According to a recent estimate by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a parent will spend $160,000 to $369,000, based on income level, to raise a child from birth to age 17. Since being a parent is so expensive, we're always looking for ways to save. Here are products that are a total rip-off and what to buy instead.
n Bad Buy: Baby yogurt. Granted, these little yogurt containers are cute. But there's no reason the 24-month-and-under set should have a special yogurt just for them.
-- Good Buy: Plain whole-milk yogurt. Children under age 2 need plenty of fat for brain development, but if the yogurt you offer them is made from whole, pasteurized milk, it's fine if it's not "just for babies." To sweeten it, mix in a bit of fresh or frozen fruit.
-- Bad Buy: Jarred baby food. Jarred food is incredibly convenient, created under strict standards in the United States and perfectly fine from a health standpoint. But a bargain it's not.
-- Good Buy: Fresh fruits and veggies. Making baby food is easy. You don't have to buy any special tools or stress yourself out brainstorming menu ideas; all you have to do is mash up a banana or some avocado and serve it to your wee one.
-- Bad Buy: Name-brand diapers. We were shocked to learn from Consumer Reports that parents will spend $1,500 to $2,000 in disposable diapers for each baby. Until your child graduates to underwear, there are a few ways to cut costs.
-- Good Buy: Bargain diapers. Consumer Reports found a savings of 3 cents per diaper when buying the Walmart brand versus Pampers, which results in $108 over the course of a year. The magazine also suggests that parents buy the largest-count, economy-size boxes; keeping your child in the smallest diaper size he or she can wear comfortably.