Baby Expenses

New Baby and Newborn Hospital Costs

Last week we welcomed our baby daughter into the world. She is quite healthy, happy (in a screaming, crying sort of way) and cute as a button. Mom, Dad and big brother are all doing quite well except for a lack of sleep which will hopefully go away in a few years. 🙂

Hospital costs for the new baby

I decided to keep track of the costs incurred during hospital visit. Our total cost for the three night stay (c-section) was $424. Here is a breakdown:

  • Parking – $144
  • Pharmacy costs (diapers etc) – $55
  • Cafeteria – $35
  • Rooms – $150. The rooms are actually $260 per night but my employer insurance covers $210 of that so our cost was $50 per night.
  • Gas – I made a lot of trips between home and hospital so I estimate the cost at $40.

The diet

Ok, enough about the baby already – what about Mike’s diet you are undoubtedly asking? Diet went well – I managed to eat pretty healthy and avoid the junk food. It was interesting remembering the kind of items I was buying two years ago when my son was born – a lot of coffee, donuts, two bite brownies, cream soups etc. This time it was much healthier foods and I think I felt a lot better for it.


Carnival of Personal Finance #145 was hosted at Million Dollar Journey who ironically did a “Baby Education Edition”.

Baby Expenses

The Perfect Gift For A Newborn Baby


Many people have encountered the situation where a friend or relative is having a baby and they want to buy a gift for the new addition, but they don’t know what to get.
Two years ago we welcomed our son into the world and received quite a variety of gifts, services and food which has made us realize that what may seem like a great gift for a new baby or parent might be a life saver or it might be quite useless. As we await the arrival of our second child, I’ve been reflecting on what kind of items are good gifts for new parents and what might be bad gifts and have decided to share my thoughts here.

Buy a gift for the new parents instead

Mr. Cheap was visiting last week and brought my wife a book as a gift – Guns, Germs & Steel which we are both interested in reading. Unless you have some specific directions as to what the new child requires then chances are they don’t need what you will buy them. Instead I would suggest buying something for Mom and Dad.

  • Alcohol – ok, this is more for Dad if Mom is breastfeeding, but it’s always a great gift.
  • Money – nothing is better than this.
  • Food – trying to prepare food in the first week or two of a new baby (especially if it is the first) is really tough. The best gifts that we received were cooked food that was delivered to our doorstep. All we had to do was heat and eat.
  • Services – this could include things like grocery shopping (the parents have to prepare a detailed list), mowing the lawn, cooking a meal, cleaning etc. Be careful with this one – if you have to ask a million questions while cleaning the kitchen then you aren’t doing any favours.
  • Babysitting – if the newborn has any older brothers and sisters then volunteer to spend time with them. You don’t have to take them away to an amusement park – just playing with them and reading stories in their living room will be a huge help to the parents who will be occupied enough with the newborn and might not have the patience to read Curious George for the 20th time that day.
  • Cleaning service – either hire them directly or give a gift certificate. This might not be appropriate for the couple of weeks.
  • Diapers – giving new parents diapers is like giving them cash.  I would avoid the newborn size and go with size one or two.
  • Educational savings – this won’t happen right away but consider helping out with an RESP (Canadian) or 529 plan (American).
  • CPR/first aid course – these cost money and would be a great gift. This would be best given before the baby is born.

Buy a gift for a sibling.

I never thought of this before, but Mr. Cheap bought a book called “I’m going to be a big brother” for my son which was an awesome gift. If you want to buy something for any siblings of the newborn then buy something small or talk to the parents for suggestions.

Baby Clothes – I would stay from baby clothes unless they are specifically requested or unless of course they have the labels of the parent’s favourite sports teams. The problem with clothes is that the cuter the outfit, the less it will probably get worn. Shoes are a complete and utter waste of money for a baby who can’t walk. If you think the parents are in a situation where they need clothes or other baby items, then talk to them first and maybe buy a gift certificate. Don’t expect the parent to know exactly what they need.

Toys complete waste of money. For the first two or three months, babies are more stimulated by looking at different patterns than any toy you might buy. Plus this is is one of the default gifts that everyone gets so they will undoubtedly have too many already.

Other baby items – cribs, monitors etc. Talk to the parents before buying anything.


Newborns don’t really need or want anything you can buy for them, so consider buying a gift or performing a service for a different family member who might appreciate it. Doing some errands, bringing some prepared food or babysitting for the family will be appreciated far more than any standard gift for the baby. Most important thing is to talk to the new parents before buying anything.

Baby Expenses

RESPs – Baby Expenses XI

The post is part of the Baby Expenses Series. See the entire series here.

See all RESP posts here.


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RESP – Registered Education Savings Plan.

RESP is a type of investment account in which all income and growth are tax sheltered until the time of withdrawal and there are government grants which equal 20% of the contributions.

One bit of advice is not to worry about contributing to an resp right away unless you are on solid financial ground. Make sure your own finances are secure before you start saving for a future uncertain cost. I’ve found that opening an account does allow relatives (read grandparents) a great avenue for gifts so that’s one reason not to wait too long.

Basic rules:

You have up to 18 grant contribution years starting in the year where your child is born or 1998 whichever is later. The last year you can get a grant is the year when they turn 17. Each of those years, the child accrues $2500 of eligible “contribution room” which means they will receive the 20% CESG grant. In any given year, they can get a maximum grant of $1000. For example if a child is born in 2007 and the parents start the resp in 2008, they can contribute $5000 right away and get $1000 in grants. Lower income families are eligible for more grants as well.

When the money is withdrawn by the student, the original contributions are tax free (since they were already taxed) and the growth and income portion is taxed in the hands of the student. If the child does not go to school then the subscriber of the account can collapse the account and get the original contributions returned tax free and the growth and income portion will be taxed at their marginal tax rate + 20%. In that case the grants will be returned to the government. One thing to keep in mind is that the resp doesn’t have to be collapsed until the 26th year so even if you know the kid isn’t going to school you can delay the collapse and hopefully time it with retirement which would really cut down the tax bill.

I think these plans are a great way to save for your child’s education because of the government grants as well as the fact that no taxes will be paid on the account until withdrawal – and even then the growth portion of the account will be taxed in the hands of the student, not the subscriber. There is the risk that the child will not go to school which would be a problem because of the taxes involved. However I’d say that one way to look at it is to think about how much money you will get back from the resp if the child goes to school (zero) and how much you’ll get back if they don’t go to school – not as much as if you had just invested it outside the resp but it’s still a lot more than zero.

You can set these accounts up at pretty much any bank although I think the discount brokerages are the best place for these since they give you easier access to low cost index funds. TD e-funds are the best choice for these accounts.

Asset Allocation:

I would suggest having a high component of equity in the beginning (I have 100%) and then gradually switch to be more conservative over the years. I would think by the time the child is about 14, the account should be mostly money market or short term bonds.

Warning – Don’t buy into group pooled plans since they are not a very good deal. If you are already in one then don’t worry about it, it’s not worth changing.

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Baby Expenses

Baby Expense X

The post is part of the Baby Expenses Series. See the entire series here.

Life insurance:

Once you have a baby then your life insurance needs will probably increase. Obviously you don’t need to have a baby before getting life insurance but it’s a pretty typical time for people to start thinking about it. I have a couple of posts planned on this topic which will go through the calculations that I went through for my own life insurance. I would suggest that you don’t delay getting this because it can take quite a while from the time you call an insurance company to the time you get covered – probably one month minimum. Just get term insurance, universal or whole life insurance is not worth it.

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When – start working on it once you know you are pregnant. If Dad kicks the bucket before the baby is born then the need for life insurance is still there.

Cost – depends on how much you have and how long and how old you are and your health etc etc. For someone in good health in their 30’s you can get $250k for about $20/month.

Hospital rooms and parking:

At our hospital shared rooms cost $205 per night which was covered by my work benefits. Private rooms cost $45 more and we elected to pay the extra cost. Because it was fairly busy when we had our baby, there were no private rooms available the first night but for the second and third night we got a private room. Phone calls were $2 each and we just noticed that we got charged $16 for something called a “birth journal” which we never got.

Parking cost us around $18 per day which is quite a bit so you have to consider this as well. This might be dependent on the region, I was recently at a hospital in a smaller city and the parking was only $3 which is pretty insignificant. Another cost is food, our hospital had a fairly good cafeteria with reasonable prices but it’s probably more money then you would have spent on food at home.

One note on the room costs and parking – don’t assume you will be in the hospital for just one night. If you are planning a regular birth then they will probably tell you that it’s one night, however if anything changes or there are any kind of irregular readings then they will make you stay longer. I have several friends who ended up staying in the hospital for 5-7 nights because of irregular test results – the babies ended up not having anything wrong with them but the doctors are very cautious with newborns. In our case we ended up getting a C-Section which meant a mandatory three day stay. I have to say that I didn’t mind being in there for three days because you have the benefit of the nurses when you run into problems. Usually the first 24 hours, the baby is sleeping most of the time and relatively quiet and you will start thinking that this isn’t so hard. Then the screaming begins… 🙂

Pre-Natal Courses:

My wife and I took two courses – one was a course on the actual birthing experience (labour) and the other was about how to care for a newborn child. I had been told by numerous friends that these courses were a complete waste of time and sure enough they were. I don’t remember the exact costs but I think they were about $180 per couple for each course.

The birth course is a waste of time because your actual experience will probably not resemble the “normal” experience. The other thing is that when you have a baby, you don’t have to know anything – the doctors, nurses etc will tell you what to do and when to do it.

The child caring course was a bit better but the one thing I wanted to learn from it was how to change a diaper and they didn’t cover it.


Most expectant parents will buy a book or two and pregancy, labour and caring for a newborn. This is a worthwhile effort but I would suggest not reading too many books since (like finance books) they are often contradictory. Try to borrow books from friends or sign them out from the library. We read “What to Expect When Expecting” and thought it was pretty good.

Tomorrow I’ll finish off the baby theme week with a post about RESPs.

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Baby Expenses

Baby Expenses IX

The post is part of the Baby Expenses Series. See the entire series here.

This is a list of items that either we used or things that I know people typically get with a new baby – I’ve indicated whether I think it’s mandatory and the timing of when you need it. I’ll put an approximate price for new items which is generally on the lower end – you can spend much more if you want . I’ve split it up into a number of posts which is in keeping with my tradition of not having excessively long posts.

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Clothes: It’s hard to list a definitive list of the exact clothes you will need since the season the baby is born will be a big factor in this category. Our child was born in the summer so we needed a lot of onesies and sleepers. These are the basic clothes that your child will wear. Our little guy didn’t wear any pants for a long time but a winter baby probably will need these more. Shirts or sweaters will long sleeves would be appropriate for the winter. Add in some socks and you’ve got your indoor wear. The number of outfits is debatable since it depends how much washing you want to do. Newborns can go through several outfits a day so this is one area where it doesn’t hurt to have more. For outside, a jacket and blankets, mitts and a toque are necessary. If you are travelling somewhere in the car then you don’t really have to put the kid in a snowsuit since you can just bundle up the car seat with extra blankets. One more thing about clothes – the sizes don’t mean very much. You really have to look at the length of the clothes and the baby and figure out if it will fit.

Hats: in the winter you will need a couple of toques, in the summer you’ll want a couple of sun hats or baseball caps plus suntan lotion.

Nail clippers: These are very important since the baby will probably need a clipping as soon as they are born. Usually a weekly clipping is sufficient.

Blankets: Some baby sized blankets are necessary. These can be purchased or you can just cut up some larger blankets if you want.

Baby wash cloths & towels: You can use normal ones but having smaller sized items is a bit more convenient

Sleep Sack: This is like a sleeping bag for the kid. Very useful for the winter months.

Toys: I’m not a big fan of toys for newborns for two reasons – one – they don’t need them and two – this is one of the main “default” gifts that you will get. I can guarantee that you will get at least one toy that will clearly say on the box “ages 3+” for your newborn from some well meaning relative. Once they get a couple of months old it doesn’t hurt to have a few toys but don’t go overboard.

This concludes my list of specific baby items that you might want – if there are any that I missed that you found useful (or not) then feel free to comment.

Some other costs:

Food: This will depend a lot on whether the baby is breast feeding or using formula. When breast feeding, the mother will require about 500 calories more per day so that will increase your food bill a little bit. I don’t personally know the costs of formula but according to Canadian Financial Stuff it costs around $25 per week. Don’t assume that you will be successful at breast feeding, this is one of those things that we had assumed would be quite easy since it’s a natural process but unfortunately nobody told us how difficult it would be. We had all kinds of problems with breast feeding for about a month, I wanted to give up and go to formula but my wife hung in there and made it happen. My advice to new parents with respect to breast feeding is not to assume it will be easy and to make use of the free breast feeding clinics that are available.

Usually around six months the child starts on baby food and then normal food. Hard to quantify this but I would say that from six months to one year he probably adds $15 per week to the grocery bill on average.

Diapers – $60/month – We use Teddy’s brand from Loblaws which is $25 for 168 diapers + $10 per wipes. This goes down over time but at one year, they still go through quite a few diapers.

Tomorrow we’ll keep going with “other costs”.

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Baby Expenses

Baby Expenses VIII

Another post in my “baby theme week“.

This is a list of items that either we used or things that I know people typically get with a new baby – I’ve indicated whether I think it’s mandatory and the timing of when you need it. I’ll put an approximate price for new items which is generally on the lower end – you can spend much more if you want. I’ve split it up into a number of posts which is in keeping with my tradition of not having excessively long posts.

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Baby Carriers:

We had several of these that were all borrowed and we ended up not using any of them. I’m not sure why they didn’t catch on but I guess we were both satisfied with using the stroller or carrying Junior around. If we have another child though we are going to make more of an effort to try a carrier since it seems like a pretty good way to move the kid around. Carriers are better when the child is younger (and lighter) so probably the first four months is the best time for this. If you have a winter baby then it might be more useful since you’ll want to keep the little bundle of joy warm when you go for a walk. Our little guy was born in the summer so that’s probably one of the reasons we didn’t use the carrier very much.

When: Newborn to ??. It really depends on the parents and how much weight they can carry. I would think that somewhere between 15-20 pounds would be the maximum.

Cost: $30.

Diaper bag:

This is yet another product that I had no idea existed before having a kid. The main benefit of a proper diaper bag is the different compartments which can hold things like bottles, diapers (duh!), wipes, toys, food, extra clothes etc. We used a cloth bag for the first few months since all we had for the diaper bag was an extra set of clothes, some diapers and wipes. If your baby is on formula or is a bit older (six months+) then the proper diaper bag can come in handy as you will need to bring more “stuff” with you when you go out with the baby.

When: As soon as baby is born.

Cost: $25

Vibrating chair:

We actually had one of these things (borrowed) – more like a chaise lounge for the newborn set or “electric chair” as I liked to call it. I wouldn’t recommend going out and buying one, but it was pretty neat and Junior seemed to enjoy it.

When: After baby is a couple of weeks old. They will outgrow it pretty quickly so you might get two or three months out of it.

Cost: $50.


This is definitely the most overpriced piece of foam ever. It’s kind of useful since it will hold the child in place so you can leave the room or just get a break. We used ours for the bath (you’re not supposed to) and it worked ok for that. We bought it on a gift card but we could have bought diapers with it instead.

When: Around three months.

Cost: $65 at Toys’r’Us.

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Baby Expenses

Baby Expenses VII

The post is part of the Baby Expenses Series. See the entire series here.

This post is a list of items that either we used or things that I know people typically get with a new baby – I’ve indicated whether I think it’s mandatory and the timing of when you need it. I’ll put an approximate price for new items which is generally on the lower end – you can spend much more if you want . I’ve split it up into a number of posts which is in keeping with my tradition of not having excessively long posts.

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Diaper Genie:

This little device basically does sort of a shrink wrap on the dirty diapers so that you don’t have to smell anything until garbage day. In

Toronto we have a green box recycling program which takes diapers but not wipes so what we did was put the #1 diapers into the green box and the #2 diapers (and wipes) went into the diaper genie and eventually into the garbage.When: When the baby is born.Cost: $30-$40. Bag refills are $10 and last about two weeks.Rocking chair:My wife did a lot the feeding on this and sometimes we rocked him to sleep on it. Definitely not essential but it came in handy.


Cost: $250.

When: As soon as the baby is born.


We borrowed one of these from friends. Junior really enjoyed it for a couple of months but once they get mobile then they lose interest. One of the big benefits of an exersaucer is that once they start crawling, Mom can stick junior into it while she goes to the bathroom.

When: Not before about three months.

Cost: $100

Play mat:

This is a cloth mat with shapes on it and it has some suspended toys above it. I really thought it was a complete waste of money. When babies are born their vision isn’t that great and over the first three or four months it gradually gets better. What this means is that they can be entertained and learn just from looking around their environment which is constantly changing (in their eyes). Another thing I read is that they love looking at different patterns. Stripes are a particular favourite of newborns. Rather than buy an expensive play mat I think providing the baby with different patterns to look at would be more beneficial.

When: Six weeks to when they start to crawl.

Cost: $70.

Baby monitor – mandatory:

You put the “listener” end of this device in with the baby and keep the speaker near you when the baby is sleeping. You will know right away if he wakes up.

When: When baby is born.

Cost: $30.

Nursing pillow:

This pillow is a firm U shaped pillow that is placed on the mother’s lap and helps hold the baby up for breast feeding. Here is a link to a rather nice looking pillow. This is more of a personal choice since theoretically any pillows will do, but we found it worked quite well and would recommend one.

When: As soon as the baby is born.

Cost: $40.

Baby Swing:

I have friends who swear by their baby swings and said that it helped calm the baby on many occasions. Our little guy however, didn’t seem to like it that much and we found it awkward getting him in and out of the one that we borrowed.

When: Probably not before three months.

Cost: $100.

Baby Bath:

We borrowed one of these from friends and liked it quite a bit. It’s definitely not essential since you can use any large basin in the beginning or even the sink. Once the kid gets a bit bigger and can hold his head up – probably around two months then you can just wash them in the regular tub.

When: As soon as that baby is born.

Cost: $30.

Pack and Play portable crib:

I would rate this as almost essential. You don’t really need one for your own house although they are very useful, but if you are going to travel anywhere with a child that is mobile and normally sleeps in a crib then it is essential since you won’t be able to bring the crib with you.

When: Once kid starts to get mobile.

Cost: $60 for a small one at Zellers.

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Baby Expenses

Baby Expenses VI

The post is part of the Baby Expenses Series. See the entire series here.

This is a list of items that either we used or things that I know people typically get with a new baby – I’ve indicated whether I think it’s mandatory and the timing of when you need it. I’ll put an approximate price for new items which is generally on the lower end – you can spend much more if you want. I’ve split it up into a number of posts which is in keeping with my tradition of not having excessively long posts.

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Changing table:

I would say these are useful but to be honest we never got one because we figured we would just change Junior on the floor until we got a table and we liked the floor option. Once the child starts rolling then it’s definitely safer to change on the floor. We just put a towel and a change mat on the floor and that worked fine.

When: If you’re going to get one then you should have it when the baby is born.

Cost: I saw a nice one at Sears that had a couple of shelves underneath for $129.

Change mat – mandatory:

You need one for the diaper bag one for changing diapers at home regardless of where you change them. You put it on top of whatever you’re changing the baby on and then put the baby on the change mat.

When: When baby is born.

Cost: Cheap – $5?

Dresser – I saw an ad recently for a used crib set which included a crib, mattress, cradle, change table, dresser (matches the crib), valance and wall hangings (what the hell are these for?) which they paid over $2300 for new and were now asking $600. All I can say is that a dresser is necessary because you will end up with quite a few baby clothes and will need a place to store them, but the condition, age and colour of said dresser doesn’t matter at all. We used a simple dresser that I had purchased in university for $20. It has been repainted a couple of times but it works just fine and looks great, even if it doesn’t match the crib.

When: Ideally you should have one by the time the baby is born, but you can get away without one for a while.

Cost: $100 at Zellers. You can spend a lot more if you want, especially if it’s part of a fancy set.

High Chair – mandatory:

You need this for feeding the little girl/guy. Normally they don’t start eating regular food before about 5-6 months but we started to put our guy in it around 3 months so that he could hang out with us at meal time.

When: 3-6 months old.

Cost: $100

Booster seat:

This is a seat you strap onto a normal chair so that Junior can sit at the table with you if you don’t have your high chair handy. We got one of these when Junior was about 7 months. They are pretty useful if you are going out somewhere and want to feed him (ie a relatives/friends house). Also good if you have visiting babies who are hungry and need a place to sit.

When: Six months or later.

Cost: $35.

Baby gates:

These will be essential once the baby starts to get mobile which is normally around 7-12 months. From the time our baby starting being able to move around a little bit, it took about a month before he could crawl so we had lots of time to think about baby gates. There are different types of gates – the best type is where you screw the hardware in to the wall/trim and attach the gate. This type is mandatory for the top of the stairs. There will be a bit of damage to your walls/trim but that’s nothing compared to the damage the kid will do when they get older. You can probably install one of these in about an hour or so. Another type of gate we have doesn’t screw into the wall but instead has four bolts that can be adjusted to get the gate to stay up. The last type we have which we didn’t use was a sliding plastic gate. You are supposed to put the gate in the doorway, open it up until the pressure holds it in place and then lock it in position. This might work in a house where the door frames are approximately 90 degrees but in our 90 year old house it was useless.

When: Probably not before six months and sometimes well after that. I would wait until the kid starts to move a bit before worrying about these. They do get in your way so there is no point in putting them up before you need them. This also applies to the baby proofing. Don’t stress out about this, you will have plenty of time to prepare an area of the house so it’s safe for baby and you can relax and watch them play. Don’t try to proof the whole house – impossible.

Costs: $70 at Ikea – very nice ones. We used five in our house, but the number you will need is dependent on the house configuration as well as how much of your house you want to baby proof.

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