The Cost of Raising a Baby

Many of the women who come to see us with an unintended pregnancy are terrified that they won’t be able to afford having a baby. I can certainly understand this reaction. Walk into your local Babies R Us and it is overwhelming. There is just so much stuff.

But the reality is that babies just don’t need that much. And most of it can be borrowed from friends or sold when baby is done with it, because they really don’t use them that long.

So after talking to moms and looking at lots of websites, I’ve come up with my own “baby essentials” list.

  1. A crib or pack and play. Don’t have room or money for a crib? A pack and play is just fine. Baby should be close to you for the first few months and a pack and play is perfect for that. You can also borrow a crib from a friend who has finished with hers.
  2. Diapers–whether disposable or cloth, you will need these. Be aware that there are local agencies like Heartbeat of Toledo ( and Baby University ( that can help you with free diapers.
  3. Wipes. My mom and her friends all used and reused cloth wipes to clean their babies’ bottoms. If you can’t abide by that, you can choose to make your own wipes for a fraction of the cost. is just one of the websites we’ve found for making your own wipes. There are also youtube videos on the subject.
  4. Food. Breastfeeding is best and it’s free. You can also get a free breast pump through your insurance company. Check with the Women Infant Children program (WIC) or Job and Family Services if you don’t have health insurance. WIC, Heartbeat, Help Me Grow and local food banks can also help with getting baby food.
  5. Clothing. You should not need to buy any new baby clothes. Babies outgrow their clothes so quickly that gently used sleepers and outfits are plentiful. You can get free clothing through Heartbeat of Toledo for each parenting class you complete. Ask your friends to borrow their clothes or go to one of the many kids’ resale shops in town. Best of all you can sell the outfits once your child has outgrown them.
  6. Blankets. You really don’t need many and you should be able to get them from friends or from the places listed above.
  7. Bouncy Seat. You can’t hold baby all the time and he/she will enjoy the stimulation of bouncing. Again, you should be able to get this free or very cheap.
  8. Bathtub. Baby is too small to go in your bath, but won’t need a baby bathtub for long. New ones are inexpensive and used ones are plentiful or free at many locations.
  9. Car Seat. This may be the biggest expense you will have as most places will not give out used car seats. If you borrow one from a friend, make sure it hasn’t been in an accident and make sure you have all the parts and the instructions. We highly recommend going through Safe Kids to get information on getting a car seat and installing it correctly
  10. Stroller. You don’t have to have the fanciest stroller on the block–a small umbrella stroller will work quite well and is easy to store. Ask a friend to borrow their’s.
  11. Bottles. Very inexpensive and good to have a few on hand since you might not always be available for breast feeding.
  12. Little toys/teethers/pacifiers. Your baby will need some stimulation. While you can provide much of that, a lot of babies enjoy exploring with their mouths and will appreciate teethers and pacifiers.
  13. Healthcare. Your child will need regular health check ups during the first two years. If health insurance is an issue, contact one of the Pathways agencies (Heartbeat of Toledo, East Toledo Family Center, Baby University, Adelante, Mercy Health, ProMedica among others), to see if you and/or your child qualify for Medicaid.
  14. Love. I’ve saved the most important for last. Giving your child lots of love and attention is what he or she needs most.

As you can see, most of these things can be borrowed from friends or gotten at low-cost from resale stores. There are also several agencies that help with baby items.