PARENTS in the Philippines will need around P60,000 for baby essentials, according to a 2021 study by Southeast Asian e-commerce meta-search website iPrice Group.

One-off purchases included baby car seats, strollers, five toys, cribs, and step stools, which amounted to about P57,800, while items needed on a regular basis such as diapers, wipes, and milk formula cost about P1,600. Median prices were determined from the site’s product catalog.

With the minimum wage in the country amounting to just P537 a day, or P10,740 a month if there are 20 work days in the month, a Filipino minimum wage earner will need to save 69% of his or her salary for eight months to afford basic baby items.

In Malaysia and Indonesia, minimum monthly wages are P14,500 and P15,600, respectively. Meanwhile, Singapore has the highest minimum wage at P51,900 a month — meaning the cost of baby items will take up only 14% of a Singaporean minimum wage earner’s salary for eight months.

Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data released in October showed a drop in birth rates in 2020 compared to 2019, with around 1.5 million total registered births in 2020 being the lowest number since 1986. Despite the decrease, iPrice found that Filipinos’ interest in baby products increased by 146% in 2021.

“It seems that Filipinos are looking for ways to entertain their children at home because inflatable swimming pools and bicycles for babies have the most Google impressions, aside from diapers and milk formula,” the meta-search platform stated.

This bump was seen across all Southeast Asian countries in the study, resulting in an average search increase of 127%. Singapore and Thailand had the most interest, with searches surging by 184% and 180% respectively. Malaysia was the only outlier, showing just an 8% increase in Google impressions on all baby product categories.

Of all categories, the toy category is the most in-demand, with a 222% rise of Google impressions, followed by diapers at 160% and nursery items at 127%.

The study emphasized the importance of family planning, especially in a very populated region like Southeast Asia.

“It’s very important for parents, especially in the lower-income tier, to save up before having a child. Otherwise, the baby’s quality of life would be compromised,” iPrice stated. — Brontë H. Lacsamana