Affording a baby

Having a baby in tough times

Can you afford to have a baby in this economy?

There's always a reason to put off having a baby: You're too young, you're too new at your job, your career is just taking off, you just got married... The list can go on and on. But is having a baby in a recession too risky?

Is it wrong to have a baby when the country is in such dire financial straits? Parents of adult children are facing layoffs, losing their homes and struggling to put younger children through school. Meanwhile, newlyweds are facing similar financial issues (minus the kids) and wondering if the baby fever will have to wait.

So, can you afford it? Ann Douglas, author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books, says that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to family planning. "Still... some times are definitely better than others," Douglas said in her Pregnancy and Baby column. Douglas says that partners should consider finances, feelings and the state of the relationship before trying for a baby.

Finances of pregnancy and baby rearing

Any way you look at it, there are costs associated with having a baby. Some to consider are:

  • Prenatal care
  • Birth costs
  • Maternity clothes
  • Baby clothes
  • Diapers
  • Crib

There is also the potential cost of a breast pump (if breastfeeding) or bottles and formula (if formula feeding). Even if you breastfeed and cloth diaper, having a baby will mean spending money on some necessities.

Check out 21 ways to save on baby items >>

Laid off and delayed

The financial storm that hit the country a few years ago has affected more than bank accounts: It's left couples struggling, sometimes with both partners jobless or underemployed. That's the case for Deanna Miller and her husband who both lost their jobs within months of each other. "I was laid off April 1. He had lost his job back in December but had some job leads. We figured he'd probably have a job once the baby were to arrive. (We're realistic that we may not get pregnant on the first try.) Besides, I had the bigger salary, so he could always become a stay-at-home dad if he didn't have a job," says Deanna.

The couple decided to wait until their financial picture is more stable before trying for a baby. "When I lost my job, not only did we not even consider trying to get pregnant, I secretly rejoiced every time I got my period. We know that it's only June, so we're hopeful that our plans to get pregnant this year still happen, but it will just be later than we thought," says Deanna.

A ticking clock

Motherhood used to be what the young women did, or that's how it seemed. But these days, things are different. Women give birth well into their 40s; however, the women who put off maternity get a double dose of stress when it comes to conception: A ticking biological clock and potentially a financial time bomb.

However, that doesn't mean that having another baby is a no-go.

Heidi Eklund says that, ultimately, if her child has to go without things like video games, it's not a big deal. "I am a 40-year-old voiceover actress who finally found myself in a relationship where my partner wanted to have a child with me. Then, the economy went south. We are struggling financially, but I don't have time to wait — so we are trying. Plenty of children are born into struggling homes. My parents struggled, and their parents struggled. I grew up appreciating things when we had them, and I managed to do a lot of wonderful things in my life even though we didn't have extra money," says Heidi.

Going for it

Other couples aren't factoring finances into their decisions as much. Many couples who've skirted the jobless situation are going ahead with baby plans. "I am now 5 months along, due in mid-October. I have to say, it was a decision my husband and I made with little regard to the economy, and I think that's because we are both doing well in our careers with no real signs that economy will affect [us] anytime soon. I am 28, and my husband is 30, so we figured this was the perfect time to grow our family," says LaNesha Gipson. Gipson says that, despite the economy, she is considering opening her own business to work at home and care for her child.

As Cecille Hansen's mother told her, "If people waited until they felt they could really afford children, the species would have died out."

Tell us

Has the economy changed your decision to start a family? Comment below!

More on the cost of raising a baby

How much does it really cost to raise a child?
Raising a baby can be affordable — here's how

Saving for college during a recession

Tags: economy

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Comments on "Affording a baby"

M December 12, 2013 | 1:20 PM

we had been trying to get pregnant for a year before my husband lost his job, I work, but I am also going to school. He hasn't found steady work yet so our baby plans are on hold. there is a difference between having a plan and being reckless, which is what we would be at this point, so we are waiting until he is working again until we take the leap

tanya January 04, 2013 | 7:32 PM

If you really want to have a baby you will make whatever sacrifices necessary to afford it. There is no limit to the amount of joy a baby will bring you over the course of your life, so just get creative financially when necessary and go for it.

Kendra October 07, 2012 | 5:20 PM

There's always a reason not to have a baby. If you feel ready and most importantly, ready for the responsibility that comes with a baby, than I say go for it. I don't think anyone can ever be totally financially prepared for having and raising a baby.

Katie October 05, 2012 | 4:07 PM

Having a baby is definitely very pricey, but we aren't letting that stop us from having kids. There's always a way. I currently stay home but would be more than willing to go back to work if need be.

Laurel October 05, 2012 | 1:30 PM

There are always going to be reasons why something should be put off. But fear of finances shouldn't be one of them. If you put off having a baby til you are financially ready, then it will never happen! But if you and your husband are emotionally ready and think that with sacrifices, it could work, then do it!

Melissa October 05, 2012 | 1:22 PM

I am 19 years old pregnant, married, job-less, and living with family.....I wasn't supposed to get pregnant but I did and the economy has A LOT to do with having a baby. For example my hubby works 2 jobs and I was put to an "on-call" position from my job...I have never gotten a call to come in I am looking for a job. I have a high school diploma and graduated top of my class and yet there is no one who wants a pregnant lady working despite her education or job history. I want to continue my education or start a home business...but how when everything costs an arm and leg?! I am due in December and have NOTHING for my baby....we also live in another state from my entire family...he has a few family members but everyone is struggling!

S.... June 18, 2012 | 2:01 PM

Not really. It doesn't take a lot to raise a child, but even that little bit, I don't have a lot of right now... maybe.

Lauren June 05, 2012 | 3:04 PM

I don't think there's ever a perfect time to have a baby. If you wait until you're established enough in your career, have plenty of money in savings, traveled everywhere you want to go, your relationship is perfect, etc, you will never have one!! Luckily we are pregnant for 9 months, so that gives you plenty of time save and prepare as best as you can.

Aaron May 21, 2012 | 10:42 AM

I couldn't agree more with this article. However, if you are well obtained in a secure job, financially able, and ready for a child, I see there being no worry in having a child spite of the economy.

Lou April 17, 2012 | 3:42 AM

I'm 21 and have a 10 month old, and my partner and i had loads of negative comments, that we cld not afford a baby. We were meant to be getting married last year but decide to postpone it to this year, and we have not stubbled to much with affording a baby, as long you don't go stupid, if friends have babies and they offer you so clothes, don't be to proud to accept them, we have managed to pay for our own wedding to, it just depends on how you spend your money, you cld be 30 and spend loads of money that you did not need to.

Nicki April 16, 2012 | 4:52 AM

Im 26 and got married close to two years ago. We recently bought our house, bought a newer car and made sure all debts were paid before coming off contraception. We didnt want any major payments to save for before a baby came along. You can always find ways to put things off but we wanted to ensure we could provide the very best we could. We recently found out we are pregnant and actually must have conceived the same week we signed the papers for the mortgage to release the funds. Funny how life works. Now we can enjoy just saving for maternity rather than paying off debts etc.

tabby March 13, 2012 | 10:02 PM

I love that the couple who decided not to wait for a baby felt completely secure in their jobs. Meaning, the economy had no weight in their decision to have a child BECAUSE about a topic like this because the subject does not pertain to them. Pointless, pointless, pointless!

sarah January 25, 2012 | 3:33 PM

I think its everyone's personal choice for when the want to have a Child its not like We have not enough money in our banks to look after them its the Way you spend it that is the problem :)xx

joseph October 14, 2009 | 4:06 AM

i think raising a baby is quite expensive but a man or a lady will never be financialy stable in life a baby at is not a bad just have to fight sometimes in life .

carmen October 08, 2009 | 8:33 AM

I am waiting to have a baby. My husband and I just got married and we were thinking of giving ourselves at least 2 years of baby-freedom. Now, with the economy the way it is, we have to put my schooling on the backburner and it is stalling our careers so I don't know when I'll feel comfortable having a child. Sometimes I wish it will just happen by accident so the pressure will be off and I'll just have to deal with it when it happens.

christine edelen July 04, 2009 | 5:46 PM

I absoulutley agree with cecille's mom. If you waited till you were financially stable, you will never have kids! I'm 24 and I'm not going to wait till im in my 30's because by then its gonna be too late. I know alot of people that did their family planning with that thought in mind and now their regretting it. I say if you want to raise a family, do it. It does not matter what anyone else says about it.

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