Money Saving Tips for New Parents (Pedcast)

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Raising an infant is an expensive and daunting task for new parents. Listen to these money saving tips from Doc Smo that might save your family thousands of dollars.

Archived pedcast, originally posted July 10, 2017.


Doc Smo here, talking Portable Practical Pediatrics. From the bassinet to the boardroom, if it involves children, we talk about it here. I meet with brand new parents and their new babies on a daily basis. Of course during these visits, we talk about the important topics of safe sleep, flu and pertussis immunizations for family members, the importance of natural light for babies, and the importance of having newborn babies avoid unnecessary exposure to places and situations where they might pick up an infectious disease.  I also make a point to also get around to some tips that have the potential of saving them literally thousands of dollars during their baby’s early infancy. I thought my blog audience would enjoy hearing these tips and taking advantage of the same cost savings that my patients families do. Parents of newborns have the daunting task of not only raising their little Johnny or Janie, but also funding their entire childhood. Money is always tight and every dollar saved can be put to use for other family needs. What is the old expression, “A penny saved is a penny earned”? Nothing could be truer so here we go with Doc Smo’s money saving suggestions for parents with new babies. You don’t  want to miss this pedcast.

Musical Intro

Doc Smo’s Cost Saving Tips

Tip #1- Breastfeed: Savings=$1000 When you tell people you are pregnant and going to have a baby, one of the first things they often ask is “Are you going to breastfeed?”  Feeding a baby is one of the most fundamental activities of a parent and it turns out that choosing to breastfeed can save you big amounts of cash in the first year.  A breastfeeding advocacy website I found called Kelly Mom, estimates the cost of feeding an infant formula for a year, to be anywhere between $816 for the most inexpensive formulas all the way to $3163 for the most expensive formulas. They found that formula ranged in 2016 cost between 8 to 31 cents/ounce and babies eat a lot of ounces. The cost adds up quickly.  Deciding to breastfeed certainly makes economic sense since that decision conservatively saves most families $1000/year. (Money sound)

Tip #2- Keep that Little Head Round: Savings=$3200 You are probably aware that newborn babies have rapidly growing soft skulls.  Just the pressure of the own skull weight laying on a hard surface can cause a baby’s head to deform and become lopsided. Fixing this deformity can be very expensive. You have probably seen babies wearing little helmets that make them look like NFL football players. No, they are not off to the gridiron, they are having their heads reshaped to correct a flattening, a condition called plagiocephaly, that is usually caused by laying on their backs in one position too long. While the helmets are cute with their colorful stickers, they are custom made, medical devices, and are very pricey. You don’t want your baby to get anywhere near one of these devices. Their cost ranges anywhere from $2300-$4000.  That’s some serious cash!  And the thing is, the need for these helmets is almost always avoidable if parents do some simple things from the get go after their baby is born.  Here is what I tell parents of a newborn on their first visit:

  1. Get aggressive about tummy time, on a safe sleep surface with mom or dad awake and watching of course, starting right after your baby is born; 1 hour a day is minimum. 2 hours a day would be even better. The cost of providing this tummy time?=$0.00. To see how tummy time is done, watch this video I made.
  2. Make sure your baby’s neck is not stiff and can move freely in all directions by doing some simple neck stretching exercises. I even have a video to show you how to do this. Remember, your baby has just emerged from a very cramped environment in the womb with not much real estate to stretch out in. The cost of these stretching exercises=0.00
  3. Do not let your baby spend much time in a bouncy seat or swing. These devices tend to put pressure on the same spot on the back of your baby’s skull and magnify the deforming pressures on areas of flatness. I know, a lot of new parents get these devices as gifts and didn’t pay anything for them you but if your baby develops plagiocephaly (flattening of one side of the head) your savings account could take a serious hit. Your baby may love these devices but your pocketbook certainly won’t. Cost saving from not buying these devices alone=$200? (Money sound)

Tip #3-Shop Smart: Savings=$83.00 In order for parents to shop smart, I think they need an Amazon prime account or big box warehouse membership like that at Costco. New parents are going to be buying a lot of the same things and it pays to buy in bulk.  These memberships just make sense.  Most of the baby items that I have researched will be shipped free with a prime membership and having things delivered to your home when you have a newborn is a big big plus in my book. By shopping at these places, you also know you are getting the very best price out there. What’s not to love about shopping this way? If mom is breastfeeding, it is recommended that she give her infant a Vitamin D supplement of 400 international units, that’s I.U.s daily while the baby is exclusively breastfed. I recommend a brand called Carlson D for babies for two reasons. First, it is tasteless and very concentrated. A dose is only one drop per day. That makes it very easy to give a baby compared to many of the other brands that require parents to give larger volumes for a dose. Secondly, the cost. A one-year supply of Carlson’s costs only about $8.00. That’s $8.00 for a year supply. Compare that with the popular newborn vitamin Poly-Vi-Sol that costs $91.20/yr on Getting Carlson’s will save you a quick $83.00! Nice. (money sound)

Tip #4-Avoid Sickness: Potential savings=$12,000 With this 4th cost saving tip, I am going to wade into a little area of controversy. I think if you ask a dozen pediatricians when should a newborn baby be exposed to adults and children who are not in their own family, you will get a lot of different answers. My long time listeners know how I feel about this issue, especially if they listened to my post called “Going Public with Your Newborn”. **link. If your baby is under three months of age and gets a fever, that’s a rectal temp above 100.5 Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius, they will usually be automatically admitted to the hospital and get what is called a septic workup and at least 48 hours of broad spectrum IV antibiotics. About 7% of them will have a serious, life threatening infection and this admission will save their lives. But 93% of these infants have a self limiting viral illness however, requiring no treatment. Unfortunately, a hospital admission is the only way to tell which febrile infants do or don’t have a life threatening illness.  What a bummer. Costs vary but I estimate that the cost of one of these admissions is about $12,000 in direct healthcare costs, not to mention the disruption in both parents home and work life. Now here is the big point; minimizing exposure of your baby to non-family members and avoiding public places where surfaces are often full of germs, greatly reduces your baby’s chances of getting sick with a fever and needing one of the hospital admissions that cost so much. Additionally, ensuring that all family members including grandparents, uncles, aunts etc. who come near your baby have been vaccinated against whooping cough and flu reduces the chance further that your baby will get sick when they are less than three months of age.  Remember that Doc Smo pearl, “Prevention trumps treatment, every time.”   

Tip #5- Think Twice Before Buying Some Baby Equipment: Potential Savings=$650 We live in a very wealthy society and we have gotten used to having many things that we consider necessary that only a few years ago parents didn’t have. Things, that if you stop and think about it, might be considered luxuries. You know what I am talking about; things like warmers for wipes ($20-$70), video monitors ($77-$260) for a baby’s room, fancy electric bouncy seats ($119-$250), bassinets (average cost $130) and co sleepers (average cost $200). If parents just hold on tight to their Visa when it comes to these types of purchases and instead, bought a cardboard box designed for newborns to sleep in that are all the rage now ($70), I estimate they would save about $650. Put those savings in your pipe and smoke them! (money sound) The Power of Compounding OK, now I have given you five great tips to save money if you have a newborn in your house and keep them healthy at the same time. My tips not only will save you money, but some will also improve your baby’s health. How great is that? Breastfeeding, avoiding expensive cranial bands by prevention, finding the best deals for essential things you will be buying for your newborn, avoiding potentially extremely expensive sickness, and giving serious thought before buying baby equipment. As a famous pediatrician once said, just because you can buy these things doesn’t mean you should!  If you add up all these savings, it comes to a whooping $17,233!  Who says that pediatricians aren’t worth their weight in gold! I potentially save my families with newborns $17,233 on their very first visit! I even surprise myself sometimes. And when you take those savings and add the incredible power of compound interest, you are really getting your financial mojo on.  Albert Einstein understood the power of compound interest when he said,  “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”

Outro: I hope you enjoyed this episode of Portable Practical Pediatrics. If so, please take a moment to hit the like button on my Facebook page, share this or any episode with friends and family, and even write a review on iTunes or Facebook. That helps other parents find my blog. This is Doc Smo, broadcasting from studio 1E, hoping you learned some quick ways to make a dash, and save some major cash.

Smo Notes: First year cost of raising a baby Calculation of the range in cost of infant formula for a year

Financial costs of not breastfeeding

Cost of a head band for treatment of flathead syndrome

-Cost of Poly-Vi-Sol

-Cost of pediatric inpatient day at Nationwide Children’s

-Percentage of febrile infants less than 3 months of age with serious bacterial infections.

-Costs and Infant Outcomes After Implementation of a Care Process Model for Febrile Infants

-The Baby Box- A inexpensive bassinet co-sleeper alternative