Marina and Nicholas Di Tusa are due with their first child in June. The baby was no surprise for the North Bellmore couple — but the cost of preparing for a new human life is.
The mom-and-dad-to-be budgeted $3,000 just to set up the nursery — to paint the room yellow, to purchase furniture, to buy a rug. “That was our anticipation, but now that we’re looking into it, that’s not going to be enough,” says Marina, 28, who, like her husband, 32, works in health care.
The Di Tusas spent $4,000 on their furniture set from Bambi Baby in Melville, which included a dresser with a changing table top and a crib that transitions to a toddler bed. They're now thinking they will end up spending $5,000 to outfit their baby's room alone.
Watch: Newsday's Elisa DiStefano and Beth Whitehouse shop for baby
And then there are all the other items new babies need: the car seat, high chair, stroller, clothes. The would-love-to-have items, like books, bouncers and toys. And the paraphernalia, like baby thermometers and rattles. All of that may cost thousands more. This is aside from any medical costs incurred in childbirth.
As with any product, baby gear prices can vary depending on whether the item is entry-level, luxury or something in between. Several pregnancy, baby and parenting sites have studied the average price of setting up for baby, including outfitting the nursery with furniture as well as getting other gear that parents think babies need to start their lives. “Parents will find with baby gear you can spend as much as you want on these products. There are splurges everywhere you look,” says Robin Hilmantel, a senior director for the BabyCenter app, a parenting and pregnancy resource.
BabyCenter compiled a report in August 2022 that showed the average costs of commonly purchased items for baby, including $230 for an infant car seat, $210 for a crib and $168 for a crib mattress. “All of those popular one-time expenses come to about $4,000,” Hilmantel says. BabyCenter offers a First-Year Baby Costs Calculator that lets parents plug in their own choices and add up the cost.
Pregnancy resource The Bump also did a membership study in 2023, and the average self-reported spend was $4,300 in baby’s first year, including renovating and redecorating, baby-proofing, announcements, books, toys, travel items, formula/food, diapers and furniture. That’s not including what friends and family spent for gifts for the expectant parents; many new parents have baby showers.
“All in all, four thousand is a very comfortable budget,” says Ari Goodman, owner of the ANB Baby boutique in Wantagh. “You can really get some nice premium brands within that budget. You can get your stroller, your car seat, your crib, your changing table.”
Newsday asked expectant parents and parents of babies on Long Island what they spent to set up, what their splurge items were and, if they already have a baby, what they think, in retrospect, they could have crossed off the list.
Robyn Romanoff and Steven Galvao, both 31, of Middle Island
Romanoff would like the SNOO Smart Sleeper bassinet for her baby. The SNOO professes to sense when a baby wakes up in the middle of the night and rocks the baby back to sleep. “Someone like me who really values sleep, I’m going to splurge on something like that,” she says.
The couple — Galvao is studying to be a physical therapist and is a pararescue man in the Air Force and Romanoff is in wine and spirits sales — live in a two-bedroom condo, so fitting in all the baby gear will be a challenge. Romanoff has been tackling the bigger items, and she is currently researching strollers. She’s looking for lightweight options and for simplicity in opening and closing, “without a million mechanisms,” she says. “The goal is to test out a few in stores.”
Steven Galvao and Robyn Romanoff hold the most recent sonogram of their baby in their Middle Island condo. Credit: Elizabeth Sagarin
Deneilla and Lydell Webb, both 33, of Smithtown
Deneilla also has a son, Aiden, who is 12 years old, so the Webbs had to start all over with newborn products. She splurged on the diaper bag so that she doesn't mind wearing it. “It has that stylish look. You can reuse it if you have another.” Deneilla says she’s found a baby carrier extremely useful because it allows her to get things done while wearing the baby. She also says her baby loves the activity center, which keeps her occupied.
She advises investing in a quality stroller, car seat and crib. The crib the couple chose — she is a loan officer and he works for the Long Island Rail Road — transitions into a toddler bed. “I got more bang for my buck that way,” she says. Their car seat also transitions to hold a toddler. “It’s worth the extra expense if they can kind of grow with it,” she says. “You see your money back over time.” She has also found the high chair worthwhile. “They need somewhere to eat,” she says. And the baby needs an infant bathtub, she says.
There were items she didn't buy at all. “I bought a walker for $60. She didn’t end up using it,” Deneilla says. “I didn’t find the swing to be useful. The bassinet is kind of a waste because they grow out of it so quickly.”
Deneilla Webb, of Smithtown, with her daughter, Liviana. Credit: Deneilla Webb
Marina and Nicholas Di Tusa, age 28 and 32, of North Bellmore
Marina considers herself “a serial adder,” constantly updating her registry choices and covering every possible item a baby might need including accessories and infant clothing; add that to the $5,000 she expects to spend for the nursery, and she says she wouldn't be surprised if the costs topped $13,000 in the end.
“It’s a very overwhelming process,” Marina says of getting ready for a new baby. “There’s so many strollers, there’s so many high chairs, so which one is the best?”
The couple will be guests of honor at a baby shower, which will help a lot, Marina says. She says she likes that her registry allows friends and family to chip in toward some of the big-ticket items. “If you bought everything yourself — the stroller, the car seat, the high chair — these are all pretty expensive,” she says. Splurging on the stroller is worth it, she says. When they have a second child, they’ll be able to wheel both of them at once. “Planning ahead,” she says.
Expectant parents Marina Di Tusa and Nicholas Di Tusa at their home in North Bellmore on Dec. 29. Credit: Morgan Campbell
Jessica Sloan-Hernandez and Issac Hernandez, ages 38 and 32, of Huntington Station
Sloan-Hernandez was determined not to spend more than $1,200 to buy all the gear the couple would need for a newborn. “I’m a very frugal person,” Sloan-Hernandez says. “Babies, they don’t need as much as society tells us they do.”
Sloan-Hernandez is a former special education teacher who is currently a stay-at-home mother. Hernandez is a teacher as well. At their baby shower, they asked guests to bring diapers of different sizes or gift cards from Target that they could use throughout the year. They had a diaper raffle at the shower — anyone who brought diapers got a ticket, and at the end of the event they drew for a prize. “We just finished our last box of diapers. We didn’t pay for diapers the whole year,” she says.
They turned to Facebook Marketplace for items including their stroller. “I really wanted the Mockingbird stroller,” she says. It retails for about $400 to $450. “I found it on marketplace for $120 with all accessories. You can be a mom on a budget. I get that new moms want everything brand new. Buy you’ve got to be open to used.”
BabyCenter's Hilmantel agrees buying used can be a great option. However, she offers this caveat — buy car seats and cribs new for safety reasons. “Those are the categories where it’s really crucial that you buy new,” she says.
Jessica Sloan-Hernandez, Issac Hernandez and their daughter, Luna Maria Hernandez, 1, play with the toys at their home in Huntington Station. Credit: Linda Rosier
Overwhelmed by the expense of a new baby? Here are places that can help:
- Angels of Long Island in Patchogue and Mastic offers baby items including diapers, wipes, formula and gear that has been donated by others. Call 631-803-6775 or visit angelsoflongisland.com.
- Harmony Healthcare Long Island distributes Baby Bundles to parents in need through its Perinatal and Infant Community Health Collaborative. To qualify, a parent must be a Nassau County resident, qualify for Medicaid and be prenatal or have children under the age of 2. For more info, call 516-396-0389 or visit harmonyhealthcareli.org.
- Baby Essentials of Long Island holds baby showers for moms in need where they receive new and donated items as well as diapers, baby formula and infant clothing. Baby Essentials works with select agencies across Long Island. Visit babyessentialsofli.org.
- Facebook Marketplace is a source for used baby items at reduced prices. Parents can also check local Facebook sites such as One Parent to Another.