The very high cost of newborn’s first year

2014-09-01 00:00

A R135 000 pregnancy starter pack prize triggered the same question for startled new parents at Durban’s Baby Expo yesterday.

Especially when they were told it did not include day care, toys or vaccination costs.

“So just how much does a newborn really cost?” asked Steve Prior, from Pietermaritzburg.

Warren Murray, event manager for the MamaMagic Baby Expo, said the annual Baby on Board prize included hospital birth costs, stem cell storage, breast pumps, a year’s worth of nappies (R5 000) and retail vouchers worth R13 500.

The prize is only open to pregnant women.

It also includes an eye-watering R36 000 worth of travel and sleeping kit, including a pram, changing bag and bed.

But Murray, himself a new parent, said even this comprehensive prize covered only some of the “daunting” first-year costs for middle-class parents.

He estimated that even a parent who won the prize could easily spend another R70 000 in the first year.

Murray said vaccination costs could be an additional R10 000 for some parents, infant formula could run to R5 000, and that day care or nanny care was typically between R2 500 and R3 000 per month.

“Then there’s bills for gynaes and paediatricians, depending on your medical aid — the costs are nothing to sneeze at, as I’ve found,” said Murray.

“That’s one of the reasons why we launched this competition.”

Murray said last year’s winner had chosen not to use the R50 000 voucher for childbirth at a Netcare hospital in Ballito — and had instead donated the voucher to a pregnant woman she’d met at the Expo who had no medical aid.

“There is a real humanity among the parents who come here,” he said.

Brent Grung, an agent for a branded “baby travel system” company, said its top-end Explory stroller had sold well over the weekend, despite a R16 000 price tag. The super-pram includes features that allow it to be pulled easily up and down stairs.

Many customers purchased attachable car seats in addition.

“Parents want versatility — a stroller that doubles as a high chair, that you can jog with, that can go on the beach,” he said.

Another big-ticket item at the Expo was the R20 000 stem cell storage option, which — using blood from the placenta — can be “released” later in life to treat a range of diseases.

Agent Odette Scheffermann said about 80 parents had expressed interest — a sharp increase over past years in which “there was less information and understanding out there, and a perception about this being a sci-fi thing”.

Projeni Pather, owner of MamaMagic and a mother-of-two, said she found herself wishing she’d had a third child so she could take advantage of the new stem cell technologies.

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