The cost of raising a child

When you have a baby, you have a lot to think about – sleepless nights, how to put a nappy on, or whose eyes he or she has. What you’re probably not thinking about is how much raising this child is going to cost you. But perhaps you should be.

The government recently calculated that, for an average middle-income South African family, the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 years of age could reach up to R 1 681 470.

Sometimes it is difficult to relate to enormous numbers like these so, to putting it in context, your child is likely to cost you R256 a day or R7 785 a month. 

Take a deep breath. There are initial, very integral set-up costs and then there are the month-to-month costs.

Initial set-up costs:

  • The nursery: a cot, carry cot, change table, chair, curtains, décor and other necessities could set you back around R8 500. If you’re lucky you may get some of them as heirlooms or gifts.
  • Dummies: They cost around R80 for two.
  • Bath: That’ll cost you about R400.
  • Toiletries: These amount to R500 initially – unless you get lots of gifts at your baby shower!
  • Clothes to start: These can cost about R2 500, although this is also a favourite baby shower gift!
  • Play Gym: That comes in at around R700.
  • Blankets and linen: Expect to pay around R800, although this may be more if it’s a winter baby.
  • Daily items: The things you use on a daily basis are cotton wool, shampoo, soap and cream. A roll of cotton wool can last you up to two months, a small bottle of shampoo for four months, soap for three months and cream for around six months. These start-up costs will set you back around R200.

All in all, the initial set up cost is roughly: R14 000.

Then there are your monthly expenses like:

  • Medical Aid: It can cost an additional R600 a month for adding your child on.
  • Huggies® Nappies: That’ll round up to about R300 a month.
  • Clothing: You’ll be spending around R2 000 every 3 months.
  • Toiletries This will amount to about R300 a month.
  • Vaccinations: Privately, it can cost you about R1 600, but if you go to a Stork’s Nest Clinic, it will cost you R200 per month. At state funded clinics it will be for free or you’ll only pay a nominal fee. For the purposes of this budget, we’ll go with the private costs.

So this roughly amounts to R2500 a month.

But have you got everything covered? Under your toiletry expenses, you may want to add the following:

  • Huggies® Wipes: This will cost between R30-50 per month, but you can use a clean wet face cloth in place of the wipes.
  • Barrier/ Bum Cream: Buy bulk to save. One of our moms recommended using a 300g Bennetts tub per month to prevent nappy rash. It’s about R50 per tub, but works out cheaper than buying the smaller sizes.
  • Nappy Bags: A packet of 150 disposable bags costs you just under R30 and lasts you for more than a month.

This monthly total: Approximately R720.

Once your child starts on solids (between 4 to 6 months) you will also have to start buying food. For veggies and fruit, you can use fresh produce and prepare your baby’s food yourself. It’s more nutritious and cost-effective!

Raising your child on a budget

The more you earn, the more likely you are to spend more on your children. You will want to spoil your child, and if you can afford it, do it. But remember, the only thing your child actually needs is love (and the essentials, of course).

The other thing to consider is that the costs associated with kids change as they age. In the first 18 months there’s a big spike in expenses and, after two years, it flattens out, increasing slightly every year.

While there are basic costs involved in having children (and yes, these costs can sometimes take your breath away), there are steps you can take to ensure you’re not at the top-end of that figure.

Having a “future plan” in place for your finances is a good start.

Don’t let food go to waste – rather freeze those left-overs. Even that extra chicken drumstick can come in handy as lunch. Food is a huge cost in raising a child, yet the average person ends up throwing out 500g of food per person per day. If you can prevent or even reduce your food wastage it is going to help you lower your living costs.

As children get older, it can also help to have a clearly-defined line between “wants” and “needs”. It may be a good idea for all of us to consider this. Do you really need that brand-name R15 000 pram or will something that costs a lot less do just as good a job?

Try to teach your child from an early age that money doesn’t grow on trees, and get them accustomed to the monetary value of items like toys and clothes. That way they will learn to appreciate what things cost, and may even feel inclined to save up their pocket money for a particular item they want.

Most parents have no idea what they’re getting into financially when they have children. If a baby arrived with a bill, you’d be worried. Yes, it’s daunting. And yes, being a parent requires a lot – a lot of love, patience and money. But it’s definitely all worth it! 

 
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