How much do babies cost?

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It’s sort of an accepted reality, right? Kids are ridiculously expensive (but apparently worth it). From the moment they are born (and even before) they cost money and that amount can only rise as they get older. It’s one of the big reasons that Dean and I held off on procreating for so long; it was sort of ingrained in both of us that we simply couldn’t afford it… until we decided that maybe we could. So, just how much does it cost to have a baby?

I’m not going to crunch ALL the numbers, and I’d really appreciate any input from parents who have gone through this – obviously you all know where the real hidden costs come in and what sort of things can be avoided or negated entirely. Still, it’s worth looking at, even with very loose and vague figures.

  • Cot R2500-10000
  • Travel system (car seat and pram) R4000-12000

Let’s start there. I’ve been looking at a range of cots and I’ve been converted to the idea of a camping cot. Some of them really are quite beautiful. While I don’t need the top of the range one, it’s nice to see that there are options for a variety of budgets. I’m still trying to settle on exactly which one I want, but it will probably run somewhere in the neighborhood of R3-5k. As for the travel system, there is only one that I want, and that’s the Graco fast action with 3-wheel pram. Yes, I’ve done my research and read a ridiculous number of reviews and it looks like that one is truly the best, mainly because you can get the kid to sleep in the carseat and just snap her out while still in the seat and clip her into the pram for ease of wheeling her into the house. If naptime means carseat time, that will still work for me.

Then there’s the issue of nappies. From chatting to a bunch of people, everyone seems to rave about the Bamboo nappies. They are environmentally friendly, not horribly expensive and can last the munchkin from birth until potty training. Of course, they might turn out to be disgusting, but I figure it’s worth a shot. Plus, while they are expensive up front, I figure it should be easier to buy them now while we still have disposable income as compared to later when we apparently will have no money for nappies or wipes or whatever. A set of 36 nappies look like they will run about R8k, which is about as much as we’d spend on disposables in the first year of Harley’s life (depending on brand, etc).

When I’ve asked moms about the biggest expenses for babies, they always mention diapers/nappies and formula. If you can breast feed, it seems to not only be more beneficial for the baby, but also for the bank balance. That is our plan – I want Harley to be exclusively breast fed with a combination of on the boob and expressed milk, mainly so that Dean and I can share the burden of feeding times. So I’m hoping that I don’t need to worry about formula, because wow, that stuff looks expensive and I’m scared of how quickly those costs add up.

Okay, so if we take those bigger numbers and put them all together, that’s R5k for the cot, around R8-9k for the travel system depending on pricing online, and another R8k(ish) for a lifetime supply of nappies. So that’s about R21k for the big ticket items, with what, another R5-10k for things like wipes, baby shampoo, Disney DVDs (which we already have a bunch of thanks to Dean’s tastes in entertainment) etc? There’s still the extra cost of the actual birth, but a lot of these costs seem like big once off investments that can be reused for future children (if we decide to have another one). Same goes for clothes – I will happily put a second child in the same clothes we’ve already gotten for Harley. Plus, we already seem to have a whole bunch of clothes, so I’m not even factoring that into the costs for the first year of her life, only really needing to dish out for clothes again once she’s a bit older.

I’m quite lucky that I work from home, so I shouldn’t need fulltime childcare assistance. That said, I do want to get Harley into creche from around a year or so old so that she can socialize with babies her own age and I can have some time to myself. The cost of THAT is ridiculous, ranging from around R25k-55k per year depending. Now THAT is when I can see this whole child thing becoming rather ridiculously expensive…

But really, what are we talking about as a cost per child? An extra R30k per year? R50k? When you average it out over 12 months, that could be anything from an extra R2.5k to R4k (or much more?) that we’d have to set aside each month for Harley. Obviously there’s an element of economy of scale when you have a second kid thanks to things being shared, but I’m just wondering how much of the jokes about having no money once you have a kid are really true.

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  • R4k+ a month.

    R2000 odd for nappies, formula, and other such consumables/usables (Obviously only formula if you can’t breastfeed for whatever reason)

    R2000 – R3000 for daycare once you need to go back to work.

    That’s not counting clothes as they grow out etc. But luckily with baby showers the first year of a kid’s life can easily be covered for clothes.

    It’s crazy scary.

    • K1FF J1MB0B (sizzle edition)

      That’s a lot for daycare.. the place I took both my kids was around R1500pm. Private school when they’re bigger is the real killer though.

  • K1FF J1MB0B (sizzle edition)

    I’ve got 2 kids so I have a wee bit of experience behind me, and the way I would sum it is like this. Babies are not expensive, yes they will cost you a couple of grand per month (at most) but it’s really nothing to stress over. Kids on the hand, are VERY expensive, and they become progressively more expensive each year… by the time you kid is 10 you will be shitting yourself.. start saving now!

  • Sageville

    You do get some returns on the cot and pram, you can resell those and there is always a buyer.

    Never buy expensive baby/toddler clothes, go for the cheapy stuff, they grow out of them before they fall apart.

    Also, If I had a baby shower, I’d have a registry with just nappies listed…

    • “Never buy expensive baby/toddler clothes”

      So much this. In the first year so far my kid hasn’t had a chance to tear or destroy any clothes as she grew out of them too quick

  • Leigh Jansen

    Some thoughts… about the travel system – those things aren’t really worth the amount you spend – the car seat only works for a few months anyway depending on baby’s size so then you have to get a new one anyway – so rather get a car seat like Joie Stages to start with – they can use it until they’re 5….
    About prams, unless you genuinely are going to use it for jogging, they are also a bit of a waste, most moms I know with big prams end up using them a handful of times. A good quality stroller with a recline function is cheaper and you can still fit other things in your boot. Having said that – I would definitely use the extra bucks for a good wrap – much easier to go shopping with baby in a wrap – taking baby shopping in a pram usually ends up with you holding baby and loading groceries in the pram anyway… wraps also mean people can’t touch your baby and you can breastfeed on the go. When baby outgrows the wrap, a soft structured carrier like the African Baby Carrier is amazing!!
    About cots – if you bought a wooden cot you may end up buying a camp cot anyway, so rather just cut to the chase and get the camp cot. Many parents I know (I work as a doula) end up cosleeping and using the cot only for daytime naps, or laundry / toy storage. I made myself something like the Humanity Cosleeper (you can find it online) and that did us very well! I’m pregnant with my third and after not using a cot at all with #2, I’m not even going to bother this time. Having said that – you can usually pick up excellent 2nd hand camp cots for under 2k.
    About the nappies – they are the bomb! I used cloth nappies full time for #1, #2 and I inted to use them for #3 as well – saved a fortune! So in the end, my monthly ‘baby budget’ was essentially an extra box of washing powder… no nappies, no formula!
    My other baby essential other than the nappies and the wrap / sling / carrier is a doula!!! I know I’m biased but the value they add to your birth, breastfeeding and early postpartum experience cannot be overestimated 🙂 (although it is usually vastly undercharged)
    Kids on the other hand – my eldest is 6 and with school / aftercare / extramurals, and ‘big school’ uniforms and stationery next year… that’s something else!

  • Naxie

    yikes and double yikes…..i think the suggestions from the prior posters sound really helpful. Moms with experience are the best resource, for sure. i know it’s so much different in SA vs in the States and i’m curious about how much your medical insurance will be increased when Harley comes along and also, if well-baby care is covered. Here it was a pretty hefty expense.