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How to budget for baby, from a positive pregnancy test to labor + delivery

Before we get to the fun stuff, let’s make sure your pregnancy is as financially stress free as possible

How to budget for baby, from a positive pregnancy test to labor + delivery

So you’re having a baby!

Life is about to get a lot more exciting (and fun! and exhausting!). But before we get to the fun stuff, let’s make sure your pregnancy is as financially stress-free as possible.


As a financial planner who focuses on helping millennials get smart about their money, I know lots of women wonder how they can budget for life once they find out they’re having a baby. I’m sharing my answers to many of FAQs I get from new moms on you can focus on having a healthy child instead of worrying about how you’re going to pay for it all.

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Where do I start?

First things first: When you get the good news, call your insurance company and find out exactly what they cover, including ultrasounds and c-sections. If you have a good relationship with your OB-GYN, you could also ask them to call on your behalf. Some insurance plans will cover everything and you are just responsible for the co-pay, others will only cover part of the services you need.

How much are all these doctor visits going to cost me?

You will need to go to the doctor at least once per month while you’re pregnant and every week towards the end of the pregnancy. Even if you have good health insurance, this can add up. Once you get information from your insurance company, add up what you expect each visit to cost so you have a clear idea of the number going in and can set aside extra funds for it.

Visits for a low deductible plan with a co-pay can run you as little as $15 per visit. If you have a high deductible plan or your insurance doesn’t cover certain tests or procedures, you may have to plan for each visit costing between $150-$300.

Are there any tricks to spending less at the doctor?

If you can, pay with pre-tax dollars, If your insurance is through an employer at work and you have a low or no-deductible health plan, max out your Flex Spending Account (FSA). The max contribution in 2017 is $2,600 and you will most likely go through all of it! This will allow you to pay for doctor’s visits and other medical bills with pre-tax dollars which can save you 25 to 40% of every dollar you put in. Also, since it comes out of your paycheck before it hits your direct deposit, it’s like a secret savings account.

If you have a high deductible health plan (deductible is $2,600 or more for a family), you can contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA) and can contribute up to $6,650 to this account. It works similarly to an FSA, except you’re not required to spend the funds down at the end of every year. This means if you don’t use all your HSA money, you can put it towards post-baby medical care.

How can I get great maternity clothes on a budget?

It can be tempting to stock up on maternity clothes, especially as your belly starts to show (and no, these aren’t covered by your FSA!). But keep in mind that in a few months, you may be sticking them in the bottom of a suitcase. Many budget-conscious moms-to-be will buy a pair or two of maternity pants and stick to dresses and flowy shirts they can slip back into their wardrobe once the baby is out. Other mamas use sites like ThredUP which let you rock pre-loved maternity clothes at a much more affordable price point. Go wherever your budget takes you mama, but know that you can find relatively inexpensive maternity clothes, and even rock skinny jeans for about $40.

What about extras like prenatal vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins are relatively inexpensive (even on the high end, a four-month supply will run you about $40) and will help ensure that you cover any nutritional gaps you may have during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about the prenatal vitamins she or he recommends and buy a few bottles. Bonus! Prenatal vitamins can actually be paid for using your FSA or HSA so they’re a health and financial win.

What will childbirth education classes run me?

Especially if you’re a first time mom, it will most likely be worth it to take a few childbirth education classes so you have an idea of what to expect when you’re giving birth. Your hospital may offer these classes for low or no cost to you. Sometimes, insurance will also cover some or part of the cost (ask your insurance company this too!) You can also use your FSA or HSA to pay for the classes, as long as the class is related to the process of childbirth (which means classes on your emotional state, potential pregnancy discomforts, post-baby care, etc. won’t be covered). On the high end, you can expect a place like Stork and Cradle in NYC to cost $350 for four classes, but they also take some insurance, so it’s always worth checking out.

So, how much will labor + delivery cost?

The Big Day: Even with insurance, the average cost of actually giving birth is about $3,400, with vaginal births averaging about $2,600 and C-sections about $4,500. Most hospitals will allow you to go on a payment plan to cover the costs, but since you have nine months, see if there’s any wiggle room for you to set aside some of the money now to cover the big bills.

Ask your insurance company if they can help you estimate this amount too. Once you’ve recovered a little from the sticker shock, divide the number by nine to get an idea of what you would need to save monthly towards the hospital bills. Then cut that number in half and make it a mini-goal to save at least that amount each month so when the hospital bills do come, you’ll be able to cover a portion of them and pay significantly less interest on any funds you do need to borrow to pay for the rest of the bill.

A special note on insurance

Without insurance, it can cost between $30,000 and $50,000 (not a typo!) to give birth to a child. Luckily, with the Affordable Care Act, having a baby qualifies you to participate in a special enrollment period, and you can purchase health insurance within 60 days of conception, even if it’s not during the regular open enrollment period between November and February. Premiums range between $200 and $500 per month, depending on the plan you choose, and it’s much more manageable than going without a healthcare plan.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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