It’s not cheap having a baby

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MARCH 5 — It was a visit to the nanny Ms Lim and her husband would never forget.

The couple is expecting their newborn in five months and is in the midst of making the necessary preparations for their bundle of joy.

Through the recommendation of a family member, they visited a nanny near their apartment in Taman Segambut. It turned out to be an eye-opener.

According to Lim, the nanny charged RM850 per newborn and listed down her terms:

• She only works on weekdays, from 8am to 6.30pm

• If she is required to cook, then parents would need to buy ingredients and she would charge an additional RM50 for gas

• If parents choose to provide her with napkins instead of diapers, she would pack the soiled napkins in a plastic bag and hand it over to the parents at the end of the day

• She requires 10 days of annual leave

• She does not work on public holidays

“To be fair, she was quite upfront with her terms but it did come to us as a shocker. But I guess RM850 is quite reasonable in our area,” said Lim.

A nearby daycare centre, meanwhile, charged RM1,500 per baby.

She admitted the price of such services differed depending on the area and the ethnicity of the nanny. Chinese nannies are usually more expensive than Malay or Indian nannies.

“My cousin has two children and a daycare centre quoted RM3,000. She had no choice but to quit her job to care for her kids.

“There are so many other expenses that new parents would have to incur, from diapers to strollers.” 

Lim said buying a stroller was akin to buying a car. The low range stroller is about RM300 while the ‘luxurious’ strollers with plenty of compartments range from RM2,500 to RM3,500.

There are also check-ups leading to the big day and she has to make a choice between natural birth, Caesarean section, water birthing or the latest in-thing hypno-birthing. The price ranges between RM3,500 and RM15,000 — depending on her choice and the medical institution.

With the escalating cost of living and medical bills, many are unable to get the services of a nanny.

Instead, they believe hiring an illegal maid is a more economical choice.

An illegal foreign domestic helper is usually paid RM850 per month and she not only cares for the baby but cleans the house, irons clothes and waters the plants.

And on weekends, some out there shamelessly demand their maids to wash cars and bathe their pets.

The consequences are aplenty — from running foul of the local authorities to entrusting your child to a foreigner who has no documents.

This would then jog our memory to the many abuse cases and the recent incident where a maid slit the throats of an 18-month-old baby and his five-year-old stepbrother before taking her own life in Sungai Buloh.

It is not easy having a baby in this day and age. Parents are forced to clock long hours to make ends meet, leaving their child to interact with a total stranger during the infant’s early years.

The idea of setting up a nursery at the workplace ought to be implemented — now more than ever. This would ensure productivity. 

As Lim said: “Honestly, it’s turning out to be a hassle. There’s just so much to do.

“I’m just going to enjoy the next five months and once the baby is out, we’ll see what happens then.”

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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