If you are reading this, chances are you are either considering having a baby, about to have a baby, or just had a baby. Regardless of which of those fits your situation, congratulations! Have a child is a huge step in any person's life and it comes with tons of excitement, love, tears, stress, and a million other emotions.
When I had my first child, even though I was super excited, I had a ton of fears. One of the biggest was how I was going to financially support my child. I had a great job but I was still paying off student loan debt and had tons of other expenses.
One of the best things I did for myself was writing out every expense that I could possible think of, adding it up, and incorporating these incorporated expenses into my budget. I decided to write this article to help you out through this process because it's not the most fun or easy thing to do, trust me!
You’ve never done this before so how do you know you have all the baby essentials you need? That’s where my handy newborn checklist comes in.
You don’t need to comb parenting message boards to get a definitive list of all the baby essentials. Just follow this newborn checklist and you’re good to go. I’ve even estimated the costs of each item and tallied them up at the end. Scroll down if you want to know how much it will all cost!
Newborn Baby Checklist
Baby Essentials - Baby Clothes
I’m starting my newborn checklist with the fun stuff. I know you’ve been imagining all the cute little outfits you’ll be able to dress your baby in. When it comes to clothes, they're one of the baby essentials you can't have enough of. Between spitting up and diaper leakage, you'll need to change your baby more than once a day. When buying clothes for your child, try asking friends and family if they have any old clothes you could use/have. Also, make sure to consider the significant pricing differences between new and used baby clothes.
- Onesies (7) - Estimated Price:$3 - $20
- Nightgowns (4 for until the cord falls off) - Estimated Price: $6 - $26
- Sleepers (7) - Estimated Price: $3 - $20
- Shirts (7) - Estimated Price: $3 - $20
- Leggings or Pants (7) - Estimated Price: $3 - $20
- Sweaters (3) - Estimate Price: $20 - $60
- Jackets (1) - Estimated Price: $20 - $60
- Socks (7) - Estimated Price: $2 - $5
- Booties (2) - Estimated Price: $3 - $30
- Scratch mittens (2) - Estimated Price: $1 - $20
- Small plastic hangers - Estimated Price: $10 for 20
- Hat (beanies) - Estimated Price: $2 - $5
- Snowsuit (1) - Estimated Price: $20 - $100
- Winter Hat (1) - Estimated Price: $5 - $20
- Mittens (1) - Estimated Price: $7 - $20
- Mitten Clips (1) - Estimated Price: $5 - $12
- Sun Hat (1) - Estimated Price: $7- $25
- Sunglasses (1) - Estimated Price: $6 - $40
- Bathing Suit (1) - Estimated Price: $8 - $35
- Infant Laundry Detergent - Estimated Price: $15
Gerber Boy Onesies
Gerber Girl Onesies
Tuga Baby Sun kit
Total Estimated Costs for Clothes: $281 - $1306
Baby Essentials - Baby Blankets:
You'll go through blanket quickly so make sure you have a lot of them. That's why I've included 10 blankets on this newborn checklist. Invest in a great swaddling blanket because that will help you get more sleep. It is absolutely a baby necessity.
- Cotton Blankets (2) - Estimated Price: $10 - $30 each
- Receiving Blankets (7) - Estimated Price: $2 - $25 each
- Swaddling blanket - Estimated Price: $10 - $30 each
Total Estimated Costs for Blankets: $44 - $265
Baby Essentials - Feeding:
You might not need everything in the feeding section of my newborn essential list, but these feeding products will help make your life easier. If you are looking to save on your newborn's food, check out my homemade baby food article. I also highly recommend feeding your child only organic baby food as it is free of preservatives and unnatural chemicals.
- Bibs (6) - Estimated Price: $1 - $5each
- Burb cloths (4) - Estimated Price:$2 - $7 each
- Breast Pump (1) - Estimated Price: $30 - $230
- Nursing Pillow (1) - Estimated Price: $20 - $50
- Nursing bras (4) - Estimated Price: $12 - $60 each
- Breast Pads - Estimated Price: $5 - $12
- Lotion for Nipples - Estimated Price: $5 - $12
- Four ounce bottles with nipples (9) - Estimated Price: $5 - $8each
- 8 once bottles with nipples (5) - Estimated Price: $5 - $7 each
- Bottle and nipples brushes - Estimated Price: $4 - $10
- Formula - Estimated Price: $10 - $25
- Bottle Carrier - Estimated Price: $10 - $15
- Dishwasher caddy - Estimated Price: $4 - $25
- Breast milk bags - Estimated Price: $9 - $17
- Hot cold gel packs - Estimated Price: $8 - $20
- Highchair - Estimated Price: $30 - $130
- Bowls (2) - Estimated Price: $1 - $5each
- Baby spoons (3) - Estimated Price: $1
- Sippy cups (4)- Estimated Price: $1 - $4
- Nursing shirts (4) - Estimated Price: $10 - $45
- Drying rack - Estimated Price: $7 - $25
- Baby dish liquid - Estimated Price: $ 5 - $10
- Lansinoh nipple cream - Estimated Price:$10
- Milkmakers tea - Estimated Price:$9
Medela Breast Pump
ABile High Chair
Total Estimated Cost of Feeding Necessities: $340 - $1187
Baby Essentials - Diapering
Diapers are a crucial part of this newborn checklist. You want to make sure you have everything you need in your diaper bag so that you're prepared.
- Cloth diapers system (4 packs of 10) - Estimated Price: $7 - $55
- Diaper covers (7) - Estimated Price: $6 - $25
- Diaper pail - Estimated Price: $25 - $55
- Diaper Pail Refill - Estimated Price: $9 - $20
- Changing pad - Estimated Price: $6 - $25
- Ointment - Estimated Price: $8 - $20
- Safety pins - Estimated Price: $2 - $6
- Disposable wipes - Estimated Price: $10 - $20
- Disposable diapers - Estimated Price: $20 - $30
- Butt paste - Estimated Price: $7 - $20
Total Estimated Cost of Diapering Necessities: $157 - $591
Step Diaper Pail
Baby Necessities - Bath
Bath time is a fun time! Make sure you're able to enjoy it by getting everything you need that's listed on this newborn checklist.
- Infant tub - Estimated Price: $15 - $50
- Washcloths 2 packs - Estimated Price: $10 - $15 per pack
- Baby soap - Estimated Price: $12 - $20
- Baby brush - Estimated Price: $4 - $10
- Hooded towels - Estimated Price: $5 - $15
- Bath ramp - Estimated Price: $12 - $35
Total Estimated Cost of Bath Essentials: $68 - $160
Baby Necessities - Baby’s Room:
This section of the newborn essential list is expensive because it includes a lot of the big items that you'll need. The good thing is that you can reuse these items for your next child and sell them when you're done! For more ideas of cheap furniture you can buy, check out my Cheap Baby Furniture article.
- Crib and mattress - Estimated Price: $175 - $450
- Mattress covers (2)- Estimated Price:$12 - $25 each
- Cribsheets (3) - Estimated Price:$7 - $25
- Sleep sack - Estimated Price:$20 - $40
- Change table - Estimated Price:$100 - $200
- Rocking chair - Estimated Price:$40 - $400
- Dresser - Estimated Price:$100 - $330
- Baby monitors - Estimated Price:$40 - $250
- Lamp - Estimated Price:$30 - $50
- Sleep positioner - Estimated Price:$9 - $30
- Bassinet - Estimated Price:$40 - $140
- Humidifier - Estimated Price:$30 - $100
- Noise machine - Estimated Price:$20 - $50
- Mobile - Estimated Price:$20 - $40
- Night light - Estimated Price:$10 - $20
changing table + pad
baby monitor w/ video
Total Estimated Cost of Baby's Room Essentials: $679 - $2225
Baby Necessities - First Aid and Hygiene
Don't forget to get the items in this section of the newborn essential list. You don't want to find yourself without them if your baby is sick.
- Baby thermometer - Estimated Price: $10 - $55
- Baby Tylenol - Estimated Price: $9
- Medicine spoon - Estimated Price: $5
- Nasal aspirator - Estimated Price: $10 - $20
- Gripe water - Estimated Price: $10
- Nail clippers and scissors - Estimated Price:$5 - $10
- Petroleum jelly - Estimated Price:$5 - $10
Total Estimated Cost of First Aid and Hygiene Essentials: $54 - $119
Baby Necessities - Travel:
You need to be prepared to go out and visit all your doting family and friends. These suggestions will provide you with everything you need to keep your baby happy and safe when you leave home.
- Reclining stroller - Estimated Price:$50 - $250
- Infant car seat - Estimated Price:$50 - $300
- Playpen - Estimated Price:$40 - $140
- Baby Carrier - Estimated Price:$15 - $130
- Diaper bag - Estimated Price:$30 - $70
- Sun shade for car - Estimated Price:$8 - $15
- Back seat mirror - Estimated Price:$12 - $20
- Stroller organizer - Estimated Price:$10 - $30
- Moby Wrap - Estimated Price:$45
- Raincover - Estimated Price: $30 - $50
Total Estimated Cost of Travel Essentials: $290 - $1050
3-in-1 car seat
Baby Necessities - Safety
Safety is crucial. While I newborn might not need some of these items, it's best to have them on hand because before you know it they'll be up and about.
- Safety gates - Estimated Price:$30 - $50
- Outlet covers - Estimated Price:$3 - $7
- Cupboard and drawer latches - Estimated Price:$4 - $20
- Toilet Seat locks - Estimated Price:$6 - $14
- Edge Guards - Estimated Price:$7 - $20
- Bath thermometer - Estimated Price:$5 - $13
Total Estimated Cost of Safety Essentials: $55 - $124
Baby Necessities - Toys
You can't leave toys off a newborn checklist! These toys will keep your baby interested and get them curious about the world.
- Teething toys - Estimated Price:$3 - $20
- Rattles and baby toys - Estimated Price:$7 - $10
- Play gym - Estimated Price:$35 - $75
- Play mat - Estimated Price:$30 - $100
- Books - Estimated Price: $7 - $17
Total Estimated Cost of Toy Essentials: $82 - $222
Baby Necessities - Soothing Things
With a newborn, you need reinforcements to help you get them to stop crying. These items on the newborn checklist will help you keep your baby calm.
- Infant swing - Estimated Price:$50 - $200
- Bumbo floor seat - Estimated Price:$40
- Bouncy Seat/Rocker - Estimated Price: $25 - $100
- Pacifiers (5) - Estimated Price:$3 - $15
Total Estimated Cost of Soothing Things: $118 - $355
The Total Cost of the Newborn Checklist:
While you don't need all the items on this newborn checklist, this list should help you get started and give you some ideas for what you might need. Having a baby is expensive, so have friends and family help you out by setting up a registry and hosting a baby shower. You might also be able to save some money by buying things on the newborn checklist used or getting hand me downs from friends and family.
Total Estimated Cost of this Newborn Checklist: $2128 - $7604
How To Budget For A Baby
After you recover from your initial excitement (or shock!) over your pregnancy, the next phase begins: planning. While a lot of the planning process is fun, like picking out colors for the nursery or deciding on a name, other parts are stressful — like figuring out how you’re going to pay for all of this.
There is no doubt about it: having a baby is an expensive proposition. More than ever before, parents are told that they “need” the latest gadgets and to have the perfect nursery. While it’s easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of spending (especially when everything you’re buying seems both necessary and cute), you’ll benefit more in the long run by setting and sticking to a budget.
The first step is to take a realistic look at what your monthly income will be after the baby is born. Many employers offer either limited or no paid maternity or paternity leave. This leaves many parents in the unenviable position of having less income at a time when their spending has increased significantly. Take a close look at how long you can realistically afford to take off after the baby is born — and how much you’ll need to save for one or both parents to spend that crucial bonding time with your new little bundle of joy.
Once you know how much money you’ll have coming in each month, it’s time to figure out how much you’ll be spending each month to support your baby. Day care costs are a huge chunk of any young family’s budget, easily running to $1,200 a month or more. Research child care options where you live, figuring out exactly how much you’ll spend — and whether or not it will be worth it for both parents to work based on these costs. It may ultimately be cheaper for one parent to work part-time or stay home with the baby rather than spend $30,000 or more each year on daycare.
Next, consider what you will be spending on supplies such as diapers, formula and baby food. According to one estimate, the average child will use more than 2,700 diapers in their first year of life alone — which really can add up if you’re using disposable diapers! Formula can be similarly pricey, adding up to $1,700 for a year. If you plan on using disposable diapers and formula, these costs must be factored into your monthly baby budget — which can add up to roughly $2,000 per month, depending on your day care costs. If you plan to breast feed, you can significantly slash your costs for buying formula — but that isn’t always an option for all mothers and babies. Similarly, cloth diapers can be a money-saving choice after the initial investment — but if your child is going to be in day care, you will likely still need to purchase disposable diapers, as most childcare centers will not change cloth diapers. No matter what you decide to do, research the costs of each option, and add it to your day care costs to determine your average monthly baby budget. Be sure to add in unexpected costs, like visits to the doctor and emergencies.
Now that you have an idea what you will need to spend each month to take care of your baby, look at your monthly income and figure out how you can make it work. Day care costs may be the largest chunk of your monthly budget — even greater than your mortgage or rent payment. It may be simply unaffordable for you. There are often child care subsidies available for families who meet certain income thresholds; look online at your state government’s website for the forms and requirements. Obtaining a subsidy may significantly slash your monthly childcare costs — which can give you some breathing room in your budget to ensure that you can pay for your other monthly expenses.
Money-Saving Tips for New Parents
Preparing for a new baby can be overwhelming — especially when it comes to paying for all of the “essentials!” On top of your monthly baby budget, buying all of these items can be a stressor that you simply don’t need when you’re pregnant, which is why we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you save money on everything that you need for your new little one.
The savings can start directly at the hospital. Many companies provide samples, coupons and freebies for new parents. If you aren’t offered these goodies, ask your nurse or other hospital staff if they have any available. You may end up saving a bundle on things that you will definitely need!
If you’re planning to breast feed, the hospital may be a great source for renting a breast pump for a far cheaper cost than purchasing a quality pump on your own. Even better: your insurance may cover the cost of the breast pump! This can be a significant savings, so be sure to ask about the options available and whether or not it will be covered.
Before the baby arrives and after he or she is home, you can continue your savings by buying in bulk. Online retailers like Amazon offer special deals for new parents — and best of all, they will automatically ship diapers and other necessities to your door so that you’re never forced to run out in the middle of the night because you forgot to buy something (a frequent occurrence when you’re in the sleep-deprived newborn phase!). There is usually a small discount for the “subscribe and save” option, which can really reduce your costs when added to the Amazon Mom discount (available only for Prime members). If you prefer to buy your diapers and other goods at a brick and mortar store, consider joining a bulk discount store like Costco or Sam’s Club. You’ll be using more diapers than you ever thought possible — so go ahead and buy the giant box. The cost per diaper will be significantly cheaper, and you’ll save a significant amount of money in the long-run by buying in bulk.
When you’re buying diapers, formula, lotion and other necessities, look for store brand and generic options. The more expensive name brand or speciality products aren’t necessarily better — and you may find that the less expensive diapers fit your baby better, or that the generic baby detergent is gentlest on your baby’s skin. Formula is all regulated by the FDA, so you can be assured that they are all safe; ask your doctor for recommendations on the best one for your child, and search for options with the same mineral content at cheaper price.
If the name brand diapers or formula work best for your child, it’s time for another budget necessity: clipping coupons and watching for sales. Get the Sunday paper, or ask loved ones to clip coupons from their circulars. Shop around to find the best deals, and don’t be afraid to buy in bulk to get a better price — you will use them! There are multiple websites that offer coupons for baby goods, many of them directly from the manufacturer. There are also social sites where moms and dads can get advice, support and great money-saving ideas and deals. Do a google search to find one that works for you.
While you’re online, check out buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook and other social media sites. Most parents have a basement or garage full of baby stuff that they’re no longer using — and the majority of it is perfectly safe to pass on to others. While you want to avoid buying car seats secondhand because you don’t know if it has been in an accident, you can buy almost any other item secondhand. Sheets, quilts and blankets can be washed, and almost everything else can be wiped down or sanitized. You’ll often find fantastic deals, like a highchair for less than 50 percent of its purchase price. You can also get great prices on clothes from these groups, since babies and young kids often grow out of their cute outfits before they’ve have time to wear them out. Spending a little time scouring social media for groups in your area to find the best deals. And when you’re done with your baby items, make a little cash by selling them on those same groups — which will help pay for the next round of stuff that you need for baby!
But if you’d rather see something in person first, check out thrift stores, yard sales and even friend’s basements to find baby stuff. Whether a friend gives you a crib or you buy a dresser at a secondhand store, you will save hundreds (or even thousands!) of dollars by going with used items. After all, many of these items will only be in use for a relatively small period of time — it doesn’t make much sense to purchase brand new for something that your baby may not even like. Your friends and family will likely be happy to clear their houses of baby stuff that they’re no longer using — and you’ll benefit by saving lots of money! Just be sure to ask if they’d like their gear back afterwards; they may plan to pass down a crib or give it to another family member after you’re done using it.
When you do purchase new, spend your money wisely, on the things that really matter for your baby’s health or safety. While you don’t have to buy the top-of-the-line car seat, you should purchase a new one that meets all of the latest safety recommendations. There are always new safety features and rules and regulations regarding car seats, cribs and other baby goods. So save up for these items to make sure that your newborn is fully protected and as safe as possible.
These lists and tips can be overwhelming, but it is important to remember that you don’t need to buy everything at once. Purchase what you need for the next few months, and wait to buy the rest. If you haven’t found a deal on a crib, for example, you can hold off on buying one until after your baby is out of a bassinet in your room. A highchair isn’t necessary right away — so if you don’t have one, don’t worry! You can always sell off the baby stuff that you aren’t using, and put that money towards the next necessities. You should also avoid buying frivolous things that may be cute, but that your baby doesn’t actually need….like shoes or hair bows. If you’re trying to save money, it simply doesn’t make sense to spend on these items when there is so much that your baby truly needs. So focus on what you should have for the stage your baby is in right now — and buy that. Remembering that you don’t have to buy everything at once can help reduce your anxiety and save your budget.
Similarly, avoid buying into the latest fads and trends, and don’t take buy into the hype of the hot new product. While a $400 baby rocker may be really cool and work for a lot of babies…your baby could absolutely hate it. A special rubber ducky that takes the temperature of bath water may seem like a must-have, remember that you can rely on your own common sense to tell you if the bath water is too hot or cold (either that, or your baby’s cries if he or she doesn’t like the temperature!). Many “must-have” baby lists contain scores of expensive items that are really not necessary to raising a happy and healthy baby. Your newborn doesn’t need the most expensive blanket to throw up on, or a $30 giraffe toy. You don’t need every conceivable type of baby carrier, especially when they all seem to cost at least $150 (tip: borrow one from a friend to see if it works for you and your baby before committing to a purchase). Remember that many of these “must-haves” will soon be gathering dust in a corner, and think twice before making a purchase based on what is trendy. Babies don’t need as much as we think that they do — and you can absolutely get by without a $300 video monitor system or a device that tells you how long it’s been since your baby was fed or its diaper was changed.
You should also keep in mind that having a baby is an exciting time — and that many friends and family want to help. So let them! A shower can be a great way to fill up your nursery. Register for what you actually need, and avoid asking for stuff that may be fun but isn’t really necessary (like wall decorations). You’ll be much happier that you have a pack and play than that you have a lamp to match the nursery’s decor in the long run. Being strategic when it comes to your registry can be incredibly helpful when it comes to your baby budget.
Financial Strategies For A New Baby
After you’re done shopping and planning and making lists, don’t forget to review your options for saving money in other ways. There are tax advantages to having a baby — and things that you should be doing to save money and plan for the future!
First, check with your tax advisor regarding any possible tax deductions for child care costs. Up to 35% of these expenses can be deducted, and your state may have other benefits as well. Research these options, and be sure to keep careful records to maximize your tax savings.
Second, examine your employer’s offerings for child care assistance. Many companies offer dependent care accounts, which function like health savings accounts. You can contribute a certain amount of pre-tax dollars to the account, which can then be used for qualifying dependent care expenses. This can have a big impact on your total taxable income given the high cost of daycare in many places — so ask your employer if this program is available. Your company may also offer discounted or free on-site day care which can be helpful both financially and emotionally once you go back to work.
Third, consider college costs. It may seem ludicrous to start planning for higher education when your baby is first born, but with the astronomical costs of college, it is never too early to start putting aside some cash for college. Many states offer special college savings plans that have certain tax advantages, allowing you to exempt the amount that you put into the account from your state income taxes. These plans usually offer tax-free growth of your investment, and can be used to pay for any qualified higher education expense. Look into your state’s options and consider starting a savings plan as soon as possible after your baby is born.
Having a baby is an incredibly exciting time in your life, but it can also be stressful for anyone with a limited budget. Purchasing what your baby needs — or what other people tell you that your baby needs — can set you back thousands of dollars, and that’s before you even start to pay for things like daycare. But with a little research, planning and hard work, you can provide for your baby without going broke. You’ll be a happier parent if you are not stressed about debt that you accumulated purchasing baby goods, so take advantage of all of these tips to set up your nursery and home for your new little one without breaking the bank.