Congratulations! You're going to have a baby! It's natural to be excited about the birth of a child, and it's a good idea to be financially prepared too. According to the USDA, the total cost of raising a child born in 2013 until age 17 is $245,340. The average cost of the first year is right around $13,000 — and that doesn't even include the cost of childbirth [source: USDA].
Fret not. We've compiled a list of the top ways you'll spend money — in general order of cost from low to high — in the first year of your baby's life. Use this list to prepare and look for ways to save — there are several. Then, you can go back to the fun things like thinking of baby names.
Infants need stimulation — and parents definitely need a way to keep their baby entertained while they cook, clean or, at the very least, take a shower. Toys for a baby's first year are designed for learning and stimulating the senses. Brightly colored mobiles, with or without music, carefully hung over the crib for your baby to look at and listen to, will be one of your child's first cherished possessions. As your baby grows through the first year, add soft stuffed animals to cuddle, blocks to build or drop (and sometimes throw, swings for physical exercise, and activity centers with gadgets to turn, grasp, open and close.
Top-of-the-line toys, bought brand new, can be demanding on the old bank account, but many, in very good shape, can be found at kids' consignment sales or handed down from friends and family. If you're thinking ahead, you can also add them to your baby registry so family and friends can help make playtime fun for your kid.
9: Furniture and Gear
Whether you go with designer furniture and gear — costing thousands — or look to family, friends and consignment stores to outfit you with gently used items, there are some things that are hard to do without once your baby gets here. Typical items you need when outfitting a nursery are a crib (including a mattress, sheets and blankets), a changing table, a baby monitor, decorative items, a dresser and a rocking chair.
Some things, like a crib and bedding, you will want to get new if possible, so shop sales for these items. Things that don't get worn out, such as a changing table or dresser, can often be found at garage sales or consignment stores for much less than the cost of new.
A car seat is a must — your baby can't leave the hospital or birthing center without it. Other gear you'll want to consider includes a stroller, infant bathtub, and miscellaneous items like nail clippers, washcloths and a diaper bag.
You may get lucky and have siblings, cousins or friends who pass down clothes, or you may get many of these items at a baby shower. If not, you may get sticker shock if you try to outfit your baby in designer duds from the beginning. Babies are messy creatures, and you can count on having to change clothes a time or two or more every day. They also grow quickly, outgrowing things sometimes before they've had a chance to wear them. Some ways to save on the essentials in this never-ending category include shopping at consignment or thrift stores and buying larger sizes than needed at end-of-season sales.