My oldest child is already 11 years old. However, I still have many vivid memories from when she was just a newborn. From carrying her in the car seat from the hospital to the parking garage for the very first time, to my wife and I struggling to get her asleep, there’s no experience quite like parenting for the very first time. We tried to prepare as best we could before she was born. But nothing truly gets you ready for all the surprises that raising a new baby will throw at you. Chief among those surprises are a litany of new baby expenses. We’re sure you already know that having a family will come with new costs. However, do you really know about every little peripheral cost that is going to spring up? Many of them took us by surprise.
If you are having (or expecting) a baby, you probably already have an idea of what your insurance and medical costs will be when your new addition arrives. There are many other bills you’ll see come your way too. Here are some of the other costs that you may not think to budget for and in the weeks and months after you welcome the little one home.
Parking and Food
Most babies in the U.S. are still born in hospitals. Whether you’re only there overnight or for a few days, the costs can add up. Most hospitals charge for parking, which can quickly become a large expense. While mom and baby rest, recover, and get acquainted, it’s often left to dad to run in and out for various things — snacks, clothes, diapers, or even the cell phone charger you left at home. That’s a lot of in and out of the parking lot.
You should also remember that the hospital is only going to provide meals for the patient — that is, the mother. Any other family members will be at the mercy of the vending machines or cafeteria. Both of those tend to be extra expensive. The other common option is fast food. After all, meal planning and grocery shopping hardly seems like a priority when there’s a brand new baby to attend to.
It’s a great idea to pack a small bag of snacks ahead of time. This will minimize the expensive hospital munchies. As an added bonus, there’s a good chance that the new mom will still be hungry after those meager hospital meals. So cost-effective snacks are essential.
One of the best ways that family and friends can help out when a new baby is born is by dropping off pre-made (or frozen) meals to the new family. There’s enough to worry about when you first bring the baby home without adding cooking to the mix. If you are lucky enough to live in the same city as the majority of your family, hopefully they can help full your freezer for those first few weeks. That will give you some time to master the art of cooking with one hand.
If you’re not lucky enough to have this kind of support, it will cost you. Many families with new babies fall back on carryout and delivery. You’re already exhausted enough, so isn’t it just easier to order pizza for the third night in a row? It definitely is, but it’s also not cheap. We know those first weeks and months are hard. So don’t feel any shame in firing up the Uber Eats app when you and your partner are (once again) too tired to cook. Just know that it’s going to cause an extra dent in your budget.
Who would have thought you’d need to pay someone to help teach a new mother how to breastfeed their child? It actually happens a lot, since nursing can be a tricky skill to learn. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone. When our daughter was born, we struggled with this a lot. We became so frustrated that we gave in and sought professional help. That prompted multiple visits to a lactation consultant. Yes, one visit was not enough.
The trips were expensive. Like, really expensive. They probably aren’t covered by your health insurance, either. Still, we were relieved when our baby finally got the hang of it and was eating healthily. When you have a new baby and are feeling hopeless about something like nursing, cost concerns go out the door. You’ll pay pretty much anything to get the issue fixed.
Having someone living in your home (a new baby and at least one parent, for example) 24/7 can make a big difference in your utility bills. This is especially true if you have your baby in the dead of winter or the middle of summer. The comfort of Mom and baby are very important (especially for sleeping), so it can be a shock to receive those first post-baby energy bills.
Normally, we only turn on the air conditioning in the middle of the summer. All that changed after my son was born. His room was on top of the garage. That area of the house gets really hot for some reason, especially at night. That meant a lot of extra hours cranking the A/C to make sure he didn’t wake up, sweaty and crying.
It really jacked up our utility costs, because we essentially tripled the hours our A/C was on. Your mileage will vary of course, depending on what climate you live in. However, you should plan to pay more now that there are more people in the house.
Many baby-related items run on batteries — from baby swings to breast pumps. You will feel like you’re constantly changing batteries. Our first child would only nap in her baby swing for a while. We were basically keeping the battery companies in business by ourselves, it seemed.
If you want to go green and save a few bucks, you can opt for rechargeable batteries. They will cut down on waste and expense. However, they are just another thing to keep track of. (Did you charge the dead batteries? Did you accidently unplug the charger to plug in the night light? Wouldn’t buying regular batteries just be less of a hassle?)
Baby Product Mistakes
There are so many baby products out there. It can be very difficult to know ahead of time exactly what you will need. Even more so, it’s impossible to predict which products you’ll actually use on a regular basis. You will inevitably take more a few chances on a new bib/highchair/sippy cup/whatever, only to realize your baby hates it or that it doesn’t work nearly as well as advertised.
You’ll certainly end up buying baby items that end up barely used. As your children get older, you’ll spend money on toys that are almost immediately tossed aside and forgotten. (Pro tip: buy used toys, when possible.) There’s no way around it. You just have to deal with the sunk cost. You should try to build a little bit of a financial cushion for these sorts of mistakes — and always save your receipts, in case you can return the things you end up not using.
Get ready. You will be doing loads and loads of laundry. And no, not just your new baby’s clothes. You’ll also be changing your own attire more often, since your baby will definitely get spit up, formula, and various other fluids on your clothes regularly. It happens to every parent, but it will definitely seem like a never ending stream of washing, drying, and folding.
The additional laundry will not only require more laundry detergent, but it will also up your water and electric bill too. Especially if you still wash in warm or hot water. (You should really switch to cold water, if you haven’t already). If you rely on a laundromat to do your laundry, start saving your quarters. You’re going to need them.
Birthday Party Costs
Birthday parties are wonderful, creating memories that your family will cherish for years. But they are also wonderfully expensive. From decorations and food, to party favors and gifts, be prepared to spend a mini-fortune every year. And that’s assuming you aren’t also paying for a party package from one your local businesses (movie theaters, indoor playgrounds, laser tag, bowling, etc).
Sometimes, the worst part is that it seems like the parents are subconsciously trying to constantly one-up each other. So each party needs to be a little more lavish that the last. (Or your children get old enough to ask for something that another kid experienced, like inviting their whole class to the arcade for three hours — on your dime, of course.)
Even if you don’t host crazy birthday parties for your own children, they will make friends their age. That means you’ll be buying a new gift every time your child brings home a party invite from school. It’s fun, wonderful, and exciting for your little one. It just ends up costing a bundle.
Every parent knows they will need a car seat for their newborn. What you might not know, though, is that you’ll actually need multiple car seats. As your baby grows, they switch from rear facing to front facing seats. Then they switch to a high-backed booster seat. Then eventually just a regular booster seat. And if you have more than one vehicle? Well, it’s easier to just buy two than to constantly be switching them in and out of your various backseats.
Sure, sometimes you can buy products that convert from one type of seat to the next. However, they are also more expensive. You may think you can use some hand-me-downs (or pass the car seats from your first child down to your second). However, car seat technology improves all the time, so you’ll probably want the latest (ie, safest) model for your precious passenger.
Did you know that some babies refuse to drink from a bottle unless they are outfitted with a specific size/shape/brand of bottle nipple? It can be infuriating. To add insult to injury, you won’t even know which brand they prefer until you’ve tried a half dozen or so. (Or maybe you’ll get lucky and buy the “right” one from the hop.)
Before I had kids of my own, I would have called you crazy if you told me that I’d have to buy every brand of bottle nipple in the aisle. Even worse, I ended up throwing most of them away. But that’s exactly what happened when my daughter was born. And that’s even factoring the extra costs for formula, which isn’t cheap either.
Even if date nights weren’t your thing before your family expanded beyond two, it’s a safe bet that you (and your partner) will need a break at some point. While taking care of a new baby can seem like a 24/7 job, it’s important to remember that you still exist as an individual — you’re not just a feeder/snuggler/diaper changer.
So go ahead and hire a sitter or leave Junior with his grandparents for a night. Go out to dinner, grab a movie, or go dancing — do whatever you enjoyed as a couple before that baby started monopolizing all your free time and spare energy. But that babysitter doesn’t work for free. And those post-dinner drinks aren’t cheap either. So make sure you keep some money in your budget for date nights. They are more important than you might think.
Everything Else in the House
It’s incredible how destructive babies (and kids in general) can be to everything in the house. Don’t be surprised if you need to replace broken dishes or repaint the walls every couple of years. Once, I even had to buy a new TV remote because my son managed to break it by constantly dropping it on the floor. If your baby (or toddler) can get their hands on something, there’s a good chance they will mistreat it.
You can attempt to baby proof your house. It will help a little bit. It will keep your child safe, but hopefully it also helps keeps your belongings safe too — from the tiny terror stalking the house! Lots of parents don’t even bother owning expensive things (leather furniture, for example) while their children are small. Can’t say we really blame them, honestly.
The Bottom Line
Having a baby is an amazing thing. There’s really no feeling like parenting. It’s so rewarding when things go smoothly. However, raising a baby on a tight budget can be stressful. The big change in your life will come with major financial adjustments too. You need to be prepared for all of the expected costs, but also the unexpected ones too. And boy, there sure are a lot of them.
What other unexpected expenses cropped up when you had a baby?