Six Common Myths: Adding A Baby To A Household Costs A Lot Of Money

baby financial mythsBy Wixx, special contributing writer

There are a lot of common myths floating around in regard to the cost of having a baby. Here are a few common ones where what people believe and what the reality can be are quite different:

Myth #1 Your cute new baby is going to cost you hundreds of dollars per month in food and feeding supplies: Breast feeding is absolutely free. If Mom is going to go back to work soon, you will need to buy a few bottles and use the breast pump that the hospital gave you to express the milk. But those few bottles and maybe a few freezer bags for the breast milk are not that expensive.

Myth #2 You will spend a ton of money on cloths to keep the baby warm: No one said that just because they sell outfits with licensed characters on them for $25, that you must buy them. If you can not obtain hand-me-downs or enough gifts to keep the baby clothed, a few packs of plain white onesies, the hat that they gave you at the hospital and a blanket are all that you need for the first few months. After that you need only look at the clearance section of Walmart or Target to get a few pairs of pants and shirts, to go with a pack or two of underwear and socks.

Myth #3 You might as well buy stock in the diaper company: If you are aiming to save money, you can go the route of the cloth diaper. It may not be much fun to actually wash the crap out of the cloth diapers, but it is a lot cheaper than disposable, not to mention better for the environment.

Myth #4 You have to buy everything on a list in order to have everything that you need for your baby Those lists are made buy baby or furniture stores. The only thing that you need is a comfortable place for the baby to sleep, and a drawer to put his or her clothes in. Anything more than that is a luxury item that is not truly needed.

Myth #5 You have to buy special detergent to wash the baby clothes with: Use less soap on the baby clothes and your baby should be fine. There are rare occurrences where infants develop allergies to soap, lotion, etc. but this is not the norm.

Myth #6 You need a nursery or an extra room for the baby: New babies are going to spend most of their first few months very close to you, so they might as well share your room. A bassinet, crib or blanket on the floor is all they really need. As the kids get bigger, they may need to get out of your room, but they certainly do not each have to have their own room. Think back to the homes that our ancestors had their large families in. They had huge families in small single story dwellings.

Myth #7 You get less sleep once you bring a baby into your home: OK, this one is going to be true. I told you there were only six common myths I was going to address…

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32 Responses to Six Common Myths: Adding A Baby To A Household Costs A Lot Of Money

  1. donna jean says:

    As we’re getting closer to adding another child, I start thinking about all the actual costs are going to be and it isn’t anywhere near as much as is frequently suggested. Add breastfeeding, co-sleeping, attachment parenting (less toys and baby holding/containing devices), and planning to have even more kids (cloth diapers and clothes can be reused). Suddenly, the cost prohibitive aspect of having a child is fading away.

  2. Rick says:

    Child care is probably the biggest expense for working families. $1k / month in child care costs for an infant is a significant hurdle. Sure the other items on the list probably are helped via showers and whatnot, but daycare (as I’m learning) is expensive…

  3. Matias says:

    Your list is fine, but not completely true, if you stick to the norm.
    Myth 1: If your baby isn´t gaining enough weigth sure your are gonna be desperate and buy formula.
    #2 This is true, but only for the first months, then, you must buy cloths.
    #3 Give me a break!! ok, if you want, you wash the dipers… you have plenty of time to do that?
    #4 This is true, but some arrangements in the house are ok
    #5 And if you are the “lucky” one??
    #6 like I said, this is ok at the beginning.
    #7 TRUE!!!
    Nice blog!

  4. savvy says:

    Good list! Our first baby is on the way and we plan to breastfeed and cloth diaper (but more because cloth diapering is MUCH better for baby and so darn cute and functional now than for the cost savings).

    Other than that, we bought a Maya wrap and we’ll need a car seat. A friend lent me her breast pump.

    Daycare will be our biggest expense, but most of that is tax deductible.

  5. ali says:

    #2 – ummm… garage sales? You can get loads of clothes for less than $1 an item. Kids grow through clothes so fast, that the clothes don’t wear out. just wash them after you buy them and you’re good to go.

  6. Mama Money says:

    Mostly, I agree. If you go back to work, daycare will be the biggest cost, and no one disputes that. The good news is that the costs of having more children decrease, becase you can re-use the stuff from the older kids…

  7. Roxie says:

    Love the list…would like to add:
    1. Some people have problems breastfeeding, so they switch to formula. GET HELP INSTEAD. It’s called a lactation consultant. I think it’s worth it to try everything you can to successfully b/f.
    2. Can you say “craigslist”? I got all the clothes I’ll need for the first year for $80.
    3. We also cloth diaper. Washing is easy, especially if you breastfeed (the poops are different in b/f and formula fed babies). It’s just like doing another load of laundry every three days, you just have to wash it twice. Also, use Snappis instead of pins.
    4. Craiglist, again. Got a nice bassinette for $20. The only thing I would not skimp on is a carseat–buy new and buy quality.
    5. Agreed.
    6. We do this, and it works well.
    7. Since we do #6, I actually am getting more sleep now than I did when I was pregnant.

  8. Teri says:

    Can’t argue, but points about #2 are good, I’ve hardly ever bought new clothes (or other new items) for the kids.

    But I have to say health insurance, and the cost of lost wages (& the fact that the wage was lost because childcare was not worth it – too expensive) is the big thing.

    I just throw that out because I used to think like you before kids and wonder what the big deal was, but it is the BIG things that will eat you out of house and home. If I had any clue my health insurance would be costing me $10k/year 2 kids later (What was it – $500/year when I was single in 1999?).

    It is most definitely silly though to go broke over basic baby stuff. Agreed!!!

  9. Jay says:

    #1: If you think breastfeeding is free, you’ve clearly never done it. Better, less expensive, and unbelieveably convenient, yes… but not free. Mom is going to start eating an amazing amount of food, and it costs a ridiculous amount of money to eat well (fresh fruits, veggies, organic products). Of course, you already knew that from the pregnancy, right?

    #3: Only works if you have a washer and dryer in your house/apartment. When our septic system blew up and we were doing diapers at the laundry place down the street for three months, it cost an absurd amount AND was extremely inconvenient. If you plan on more than one kid go out and buy a front-loading washer right away, especially if you have a septic system.

    #7: Co-sleeping, especially for breastfeeding mothers, is a wonderful thing. Within a few weeks mother and baby usually figure out how to feed with mother only being half-awake for the first 10 minutes or so. There is nothing like waking up to the little one snuggled up against you (except maybe your wife snuggled up).

  10. Don says:

    You need a CAR SEAT! (but the $60 is just as good as the $200 one). You DO NOT need all the extra ultra-sounds (they tried to talk us into two normal ones and a 3d one, we read into it and found they were optional) and you do not need all the tests they want to run on you. This will save you hundreds (even with insurance an ultra-sound is still $40). Last but not least, some hospitals give a discount (we saved $500) if you are clergy or ordained. Check into it.

  11. Don says:

    I understand some tests are needed, but I hope you will agree that some are not. We first found out about the ultra-sound issues when they wanted us to come in every two weeks to make sure our baby was “on par for the right due date.” The issue would only be a one week difference from what we first heard. This was excessive. One week give or take will not harm your baby, it is only an estimate anyway. We skipped the rest of the ultra-sounds and changed doctors (the new docs never asked to give us an ultra-sound after they saw the old ones on record) and even advised us against future ones unless we went more than 14 days past due. We ended up having our son (he was born three days before our initial due date) naturally (no meds, that saved us money as well) and without problems. I know this is not always the case, and I am glad you found out early about your baby’s medical issues. That is awesome, and I pray you guys are doing well. I do agree some tests are good, but some are overkill. Last but not least, they messed up our RH test results and that put my wife in a panic for a week as we awaited a re-test. Knowing our blood types are incompatible, we could have taken the shot and not worried about the tests and been ok, but instead we sat on pins and needles for a week.

  12. Ken says:

    Alot of these myths can be debunked really:

    1: Not every woman can breastfeed, in fact, many more can’t or have trouble doing so, you can’t just have the kid starve.

    2. You don’t have to go thrift store or rely on hand me downs, you just need to be smart. Shop on sales, buy off the clearance rack. Don’t pay full price for anything and don’t get too sucked into ‘brands’, go for quality.

    3. How many people *honestly* use cloth? They must have a lot of spare time on their hands.

    4. This one is true. A good book that supports this is “Baby Bargains”. Our eventual list, compared to BRU’s list, was minuscule.

    5. With detergent we go really, really cheap on ourselves. Dynamo is buy 1 get 2 free every once in a while and we stock up. We buy baby the Purex free or Arm and Hammer, whichever’s cheaper. It really doesn’t end up costing that much extra.

    6. Very True. People should not go out buying new houses and new cars because they are having a baby. You don’t need an SUV to carry one child…(although I’ve seen so many people doing so).

    7. Amen.

    Myth #8: The first two weeks aren’t that bad. – To that, I laugh….a very, very, weary and tired laugh.

  13. Jeremy says:

    On the topic of cloth diapers – I hear a lot of people saying they don’t have time. Here in tiny Portland Maine we have a business that will pickup, launder and deliver cloth diapers. I’m sure there are simular businesses in other areas. The cost per diaper was about 2 cents cheaper than ‘no brand’ disposable diapers.

  14. Angela says:

    While I agree that it is very easy to spend a ton of money unnecessarily on the “cute and fun new baby gear” I do think babies put a big hit on a family budget. As some folks before me have said, childcare, doctors visits, pharmacy runs…all of that stuff adds up. In my experience(and that of breeder friends), we bought very little in the way of clothes, toys and hardware. The Grandparent Income Credit took care of that. However, we did find that the money value of time went up. In other words, it became worth it for us to trade money for time, just because time is in such short supply. I am (perhaps overly) cautious about giving the impression that babies are low-impact financially. Because I think that a couple that finds themselves in a situation with little in the way of breathing room will find that first year of childrearing even more stressful than all the books tell you.

  15. Amanda Kerik says:

    Another resource for getting low-cost supplies is “Freecycle” ( ) – find your local version (it’s usually in Yahoo Groups), sign up and post what you need… or want to get rid of.
    I got a lot of stuff from Freecycle when my little one was coming – so much that I went through some of it and put it back on Freecycle.
    Freecycle’s great for people who don’t have enough stuff to have a yard sale, but still want to get rid of it.

  16. Summer says:

    This is a great article! I’ve managed to have 2 sons so far on a very tight budget and still get them everything they needed and more by being smart and frugal.

    And i wanted to say that while washing cloth diapers might not be fun, buying or making them sure can be addictive! There are so many cute styles/pattern/kinds!

  17. wonderwahine says:

    I have a 19mth old, and my husband was laid off when I was 5mths pregnant, with no work visa or SSN#. We made it through with the help of freinds, and if it hadnt been for breastfeeding, and my careful and thrifty planning of buying clothes at thrift stores and garage sales before we conceived, we wouldnt have made it.

    As for some of the comments being made about breastfeeding, it isnt that hard. A very very small percentage of women actually have problems that cant be fixed with support and patience. Alot of problems are made by the parent/drs/nurses/family members themselves, by giving a pacifier or bottle to soon.

  18. wonderwahine says:

    Oh, and I still save money, my son exclusivly breastfeed until 13mths old, and still only eats solids twice a day. He is a very healthy child, who has hit all his milestones and is in no way starving.

  19. PiggyBank Raider says:

    WOW! Thanks for this list. I was thinking about waiting to have kids because of the money factor… but maybe Hubby and I can afford them (as long as we’re careful). I prefer cloth diapers anyway… more eco-friendly.

  20. Sarah says:

    So true, so true!!

    I find it interesting how everyone says “oh but what if you can’t breastfeed???” when 97% of women are able to breastfeed… 😉

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  22. Renee says:

    TRUE TRUE….love it.

    YES almost ALL women CAN breastfeed. If not society would not be here today!! DUH!

    We don’t NEED most of the baby STUFF. No crib, swing, bouncy seat, exersaucer, bassinet at our house!

    CD’s…..HUGE savings….we are now using our set of CD’s on our 3rd child! Less than $500 spent diapering 3 kids. ECing makes it even less.

    New babies cost almost nothing for us…we homebirth…no special test, we cosleep and use homeopathics/herbs, we breastfeed exclusively, etc etc!

    The majority of our montly budge goes to fresh local organic foods! No need for health care costs when you eat well!

  23. talkstotrees says:

    I can’t help but comment on this blog. My dh and I are raising 4 children, and until last year never made over 24K. It CAN be done.

    1.This has been discussed ad nauseum. I wish those who didn’t breastfeed would shut up already about how “hard” it is. Had you done it, been dedicated to it, and accepted the consequences of it, you wouldn’t be so smug.
    I feed my family on $100 week. We eat very very well.

    2.We spent less than $5oo on clothes and shoes in the first 8 years–all four of our children were born in that time. It’s amazing what you can find if you stop being brand conscious and learn how to sew.

    3.Cloth is ok, store brands of disposable diapers work just as well as the name brands, too. Cloth wipes aren’t an inconvenience and will save you tons.

    4.Living on the cheap brings out one’s creative side.

    5.What the blogger said.

    6.If you don’t drink, smoke or do drugs, cosleeping is best for baby. Don’t like the inconvenience? Why did you become a parent if you thought it was going to be CONVENIENT?

    7.It took 10 years to get a good night’s sleep. And it was worth it knowing I never let them cry to vomiting or stood outside a bedroom door crying myself because *someone* told me to “sleep train” them.

    I never had to work full time. We bought a house that needed fixing. We’ve never owned a new car. We bought a business and made it successful. And we sacrificed. When our kids are grown, they won’t ever know what it is to be spoiled or come home to an empty house. And they will never miss what we “couldn’t provide.”

  24. Matias says:

    Speaking is free. Please, read some scientific papers first and them jump to conclusions. This is one of the problems of the internet, speaking without the facts. It´s not so easy to breastfeed, please, go to
    this paper gives you an explanation and real numbers about this issue, published in very good scientific magazine.
    I am not against breatfeeding, it´s the best way for your baby to grow healthy, but please, don´t claim that” 97% of women are able to breastfeed” so easy. There are a lot of other issues that dimminish this number.

  25. Jaye says:

    This equation doesn’t seem to factor in the years after babyhood. Yes, I did a lot of breast feeding and 2nd hand store shopping. I rarely bought store baby food. I felt great about those choices and probably a little smug.

    However, now that my kids are 6, 9 and 11, I am paying for orthodonture, camps, after school activities, sports, etc. In years past, we paid for nursery school. In order to send our kids to good public schools, we had to move 3 years ago. That was a huge expense (though undoubtedly worth it!) Now we are paying high taxes to subsidize the great schools (again, worth it.) I still buy used clothing when possible and make the kids lunches but it really is hard to keep the costs down. At the rate they’re growing and eating they’re just plain expensive!

    Teri’s point about health insurance was a great one. It was costing us about $20K a year for our family of 5. My husband changed jobs (he had been self-employed) in order to offset that cost.

    Dare I mention college?

    Focussing on the first few months or years really makes no sense. You need to focus on the future if you’re trying to estimate the “cost” of having kids. That said, I’m sure glad I didn’t!

  26. talkstotrees says:

    Not to beat a dead horse, Matias, but the reasons given in that paper are socio-economic and cultural, not biological. The ability and the desire to breastfeed are two different things.

    Kids do get more expensive, but most of those things are choices you make. Tuition, camps, daycare, all of these are personal choices. We paid tuition and were making 18K/yr–yes really! College? Anyone here pay for it themselves? My parents did. The only reason I didn’t was because my mother worked at one, had she not, I would have paid for it myself, too. College is not a right, and not every kid should go. What happened to working for what you get? My 12yo works for the extras he wants, every Saturday.

  27. Summer says:

    Matias, perhaps you should read the papers that you link to before you link to them. The article in question has nothing to do with being biologically able to breastfeed. Biologically speaking 97% of women are able to breastfeed.

    Think logically for a moment. If breastfeeding was so difficult for so many women how did the human race survive to this point?

  28. Bob says:

    About Myth #3 – the British government did a study on the environmental impact of cloth vs. disposable, and found neither had a significant advantage. Disposable created landfill waste and used plastic. Cloth, however, used significantly more energy and water per use than disposable through cleaning and washing.

  29. Matias says:

    Hi, perhaps I was misundestood. What I mean with the paper is that it is a scientific fact that not all of the 97% of the women able to breastfeed are actuallly doing it. It doesn´t matter the reason, it is just this way. So, when you are saying that 97% of women are “able” to breastfeed you are not talking about the real data, there are lots of other circunstances that put down that number. It´s like saying “95% of the population can eat healthy”. It seems obvious, but the real thing is that there are other problems (they don´t like the food, etc) that put that number away.
    Now, I was clear enough? but I don´t want to offend anyone, so forgive me if somebody felt bad.

  30. Angela says:

    To the poster who asked “Why did you become a parent if you thought it was going to be CONVENIENT?”

    One could equally reasonably ask, Why did you become a parent to be cheap about it?

    I understand the point you are trying to make but I think you come across as unnecessarily brusque. And as somebody who remains 100% committed to breastfeeding, but had a devil of a time with it, I continue to find almost all public forum commentary on the subject less than useless. I spent north of 6 months with a manual breast pump – the last 2 months of that time spent working full time. Did I breast feed my baby? I’d say yes. Would I wish that experience on my worst enemy? Not on your life.
    I still say that Jaye’s got it right. It’s ridiculous to think about the cost of parenting from the perspective of having a baby in the house. Babies are cheap, all things considered. A couple of college students get expensive pretty dang quick.

  31. RK says:

    Ok, how about babysitters and/or daycare? That will be expensive, no matter how you look at it unless you have a huge family who don’t work and would love to babysit for free. The other thing is that after 3 or so, you’re going to want your child to be involved is after-school activities such as music and or sports….THAT will empty your pockets completely! So, maybe having a BABY isn’t that expensive but having a child is.

  32. hailey says:

    #3 i couldn’t help but notice someone actually thinks you have to have a washer or dryer to use cloth diapers. rinse well and you have to go to the laundry mat anyway so take the extra 2 loads a week cloth create. or invest in a diaper service still cheaper than disposables and you do not have to buy or clean anything they do that for you.

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