Mother holding sleeping baby

7 Unexpected Baby Costs

by Valerie Hawkins

Before we welcomed our first baby, my husband and I thought we had everything in order.

  • Pin-worthy nursery. Check!
  • Oodles of baby clothes. Check!
  • Safest, top-of-the-line car seat. Check!

What we didn’t quite nail down was a fully-baked baby budget. It wasn’t until Will was born that we realized how expensive that little rascal was going to be.

Here are 7 of the most surprising baby costs we ran into:

1. Diapers

We obviously knew we’d need diapers. But not THIS many. After spending what felt like $5 million dollars in the first month, I looked into ways to save. I signed up for Amazon Family and scheduled weekly deliveries, saving me 20% on each box. I also kept my eyes open for coupons and matched them up with in-store sales.

2. Maternity leave

My company offered me up to 12 weeks of maternity leave, with some of it 60% of my pay, and the last few weeks were unpaid. My husband and I carefully calculated how long we could “comfortably’” live on one salary, and we decided I’d take off 10 weeks. What we didn’t know was that I also had to reimburse my company for any health insurance premiums that they usually covered during part of my time off – a price point of about $3,000. Lesson learned. Have a complete conversation with your company’s HR department to understand, and plan for, all maternity leave costs.  

3. Postpartum clothes

When I first found out I was expecting, I immediately invested in maternity clothes. But what I hadn’t thought about was clothes for my postpartum bod. I was stuck somewhere between my pre-baby and maternity clothes, and to my frustration, nothing fit. I also needed a slew of nursing tops. Looking back, I wish I would have spread that expense out over my 9-month pregnancy, instead of being a huge, one-time expense. For baby #2, I stockpiled my postpartum clothes by surfing re-sale Facebook groups and borrowing from my friends and family. This is a good option for maternity clothes too for those who are just joining the baby train.

4. Doctor bills

I was very fortunate my medical cost for my pregnancy and delivery of my new babe was covered under my company health plan. However, we still had out-of-pocket expenses we didn’t plan for. Like when Will had his first case of Croup and he needed multiple breathing treatments a day or when he took a header and needed his eyebrow glued back together in the ER, we had to cover part of those expenses. Medical costs can add up, so make sure your monthly budget counts for unexpected trips to the doctor and if you have a rambunctious one, the ER.

5. Life insurance

My husband and I had not talked about life insurance before having kids. But then our rep asked us, “If something happened to you, how would Will be taken care of financially?” And that’s when it hit us. He’d have nothing. So, we both opened life insurance policies on ourselves, and a small one for Will.  When little Jay arrived, we added coverage for him, too. Although that monthly expense wasn’t planned for, we had peace of mind knowing our babies would be taken care of if we weren’t around.

6. Child care

Before baby, we researched options for nannies, child care centers and in-home daycares – and we found the perfect option to meet our growing family’s needs. But it was still a bit of a shock to our budget when we wrote that first month’s check. When #2 came around, we did a test drive, and squirreled that money away each month. So, when daycare time rolled around, it wasn’t quite as traumatizing.

7. College savings

This was probably the toughest expense we hadn’t quite grasped. How were we supposed to save for our child’s education, when we were still paying back our own student loans? We started small, and put $25 per month toward Will’s education. We’ve slowly increased it as our budget allowed. Now with two kiddos, we put $50 per month in each of their accounts. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing! Here’s a tip! When your kiddos get out of full-time daycare, redirect that money to their education. You’ll be so glad you did (and so will they)!


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