Caring for an infant in the first year can be expensive if parents are not careful to focus on essential elements of care that the child needs, or if they opt for extras such as buying in help, gadgets or the like. However, the basic costs to provide an excellent level of care in the first year, can actually be very low.
Depending on your lifestyle there are various costs that you will need to budget for.
1. Nappies. Nappies can be the biggest expense for parents especially when they use the disposable type that infants get through at a rapid rate and which must be changed often to ensure the child does not get rashes or experience discomfort. While disposable nappies vary greatly in cost any disposable is going to be far more expensive than a cloth nappy that is washed and re-used. Parents can buy a dozen cloth nappies, plastic pilchers pants and some pins (or plastic grips) to hold the nappies and so long as they have a place to wash and dry nappies they have covered all basic nappy costs until the child needs a slightly larger size of pilchers. Whichever way a parent goes they will need to budget for nappies.
2. Food. Mothers who breastfeed are spared the expense of buying powered formula, although at around six or eight months of age the parent will need to consider starting the child on solid food. The infant does not need large quantities and can eat “normal” adult food that the parent consumes and in fact this is advised slowly introducing the child to a healthy diet making sure to avoid some foods like eggs until they are more than 12 months. Whether a parent breastfeeds or bottle feeds they will need to consider food for the child.
3. Clothes and wraps. Infants need to be kept at a suitable temperature especially protecting them from extremes of heat or cold and parents will need to make sure that they have clothes that the child can wear. Cute designer clothes and outfits can get very expensive but an infant usually needs no more than the basics. Newborns spend a lot of time sleeping and a nice wrap – cotton in the hot weather and woolen in the cold weather – will help protect them from the elements.
4. Medical bills. Infants can sometimes have medical bills – from hospital costs when they are born, to immunizations and check-ups. What is due will depend upon local health care system. In Australia all basic costs will be covered by the public health care system although parents can opt to pay for private treatment and get private rooms in hospitals and so on. Immunizations can also be accessed freely at child health clinics at certain times or the parent can opt to pay and visit a doctor at a time of their choosing. Medical insurance can also make a difference as to what costs parents need to include in their budget.
5. Childcare. Parents may want to budget for baby-sitting costs in the first year. If a parent is not working childcare may be an optional extra to give the parents some relief, but if both parents are working it will be a necessary on-going expense since infants cannot be left unattended even for short periods while they are sleeping.
6. Shelter and cots. Infants need to have appropriate shelter in a house although they do not need a room of their own. Cots are often a good idea since they have railings that prevent the child falling from the bed while sleeping, although infants can do well on more makeshift beds that are safe. Some parents forget that the child will only use the cot for a short time and spent large amounts on furniture accessories that are not really essential.
7. Transport. Infants often enjoy free public transport, although parents may need to budget for prams or strollers, and baby capsules if the infant is to ride in a car. Taxis are allowed to carry infants for free without a capsule but this is the only exception.
8. Activities. Infants will need something to do during their “wake” time and as the year progresses parents may want to budget for providing simple soft toys to touch, rattles to chew and shake and make sure that they have access to picture books and other safe household objects.
9. The luxuries. Parents may want to budget for luxury items like professional photography sessions, child memorabilia, video baby monitors to check the baby sleeping and so on, but these are luxuries and not vital for proper care.