re here for.
You’re hoping to find the answers to the not-so-glamorous baby-related questions you secretly want to ask. You know, the ones that are about the practical side of things… ahem, money. Perhaps you’re in the process of becoming a parent. Maybe you’re still undecided on the whole baby thing. Or you just want to chill out here, which is totally cool too.
Now let’s pretend we’re sitting face-to-face at a coffee shop catching up like old friends. After I show you the umpteenth video of Leo hiccupping, you can’t contain your curiosity any longer. So you place your frothy hand-crafted latte on the table, put on a sassy face and begin your cross-examination.
“So uh… Flora, do you know how much you guys have spent on the baby so far?”
Then you quickly added, “just asking for a friend.”
Don’t worry. In this make-believe scenario, the existence of social decorum is not of a concern.
Since I’m extremely nice (my words, not necessarily yours), I will gladly oblige and share my baby expense numbers.
Prior to my pregnancy, we had an inkling of the cost associated with child-rearing. Nearly everybody who actually knows what’s what on r/financialindependence proclaims that having babies significantly delays FIRE plans (among other life plans), but we were determined to not let money influence our reproductive choices.
As Leo’s due date was approaching, we improvised and bought everything we thought we’d need to bring a baby home. Budgets be damned!
For the purpose of this blog post, I dusted off the good ol’ calculator, and tallied up all of our child-related expenses thus far – not counting taxes or shipping costs to keep things straightforward – the results … shocked me.
You’ll see why:
- 2 boxes of 59 mL ready-to-use baby formula (from Similac) – $73.96
- 2 boxes of 235 mL ready-to-use baby formula (from Similac) – $93.96
- 4 boxes of 385 mL concentrated liquid baby formula (from Similac) – $159.92
- 10 nursing pads (from NatureBond) – $19.99
- 1 nursing bra (from Kindred Bravely) – $29.99
- 1 nursing pillow (from Jolly Jumper) – $29.99
- 1 pack of 6 milk bottles (from Philips Avent) – $34.97
- 1 pack of 3 milk bottles (from Playtex Baby) – $14.97
- 1 sterilizer (from Munchkin) – $26.96
- 1 electric breast pump (from Lansinoh) – $159.97
- 1 electric breast pump (from Ameda) – $135
- 1 manual breast pump (from NatureBond) – $20.99
- 2 breast milk storage bags (from Lansinoh) – $5.09
- 1 diaper genie (from Playtex) – $44.99
- 1 baby crib (from IKEA) – $84.15
- 1 crib mattress (from IKEA) – $59.99
- 1 changing pad (from IKEA) – $20
- 1 high chair (from IKEA) – $24.99
- 1 baby rocker (from Fisher-Price) – $56.24
- 1 play mat (from IKEA) – $39.99
- 1 baby gym (from IKEA) – $29.99
Clothing & Textiles
- 3 pyjamas (from George baby) – $16.97
- 3 newborn-sized onesies (from Koala Baby) – $16.99
- 3 newborn-sized onesies (from Onesies) – $9.99
- 3 swaddles (from SwaddleMe) – $29.97
- 2 changing pad covers (from IKEA) – $19.98
- 1 support pillow and cover for the high chair (from IKEA) – $7.99
- 1 pack of 4 muslin swaddle blankets (from Koala Baby) – $31.99
- 4 crib sheets (from IKEA) – $29.98
- 1 4-piece linen set for the crib (from IKEA) – $29.99
- 10 washcloths (from IKEA) – $5.99
- 1 baby blanket (from IKEA) – $12.99
- 3 bibs (from IKEA) – $6.99
Travel & Safety
- 1 car seat (from Safety 1st) – $239.99
- 1 stroller (from Graco) – $259.97
- 1 baby carrier (from Ergobaby) – $95.98
- 1 baby monitor (from VTech) – $23.99
- 1 baby nail file kit (from Royal Angels Baby on Amazon) – $10.84
- 2 pacifiers for 0-6 month babies (from Philips Avent) – $7.22
- 2 pacifiers for 6-18 month babies (from Philips Avent) – $6.99
- 1 diaper rash cream (from President’s Choice) – $5.99
- 1 baby petroleum jelly (from Vaseline) – $5.19
- 1 pack of 192 diapers (from Huggies) – $41.49
- 18 packs of baby wipes (from Huggies) – $29.99
- 1 3-pack diaper genie refill (from Playtex) – $22.99
- Cord blood and cord tissue storage (from Insception Lifebank) – $1,935 initial fee + $235 annual storage fee
- Private hospital room – $200
- Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) – $2,500
The total amount comes to a whopping $7,006.55!
Bear in mind that it hasn’t even been 2 months since Mr. Cutie Poop Machine was placed into our care. The expenses will climb up exponentially as he grows up – $2,000/month daycare, $30,000/year private school, $150/hour therapy sessions after having endured private school, etc.
Cue the head explosion soundbite.
After staring at my calculator dumbfoundedly until I realized that $7,006.55 will not magically diminish just because I’m pouting intensely, I reached out to my BFF – Google.
Surely we can’t be the only people crazy enough to spend this much money on something that doesn’t even come with a warranty or a return policy, right?
Searching the phrase “how much does baby cost” confirmed my suspicion that, yes, choosing to parent a child is the first sign of impending insanity.
Based on this handy calculator by BabyCenter, we could expect to shell out $9,460 for Leo’s first year.
And if you compare that to the data from the Expenditures on Children by Families report which estimates the average first-year spending to be over US$17,000 (roughly CA$22,313) in a one-child, middle-class family in 2018, we’re actually on the frugal side.
You know what’s even scarier?
In the land of Uncle Sam, parents can expect to spend US$233,610 (roughly CA$309,335) to raise a child to the age of 17, based on this USDA report in 2015. This number doesn’t even include college tuition, which we can all agree is a whole other level of financial madness.
In Canada, the picture isn’t any rosier either. A 2015 article from MoneySense pegged the total cost at $253,946.97.
If these figures haven’t already sent you dashing to the nearest pharmacy to load up on contraceptives, congratulations! You’re ready to start a family (or really really well stocked on condoms).
I’m not going to pretend that being a parent is an endless stream of fulfilling moments right out the gate. And my article certainly didn’t dispel the notion that “it takes a village(‘s money) to raise a child”.
With that said, as an upstanding citizen, I feel that it’s my duty to improve our nation’s sorry birth rate (1.61 children per woman), so I’m going to leave you with a little something that will put an end to all the “to have or not to have a child” arguments: