The joy of parenthood may be priceless, but there are significant costs to factor in the first year after welcoming a new human into the world.
Figures by the Australian Institute of Family Studies suggests a child could cost the average Australian couple up to $13,000 in the first year.
It’s an expense that often comes at a time when many families are living off one income. But a tiny addition needn’t be a financial burden with some good decision making and planning.
Consumer group Choice says babies will go through an average of 6000 disposable nappies before they graduate to undies. At 30c to 50c per nappy, this adds up between $1800 and $3000.
Choosing reusable nappies could cost half that amount, said Choice managing editor Margaret Rafferty, and they could be used for subsequent children.
“The upfront costs may be more when you use cloth nappies but in the long run you’ll save money,” she said.
There are other ways to slash the cost of basic necessities. Attending free activities at the local library is a way for children to socialise and enjoy new experiences without the cost that can come with commercially operated events.
Sourcing second-hand baby goods makes financial sense, particularly as these are often used for a short time.
Tribeca Financial chief executive Ryan Watson said parents wanting to save money could try Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace to score second-hand bargains, and also borrow from family members.
“A brand new cot can cost up to $1000, whereas a second-hand one could cost you about $200,” he said.
Mr Watson said it was important to be realistic about whether it made financial sense for both parents to go back to work after having a baby, given the high cost of childcare. But it’s not always a purely financial decision.
“Even though the cost of childcare might mean the family is not much better off if one parent goes back to work, simply interacting with other adults and getting out of the house can have significant, albeit non-financial, benefits,” he said.
Full-time mum Racquel Bechara has become adept at finding ways to save money, with four children under the age of eight.
“We wanted four children so, in some respects, having them at similar times was beneficial,” Ms Bechara said.
“With two girls and two boys, it’s such a convenience to reuse every toy, every book and every piece of clothing as they grow up.”