When we were preparing to be parents, there were lots of questions floating around our minds. Who would the baby look like? What’s the difference between a bouncer and a jumper? Why on God’s green earth did anyone think it was a good idea to tell a pregnant lady the approximate size of the “fruit” she would birth each week? (Pomegranate: Awww. Watermelon: Panic-inducing. Like, have you ever really looked at a watermelon?)
We also really wanted to know what we could expect to spend caring for an infant each week as we put together our plans for me to leave work (and my paycheck!) for a period of time. Unfortunately, all I could find was this roaring debate: one side says each kid costs $233,610, while the other says they can be had for a bargain. What I wanted were cold, hard numbers. Yet, they were nowhere to be found. Until now. Here’s what we are spending per week to care for a three-month infant.
Some people—including at least one post written by a male blogger—will tell you that it’s so easy to feed a baby for free. And I have some serious side eye for you. There’s nothing easy about breastfeeding. I promise you that.
Currently, we supplement with about 6-8 ounces of formula a day. Some days it’s a bit more; others, there’s none at all. After over a month of guessing and checking and lots of help from our pediatrician, we finally found a soy formula that agrees with him. Now if he could just figure out how to shake the Little Stinker nickname he acquired.
Must-Haves: nursery water, powdered formula
Squeaky Clean Jelly Bean
Let’s talk number 1 and number 2. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m going to make my fortune by inventing diaper half sizes. There’s nothing worse than being in between sizes. While we’re still guessing and checking which diaper brands fit well and meet our criteria (fragrance-free, no chlorine etc.), we’ve currently settled on the Up & Up brand of diapers and wipes from Target. If you’re not in the know, that’s like my Toyota. Nothing flashy but reliable.
There’s also this little thing called laundry. Some weeks, there’s a lot. Other weeks, you think you must be washing the neighbor kid’s clothes, too, because where else could this mountain have come from. And on really fun occasions, the messes are so big, you don’t even worry about laundry. Instead, baby goes right in the bathtub.
Must-Haves: diapers, wipes, bath soap, laundry detergent
Feeling Good in the Neighborhood
To say there have been some tummy troubles would not do justice to some of the rumbles that rate on the Richter scale. As a result, we use over-the-counter gas drops and a prescription for baby Zantac. Neither are terribly expensive now that I’ve stopped buying the drops at Walgreens and since we have drug coverage for our insurance. However, the Cadillac and Rolls Royce of tummy medicine are Vitamin D drops and probiotics, respectively. The Vitamin D drops were $14, but they should last several months. The probiotics, though, are liquid gold. A 15-day dose is approximately $16 and shakes out to $85/ounce. What.
Must-Haves: gas drops, probiotics, Vitamin D drops, prescription acid reflux medicine
|Formula + water (Up & Up Target brand)||$0.084/ounce||$0.67||$4.72|
|Diapers (Up & Up Target brand)||$0.128/diaper||$1.02||$7.16|
|Wipes (Up & Up Target brand)||$0.017/wipe||$0.34||$2.36|
|Baby soap (Burt’s Bees Baby)||$0.21||$1.09|
|Laundry detergent (Seventh Generation baby)||$0.27||$1.36|
|Gas drops (Up & Up Target brand)||$0.04||$0.24||$1.68|
|Vitamin D drops (Carlson)||$0.16||$0.16||$1.12|
|Baby Zantac (generic Rx)||$0.08||$0.16||$1.12|
|Probiotics (Mommy’s Bliss)||$1.06||$1.06||$7.47|
|**These figures are rounded, which means it’s an approximation, not an indictment of my inability to teach math.|
Now, this chart makes a lot of assumptions. Like we will only use 10 diapers or 20 wipes a day or only need to do five loads of laundry and give five baths a week. Real talk: Sometimes, I suspect my husband uses 20 wipes in one shot. Real real talk: Sometimes, I understand why. Oh, and the record for baths is currently three in one day.
Final Thoughts on Weekly Infant Costs
As with most things when it comes to babies, your results may vary. Shoot, my results vary. Right now, though, it looks like we spend about $28 a week to keep baby watered and fed, so to speak. Of course, an entirely formula-fed baby would cost more to feed, and a neater baby might require less laundry and wipes. It’s also worth pointing out that there are plenty of other costs not factored in here from clothes and bottles to diaper cream and Infant Tylenol. Still, if you’re looking for a ballpark figure as you plan your maternity leave, this should be a decent starting point when it comes to determining the weekly cost of caring for an infant.