Updated on 06.06.07

Financial Preparations For A Second Child

Trent Hamm

Shortly after our big move (which is coming in a little over a month), we are expecting our second child, meaning our two children will be about two years apart in age. Although it’s already clear that this second baby won’t be nearly as big of a financial hit as the first one (we can re-use many things from the breast pump to most of the bottles), there are still many financial factors to take into account. Here’s what we’ve been calculating with regards to child number two.

Diapers Now that we have our own washer and dryer, we are going to give cloth diapering another go. We have a few of them from our son, but we didn’t use them because the hassle of clothes-washing at our apartment was ridiculous (go to another building and hope that at least one of the two washers is free) and quite expensive (four quarters per washer load; three per dryer load). As our son will go off diapers sometime in the next year or so, this could be a significant cost reduction.

Clothes A lot of our son’s clothes, particularly up to twelve months, are gender neutral. Adding in the fact that aunts and grandmothers are already buying feminine clothing for the girl, we anticipate very little clothing cost for at least the first year of life for her.

Child care We’re continuing with the same child care facility, which is giving us a package deal for our two children, substantially less per child than our current rate. This will be an increase in cost, but not as big an increase as the last time.

Health care Our health care costs overall will stay almost the same. We are going to reconfigure our health care choices upon her arrival, putting us all on the same health plan under a “family” plan. It’s only very slightly more than we’re paying now, so, again, not much increase at all.

A second bed/crib Our current plan is to have the new baby in a bassinet in our bedroom for the first few months until her sleep cycle becomes at least somewhat smooth. About a week after the birth of the baby, the grandparents will come and visit and watch the baby girl and we’re going to spend a day just with our son celebrating the fact that he’s now a big brother. This will culminate in a small party for him where he’ll receive a twin bed that’s low to the ground for him to sleep on – he gets a “big boy bed” now that he’s a big brother. This is almost exactly what my wife and I both did near our second birthday, so we believe it will work. Then, after a couple of months of sleeping in his new bed, he’ll identify that as his bed and thus when we move the baby from the bassinet in our room to the crib in the room that they’ll share, he won’t see it as the baby stealing his bed. This saves us in the long term, as a twin bed will be able to be used for many years and we don’t have to get another crib or an intermediate toddler bed.

A 529 I have already established a 529 college savings plan in my name to be transferred to my daughter upon her birth and am funding it at the same rate as my son’s 529. I did almost the exact same thing with my son, starting it before he was born. This gives her almost a nineteen year run-up on earnings before she goes to college – every dollar I put in now will be worth five or six by then.

Overall, I feel as though we’re in great shape for our second child to join our household.

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  1. Congratulations on the baby! My wife and I are expecting at the end of August. This will be our first, so we’ll be going through all of those first baby expenses you were talking about.

    I liked the idea of giving the big brother the “big brother” bed and how that works as a transition. I’ll have to remember that in a couple of years when (if) we’re expecting our second.

  2. Ted Valentine says:


    The big boy bed thing worked for us with #1 when we had #2. When #3 came, #2 wasn’t ready. We’re keeping him on lock down in his crib as long as we can. And by as long as we can, I mean until he figures out he can climb out. We just went garage sale-ing for crib No. 2.

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention food cost increases. Is your wife breastfeeding & pumping? Or are you doing formula? Formula, at $30 a big can, has to be the biggest racket of all time. We’ve done both (#1 was adopted) and breastfeeding is truly the only free lunch out there.

  3. Moneymonk says:

    Wow! I must say that you are very prepared with this baby. I admire that you are well organized

  4. Elaine says:


    My mom washed our cloth diapers by hand, no joke. In the toilet bowl. She did them in the washer too after that, but still. For people without washers & dryers though, you can get delivery service cloth diapers.

    And I’m not suggesting this, just a little anecdote… when my grandparents had their first child, they were too poor for a crib, and Aunt Carol spent the first year of her life sleeping in a dresser drawer.

    Ted – breastfeeding isn’t exactly free, you have to count the mother eating for two, yes?

  5. Deena says:

    Coming from a breastfeeding mother…I don’t think I ate very differently when I was breastfeeding. Both my babies were entirely breastfed and in the 95th percentile for weight. I think if any difference in cost, we’re talking pennies.

  6. Ted Valentine says:

    Not really. Wife tells me she does get thirsty and drinks a lot more water.

  7. kim says:

    I like your plan, but not the timing. I would wait a bit longer, say 2-3 months to get him the big brother bed. Children tend to regress for a bit right after the birth of a sibling. These regressive activities allow a child to reaffirm that he is still a baby too and deserving of the same love and attention as the new baby. Any attempts to push a child into a new “grown up” role at such a sensitive time may send a message of replacement. Make the change 3 months before the baby comes or three months after but definitely not at the same time. What you may see as a graduation may feel like a displacement to a child who may be outwardly or inwardly feeling the need to defend his role as mommy’s baby. I have a degree in child pyschology and 3 kiddo’s of my own, so I have a bit of experience in this area!

  8. Trent — what great changes in your life. I remember when similar things were happening to us 7 years ago. It’s great to be entering this chapter in your life in the state you are in, with the added benefit of having control over your time. I look forward to hearing more about your life changes as they happen.

  9. Rebecca says:

    I’m curious as to why you have the two children sharing a room. I kind of thought that there would be nursery for the new baby in the new house. At what point do you see them going into different rooms?

    Congratulations again on all the good stuff, new baby and new house!

  10. Art Dinkin says:

    Congrats Trent! We just had #2 (a girl) in January. #1 (a boy) was 23 months when she was born, so I am just a few months ahead of you!

    We did the big boy bed very similar to how you are doing it. Only we started about a month before #2 was born. That way there was no attachment left when she took over “his” crib. In fact, she even took his old room and he got a new big boy room (the nursey is gender neutral and his room is now very much a boy’s room). But you are correct, you will use the bassinet for a while anyway. It worked great for us. Keep in mind that each kid is different.

    And the financial impact has not been too great for us. The only unanticipated increase for us has been in health care costs. We pay per person for insurance and then had some bad luck health wise so we have almost maxed out family out of pocket. More impact than the financial has been the time management. With baby #1 you ask “What do I do?” With baby #2 you know what to do but you have to juggle the task with a two year old demanding your attention!

    I am very happy for you. Congrats again.

  11. Farley says:

    Cloth diapers are wonderful! I was skeptical at first but my wife wanted to try them out and after a month I was convinced.

    Modern cloth diapers are very easy to use. We use “Mother Ease” (http://www.mother-ease.com/). They have simple snaps, are adjustable in size, and clean up well.

    A few tips

    1. Use disposables at night. Cloth doesn’t do well to multiple pees. :) A disposable will let the child (and you) sleep for longer stretches.

    2. Buy used cloth diapers on Ebay. A through washing will clean them and most sellers have done a great job of cleaning them up. You can save a ton of money and you can sell them when you are done!

    3. Buy a diaper sprayer (http://baby-belle-bottoms.stores.yahoo.net/diapersprayer.html). It makes spraying the poopy diapers a breeze. Toilet water is cold and it is no fun sticking your hands in it. The sprayer makes it simple – and it is quite high pressure actually so it does a better job of rinsing the poop off than you could do by hand anyway. Seriously it will be the thing that makes cloth diapers workable.

    If you follow these three things I think you will find cloth diapers not only cheaper, but easier than disposables (I find the disposables have a hard time keeping big poops inside the diaper).

    Good luck and congradulations!

  12. #2 comes a week from tomorrow! Wish me luck.

  13. Amy K. says:

    I know you said you had a few daipers, but I thought I’d toss out a diaper “trial kit” I found over the weekend:

    The diapers are the folding kind like I had as a baby. I’ve also read rave reviews of the Mother-ease diapers that Farley mentioned.

  14. Bill says:

    Breastfeeding is cheap – people always asked my wife about bottles – her response was “what’s a bottle?”

    And before you put a small child to sleep in a regular bed be sure to put a waterproof mattress cover on it. :)

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