'The Twelve Days of Paying For an Infant'

As the annual breakdown of the 'Twelve Days of Christmas' carol into a consumer index hits the news, this dad breaks down the costs that really matter to him – the 'Baby Turning One Not Long After Christmas' Price Index.

Rick Bowmer/AP, File
Forget the 'Lords a Leaping,' this dad has a more vital shopping list this holiday season, including diapers, rattles, bibs, and jumping chairs. Here, Huggies diapers and a box of Kirkland diapers are on display at Costco.

One of America's unlikely holiday traditions is the annual tedious breakdown of the Twelve Days of Christmas carol into a consumer index, along the lines of: "If you paid for everything mentioned in the song at today's price's, you'd be out a whopping..."

This year (and, seriously, how does one actually price ten lords-a-leaping?) the number comes to $27,393 according to the Christmas Price Index from PNC Wealth Management.

As a new parent however, I'm not even vaguely fixated by this figure, conspicuous though it may be. I've got my own carol-based problem to solve, the Baby Turning One Not Long After Christmas Price Index from Norton "Wealth" "Management." It looks a little something like this:

Twelve bottles shaking,

As the father of an infant who has effectively self-weaned at seven months, I have become painfully aware of the financial footprint left by formula. The stuff's not cheap. I'd ballpark 12 5 oz. bottles at about $17.

Eleven apples blending,

Baby food is such a transparent racket that we've gone to an all home-cooked fruits + veggies + quinoa + brown rice program for the solid food portion of our son's diet. Seconds are pretty cheap; let's put 11 apples for homemade applesauce at $3.

Ten Mum Mums crackling,

These little rice rusk crackers are great for babies for a number of reasons. They're light. They're safe (supervision still required, but they basically disintegrate before they become a choking hazard). They're fun for babies to grip. They're therefore distracting while you get solid food warmed up and ready to roll. 10 would be about $1.25, a relative steal.

Nine cloths-a-dabbing,

Nothing plays up the neat-freak versus casual divide like having a baby. My wife goes for the "wipe him down once at the end of the meal" approach, like most rational people. For me, watching food get smeared around ... and around ... and around ... is like a mild but very real form of torture. When I'm feeding our son, I like to have three damp, warm cloths handy: the primary cloth, the back-up cloth, and the auxiliary support cloth. Cost: about $5.25.

Eight diapers filling,

Whether you're using home-washed cloth, disposable, or cloth service diapers, there's no getting around the new reality that these heavy, fragrant bundles of anti-joy represent. Price? Hard to say. Priceless, perhaps. Or I suppose we could peg it at $2.40.

Seven rattles rattling,

What's a rattle go for these days? About eight bucks, which is shocking. $56 for this line item.

Six onesies snapping,

For the sake of pricing, let's assume animal outfits rather than bare-bones onesies, because there's not much point in raising a baby if you can't dress it as a tiny bear or reindeer or rabbit. Let's say $132.

Five ... crinkly books!

Ah, the crinkly book. It simulates reading, but is really a teething / crumpling / distracting toy. Best of all worlds. We like Fuzzy Bee and Friends ($45 for five of them. Also available in a Kindle edition if you're completely confused about the point of a "touch and feel" crinkly book.)

Four jumping chairs,

Few parents would need four jumping chairs, but here's a scenario: a big, suburban house, plus two supportive sets of in-laws. Jumping chair in the living room, one in the home office, one at each of the in-laws' places. Boom! Four jumping chairs. Price varies, but you could get four good new ones for a mere $300.

Three cute bibs,

Three bibs? If you're buying new, retail, as we are for this song, $12. My only regret about bibs is that they don't cover every part of the baby at all times. I guess what I'd really like is some kind of spray-on Teflon coating.

Two pack and plays,

The pack and play! Your baby's home away from home, and/or visiting babies home away from home. A vital tool. Not cheap, but not terrible for what you get. $120 for two.

And a wifi video monitor.

OK, it doesn't scan exactly right with the song. But if baby's sleeping somewhere not immediately in eyesight, it's nice to be able to see what he or she is up to when strange noises begin to float through the air and/or to pick up on the lower-volume strange noises you might otherwise miss. This one clocks in at about $150.

The sum total for our baby song's contents? $843.90, more or less. And the unlikely moral of the story is that it's much cheaper to raise an infant than to live like a medieval lord. It's counterintuitive, and somehow incredibly cheering!

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