Babies change your budget. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a saver or a spender, some of the money that you were previously socking away in your bank account or splurging on eating out all the time will now be earmarked for your tiny human. The tiny human can cost a little or a lot depending on how you handle things, and if you’re in a position where you can get a lot of hand-me-downs it’ll help tremendously! But there are a few wallet hits that will surprise most new moms. Not the big ticket items like childcare. Whether one parent stays home, you hire a nanny, or you find a daycare, it’s going to be expensive. The ones that sneak up on you most are the ones you don’t know about until you or a family member or friend you spend lots of time with has a baby.
There dozens of stroller brands, probably hundreds of models, and at least ten distinct categories. If you do not have a baby, you do not know the difference between a forward-facing or a modular stroller, what makes a stroller convertible, or what features enable you to run with your stroller (and by that I mean run a few miles, not across the street). You would probably be shocked to learn that the Baby Jogger brand sells many, many strollers which, in the fine print, are NOT meant to be running strollers. I’ll talk about how to choose the best stroller for your needs and budget in a future post, but the number one thing to remember is, do some research before you hit up the nearest Buy Buy Baby. Many families wind up with multiple strollers until they hit the one they really like and use, and that can be really expensive. Also, if you plan in advance, you can lower your outlay on a higher-end new strollers through stacking gift cards and coupons or registry discounts, or keep an eagle eye out for a deal on a barely-used model on your local Facebook trading group, which are often littered with them listed at 50% or less of retail prices.
Props to moms who cloth diaper. I am not one of them. We did our homework and found that Amazon Mom had the best deals (20% off Amazon prices if you have a Prime membership and use Subscribe and Save). We used one of the major brands for a few months, dealing with our fair share of blowouts. Then, we started using Honest Company diapers. They are pricier than the rest, which can be mitigated somewhat by taking advantage of discounts and deals. But in four months of using them, we have had two leaks. Our current strategy is to use Honest diapers until our baby does his business that day, then switch to regular diapers until nighttime, to maximize our diaper dollars. But you can’t underestimate the power of not having to worry so much about a blowout until you’re changing a dirty diaper with your baby laying on the grass in the park, and realizing not only did he leak all over his onesie, you didn’t bring a spare outfit because you’re only ten minutes from home and there’s a giant stain spreading up the back.
Not for the baby, for me. Why, you might ask? Because as a nursing mom, you don’t stop eating for two when your baby is born. You’re their sole source of nutrition for the first six months of life (the AAP recommends starting baby on solids around the 6 month mark these days). And you’ll be providing the bulk of their daily calories until they’re a year old. I trained for and ran eight half marathons in the three years before having my son, as well as dozens of other races. I consistently eat more on a daily basis as a nursing mom, even though I’m jogging about half the number of miles I used to run weekly right now. Even with a Costco membership, those snacks add up. I eat a diner-size breakfast plate every morning, snack all day, and have another big plate for dinner. (On the flipside, we now eat out maybe once a month, and only go to the diner or a pizza place, because we find it’s just not worth it to take the baby to a restaurant, entertain him, wolf down our food and get out of there before he gets stir-crazy or it’s time for his nap or bedtime).
I’ll be back to talk about ways you can save on all this stuff, but it’s best to know what you’re up against first! Is there any particular cost you were surprised by when you had a baby?
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