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Checking back in with another Monthly Baby Expenses Report. Each month I report on our baby budget and detail how much we spent on baby-related costs.
I also give a breakdown of how much we saved during the month compared to buying new. You can find all the reports here: Monthly Baby Costs and Savings Reports.
The goal of these reports is to add transparency to what someone’s baby budget actually looks like month to month.
I highlight our savings to show the value in efforts to be frugal. My hope is that this helps motivate someone to try to buy less or used, both for their wallets and for the environment.
April was another slow month for spending in general for us as social distancing continues. Our purchases have been limited to food and essentials.
We’ve had a slight uptick in some costs as we opt for delivery-based options, which sometimes are in larger quantities or a bit higher cost than our usual shopping routines. Overall though, our spending on goods and services is way down.
Our baby spending is slightly elevated compared to previous months mostly because of medical costs. In April 2020, we spent $235.36 on our baby.
Of that $235.36, $70 was doctor co-pays. Since February, our baby has been having long spells of persistent fevers with no other symptoms and we are still in the process of getting him worked up.
We did get two things from Facebook this month, both of which we felt were justifiable and in line with stay at home policies. The first was a free lot of baby food and the second was baby jails.
We were not anticipating our baby getting mobile during a pandemic and aren’t in a position to baby proof our current space, so we needed a stop gap to keep him from killing himself in the meantime. Compared to buying retail, this saved us about $115.37.
These savings would not be possible without the generosity of others, who took the time to pass along their used items instead of throwing them away. While the environmental and financial impacts of finding used goods are obvious, the strengthened connection to my local community has been a wonderful bonus.
Here is a breakdown of our costs and savings this month:
DIAPERS – $47.37 spent, $0 saved
Our diaper costs were high this month – a side effect of pandemic-style shopping and not an actual uptick in our diaper consumption. The majority of the diapers we purchased this month are actually still being shipped.
We bought one pack of 100 Aldi-brand diapers and one pack of 328 Wal-Mart’s Parent’s Choice diapers (still in transit). We got the huge box from Wal-Mart because that was the option available for home delivery.
Previously, I didn’t like to stock up on too many diapers in case of a sudden size change, but size 3’s have a much wider weight range than the smaller sizes. Opting for the large pack also felt prudent in order to avoid future store trips or delivery orders.
Both of these packs ran about 11 cents a diaper (price in April 2020), which is nearly cheapest I’ve found for size 3 diapers. Wal-Mart has a 210-sized pack that sometimes goes for 9 cents a diaper but that was not available for shipping.
On average, we use about 6 diapers a day, which is about a diaper or so increase since we started solid foods. We’ve been using about 195 diapers in a month, costing approximately $21.45 total. I’m still peppering in the cloth diapers I picked up in January and February a few times a week.
No wipes costs this month. I bought a Costco sized box of wipes back in February that we’ve barely made a dent in. As I detailed in my cost analysis of Costco baby products, Costco wipes are slightly more expensive than other store brands.
However, they are made of plant-derived fibers instead of polymers, which is worth the extra cost to me. If you want to read a bit more about the plastics in wipes, you can check out my post on how to use fewer baby wipes.
FORMULA / FEEDING – spent $38.98, saved $18.38
We bought a case of four formula containers from Costco. Again, we got this amount because it was the option available for home delivery.
The home delivery Kirkland brand formula runs about a dollar more per container than purchasing it in stores, which is well worth it to be one less body in a Costco right now.
Our baby is currently eating 35 oz. of formula a day so these containers should last us about 40 days. To read more about how using Kirkland brand formula saves us money each month, check out this post on whether Costco is cheaper for baby items.
I also picked up some Gerber baby food for free from a Facebook post. The lot included 10.5 Second Foods fruits and veggies mixes and 12 meat purees. I only included the vegetarian ones in our total savings as I plan to give away or donate the meat ones.
I was torn about whether to throw my name in the hat for these, and gave it some time with no response before reaching out. When I did, I let the poster know that I’d prefer to defer to anyone else who might express interest since I know this is a financially tough time for people.
With avoiding stores, we haven’t had produce on hand like we normally would. The baby food includes a lot of fruits and vegetables we wouldn’t otherwise have. I specifically was worried about introducing a variety of foods right now since the latest research on allergens is early and frequent exposures by 6 months.
In normal times though, I wouldn’t purchase this baby food again because the plastic containers aren’t recyclable. We did a contactless porch pickup and it helped us skip a store trip so this felt like a justifiable exchange. I let the food packages sit a couple days out of an abundance of caution, and then washed all the containers.
CLOTHES – spent $0, saved $0
No clothes purchased this month. We are going up a size right now and I am glad that I had been picking things up at the thrift store in advance.
When I surveyed parents with babies about how social distancing has changed their baby costs, a number of parents mentioned not being able to buy secondhand right now as a contributor to their raised baby costs.
GEAR – spent $35, saved $96.99
While I was good at planning ahead on clothes, I definitely missed the boat on prepping for a mobile baby. We aren’t in the position to baby proof in our current space so we realized we needed some type of baby cage as a stop gap to get us through this period.
I posted to a neighborhood group asking if anyone had any baby jails. I got one response and jumped on it given the current limitations.
She had two types of playpens and we decided to pick up both of them because we weren’t sure what would work for us. We probably wouldn’t have done this in normal life but we wanted to minimize the number of exchanges we needed to make during social distancing.
One of the baby jails was a Summer Infant pop-up portable playard and the other was a plastic fence playpen. [UPDATE: we are now on our second baby and still use both of these items all the time. We use pieces of the plastic fencing as makeshift baby gates for awkward spaces.]
This was a bit more than I think I could have paid in non-pandemic times, if I had been on the look out for these items early. But all and all, I was really happy with this deal.
We haven’t used the plastic fence one yet but love love love the pop-up Summer Infant playard. It is so easy to set up – you can pop it open with one hand. It collapses easily and is small enough to slide under our couch. I would 100% recommend it to all my friends.
MEDICAL – spent $70
We had more medical costs than usual this month because we’ve been dealing with fevers of unknown origins. So far we’ve paid $70 for two office visits co-pays, but will be billed more for them soon.
I anticipate our medical spending to be up until we get clearer answers on what’s going on with the persistent fever. He’s had a fever for about 6 weeks at this point, but otherwise doesn’t really have symptoms. All his tests so far have been reassuring, but the general sentiment still is ‘that’s weird.’
RESALE – $0 recouped
I didn’t resell anything this month, and don’t plan to until the end of social distancing unless someone posts a specific request for an item.
Total Monthly Baby Expenses – $235 Spent, $115 Saved
Overall, our monthly baby expenses still look a lot different during social distancing than they did before. We are trying to keep our baby purchases to a minimum, and are focusing on doing bigger orders to reduce the number of deliveries we need.
While my original motivation for picking up baby items well in advance was to save money, I continue to be thankful for that as society and the economy has frozen under social distancing. I think this preparedness will be a lasting lesson for me from this pandemic experience.
Whereas before I internally debated whether buying in bulk at Costco really made sense for most items, I am now very grateful that we already had a monster size container of laundry detergent to work through.
I wonder how this will change all our behaviors moving forward and reminds me of the little things my grandmother still did six decades after living through the Great Depression.
In many ways, her acts of using less and stretching what she had were solid life lessons and I am glad for them. I hope that this experience can have some positives like that in the long-term, after we are out of this acute trauma stage.
As I said last month, I anticipate our baby items costs will stay low through social distancing. The one cost I foresee an uptick on is our baby’s medical costs as we continue to do due diligence on his weird fevers. If anyone has had experience with fevers of unknown origin, I’d love to connect.
How has your baby expenses changed with the pandemic? When I asked nearly 100 families with babies about this topic, it was surprisingly pretty split on whether people had increased or decreased their baby spending.
While there are far bigger problems than buying baby stuff, people are still facing challenges like entertaining their babies while they try to work or clothing them after a sudden size change.
You still have to balance the rudimentary life things with the complete upending of normal life. And that balance, much like budgets, looks different for everyone.
Caveat to this monthly baby expenses report: These reports are as accurate as possible but my baby costs record keeping is not 100% perfect. Reported savings are estimated to the best of my ability. Sometimes I am unable to find exact item online, account for fluctuating sales, or remember exact details of budget entries with generic descriptions. These baby costs do not include gifts from friends and family. While gifts only account for a small part of the baby things we use (we requested no gifts), my reports may slightly underestimate baby expenses if you account for gifted items.
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