According to Ann Douglas, the author of more than a dozen parenting books, including Family Finance: The Essential Guide for Canadian Parents, Canadian parents spend somewhere in the neighbourhood of $370 million a year on baby equipment.
"Don't overbuy and you don't necessarily have to buy everything all at once," advises Douglas. "Despite what some of the baby stores would have you believe, some of the basics your baby needs during his first weeks of life are a car seat, a safe place to sleep, a baby carrier, baby clothes and some diapers."
Formula for a one year will cost $1,500 to $2,500; diapers another $1,000 or so. All of the other equipment, from strollers to clothes to furniture, can add up to anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 depending on your choices. If you buy used, you can take advantage of considerable savings. Used clothing is an especially great money saver -- babies outgrow outfits so quickly that used ones may seem almost new.
The Chart below, from www.surebaby.com provides sample costs for other items (prices are for new items and, of course, not everything in the list is necessary):
What does the government contribute?
If you're self-employed, maternity or parental benefits are not available. Because you don?t pay into Employment Insurance program, you can't collect from it.
Working parents get 50 weeks of parental leave -- time off work to stay home and care for your baby. On leave, you can collect parental benefits at 55% of your weekly insurable earnings up to a set maximum. Sometimes a couple will share the leave, so mother returns to work earlier while the father takes a turn at home.
The application process is similar to the one for employment insurance benefits. Forms are available through Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). You can pick them up at your nearest HRSDC Human Resource Centre. Alternatively, you can apply online at http://www.100hrdc-drhc.gc.ca/ae-ei/dem-app/english/home2.html.
You may also qualify for the Canada Child Tax Benefit, the National Child Benefit supplement, The GST/HST credit, or one of the various provincial child benefits and bonuses.
If your partner has a salary, you could cut back on your spending after the baby arrives, and manage on one salary. Or you could plan ahead, and contribute to a short term investment product during your pregnancy in order to have a cushion after the baby arrives. A third option is to make use of a secured line of credit while you?re off, and pay it back when you return to work.
Figuring out ways to save costs right now will serve you well in the future, because raising a family is expensive no matter how old the children are.