The smiles, laughter and love that come with a new baby are priceless, but caring for your little one involves a good deal of expense, including costs for food and diapers.
Most parents will spend $10,000 during the first year of a new baby's life, and 70 percent of new moms say they are more anxious about money since having a child. 1
Many parents are learning that seeking alternatives to commercially produced baby food and disposable diapers leaves them with more money in their wallets, and more control about what goes into their baby's diet and into a landfill.
Food for Thought
When Sarah Calvelage, a nursing student in Florence, Alabama, learned how much she could save by making her own baby food for her now 2-year-old son, Cooper, it was a no-brainer.
"Cooper is a great eater," says Calvelage. "One jar of baby food costs about a dollar, and he would eat two to three in one meal. I also noticed that store-bought food expires in eight years, so you can't help but worry about what goes in there!"
That's when Calvelage started making DIY baby food by putting food that she cooked through a food processor and refrigerating it in small bowls. She was able to make 12 servings of baby food for about $6, saving more than half of the amount she had been spending for baby food each month. Even with the initial $50 spent on the
food processor, Calvelage reduced her annual baby food budget from $3,000 to $1,560 during the first year.
Knowing what her baby was eating also alleviated concerns that she was feeding him unnecessary preservatives.
"My husband, Mac, has food allergies, so we were worried about Cooper having similar health concerns," Calvelage says. "If Cooper had an allergic reaction to the homemade baby food, we could quickly narrow down the culprit because we knew every ingredient going into his food."
While the thought of using cloth diapers can be intimidating, saving up to six times the cost of disposable diapers and keeping nearly one ton of garbage out of landfills makes the reusable option an attractive one for many parents. Nicole LeQuire, health information management assistant at Gordon Hospital in Calhoun, Georgia, decided to use cloth diapers with her 2-year-old daughter, Emerson, after crunching the numbers.
"Once I realized how much money I could save, I just took the leap and did it," says LeQuire. "I spent about $400 total on cloth diapers, buying some secondhand. The average cost of disposable diapers for one child is about $2,300, which means we saved $1,900 overall."
Cloth diapers have evolved since your grandmother used them. Many of them fasten with snaps and are designed to fit similarly to disposable diapers. LeQuire says you may need to try several brands to see what works for you and your baby.
"I watched online tutorials that showed different kinds of diapers and how to use them," LeQuire says. "I ended up going with fitted diapers and diaper covers."
LeQuire says once she mastered the technique, she found the reality of cloth diapering to be less off-putting than the idea of it.
"So many people dismiss the use of cloth diapers without trying them," says LeQuire. "The truth is if you have kids, you're going to deal with human waste, no matter what kind of diapers you use. It's never been anything I couldn't handle, and I've saved a ton of money using cloth diapers."
Visit First Tennessee's Life Events section for additional information about the financial aspects of raising children.
, May 2013;
, March 2014;
, October 2013
First Tennessee does not provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your personal tax and/or legal advisor concerning your individual situation.