Veteran parents have resigned themselves to the inevitable reality, while new parents experience sticker shock. That reality, of course, is the expense parents must shell out to care for a baby in his or her first year.
A few days ago, I remarked to my wife that our 9-month-old daughter is a greater expense per month than our 8-year-old and 5-year-old, COMBINED. All we have to do is feed our older daughters, plus buy them a few clothes and pay for activities such as dance, soccer and tumbling once in awhile.
A baby, however, requires diapers, wipes, and formula, on a monthly (and sometimes weekly) basis not to mention other “capital” expenses before he or she arrives (or soon after) such as a car seat, stroller, crib, porta-crib, high chair, and more.
Fathers are the most susceptible to the baby financial blues as they are, in general, more focused on money. One need only watch a few episodes of HGTV’s show “House Hunters” for an excellent example of that. The first question of nearly every husband on that show about each house is the price, while the wives are much more concerned about amenities and aesthetics.
But when it comes to baby supplies, amenities and aesthetics take a back seat. It’s all about functionality. Do these diapers leak easily? Are these wipes too harsh on the baby’s skin? Does this formula upset the baby’s stomach? These are the questions parents ask about such products and if the answers to these questions are yes, then it’s time to move on to a different product.
Getting back to expenses, I’m not surprised by the recent rash of formula theft rings. The stuff’s akin to gold. A 22.2-ounce can of regular Enfamil formula will set you back $26 at Wal-mart. The specialty formulas are a little more expensive than that, of course. Thank goodness for Kirkland brand formula at Costco, which retails for $18 for a 40 ounce can and, according to our pediatrician, is basically the exact same thing as Enfamil. Thank goodness for Costco period when it comes to baby supplies. While you obviously have to buy more up front, the cost per unit is cheaper than anywhere else, even Wal-mart as the formula example shows. Costco is our go-to supplier for baby essentials, hands down.
The hit to the pocketbook isn’t the only down-side of a baby in his or her first year. The three other major annoyances, especially for fathers, are as follows:
DIAPER CHANGES: Diaper changes: when one has to stop whatever one is doing to endure contact with bodily fluids and excrement. My mother-in-law makes fun of us for sometimes using the rock-paper-scissors method to decide who gets to change the diaper, especially one of the poopy variety, because who would willingly volunteer to be subjected to stinky fecal matter, putting themselves in danger of getting it on their clothes, or worse, their hands!?!?
You’ve heard of three-alarm, five-alarm, or even ten-alarm fires? That’s similar to how we measure diaper changes at our house, by how many wipes it takes to completely remove the defecation. A three-wipe diaper change is not so bad, but a ten-wipe diaper change? That inevitably means an outfit change along with it and those outfit changes seem to regularly include kicking and screaming. Ten-wipe diaper changes, in addition to the outfit change, invariably lead to scrubbing poop stains out of the previous outfit. Ten-wipe diaper changes are manageable when in the confines of your own home. However, a ten-wipe diaper change on the road is reason to panic and often can lead to improvisation, making due with less-than-ideal circumstances, usually the result of the unavailability of an adequate changing pad. These improvisation-required diaper changes leave one wondering how to protect the impromptu changing surface from a poop stain. On these occasions, I have usually used the closest plastic thing I can find to protect the surface, which is almost invariably a plastic grocery bag. An experienced parent can usually spare anything else from a poop stain, but a novice might not have as good of luck. With practice, however, the poop stains become non-existent or negligible.
RUDE AWAKENINGS: Every night we plead with our baby to allow us a full night’s sleep before she falls asleep, however, most nights she doesn’t comply with our requests. Instead, she wakes up, usually between 1 to 4 a.m., demanding a bottle. After my wife’s breast milk gave out, I began to take some turns in the almost-nightly ritual of giving her necessary soporific sustenance. When I do, I try to focus on the silver lining – a little extra reading time. However, sometimes that leads to even less sleep because, even after rocking her back into a slumber and placing her gently in her crib, I stay up to read even more. Other times, however, I’m not awake enough to comprehend anything I’m reading and end up reading it again.
Another positive of this is one-on-one bonding time in the middle of the night is it will live on in memory because, as a saying on a plaque on the wall of our baby’s room says: “Babies don’t keep.” They unfortunately grow up and grow out of needing to be rocked to sleep.
SPEWINGS: During our baby’s first 4-5 months of life, we conveniently placed a burp rag in an accessible place in nearly every room of our house because you never knew when spitting up could happen, which has been quite often. Nowadays, the number of burp rags lying around has decreased significantly because our baby only spits up about once a day, if that. The silver linings with spit up is that it washes out much easier than poop (you’ll hardly ever find a spit-up stain) and as I’ve alluded to, they eventually grow out of it. Hmmm . . . too bad they didn’t grow out of what comes out the other end!