Raising a child in Australia is not cheap. Figures from the latest NATSEM (University of Canberra) Income and Wealth Report show that for a typical middle-class Australian family, the cost of raising two children from birth to adulthood was $812,000 in 2012  However, there are practical ways on you can cut back on expenses while still providing your child’s needs and being earth-friendly. Here are some of these ways:

1. Buy second-hand items
Getting the best for your child doesn’t mean buying everything new. As parents especially first-timers, it may be tempting to buy brand new stuff but this isn’t practical especially on your child’s early years. Baby items can only be used for a short period of time so it’s more financially-wise to get second-hand items. Buying used or “pre-loved” items is also a great way to recycle.

You can get a variety of kid stuff – from clothes to toys in thrift shops, garage sales, consignment sales, and many more! You may also want to look into online shops that specialise in second-hand items. 

2. Opt for cloth diapers
The average baby in Australia is in nappies for about 2.5 years before they are toilet trained. That equates to roughly 6500 nappy changes, or $3250 depending on how frequent you change your child’s nappy. This is where cloth nappies become helpful.

By using cloth nappies, you can save thousands of dollars as you can re-use them. Opting for this nappy type can also help in cutting back the carbon footprint especially that disposables are among the biggest contributors to thousands of metric tons of plastic waste each year. Using cloth nappies are also reported to reduce the incidence of nappy rash.

3. Get creative with play
It is through play that kids learn crucial life skills that will help them prepare for their future. But toys aren’t the only ways to engage them in play. With creativity, you can get your child into this fun and educational activity without spending so much.

You can use anything you have at home like metal bowls and small cups to open up your child’s creativity and curiosity. Another good way to engage your child in play is heading outside and explore the environment around. Not only would it be great for his/her physical health, it’s also a great bonding activity.

4. Grow your own food
Growing your own food can provide you and your family with so many health benefits. One of which is getting your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Since you get to decide the kind of fertiliser to use for your own produce, you know exactly what gets in contact with your food. Plus, you can harvest them when they’re really ripe compared to produce in stores which are often harvested earlier. If you do it right, you can provide your child’s nutritional needs through these foods without having to spend so much.

Growing your own food may cost you some money initially and may require some effort but it’s all worth it especially if you consider the cost and health benefits of it.

5. Skip the store-bought snacks and lunches
Store-bought snacks and lunches often come in unnecessary packaging. They’re also often unhealthy as most of them are processed and are loaded with so unnecessary additives.

You can be as creative as you want in preparing your child’s snacks and lunches by cutting fruits and veggies in fun shapes. This can be a good way to make them eat healthier.

You can further cut back on the waste and save more money by buying in bulk and opting for reusable lunch/snack containers.
Raising a child doesn’t have to be so expensive. With these tips, you can ensure your child’s health, feel good knowing that you don’t contribute to the carbon footprint, and save money which you can spend for your child’s other needs.

Image: Donnie Ray Jones