What to spend
Here is a handy guide of what you will need to buy, and how much to spend.
Figuring out how to juggle your finances once you have a new member of the family is an important part of preparing for your new life as a parent, particularly if you will be moving from two incomes to one. Your employer will advise you on how to apply for paid maternity leave which lasts for 14 weeks, and can begin six weeks before the expected date of birth or adoption (unless your LMC directs you to start earlier). You are entitled to either your gross weekly rate of pay (your pay before tax) or $516.85, whichever is lower.
In 2009 the IRD came up with an estimate that raising a child will cost approximately $14,000 a year. This is a daunting prospect for most families. While the first year can be less costly in some departments, particularly if you’re breastfeeding and spending most of your time close to home, there are lots of purchases that need to be made to set yourself up right for your first child. A recent study in the United Kingdom found that parents spend on average NZ$6574 on essentials in the baby’s first year of life.
Although there are lots of wonderful things you can buy for your precious baby, not all of them are necessary. Most mums will be able to name some item – if not several – that they were seduced by in the shop, but which they never even unwrapped. Of the things that people typically purchase for a newborn there can be a great variation in styles and therefore price tags. On the opposite page are some of the purchases you’ll need to consider, with some rough costs and tips on deciding how much to spend.
If you aren’t going to be using something for a long period such as an infant capsule car seat or a breast pump, it may be more economical to hire than to purchase.
On the other hand, if you’re planning on having a big family, the initial outlay might be worth it. Buying things second-hand is another smart idea as it can be shocking how quickly a baby passes through each phase and items become redundant.
- For more information visit dol.govt.nz and search parental leave.
- To calculate exactly how much you can afford to spend on the things you want and need for your new addition visit sorted.org.nz and search ‘having a baby’.
Nappies: Disposables start at 30−40c per nappy and increase to 50−60c as they get bigger, so $1000−$1750 for the year if using disposables exclusively. Wipes: varies between $200−$750 per year, if using disposables exclusively. Changing table: $90−$500 or Mat: $20
- There’s no way round the fact that your baby is going to be busy filling nappies as fast as you can change them in the first few months of life (and beyond). A good way to save money therefore is to buy in bulk when there’s a good price on nappies. If you can’t face the prospect of lugging several boxes home from the supermarket at once then look into doing your shopping online so they are delivered directly to your door.
Car seat: $60-$700. Pram: from $200-$1000+. Front pack or sling: $50-$250
- A top-of-the-range pram with all the accessories might be your most expensive purchase but if you’re hoping to go jogging with baby in the early months, or know you’ll be out and about a lot and want your baby to be able to sleep easily while away from home, it might be worth making this investment. If you keep it in good nick there is always the option to resell it afterwards. If you think you’ll only be going short distances, or like the idea of keeping baby close in the first few months, a front pack or sling might be all you need. As baby gets bigger, a lightweight stroller will be fine for short distances where you’re not expecting your child to sleep.
- An infant capsule is usually only needed for the first few months so it might be a good option to hire one from Plunket instead of buying one (plunket.org.nz). Some of the more expensive models convert from capsule to car seat so will last through the first few years. This may be a better investment if you don’t mind spending the cash up front.
Formula: $20-40 per tin Bottles: $10 each. Teets: $10 for two (these need to be updated as baby grows) and a steriliser: $70−$200. Breast pump: from $100 (manual) up to $800 (double, electric). Baby food:$1−$3 per jar. Highchair: $90−$300
- Bottles only need to be sterilised for the first three months of baby’s life and this can be done by boiling them so you might decide not to spend the money on a steriliser. On the other hand, a microwave steriliser ($70) might be worth having in those hectic early weeks.
- In most instances it will cost less to make your own pureed fruit and veggies in bulk but even with the best of intentions this can fall by the wayside, so budgeting for some packaged food is probably a good idea.
Bassinet: $99−$350. Cot: $250−$800 (designer version over $1000). Hammock: $300+. Mattress: $80−$200.
- It is illegal to sell a cot, new or second-hand, that doesn’t meet the Australian and New Zealand safety standard (see sids.org.nz and cot safety for more details). How much you spend is really a matter of how you want it to look. Bassinets only last for the first few months for many babies, depending on how fast they grow. If you decide to save money by buying a second-hand one, be sure to check that the mattress is clean and has not been stored in a damp place or become mouldy. If you purchase a new mattress (this is recommended), ensure it is the correct fit for your cot or bassinet.
- This one really depends on how much you want or can afford to spend. A newborn will be fine with a few basic onesies ($10 each), cardigans and hats, depending on the season. Remember they may go through several in a day, so have enough that you’re not having to constantly do laundry.
Bouncinettes can range from $45 for a basic model to $400 for a leather baby lounger. Activity mat/gym:$100−$150. Toys: $2 for bubble mixture – the sky is the limit!
- When first born, your baby’s sight won’t be fully developed so he will only be able to detect light, shapes and movement and it will all be pretty fuzzy. Your face will be all the entertainment he needs, so spend lots of time staring at each other. In the next few months your baby will begin to enjoy bright colours and high contrast images but you don’t need to spend money on particular toys – it can just be a piece of patterned fabric or a picture. Moving baby around so he gets a change of scenery will also provide plenty of stimulation. At around four months a baby can grip things so a rattle might become of interest.
- Once they are ready to start playing with toys there are so many things on offer. Go for sturdy toys that will stand up to being sucked, thrown and sat on. A toy library or toy swaps with other mums is a great way to save money. Pots, pans, wooden spoons and other safe household objects can also provide great entertainment.
- As well as all the purchases you have to make, other household costs like your power bills can increase if you’re home all the time, particularly over winter. Your baby’s room will need to be kept at around 18−20˚C for safe sleeping so you may need to buy an oil column heater ($30−$220). You’ll probably also use more water for baths and laundry so bear these things in mind and don’t be caught short when the bills roll in.
Nipple cream: $15. Maternity bras: $35−$80. Maternity tops: $30−$80. Breast pads: $25 (cotton/washable), $15 (disposable).
- Comfortable, well-fitted bras and a top that you find it easy to breastfeed in, especially out in public, are definitely worth the money. Grocery bills may increase slightly as breastfeeding mothers need plenty of healthy sustenance. As well as the essentials it’s worth investing in a good hand moisturiser at this time as you’ll find you are washing your hands all the time, which can be very drying.
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