10 Newborn Costs That Took Me by Surprise
When you’re expecting a little bundle of joy, there are a myriad of costs that you know to expect. Diapers, for one. There are the things that you choose to go without — a wipe warmer, for example. And then there are the costs that you don’t see coming. (See also: 5 Places to Get Cheaper Diapers)
Here are some potential needs to budget for when your little one arrives.
1. Extra Special Delivery
Literally nothing went the way I thought it would the day my daughter was delivered. Oh, sure, we had a birth plan all written out, but when it came time for her to make her grand entrance, well, she had other ideas. After 21 hours, I finally ended up in the operating room, having a C-section at 3:00 a.m.
I haven’t even started seeing the majority of the bills from my actual pregnancy (such is the lag time with our insurance company), but given how stingy our insurance is, my guess is that our three-day stay in the hospital is going to cost a pretty penny.
Of course, one never knows how childbirth is going to go, so don't let the possibility of an emergency C-section stress you out as you prepare to deliver.
2. Extra Medications
You might have been planning on a natural delivery and ended up with something less than ideal. Although insurance may cover most of the cost of your pain meds, be prepared to pay a copay for whatever prescription your doctor sends you home with. If you are suffering from post-partum depression, you’ll need to carefully take all medications prescribed to you.
The benefit of extra meds is that if you don't take them, you can always sell them on the black market.
I'm kidding, don't do that. But seriously, what am I going to do with this Percocet?
3. Towels, Blankets, and Linens
"The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy" covered this pretty well — never go anywhere without a towel. Or, in the case of caring for a newborn infant, hundreds of towels.
I stocked up on a couple dozen plain white hand towels from Costco a couple of weeks before giving birth, more or less on a whim, suspecting that they might come in handy. After her birth I found that I had to nearly quadruple my stock of hand towels and receiving blankets, because we go through at least a dozen of them per day. Newborns are notorious for spitting up, and our daughter is no exception. This isn't a huge cost, probably less than $100, but I sure didn't see it coming.
You may be one of the lucky people who have dozens of friends and neighbors delivering homemade meals to help you through the first few weeks of parenthood. Or you might not know anyone who lives near you and have to provide for yourself. If you planned ahead and froze a few dozen casseroles, congratulations on being so organized! If you’re like me, and you bought approximately a week’s worth of food, you may find yourself ordering out more than you initially planned.
Add to this the cost of feeding grandparents, aunts, uncles, and anyone else who might be staying with you during your infant inauguration, and you can see grocery bills easily double. This increased cost is most likely offset by the savings in childcare (since you’ll have all that in-home help), but it can still strain the wallet.
5. Gas, Water, and Sewer Bills
Babies love to expel things from every part of their bodies. This is pretty much all a baby needs to do to qualify as a baby. As such, you will find yourself doing billions of loads of laundry during the first week home with baby.
Oh, and sterilizing bottles and nipples? You will run your dishwasher, and your kitchen sink, more than you ever thought possible.
If you’re lucky enough to have friends or family staying with you to help out for the first few days or weeks of your baby’s life, then you’ll likely notice another uptick in the water/sewer, gas, and electricity bills.
I had personally planned on exclusively breastfeeding my daughter. We’ve all heard about the benefits of breastfeeding, but unfortunately, no one informed my breasts of these benefits. As such, I’ve been forced to feed my baby girl formula — which isn’t cheap. We chose the same brand that our hospital used, and purchase the pre-mixed, ready-to-use servings as a convenience measure. This convenience costs us roughly $1.50 per feeding at the current rate.
7. Breastfeeding Accouterments
Even if you don’t have trouble producing breast milk, breastfeeding isn’t always easy. Many new mothers find that they have trouble getting their babies to latch properly. Finding a good feeding positing and location can also be tough. I had always assumed that breastfeeding would be as easy as holding a baby up to my boobs, but it turns out that it takes a lot of paraphernalia for some babies. Specialized pillows, nipples guards, creams and ointments to soothe sore breasts (some infants are really big chompers), nursing bras, and gel inserts all add up.
If you, like me, are not able to produce much breast milk, you might find yourself shelling out big bucks to try to up your production levels. From fenugreek tablets ($1 per day) to prescription drugs like metoclopramide ($30 per month), getting the milk glands to cooperate can be pricey. Add to this the cost of renting a hospital-grade breast pump ($95 per month at my local women’s clinic), and the costs can really add up.
8. Everything You Scoffed at BEFORE Baby Arrived
I tried desperately to keep my baby supplies to a minimum. I purchased all baby clothes used, in lots, from eBay, getting a full year’s wardrobe for less than $100. My husband and I did spend some serious dough on a good car seat and stroller (the kind that lasts up to three years), and we bought an automatic baby swing that my mother refers to as a “Baby Cadillac.” It’s a great place to set the baby down when I’m working but want to keep an eye on her and want her to stay asleep for a bit.
And we bought diapers and wipes and receiving blankets, but we turned our nose up at things like a wipe warmer, unaware that our daughter would shriek like a deranged banshee the moment a room-temp wipe touched her delicate little tush. Slowly warming the wipes in my hands is a bit time-consuming, and watching my baby howl while her teeth chatter is disheartening. Besides, a wipe warmer costs, like, $20.
So, I cracked. I bought a wipe warmer. And diaper changes are as pleasant as can be now.
9. Hired Help
You may have pictured your first few weeks as a new parent passing by in a blissful haze of baby kisses and warm snuggles. But sometime around the fifth day of baby, it may dawn on you that you have about seven million errands to run.
People will often tell you that attending to your newborn is the most important task and that “everything else can wait.” Let the dishes pile up in the sink!, they say. Let the laundry go undone, they tell you. The problem with this advice is that you can’t really clothe your baby if you don’t do laundry. It’s hard to swaddle your newborn if all of her blankets are covered in baby barf at the bottom of the laundry pile.
There are some tasks that need doing. And if you don’t have help from friends and family during the first few weeks, you may find that you need to outsource the tasks to a professional. Whether it’s hiring a house cleaner for a couple of hours per week, hiring a gopher for errands, or paying a professional babysitter to watch your baby while you run around town getting your meds, food, and pet supplies, extra help can be a lifesaver — and a significant cost.
10. Health Insurance
Insuring a dependent can vary from reasonable to outrageous in today’s America. My husband’s company offers a healthcare plan that covers dependents, but the premiums are much more than I was expecting, and they seem to go up every year. Check with your employer (or, if self-employed, shop around!) to see what kind of coverage both parents have before deciding on a plan.
Wise Bread readers, what costs shocked you as a new parent?