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I’m the father of two sons, aged 26 and 29, which means it’s been a long time since I gave any thought to baby expenses. Still, I was struck when I read recently about an online baby registry platform called Giftstart that allows people to send money as well as the usual baby-related equipment.

Is that a thing now – sending money to new parents? For answers, I asked Giftstart CEO and founder Scarlett Li-Goshawk to do a newsletter Q&A. Here’s an edited version of our exchange by e-mail:

Q: I see the trending gifts on Giftstart are the usual stuff – bassinets, diaper pails, strollers and such. But you’ve added a cash option as well – why?

A: Directly asking for monetary gifts isn’t usually part of the baby registry tradition. However, with the increasing costs of child-rearing, evolving regulations, and inflation, we realized that financial support has become more important than ever. By incorporating a cash fund into registries, we’re empowering parents to receive financial contributions in a personalized, customizable, and courteous manner, eliminating the awkwardness in requesting financial assistance.

Q: What’s the take-up been like on cash giving as opposed to buying baby gear?

A: The response has been excellent. Since the launch of our cash fund earlier this month, we saw that over 95 per cent of users who have created baby registries through our platform have expressed interest and willingness to incorporate it into their registry.

Q: How much cash are people giving on average? And, how are they giving – lump sum, a series of small gifts?

A: The amount and frequency vary; we are seeing contributions as small as $25, which could go toward a diaper fund created for subscription deliveries. We’ve also seen large lump sum amounts from mostly parents or other family members who contributed to funds created for a nursery room or saving up for specific uses.

Q: Overall on Giftstart, what is the average value of gifts received by people who register on the site?

A: The value of products being gifted through a Giftstart registry on average is $3,500, reflecting an increase from around $3,000 earlier this year. We’re forecasting the upward trend to persist throughout the year 2024.

Q: The Stress Test podcast I co-host with Globe personal finance editor Roma Luciw looked recently at young people who are choosing not to have children. What’s your sense of how big a factor cost is in the decisions young adults are making today about having kids?

A: Significant expenses, undoubtedly, play a huge role in anyone’s decision-making when it comes to parenthood. The continued rise of overall costs, fluctuating interest rates, and layoffs across many industries have collectively heightened the financial strain on many people. Due to uncertainties in affordability, prospective parents are understandably hesitant to bring a child into the world when they themselves are feeling financially stretched.

Q: Where does the financial strain on young parents come from – is it mortgages, daycare costs, other child-rearing expenses?

A: Pervasive inflation has rendered many essentials less affordable, while business closures and mass layoffs have further unsettled job security. In the existing interest rate environment, the once-attainable dream of home ownership has become less feasible for many. This jeopardizes the sense of safety and stability associated with home ownership, further dissuading people from considering expanding their families.

Q: Giftstart is billed as a baby registry – can you see it being used to support parents after the birth of a child?

A: Absolutely. Giftstart is designed to seamlessly adapt to the ever-evolving needs of families across all stages. We’re constantly expanding our service offerings to support Canadian parents with diverse needs, ranging from newborn care and babysitters to sleep training consultants, as well as dental care or meal deliveries.

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