Are Second Babies Cost-Free?
My "Second Child" Theory
I wrote an article a while ago about the items you'll need when you bring home your first baby. (There aren't actually as many "essential" items as you might think!) Well, this hub is written especially for people like me who are considering doing it all over again!
- This article relies on the premise that you've kept all of the (non-disposable) items from your first child.
- It also assumes that your house and your car are large enough to accommodate another child. There's no denying that having to upgrade your home or your car is a major expense, and this would cause my "free baby" theory to fail. Miserably.
I suspect that many people reading this (- assuming anybody is, given the potential incredulity of the title!), are shaking their heads at my naivety. And yes, I am writing this from the point of view of somebody with only one child, and you may well know better!
But it's a theory that I think would be interesting to explore. Maybe it could work... at least for a little while.
Recycling For Baby 2
My original hub recommended preparing for each of your new baby's major functions, which are eating, excreting and sleeping. As your second baby will do much the same things, it makes sense that his or her requirements will be similar!
So is it possible to simply recycle most of the items that you bought the first time around? (And in the interests of recycling, I will vaguely re-use the same headings as before!)
Feeding Your Baby
Breasts and bottles can both be re-used from one baby to the next; although if you are bottle feeding you may need to replace the teats which might have been bitten or become worn. This should just be at a very small cost. (Human nipples which may have become worn or bitten are not so cheap and easy to replace...) For bottle-fed babies, formula will obviously be an ongoing cost.
Electrical equipment such as sterilisers and breast pumps should hopefully have survived your first baby, and still be in good working order for baby number two.
If you're planning to breastfeed for a second time, you may be able to re-use your feeding bras, although having your first baby could well have changed the size and shape of your breasts. Wearing the wrong sized bra can cause discomfort and injury, especially when you're pregnant, so it really is best to get properly measured to see whether you need to buy a different size.
If you used washable breast pads then you may well find that you can carry on using them with your next baby. But if that idea doesn't appeal to you or they haven't worn so well, then it won't cost much to buy some new ones. If you're using disposable pads then yes, they will be more of an ongoing expense. (Why not give the washable ones a try? I've read some good things about them, and will definitely be trying them out should we decide, and be lucky enough to have a second child).
Although second-hand muslin squares sound like a bit of a disgusting idea given the amount of baby sick that they've seen, they actually wash and keep surprisingly well. If you liked them the first time around, chances are you've got loads of them, and if they're still in good shape there's no reason to buy any more.
Nappies And Changing Equipment
If you went down the reusable route for your first baby, then you won't face a nappy cost the second time around.
However, if you used disposable nappies with baby number one, then buying more disposables will once again be an ongoing cost for quite a while; whereas changing to reusable ones will involve a significant cost up-front, but will probably work out cheaper in the long-term (especially if you then go on to have more kids!). And of course be more environmentally sound.
Hopefully you've saved your changing mats and tables, (and you may well still be using them), so no additional costs there.
Bath And Bed
Although you'll need to replace the small things, like sponges and any mild baby cleansers that you may want to use, there shouldn't be any major costs involved here.
You will probably have kept the baby bath, cot or moses basket that you had for your first child, or else bathing your baby in your regular bath and co-sleeping are also good options.
Once the new baby arrives, you may perhaps have to vacate your older child from the cot into a bed, but although this can be quite a big expense (not to mention a big transition for the older child), it is something that you would have had to do sometime down the line anyway, with or without your second baby.
On The Move
You probably had some kind of pram or buggy for your first child. But if your first child is still using it by the time your second comes along, then what do you do? The obvious solution, and what most people seem to do, is buy a double buggy. Although prices vary a lot, most double buggies don't come cheap. But there are several ways of avoiding this expense.
1. For a time you might be able to carry your newborn in a sling while pushing your other child in the pushchair. However, as your baby will soon get heavier this might not be a viable option for very long, (unless your older child is really close to outgrowing the buggy).
2. If your older child is happy to walk most of the time, then you could use your pushchair/pram for baby and buy a buggy board which fits onto the back of the buggy, for when big brother or sister is feeling tired. You can also get various toddler seats, which also attach to many types of buggies and prams.
3. Alternatively, you might want to make use of pushchair connectors, which simply clip two single buggies together. If you already have two single buggies of a similar design, or have one and would be willing to purchase another, then this might be much more cost-effective than buying a double buggy.
(However, bear in mind that while most standard double buggies are narrower than the width of two single buggies, two singles clipped together will obviously be a bit wider than two single buggies, and this might cause difficulties with trying to get through doorways and onto public transport).
4. If you decide that a double buggy is the only solution for you, it needn't break the bank. There is so much opportunity these days to get hold of second-hand double buggies at knock-down prices or even for free!
Look on eBay and other online marketplaces, look at listings where people sell things; such as on craigslist, gumtree.com or in the market place on Facebook. Look in your local paper and at adverts in shop windows, go to yard sales and boot fairs. And join your local branch of Freecycle; there are often buggies and plenty of other baby equipment listed there, and you might be lucky enough to pick up some great things at no cost at all! Some of these sites also allow people to submit requests for items.
Don't forget to also look closer to home. Do you have any friends or family members who are about to finish with their double buggy? Perhaps somebody has one in storage from when their kids were small and they don't realise you want one, or haven't made the connection. Ask around at any toddler groups or pre-schools that you're involved with.
It's advisable to check the condition of any buggy you're hoping to buy. Your children will be spending lots of time in there, so you need to make sure that it's clean, comfortable and in good working order!
Clothing Your Baby
It is pretty much down to chance whether or not you'll be able to dress your baby in your older child's clothes. If you have two boys or two girls then this makes things much easier (and cheaper!) However, if your babies had very different birth-weights, different growth rates, or were born at different times of the year, then this might not work out as well as you think.
A friend of mine found that she couldn't re-use as many of her first-born's clothes as she had anticipated, as son no. 1 was born in the winter and son no. 2 in the summer. So by the time no. 2 had grown into something it was usually the wrong season!
If your second baby is not the same sex as the first then it makes things more difficult, as most people still want to dress girls in pink and boys in blue. Of course you can often re-use some things, like underwear.
Baby clothes can be expensive, and they don't wear them for very long before they're ready for the next size. Large supermarkets seem to have the best deals on baby clothes, and they often sell several items in a pack, which can work out cheaper than buying them individually.
Once again, friends and family may be able to help if they have baby clothes that they no longer need. Most people will be glad to see old, treasured baby clothes going to a good home. You will also often find offers of bags of baby clothes on eBay and Freecycle.
Having an older child means that you're likely to already have some baby toys. Babies aren't fussy about toys. Anything that stimulates them, (or later on, that they can chew!) makes them happy enough. They don't mind whether a toy is second-hand or new, and boy babies aren't bothered whether the squeaky toy is really meant for a girl, or vice versa. So you should be able to re-use pretty much everything as long as it's in good condition.
So What's the Conclusion?
So I think I'd have to conclude (from this extensive, non-experience-based research!) that second babies needn't be a major expense, at least in the short term. Particularly if you're breastfeeding, using reusable nappies and have kept everything from your first baby.
Clotheswise, it also helps if you stick to the same gender as last time (although admittedly that's not too easy to plan..)
Well, It Works For A While
Of course, your second baby won't stay a baby for long. And before you know it they will be consuming considerable amounts of food and wanting to take ballet/judo/scuba-diving classes. So things are likely to get rather more expensive as your child grows! And I haven't even got onto the subject of college...
So my "buy-one-get-one-free" theory of parenthood only really works for a limited period; while your baby is still a baby! Admittedly, this isn't a great conclusion, but this payment-holiday at least gives you a little time to prepare for the future expenses and also perhaps eases the transition of moving from two incomes to one, or tides you over until you once again become a two-income household.
I would, of course appreciate any feedback, positive or negative on the financial realities of having a second child. In your experience, can second babies be cost-free - at least for a little while? (Or is this just wishful thinking on the part of somebody who's trying to justify the idea of a second child?)