Published in: Banks | Oct. 27, 2019

5 Unexpected Costs I Faced After Having a Baby

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Babies are more expensive than you may think -- even within their first weeks of life. Here are some unexpected costs I faced after having my son. 

Babies are expensive, as any financial website will tell you. As a personal finance writer, I thought I was prepared for most of the costs before the birth of my son -- but although he is just three weeks old, I've already spent hundreds of dollars on surprise purchases I didn't expect to make. 

Fortunately I have saved up an emergency fund and didn't have to break out the credit cards. But my experience goes to show that it's impossible to fully prepare for all the costs you will face as a new parent.

A newborn baby lying in a crib and yawning.

Image source: Getty Images

The good news is, you can learn from my lack of knowledge about some of these surprise expenses and hopefully plan for them if first-time parenthood is around the corner for you too.

1. A surprise pediatrician visit

My son was born at home in a complication-free delivery. Unfortunately, a problem arose almost immediately when he turned blue while nursing -- twice. 

My midwife wanted him checked out by a pediatrician right away because they only handle newborn care when there are no problems. So my husband bundled him up and off they went to our pre-selected baby doctor. 

Fortunately, my son was pronounced completely fine and has had no further issues -- but our copay for this emergency visit was $50, even though we have pretty good insurance. And if we'd been in the hospital and needed unexpected care, or if he'd had a more serious issue, we'd likely have faced far larger bills.

Because so many different things may need checking out by a doctor, even with a healthy baby, I've now learned it's pretty common for new parents to incur surprise medical expenses for their newborns. And since a baby is a new person on an insurance policy, you'll have to meet an entirely new deductible for this little bundle of joy. 

Being prepared in advance for these costs can help you avoid ending up blowing your budget on unexpected medical bills. 

2. A second changing table

Babies come with a whole lot of diapers. And sometimes a diaper change has to happen really, really quickly when a diaper doesn't quite contain the mess. We quickly learned that carrying the baby all the way to the changing table in our bedroom wasn't really a pleasant endeavor and purchased a second changing table.

While this $100 expense wasn't necessarily a necessity, it sure felt like one. And if you have a two-story home or a larger house, you might not want to cart a messy baby up the stairs or a few hundred feet away when a quick change is needed. Working a second changing table into your budget could be a smart move. 

3. Unexpectedly high expenses for food 

I plan to exclusively nurse my son for at least the first six months -- and since I work from home, I wasn't expecting there to be a lot of costs associated with feeding him. 

Cue the surprise when I had to pay for a lactation consultant to ensure he was eating properly. Then, there were some additional costs when, concerned about his weight gain, my pediatrician suggested I buy a pump and some bottles to offer him after he nurses. This will make sure he's getting enough milk. These unexpected expenses added up to over $300. 

Thankfully, my son's weight gain did increase because if it hadn't, my pediatrician had advised we supplement with formula -- which would've meant committing to a lot more ongoing costs. 

Nursing won't work for everyone, so in case it doesn't, new parents should be prepared to pay for the added costs associated with buying formula and bottles. And even when nursing does work, you may have to pay for professional advice or equipment to help you do it. 

4.  More clothes than you could imagine

I thought I had plenty of clothes for my son. Unfortunately, many of the outfits I was gifted are for a three to six month old and my son needs newborn clothing, as he is definitely on the small side. He also, apparently, needs more wardrobe changes than the most diva-like celebrity -- largely thanks to the fact that babies tend to be messier than I ever imagined. 

Chances are good you'll be changing your baby several times each day, and if you don't have plenty of warm outfits, you'll probably incur surprise clothing costs just as we did. And if you bought the wrong size because it's hard to anticipate how big your baby will be, then your unexpected wardrobe costs will be even higher 

5. Swaddle sacks

Over the last three weeks, I've quickly learned that sleep is very precious to parents of a newborn -- and one way to get more of it is to put your baby into a swaddle. 

A swaddle is, as my husband says, essentially a baby straight-jacket. You wrap your baby up tightly in one so he can't startle himself awake by kicking or moving his arms. Since my son is a very active baby who happens to wake himself up by kicking every time I put him down, his swaddles have been lifesavers.

Of course, I didn't know we'd need a swaddle before he was born -- and I especially didn't know we'd need three of them to make sure he always had a clean and dry one to see him through the night. Since it's getting cold, we opted for fleecy ones, so those three swaddles came at a cost of around $100. 

While it's well worth the money, it was yet another surprise expense I hadn't planned for until after he was born. 

Plan for unexpected expenses 

When you have a baby, surprise costs are inevitable. And while your unexpected expenses may be different from mine, there will almost certainly be unforeseen things you need to buy in the early weeks of your child's life. Having money set aside to cover these expenses is essential, especially if you've taken unpaid leave from your job.

By planning ahead for the unexpected, you can make sure it is joy and happiness that your new baby brings into your life -- not credit card debt.

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