Cost of raising a child

They have come out with the average cost of raising a child in the US… $233,610 to raise a child from birth to age 17. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

When I started researching all about birth and parenting, I knew that we couldn’t afford to be buying all the stuff “required” to raise a child. I never understood why babies needed 10 gifts for their first birthday just from their parents, or a big first birthday party. This is a tiny human we are talking about. Literally, all he/she needs is food, sleep, and comfort and those things mostly from his primary caregivers. There’s a reason 1 year olds want to play with the box the toy came in more than the toy… they don’t know what a freaking toy is!

We have bought almost nothing for our child who is 16 months old: some disposable diapers and wipes (we use cloth 95% of the time), a few pieces of clothing/shoes (we get almost everything we need handed down from my sister for free), childcare, some vaccines out of pocket, a cute swaddle transition blanket to try and help with sleep (worked a little), a few bed rails (we bedshare), and probably a few other small things. (That said, we did receive A LOT of useful things for free from baby showers… so thankful!) We did not get him a Christmas present or a birthday present. We did not have a big birthday bash when he turned one. I did not dress him in a costume for Halloween.

But why?… Because I believe that all he needs are his parents. At this point in his life, he doesn’t care about having 1000 toys, he cares about 2 and a few boxes. He doesn’t care what he’s wearing, as long as he’s warm and dry. He is not tainted by consumerism, and I plan to keep it that way. I tell questioners all the time: when he can ask for it (a toy, processed sugar, to watch TV), there can be a discussion about having it. But I’m not shelling out $30 for an adorable bunny costume that he will wear once, not care about wearing, and I don’t really care that he wears it. I have no one to impress. Don’t get me wrong… I know these things are VERY important to some parents and to that I say, “to each his own.”

I absolutely believe that statistic above could be drastically reduced. Yes, childcare is expensive, yes all children need a carseat, yes they need a safe sleep space, which for some people means a bassinet and/or crib, yes all children need to eat, which for some families means buying formula. But even most of these necessities you can probably save some money on. Find a cheaper home day care, find a used carseat from a trusted source that has never been in an accident and is up to date on safety features, put a dang mattress on the floor, breastfeed or look for FREE breastmilk from milk banks, use cloth diapers/wipes or elimination communication. There is always a cheaper and/or free way.

So after all of the diapers and big ticket baby items are purchased, what else causes that number to be so high? I believe it’s guilt. Parents feel guilty they are away from their children so much (at work or elsewhere). They buy them little (or big) trinkets on every business trip, for every holiday, and multiple on birthdays or Christmas. This is how we show love in our society.

My husband and I are on a budget and we NEVER spend more than we make. In fact, we often spend far less than what we make and don’t own credit cards. Thankfully, gift giving has taken a back seat in our relationship, as money was always needed for higher priority things. This philosophy trickled into our parenting, as well. We choose to show our love by having intentional time with our son and each other, and not by giving him more stuff, when all he really wants is our affection, anyway.

What are some other ways we can reduce that astronomical statistic? I guarantee we will come nowhere near that average number with any of our children. Think about what your tiny human really needs, and save your money for those things. Please.