Today’s post is the third in the ‘Cost of Raising Baby’ series. Previously we discussed infant formula and disposable diapers. This week we’re going to look at the cost of clothing during a baby’s first year.
To start off, lets go over some assumptions. There are a lot of variables in the cost of baby clothes, more so than either formula or diapers. For this analysis we’re going to assume your baby goes through the typical clothing size progression: newborn, 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, and 12 months. Depending on how fast your little one grows you may even need to buy 18 month clothes. So, we’re looking at five or six different clothing sizes during the first year.
How Many Outfits Do I Need?
Since babies grow so fast, it really does not make sense to have a closet full of newborn clothes, or really any one size. Typically your baby will only be in one size for two or three months. When you think about it, that’s only 60 to 90 days. If you have 15 outfits, that works out to wearing each one 4 to 6 times. Now I will say that as a newborn, our son had reflux (spit-up) issues and went through multiple outfits in a day. So I’m not saying to only have 15 outfits, just to keep in mind that the more outfits you have the fewer times each individual outfit will be worn.
How Much Do Baby Clothes Cost?
There is a lot of variability here, depending on where you shop. It’s been our experience that you can find nice, cute, new outfits on sale for between $10 and $15 (sometimes less on clearance). This includes both pants and shirt. However, you can easily spend $20 on a single pair of pants or a single shirt at some places.
Let’s run some numbers:
If you buy 10 outfits in five sizes at $10 an outfit, that’s $500 on baby clothes thy first year. Buy that same number of outfits at $20 each, and your total jumps to $1,000. Ouch, that’s quite a bit of money for clothes they will only wear a few times each.
The first strategy to reduce your baby clothes expense is to be mindful of how many outfits your little one really has. If you already have a closet full of clothes, does it really make sense to buy another? It may be “really cute” but if your baby is only going to wear it once, it probably isn’t worth buying.
The second strategy is to never pay full price. Most people already know it’s best to buy when things are on sale or marked down. In fact, some of the best deals are when you buy a season ahead. At the end of winter you can find great deals on winter clothes. So, plan ahead and buy winter clothes in the spring. Just keep in mind that your baby will be in a larger size by then, so buy accordingly.
Now, another strategy is simply not to buy new clothes. After all, if your baby is only going to wear an outfit 4 to 6 times, is it worth it to spend $10 – $20 on an outfit? I’ve heard a lot of people talk about consignment shops and used clothing stores, and I’m sure you can probably find good deals there. Personally, we haven’t really found one with prices much lower than that of clearance-priced new clothes. But every city is different, and your city has a great used clothing store. It’s definitely worth looking into.
Finally, there are yard/garage sales. Personally, I think these are a parent’s best friend. Most outfits are practically new and being sold at great prices. We went to one last year late in the afternoon (when it was about time for the sale to end) that had boxes of nice baby clothes. They had a “fill a bag” sale where you could fill a plastic grocery bag with baby clothes for $1 a bag. We took advantage and bought a couple bags of clothes.
I understand that parent want their kids to have nice things to wear. But “nice” does not have to mean “new.” There a lot if other alternatives out there to buying all new clothes, especially if the clothes are just for wearing around the house. Now, if you’re having pictures taken and want a nice new outfit, then by all means go get a nice outfit. With the money saved from buying the everyday clothes used, you can easily afford a nice outfit for pictures or your family’s Christmas party, etc.
What are some cost-saving strategies you use? Share them in the comments section below…