Breaking news: Kids are expensive.
Obviously, we're kidding—it's no news that kids make an impact on even the most padded of bank accounts. The USDA estimates that it costs about $226,920 to raise a child in America, and that's from birth to 18 (with college tuition conspicuously excluded).
So it's also no surprise that many spending decisions parents make can be controversial: Not only are we constantly asking ourselves whether something is really worth the money, we're also judging each others' decisions.
We can't give you any definitive answers on how you should spend your money, because that's a personal decision. From a certain angle, everything seems worthwhile when it comes to our kids, especially if we have enough discretionary (read: fun) money to play with.
But, definitive answers aside, there are a few new parental spending trends that made us pause and think: Really? Below, the most highly debated expenses in the momosphere, along with real moms' opinions for and against.
What do you think? Tell us in the comments, below.
Professional Pregnancy Portraits
The Trend: Moms-to-be are flocking to portrait studios and professional photographers for their pregnancy pics. Depending on where you live, a 45-minute to one-hour studio session could easily cost $450, with longer sessions often topping out at more than $1,000. Once, we even saw an all-day shoot in New York City that cost over $7,000!
Pro-Portraits: For some moms, a portrait is a treasured keepsake: "Pregnancy is no longer something you hide behind oversized maternity wear. Professional portraits have become an extension of the celebration, allowing women to capture that excitement in a way that is beautiful and frameable ... forever! " -Tracy C.
Anti-Portrait: But for others, it's going a little too far: "Everyone was posting portraits to my pregnancy forum, and I didn't want do what everyone else was doing. For me, professional portraits are like baby footprints or tattoos—just another over-the-top, completely unnecessary item. A photo taken by a relative is good enough." -Toni L.
Gender Reveal Cakes
The Trend: Some pregnant couples invite family and friends to bite into blue-or-pink-colored cupcakes or cake ("gender reveal cakes") to reveal the gender of the baby. In extreme cases, we've heard of doctors writing the gender down without telling the parents, then handing it over to a bakery to create a dessert with appropriately-colored filling. The cost depends on the bakery, but usually is the same as most custom cakes and is determined by size: $3 to $5 per serving is common.
Pro-Cake: Some parents get joy out of sharing their announcement with others ... or just think it's funny! "Before the birth of my daughter, we revealed the gender to family and friends by passing out vanilla cake cupcakes with pink filling. We thought it was funnier to see everyone's excitement while their mouths were full!" - Carla A.
Anti-Cake: Others consider it a stunt to make another day all about them. "Gender reveal cakes are just a symbol of how self-obsessed people become when they are expecting. It's like they are in a trance and they think everyone else cares as much as they do about every last detail." - Jen D.
The Dadchelor Party
The Trend: Also known as the Daddymoon, it’s the male equivalent of a baby shower—except with more alcohol. Fathers-to-be gather with friends to toast the end of their pre-baby life, anywhere from the living room at home to a Vegas casino. Depending on the dad, prices can parallel bachelor party costs (though perhaps involving fewer $1 bills).
Pro-Party: Some moms say that they see this celebration of the transition to fatherhood as a sign that their partners will be involved parents. Some even capitalize on the event by having each guest bring a package of diapers as a gift (we even heard of one poker game using diapers as the buy-in). "It's nice to see a dad owning his role, however he chooses to do it. At the very least, it should get me some alone time!" - Katie W.
Anti-Party: Other expectant mothers bristle at the idea of male partners partying while they hold it together through the final months of pregnancy."A party for my husband while I'm eight months pregnant? You've got to be kidding me. After I have the baby, then it's time to celebrate." - Alex S.
The Facts: A push present (or “baby bauble”) is a gift given to the mother by her partner, after the baby's birth. According to a 2007 Baby Center survey, 38% of new mothers received a push present after delivery, and 55% of pregnant women hoped they would. Presents can range from a $10 bouquet of flowers to jewelry priced in the thousands.
Pro-Present: For many moms, push presents are well-deserved: "After nine months of watching your body drastically change, and not for the good, it's nice to know that your husband appreciates what you have sacrificed to have his child." - Jana L.
Anti-Present: As The New York Times once wrote, "A bundle of joy isn’t enough?" One mom we spoke with echoes those sentiments, saying "Push presents are one of the most ridiculous ideas yet. A gift for having a baby? Ummm ... not my thing at all."
Baby Expenses Stressing You Out?
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The Trend: Cuddling just isn’t cutting it anymore. Parents who have infants with sleep, eating or other issues can send their kids to infant therapy, which was originally developed to help children exhibiting early signs of emotional or developmental problems. A single hour-long session can cost anywhere from $50 to $150, depending on your location and therapist.
Pro-Therapy: Some parents simply want to get a jump on conscientious parenting, and the peace of mind that comes from a therapist confirming that Baby is just fine. "I didn't do it, but I know that I would give my kid every advantage. And if I thought he needed therapy as an infant to be healthier or happier, I would do it in a heartbeat." - Holly E.
Anti-Therapy: While therapy is a medical necessity for some babies (and we always encourage following the recommendations of your doctor), those who value old-school parenting can’t imagine spending that money to diagnose suspected issues of an infant who's probably just fine. One mom asked us: "What could an infant possibly need a therapist for? It's an unhealthy way for parents to get out of being parents."
Let us know in the comments: How do you feel about these controversial things parents spend money on—and have you heard talk of any others?
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