A new addition to the family is a joyous occasion, but some couples struggle to maintain the excitement as they are boggled by a tight budget. Who is going to look after the baby when mum is going back to work and she has no help? What are the baby essentials that they need to get? How can they save money? Are there any financial assistance they can obtain to manage the costs of having a baby?
Even though the costs of clothes may not seem as expensive as buying a crib or a stroller, this can easily add up to hundreds of dollars! Clothes are the best to tackle a tight budget. Ask around to see if you have friends or relatives who have hand-me-downs. Most of the time pre-loved baby clothes are in good condition because babies outgrow them too quickly! If you have a problem asking around, you can also check with a community centre, or ask through forums and Facebook.
Besides clothes, milk bottles are necessary if mommy is intending to feed formula or going back to work. Pre-loved milk bottles are not a good idea due to hygiene concerns, so these should definitely be bought brand new. Of course, breast milk is a cheaper option with more health benefits!
Breast pumps are optional unless mommy is intending to feed her baby expressed breast milk when she returns to work. Pre-loved ones can be bought online, but one needs to take note that not all brands of breast pumps can be share among multiple mothers. Mothers who are intending to stay home with their baby for at least 6 months do not necessarily need a breast pump as they can latch their babies on.
Strollers can also be bought second hand and unfortunately, not many families are keen to give away a free stroller which is still in good working condition. The family can consider surviving without a stroller for the first 6 months and invest in a baby sling or carrier which is cheaper. Thereafter, you can decide what type of stroller you need. If buying a pre-loved stroller, ensure that the wheels are not too worn out, and that the folding mechanism of the stroller is still good. The seat and buckles of the stroller should be intact as they affect the safety of your baby.
Some couples do not have the luxury of engaging the help of their relatives to look after their babies for free. The cheapest option is either a nanny or an infant care center. Both may cost around the same price. Infant care centres may require advance placement on a waiting list, so be sure that you call up the nearby infant care centres to see if they will be able to take in your baby in his 4th month.
Some couples also decide to make ends meet until the baby turns 18 months old and be placed in a child care centre. The fees are reduced by almost 50% from the cost of an infant care centre. On top of the government subsidy given to working mothers, parents who have a household income of less than $3,500 a month may apply for extra financial assistance via the child care centre. If approved, the family can get up to $340 of extra subsidy from the monthly fees of the child care centre. The child care centre will be able to provide more information about this and make the application on your behalf.
If the mother’s income is greatly needed, financial assistance can be sought through the nearest family service centre. A range of financial assistance programmes are available. These can provide temporary financial assistance to help finance infant care costs, or to help the family tide over the period until they can be self-reliant again. Child care options can also be discussed with a counsellor at your nearest family service centre.
Couples are given cash gifts by the government in 4 installments – after the delivery of the baby, 6 months old, 1 year old and 18 months old. Some of the money can be set aside for infant care costs or for immunisation programmes. There is also a free 3 in 1 immunisation programme which parents can opt for if they are unable to afford the jabs. This consists of all the compulsory jabs required by the Ministry of Health.
Raising a child, from conception to parenting is not easy financially. There are however financial assistance schemes which reach out to those who need extra help. Seeking a family counsellor may also help a couple to make well thought out plans for the future. Besides coping with the costs, it is also important that a couple focus on raising a child with moral values and integrity. These are things which cannot be bought with money.