6 Outrageous Things Parents Spend Money On

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Dresses and strollers costing thousands of dollars seem excessive. But that's nothing compared to a $12,500 obstacle course, a $54,000 luxury playhouse, and a $350,000 dinosaur.

Raising a child is expensive. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, middle-income parents of babies born in 2011 will spend $295,560 on that child from birth through age 18. Affluent parents will spend $490,830.

Of course, it’s not hard to spend more, especially for the super-rich. Beyonce and Jay-Z dropped $600,000 on a gold rocking horse for their daughter Blue Ivy, and $15,000 on a Swarovski crystal-studded highchair.

While those are admittedly extreme examples, there are plenty of parents willing to overspend on their offspring.  Check out some ridiculously expensive things parents are buying for their kids these days:

1. Luxury strollers

When my daughter was born, I couldn’t imagine spending more than a couple of hundred dollars on a stroller. I went with the Baby Jogger City Mini for $250, and never regretted my decision. But after just a couple of trips to the park, I couldn’t help but notice our stroller was much cheaper than many others.

Other parents were pushing the Uppababy Vista ($699), the Bugaboo Cameleon ($978), and Phil & Teds Verve ($600), to name a few. Some of these high-end strollers tout smoother rides, extra padding and shade, and roomy storage space. Some even claim to hold their resale value.

But is all the hype about more than the special features? According to ABC News, luxury strollers are becoming the new mom status symbol. After the Bugaboo Donkey ($1,499) was featured on “Sex and the City,” sales skyrocketed. Now moms like Lauren Kennedy view the stroller as “sort of a statement piece,” according to the article.

2. Nurseries

You’ll find a variety of cribs fetching $800 or more at stores like PoshTots.com, Restoration Hardware Baby & Child, and Pottery Barn Kids. Then there are pricey armoires, dressers, and chandeliers to consider.

Many parents-to-be buy into it, splurging on expensive furnishings and décor to craft a nursery that looks like it came straight out of a catalog. I’ve seen these items stacked on baby registries, and then later in newbie parents’ homes. Others choose expensive convertible crib sets with the hope that the furniture will last through childhood – which at least holds the argument of practicality.

It’s all a matter of preference, of course. As someone who purchased a complete set of nursery furniture at Target for less than the price of one high-end crib, I’ve never wished I did it differently. I still love the nursery’s ambiance every time I’m in it – but more so for the special touches, like a canvas wall painting and a decorative magnetic board used to secure photos of my daughter and her cousins.

3. Designer clothes

My daughter doesn’t wear designer baby clothes, but she does own a pair of pink Converse sneakers, Steve Madden boots, and a Vera Bradley purse. She’s only 1. In my defense, I didn’t buy these for her. Her two most fashion-forward cousins, both NYC-residing actresses and FIT students no less, gave them to her. (If our daughter has expensive taste in years ahead, we’ll have them to thank.)

For some parents, decking their children out in designer clothes is the only option. Check out The New York Times’ article The Rise of Designer Children’s Lines for the scoop on how brands like Oscar de la Renta, Fendi, Marc Jacobs, and Roberto Cavalli are marketing to the baby fashionista set. Apparently $190 ballet flats and $1,200 tulle dresses are just part of the price for high style.

4. Toys

Now we’re moving on to the seriously expensive stuff. While strolllers and little girl dresses costing hundreds or thousands of dollars may turn heads, the following big-ticket items are in a league of their own and reserved for the wealthy elite.

Retailer Hammacher Schlemmer recently unveiled several luxury toys in their catalog – some for adults, others for kids. The child-friendly category boasted an 85-foot inflatable military obstacle course with a 12-foot-deep pit ($12,500). There’s also the Killer Whale Submarine ($100,000), a two-seater that hydroplanes at 50 mph on the water’s surface and at 25 mph underwater. Then there’s a 20-foot Animatronic Triceratops ($350,000) that stomps, growls, and sways – probably better suited for a Hollywood movie set than a little boy’s playroom.

5. Luxury playhouses

Some stores are marketing playhouses fit for little kings and queens.

At retailer PoshTots.com, a $54,000 New England Lodge Playhouse promises that “your little ones may never want to come back to your ‘real’ house after spending play time in a custom-built home that’s just their size.” The playhouse comes with many interior and exterior options, as well as amenities like cable, running water, electricity, central air, or a wireless communication system. Meanwhile, an interior designer is on hand for window treatments, moldings, paint colors, furnishings, and flooring.

Some “less expensive” options: Mackey’s Mansion Tree House ($10,450), the Colbert Castle Playhouse ($7,000), and the Rustic Topsy Turvy Mountain Lodge ($2,449).

6. Birthday parties

The $50,000 kiddie party is certainly the exception, but according to Philadelphia Magazine, many status-seeking parents are willing to shell out thousands of dollars to throw the birthday bash of the decade – and it doesn’t matter if their child is turning 12, or 6, or only 1.

Limos, moon bounces, petting zoos, spa treatments, you name it. ABC News tells the story of Staten Island, N.Y., parents Lisa Augustine and Joe Martino, who incorporated bowling, an aerialist, and a roller coaster into their son’s $40,000 first birthday bash. Meanwhile, the birthday boy was too busy napping to enjoy it.

Have you spent a lot of money on your children, or noticed other parents spending frivolously? Tell us more below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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