Stroller? Check. Crib? Got it. A dresser full of onesies? Covered. If you’ve got a bundle of joy on the way, you already know to pick up these new-baby essentials.
But while most parents-to-be are prepared to shell out for the basics, they either underestimate or don’t anticipate surprise costs that crop up, sometimes even before their little one comes into the world. If you’re expecting, carve some room in your budget for these under-the-radar expenses the baby books don't always tell you about.
1. Third-Trimester Treats
You may not have realized it way back when that pink line showed up on the pregnancy test but carrying a growing human being in your belly gets more and more uncomfortable as the due date creeps up.
To ease this late-pregnancy discomfort, expect to pay — for grocery delivery, prenatal spa sessions and even emergency Oreo runs when comfort-food cravings kick in, says Liz Tenety, a cofounder of the parenting site Motherly. It might seem frivolous, but these indulgences can make a huge difference for achy or hormonal moms-to-be.
2. Unexpected Feeding-Related Costs
If you plan to breastfeed, you probably aren’t budgeting much for baby food, since your body will produce all the nourishment your newborn needs for free. But as many mothers find out, nursing doesn’t always come easy.
In that case, you may need the help of a lactation consultant, says Jill Koziol, also a Motherly cofounder. Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurers are required to pay for lactation counseling services and breastfeeding supplies, like pumps, except in the case of grandfathered plans. However, it may be difficult to find a consultant who lives in your area and who takes your insurance.
Going out-of-network could run you up to $300 for home visits and ongoing support, Koziol says. But the help can be worth the investment, so it’s smart to work money for it into your budget, just in case. If lactating just isn’t happening, formula becomes essential. But be prepared to pay for it, says Andrew McFadden, CFP®, of Panoramic Financial Advice, whose specialties include financial planning for parents. Costs vary, but on average, formula could cost you close to $2,000 for one year.
3. Middle-of-the-Night Sleep Remedies
You know the phrase “sleep like a baby?” Whoever coined it probably didn’t have one. At some point in your new-parent life, you’ll find yourself frantically combing big box baby-gear aisles for a miracle swaddle, swing or other contraption that will soothe your crying child. If that product doesn’t do the trick, out of sleepless desperation, you’ll buy another one and another, too bleary-eyed to look at the price tag.
“Bad sleep can have negative effects on your work, parenting, health and marriage,” McFadden says. “So it isn’t out of the question to put some decent cash toward a remedy for a baby that cries a lot and won’t sleep.” That said, don't fall for expensive gimmicks that prey on sleep-deprived parents.
Between constant feedings and diaper changes, babies aren’t expected to snooze through the night anyway and need a few months to develop a relatively consistent sleep pattern. If you decide to try out a sleep soother, ask other new parents for a recommendation or check out online ratings, then go with the one that seems to have the most success.
4. Parent-Child Classes
Even if you don’t think you’re the mommy-and-me (or daddy-and-me) type, your attitude will likely change when you're suddenly hit with an intense desire to actually leave your house. Plus, it’ll restore your sanity to socialize with other new parents who also want to share baby-focused tips and cute stories.
“Parent-child play classes are wonderful bonding opportunities for mothers and fathers, but that often means dropping a few hundred bucks every few months,” Tenety says. Do some online research on neighborhood organizations (the local Y or JCC is a good place to start) or ask around at the playground to find out what’s available and what the costs are.
5. Child Care
Every expectant mom and dad knows they have to set aside money for a nanny, day care or to cover the loss of income if one parent quits their gig to take care of the baby full-time. But it’s the astronomical price tag of these options that hits new parents like a ton of bricks.
“The cost of child care throws a lot of parents,” says financial planner Julie Ford, CFP®, founder of Ford Financial Solutions. “This often doesn’t start for a few months after the baby arrives, but this is probably the largest ongoing expense related to babies.” It’s all too easy to under-budget for child care expenses — for instance, if you end up waitlisted for the day care in your price range and quickly have to enroll at another with a higher fee.
McFadden suggests comparing the costs of different types of care: In-home day care, he notes, tends to be less pricey than the kind offered by a church or school. It’s also smart to set aside some cash for a night nurse or mother’s helper. You may need to hire someone for a couple hours a day just so you can get a nap, McFadden says.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.