During Pregnancy: How to Account for Must-Have Baby Supply Costs as a Dad

By Mathew Miller, Sharon Perkins

Babies don’t need a lot of stuff. A new dad may feel like he needs someone to tell him what they do need, which tends to be a bit on the expensive side. If your partner isn’t breast-feeding, you’ll have to spend a great deal of money on formula, which is quite expensive.

Parents opting to use only organic, chemical-free goods for their baby will find the costs increase as well.

Every choice you make will change the weekly amount you spend, but here’s a basic look at what to expect:

  • Diapers and wipes: If you develop an allegiance to a national brand of disposable diapers, you’ll spend $12 to $15 every week. Many big-box stores offer their own brands, which can cut the cost in half. Baby wipes present the same conundrum, with the name-brand options costing $10 to $15 for a month’s supply.

    For both diapers and wipes, the cost-per-unit goes down when you buy a larger-sized box. You’re going to be using wipes for the foreseeable future, but baby will outgrow diapers, so don’t buy a box that may go to waste. Also, buy only what you have room to store — it’s worth a little extra not to have a house overfilled with diapers and wipes.

    Upfront costs are higher for cloth diapers than disposable, but you’ll save money in the long run. Expect to pay about $200 for the diapers, sized for up to age 6 months, and another $200 for diapers sized up to age 2. (Newer all-in-one styles grow with baby up to 35 pounds and cost approximately $20 per diaper.)

    Cloth diapers increase your energy and water use as well as the amount of baby-safe laundry detergent you must buy. The total cost for baby’s first two years in cloth diapers will be about $500. Bonus: You can use the same cloth diapers for any subsequent children you have, which makes the cost extremely low.

    Cloth diaper services are also available, which provide fresh, clean diapers in exchange for your dirty ones. It cuts out the hassle of cleaning but does increase the cost.

  • Feeding supplies: Whether your partner breast-feeds or uses formula, you’ll have costs to meet.

    • Breast-feeding supplies: Breast milk may be free, but you still need supplies, especially if mom is going back to work.

      Aside from a decent breast pump (a one-time cost of $150 to $400), you need freezer storage bags ($8 to $12 for a two-week supply), as well as nursing/breast pads ($8 to $12 for a two- or three-week supply) and freezer bags or reusable containers (prices vary), as well as additional parts for the pump, such as pump horns and extra bottles.

      Some insurance plans, including some that are part of the Affordable Care Act, allow women to get a free breast pump because it is, indeed, a medical supply. Make sure to check your insurance allowance for a pump before buying — it could save you hundreds of dollars.

    • Formula: Expect to spend between $150 and $200 per month on formula, depending on the brand and formula you choose to purchase. Specialty formulas, including those for sensitive tummies and organic brands, cost even more. Also, if you use bottles with liners, expect to spend another $15 to $20 per month.

  • Insurance and medical expenses: Adding baby to your insurance plan increases the monthly amount withdrawn from your paycheck, generally by $50 to $100 per month, depending on the quality and cost of your insurance plan.

    You must complete the change in policy within 30 days of baby’s birth. Account for one doctor visit per month in the first six months to be on the safe side, with the only cost being the amount of your copay.

  • Clothing and laundry: Make sure to use a dye-free or baby-safe laundry detergent, which costs more than the standard fare. And, seeing as babies grow at a rapid pace, you need to allot anywhere from $50 to $100 per month on clothing, which includes hats, shoes, sleepers, coats, socks, onesies, and outfits so cute they could make a puppy bark with jealousy.

Some parents opt to use dye-free detergents, such as Tide Free or All Free and Clear, which are intended for adult use. Using these detergents for the whole family simplifies the laundry process and saves you money. Make sure to read the label of any product to make sure it’s nontoxic.

Also, for babies with sensitive skin, use 1/2 cup of vinegar in the wash cycle in lieu of fabric softener.

You can save money on clothing by checking out consignment shops and garage sales and asking for hand-me-downs from friends with older children. All babies outgrow clothes before they’re worn out, so you can find a lot of perfectly nice used items at a fraction of the cost of new.

College may seem a long way away, but it’s never too early to start saving for your kid’s education. However, if you don’t have a retirement fund or an emergency fund for your own future survival, start there.

You have to take care of your future first, and that responsibility sets a good example for your child. And if you can’t pay for that college education someday, well, that’s what student loans are for!