Personal Finance

Cost of Baby’s First Year

Cost of Baby's First Year

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There are big changes in my household to take place in 2017! We are expecting!

Since we are expecting our first baby, it is a prudent idea to think about the costs of the baby’s first year and then budgeting for this. There are already so many decisions to make, and narrowing them down according to a premade budget makes it much easier (hopefully?) to plan for and to pay for. Perhaps it is somewhat similar to budgeting and planning for a wedding but actually less costly than a wedding!

When you are expecting for the first time, you welcome a lot of anxiety into your life, worrying about whether the baby is doing well, worrying about your caffeine intake, or your sushi intake, or your weight gain, or whether you can hear the heartbeat!

One of the first purchases of many first-time moms is buying “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”. Of course, you can save money by not buying “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” (which costs around $20-25 by the way) and just downloading the plethora of pregnancy apps out there, such as Baby Centre, or Ovia, or The Bump, which say the same thing pretty much as the aforementioned book without all the unnecessary detail.

Now for the rest of the costs for a baby’s first year: has a great modifiable calculator that can help you estimate for your baby’s first year and what it might cost. Bear in mind, that the website is American, so for those of us in Canada who have the luxury of maternity leave for a year and not necessarily needing to pay for childcare before the baby is 12 months old, the costs can be a bit different. Childcare is obviously, the most expensive expense for your child that you will have to pay.

Diapers: Cloth or Disposable?

Cloth or disposable, the perpetual question. I grew up on cloth diapers and I don’t even think there were cloth diapers laundering services at the time. Talk about dedicated parents!

Squawkfox has a great post on whether cloth diapers are worth it. If you buy a set of cloth diapers and launder them yourself, yes it is as you can also resell the cloth diapers for anywhere from 50-70% of their value, where the total cost is about $550 until your child is potty trained. The plus side is you’ll be sparing the environment on thousands of plastic diapers that take more than a lifetime to decompose. For disposable diapers, the approximate cost, according to Squawkfox, is $2350.

However, the caveat is laundering them yourself.

If you choose a diaper laundering service (if you live in a big city like me, this service is available), the cost per week is about $20+taxes but also includes diapers. The total cost for this (for 30 months of diaper changes) is about $2400, which makes this option the most expensive, but perhaps the least guilt-inducing.

However, keep in mind this is for 30 months, and that’s more than two years of cost, spread out over two and a half years, it’s not that bad.

BUDGET: $550-$1200 for diapers depending on what option you go with

RESP Contributions

Registered Education Savings Plan is an initiative created by the Canadian government that encourages parents to save for their children’s education. In return, the government gives you free money until your child reaches the age of 18 (really, you shouldn’t ever be saying no to free money, especially from the government). The maximum lifetime contribution is $50,000.

The free money is in the form of a CESG (The Canada Education Savings Grant). The government matches 20% of the first $2500 contributed annually to an RESP until the age of 17 and the maximum that the CESG will provide is $7200 per child.

The RESP, like an RRSP, is a tax-deferred savings plan, so any interest or gains that grow inside it are tax-free (for now). When it is withdrawn, it is then taxed. However, the student usually has little income so the money will not be taxed at a high rate.

So, for the first year of your baby’s life, budget $2500 if you can, because that means the government is giving you $500. With that, you’ll be off to a good start when they reach their post-secondary years.

BUDGET: $2500


You’ll be advised by health care professionals and others that ‘breast is best’ but if breastfeeding is difficult and not working out, don’t be hard on yourself (the pressure to be a perfect mother can add to the post-baby blues or postpartum depression).

If you breastfeed for the first six months to a year, the cost obviously is $0.

If you are planning to use a breast pump, add $150-$400 to this cost, because these things are expensive!

For formula, anticipate spending about $15-20 a month.

For solid foods introduced at 6 months, plan to spend about $50 a month.

BUDGET: $300 for breastfeeding and solid foods (not including the cost of the pump) $540 for formula and solid foods (not including the cost of bottles etc.)


If you’re planning to return to work before the 12 months of maternity and parental leave and planning to use childcare, the expenses can vary depending on if you are using a “home daycare” (less licensed, less stringent, and fewer children) or if you are going with a more licensed and professional daycare.

Nonetheless, especially in a big city like Vancouver expect to spend anywhere from $800 to $1400 for daycare per month. Usually, it’s even higher because childcare costs are higher for infants since they have higher needs than older children.

BUDGET: $800-$1400 per month of daycare before the child turns a year old


A stroller, books, baby clothes, bassinet or crib, a car seat, diaper bag, front carrier, high chair, bottles… the list goes on! Trust me, it is overwhelming for me too and I consider myself a pretty organized person.

Expect to spend anywhere from $2000 to $5000 for these items, depending on how high-end you go. Many stroller options are over $1000 these days, which is basically half of the low-end budget. Of course, if you buy used, or get clothes or other baby items donated to you, you will save a ton.

Baby stuff won’t last very long and you won’t need to use them for very long, unless you are planning to have another child.

Of course a lot of these items can be resold which reduces your budget. Or you can borrow from a lovely sister-in-law like I plan to do.

BUDGET: $2000-$5000.

What’s the Total Cost for a Baby for the First Year?

So expect the total cost of a baby’s first year (for a baby who is breastfed, not using childcare for the first year, and having the full $2500 contributed towards their RESP for post-secondary education) to be around $8000.

It can be difficult not wanting to spend a ton of money on your new baby; after all, it’s your first baby after all! However, just like your wedding, think about the important things, if it is going to only last 2 months, don’t spend that much on it! Don’t spend $50,000 on a wedding knowing you’ll be in debt because if you’re planning to have children you’ll have another $8000-$10,000+ to budget for!

Readers, what has your experience with the cost of your baby’s first year been? Was your baby’s first year more expensive or more economical than you had thought?


Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals.

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