Don’t be fooled: Toddlers are expensive!

Even if you have meticulously budgeted, the financial responsibilities of being a parent expand as your child grows into a toddler.

Don’t be fooled: Toddlers are expensive!
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If you thought a newborn baby was expensive, you’re in for a rude awakening! The toddler years can be just as costly, if not even more painful for your bank account.

“Toddlers come with a unique set of costs,” says Eunice Sibiya, head of Consumer Education at FNB. “The first year of your baby’s life has certain cost implications, but between the ages of one and three, your toddler comes with their own unique set of costs. They are more social, attend birthday parties, and might be going to a playschool or a childcare centre. The best thing you can do is be financially prepared for them.”

The price of daycare and creche

Many parents decide to enroll their toddlers in a childcare facility because their social skills are more established, and many agree that learning through play is beneficial for their development. Whether you decide on a crèche or playgroup, or both, Sibiya says that you should do your homework.

“You need to ask whether you and your toddler are getting value for your money,” says Sibiya. “Different facilities offer different services. Do you want a daycare, crèche, or playgroup? Some crèches ask you to bring nappies and toiletries, while others include this in the cost. Decide on what you want and ask whether you and your toddler can have a trial run.”

If you’re choosing a childcare facility, let your child attend for a week, as a trial run. Also, find out if your employer offers this facility. There are usually staff discounts and you won’t have to change your driving routine. You’ll also be close to your little one during the day. Sibiya says that once you’ve decided on childcare or a playgroup, or both, you need to add this expense to your budget.

Sibiya also offers some tips, “Find out if your child’s school offers any sort of discount for early payment. It’s a good idea to use your bonus to pay for your child’s annual tuition, as you might get a discount if you do this.”

She adds that if you have two or more children at the same school, it might be worth asking if there are discounts for the second and third child.

Elaborate birthday parties

Once your child starts interacting with other kids, they will be invited to birthday parties and chances are that you will be attending a birthday party almost every weekend. You will also have your own child’s birthday party to plan for.

“When attending other children’s birthday parties, try and find toys that work for both boys and girls like puzzles, play dough, or bubbles. You could buy a variety of these toys in bulk, and even better if you buy them on special. Then bring them out whenever you have a party to go to,” says Sibiya.

“This will give your budget a break in that you won’t be buying toys every month. For your own child’s birthday, try to be cost-conscious, hosting at home will save money, and asking friends and family to help bake will go a long way. To be even more financially savvy, instead of asking for presents, ask close family and friends to pay small cash sums to an account that will go towards saving for your child’s education. You will be surprised at how quickly these small amounts add up over the years, and you will also be surprised at how relieved adults will be with this simple option,” says Sibiya.

Rising medical expenses

Another cost to think about is that when your child goes to crèche or preschool, their immune system may be compromised due to being exposed to the outside work comes into contact with other children, they come into contact with germs. Their immune systems might still be vulnerable, so bundle them up warmly in winter and if you want, there are immune-boosting medications that you can make use of.

Sibiya says it would also be a good idea to double-check what sort of medical aid plan you and your family are on. She suggests that you call your medical aid and perhaps re-evaluate your needs and the plan you’re on.

“As your child grows, their needs change and your budget needs to adjust accordingly. The best way to stay on top of this is to be financially responsible and re-evaluate your budget on a regular basis,” concludes Sibiya.