You can’t afford a baby.

Please read this post, a short-but-slightly-snarky response to Suze Orman, a financial adviser who recently told a couple that they couldn’t afford a baby, with its $700-1000 monthly expense.

I agree wholeheartedly with Connie, the author.

Having a baby in America CAN be expensive, but it doesn’t need to be.  I’ll never forget when I told a former neighbor that I was pregnant with my third and she sighed and said, “You’re so lucky.  I’d love a baby, but we just can’t afford it.”  It was all I could do to not let my jaw hit the sidewalk.  She and her husband lived — by themselves — in a 2500 s.f. house, had an RV, brand new vehicles, two ATVs, two Jet-skis, expensive mountain bikes, and who knows what else.  In other words, they could totally “afford” a baby if they got their priorities straight.  AND, yes:  it can be difficult and expensive if you have to have everything new and fancy and trendy, bottle feed, use childcare for when you go back to work at 6 weeks, and use disposable diapers.  But, heck.  Even name brand disposables will run you about $40-60/month.  NOT $700-1000.

Maybe this is inflammatory, but I also believe our American culture which values independence over community is partially to blame.  We’re disconnected from our extended families, we don’t root ourselves in a church family either, and we value income and material wealth over family.  Even things like baby showers and hand-me-downs are most often provided by our extended community, which we as Americans have less and less of.

Don't YOU need a $5768.89 crib??

I have a wooden cradle that is “making the rounds” between friends from church.  This DELIGHTS me.  I bought it for $40 from Craigslist, used it for my fifth baby (as I had given away a previous cradle), and now a third friend is about to use it for her her newborn, due in Feb. But, if you have to keep up with the Jones’ baby who had a $2,000 Bellini crib (or this $5,800 one!), you’re going to have a pricey infancy.  However, if you breastfeed, raise your own child, and don’t mind having used or hand-me-down things, it’s really quite inexpensive to raise a baby.

EDITED TO ADD:  One other thing… (can you tell this has struck a nerve???) I’m not suggesting that selling baby things is wrong, but I have learned that you get back what you give — sometimes literally, sometimes from elsewhere.  I have given away cribs, strollers, swings, clothes, countless other baby items, partly because I saw someone in need, and partly because I thought I was “done” with having children.  But, whatddya know??  It has ALL COME BACK to me. I have, in return, been given cribs, clothes, toys, slings — I don’t use swings anymore! 😉 — everything I need for a baby, when I did have need.  My youngest is three and the goods still keep pouring in.  Someone just gave us three bags of virtually brand-new girls toys — voila! Christmas for my 3 and 5yo girls. Whether you call it karma or attribute it Luke 6:38, or whatever, if you give, you will receive.  We are a panicked, hoarding society, and often fail to recognize that if we are generous, we’re going to be provided for.

About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on December 6, 2011, in Babies, Budget, Christian Living, Christmas, Cloth Diapering, Clothes, Extended Family, Family, Free stuff, Introspective Musings, Shopping. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. That is so true! It’s not a gumball machine, formulaic thing, but God blesses a generous spirit.

  2. Excellent post. I am amazed at how foolish the wise are. $700-$1000 a month to raise a baby… I had four teens a few years ago and did not spend this much having them. I have two teens still at home and with my husband and I we do not spend 200 a month on groceries and our living expenses are very minimal.

    Woe what times we are in…

  3. Great post! I could see how it COULD cost that much to raise baby. But, obviously it can be done for less… as long as you know others with children around that age or at least are willing to search Craigslist and hit garage sales. Community is so important for so many reasons, this being one. Of course, it will vary for everyone…Good food for thought!

  4. The one thing that comes to mind is if they had to buy private health insurance (not subsidized by an employer)– it could easily be several hundred per child per month. Though if Obamacare goes through next yr, even that would be subsidized.

  5. While I whole heartedly agree with you re costs of raising a baby, I must say im quite offended by the “raising your own kid” comments. I will, god willing, always work outside of the home…not just for financial reasons, but because I want to and my sanity requires it. Im still best friends with my former babysitters daughter, whom I’ve known for 21 years. (Her mom babysat for about 3 years). Childcare isn’t all bad and quite frankly I believe its more healthy for a child to attend some sort of childcare or outside education/socialization that is different than what would be learned at home. If the children are only taught one thing, how will they know what else is out there and how to react to those unknowns? I learned so many things from my 10 to 12 years in childcare and am still accqaintances (at the very least) with several of those that were in daycare with me.

    • I’m sorry you’re offended, Kristen, and I truly thank you for taking the time to comment. However, I believe strongly that the *BEST* person to raise a child is that child’s mother. No matter how fabulous a caregiver is (and I adore a number of women who have babysat for my children over the years — they are WONDERFUL), no one is going to love a child more, advocate more, care more, be as mindful, be as observant, etc., as a mother.

      I’m not suggesting that a child should have no socialization. That would be silly. But, I can firmly attest that my five children (who not only have a SAHM, but one who homeschools them) are very well socialized. The best way to learn something is to learn it from someone who does it better and has more experience, not from peers who are struggling in the same area. I’m sure my kids would have “learned so many things” from routine childcare but that the vast majority of those things wouldn’t be good or valuable.

  6. My husband and I bought our house at the height if the market, we put 20% down and are now underwater, we are paying our mortgage and bills. We would like to have a baby but at the end of the month- there is no way we could afford childcare or one of us staying home. We couldn’t survive on 1 income, we barely manage on 2.
    We are terrified about waiting to long but it’s too hard for us to get pregnant right now, we are both in our 30s and we are pretty upset.
    It would be nice if the US seemed to care more about families like every other developed country does, Canada, Europe all allow mom’s to take time off paid & protect your job, that’s a joke here. Suze Orman has a point

    • I say, if you want to have a baby, have a baby. You can make it work. You may have to downsize your lifestyle, and make more frugal choices, but it is do-able.

      There are often hidden costs to working a job. This article is not anti-moms-working, and is well-balanced. It might give you some food for thought:

      Having paid time off is no guarantee of anything. In fact, you might find out, once you have a baby, that you ENJOY taking care of your child and work HARDER to do the things that will allow you to stay at home, or perhaps work part-time.

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