It happens when you least expect it (and usually when your kids have grown out of their baby stage) — you start ogling babies passing by in strollers, waving at little toddlers in the booth behind you at a restaurant and even making silly faces back and forth with the kid in line with his mom at the grocery store. Then it hits you: You’ve got baby fever. But should you really have another baby? Before making the big decision, ask yourself these questions:
Can you afford it?
According to a report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “a middle-income family with a child born in 2011 can expect to spend about $234,900 ($295,560 if projected inflation costs are factored in) for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise that child over the next 17 years.”
Read up on affording a baby in tough times >>
This represents a 3.5 percent increase from 2010. And that doesn’t even include college. Check out the USDA’s cost of raising a child calculator to factor how much annually it will cost you to raise a child.
Despite the stats, check out these tips to raise a baby on a budget >>
How would another baby change your family?
It’s one thing to daydream about having a baby and it’s quite another to actually add another child to your family dynamic. Whether you have one child at home or 10, imagine how adding another to that number would change your life as well as the rest of your family’s lives.
Do you have easygoing, independent kids or kids that require special attention or have special needs? Remember that a baby is going to need your constant attention for a while — how will this affect the other members of your family? Kids are generally flexible so we’re not suggesting you let your decision fall entirely on whether or not your kids want another sibling. It is important to consider every factor, though.
Check out these tips for bridging the sibling gap >>
How badly do you really want another baby?
Are rose-colored glasses fogging your decision? If your children are a bit older, it’s easy to forget some of the difficult parts of the baby stage — the sleepless nights, not being able to leave the house without a slew of accessories like a stroller, diaper bag and pack ‘n play and traveling with a newborn. Think about how your current lifestyle will change if you add a newborn to the mix.
Is this just a phase?
It’s time to be realistic. Do you really want another baby or are you just having warm and fuzzy feelings because one of your friends recently introduced you to her darling newborn? If you’re not sure, offer to babysit the little one to give your gal pal a night off. After a few solo hours with a newborn, you’ll know for sure whether you’re committed to having another kid or if your baby fever is simply a passing phase.