Trying to determine the cost of starting a family is not an exact science. You can certainly find the average costs of everything from diapers to the total amount of money you can expect to spend on your child from birth to his or her 18th birthday. What's tough about averages is that every family has a different situation. (To learn more, read Budgeting For A New Baby.)
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics
You might be going from a dual income status to a single income, or having to add childcare expenses to your regular budget. Or perhaps you have family who will pitch in and take care of those expenses for you. Gear, furniture, clothes and toys can cost a lot when purchased new, but hand-me-downs from friends and family as well as thrifty shopping strategies can help you save, and bring your costs well below average.
FurnitureFortunately for new parents, babies really don't require many big-ticket items. A crib is good to have, and maybe a changing table and a rocking chair. All of these can be purchased new, of course. A new crib will set you back anywhere from $100 to upwards of $1,000, if you'd like a designer version. Cribs and changing tables often come in matching sets; a mid-line changing table and crib combo will cost you about $300 from a big retailer such as BabiesRUs.com, and a glider or rocker about $150.
You can save on furniture costs by asking for hand-me-downs on cribs and changing tables from friends and family members who have outgrown the need. Just be sure cribs meet current safety standards (Look those up here.). Ask for any of these items as a big-ticket gift from the grandparents, godparents, aunts and uncles and friends. Or ask friends to pitch in to buy your furniture in lieu of giving you clothes, diapers and toys for the baby.
DiaperingIf you've started looking up how much diapers cost, then you've encountered the great cloth vs. disposable discussions raging all over the baby-oriented Internet boards. DiaperingDecisions.com estimates the cost of three years' worth of disposable diapers at $2,694.54. Their estimated cost for cloth diapers for three years is much, much less. The initial cost of a cloth diaper set usually runs around $300, and the ongoing cost of laundering the diapers at home is just a couple of dollars a week.
Of course, DiaperingDecisions.com does sell cloth diapers. The site's numbers seem accurate, but you can estimate your own costs by doing some simple price checking and math, or use an online baby cost calculator like BabyCenter.com. (For more, check out Top 5 Ways To Budget For A Baby.)
Formula and Baby FoodBreastfeeding negates the cost of baby formula, though you may find that you need to spend more than you estimated on items like nursing bras (anywhere from $10 to $45 apiece), nursing pads (around $7 a box) and a breast pump (up to $300 for a top-of-the-line motorized pump).
A year's worth of baby formula can cost from about $1,000 to $3,000. You keep it on the low end by buying the gener