What It Costs to Have and Raise a Baby

When you’re expecting a baby, your excitement can get in the way of practical stuff, like how to pay for your new bundle. Getting ready for the added expense, though, doesn’t have to cause you sticker shock.

In general, what you’ll spend to have and raise a child depends on where you live, your family income, and whether you have health insurance. Some charges tend to be lower in the South and higher in the Northeast.

Here’s an idea what to expect through the early stages of a child’s life.

Having a Baby: $3,000 or More

Vaginal deliveries are less expensive than C-sections. The more problems you have with your delivery, unfortunately, the more the cost. Ultimately, the decision as to whether you have a vaginal delivery or a C-section is made for the health of the baby and the mother. Preventative care and doctors visits while you are pregnant could help you avoid some complications.

The average bill for a vaginal childbirth varies by state. In New York City, the cost for a normal delivery, including anesthesia and post-care in the hospital, ranged from $9,600 to $13,500, according to 2017 data from FAIR Health. The lower number represents the cost with private insurance; the latter is without health insurance. C-section births, including anesthesia and post-delivery care, ranged from $8,000 to $15,000. In St. Paul-Minneapolis, by contrast, a normal vaginal delivery ranged from $4,200 to $7,600 (insured vs. uninsured), while a C-section cost $4,600 to $9,600. 

Costs rose in case of complications. 

 If you have Medicaid, childbirth costs you little or nothing. Almost any pregnant mom can get on Medicaid.

Having Twins: $15,000 or More

One plus one is five? That’s right. The cost of having twins -- $15,293 in 2012 -- can be five times greater than the cost of having a single child.

In a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers linked the higher costs of having twins with more frequent office visits, longer hospital stays, the need for C-sections, and a greater risk of conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and anemia. Twin babies also are more likely to need intensive care after birth.

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Onetime Baby Supplies: $3,000-Plus

When your new baby arrives, you’ll need a few essentials like a crib and car seat. The good news is they’re onetime expenses, and you can reuse them later if you have more children.

Top-of-the-line baby gear may run you well over $3,000. But consider buying used items -- as long as they still meet current safety standards -- or ask friends and family members for gifts or hand-me-downs. Avoid used car seats, though, which have expiration dates. They may have been involved in an accident or their parts may be worn out. Safety standards also change often.

Here’s a sample budget:

Transportation: For your baby’s first set of wheels, you’ll want a stroller. A decent one starts at about $100, but a designer model can set you back $1,000, according to Consumer Reports. For twins, double strollers come in two models: side-by-side and single-file tandem. The side-by-sides range from $100 to $1,400, but generally cost $350 to $450. Tandems run a little less, at $250 to $300.

When you take your own wheels, your infant will need a car seat. Depending on the model, the cost may range from $80 to $500.

Furniture: Your new baby will spend a lot of time in their crib, which run $100 to $3,000. If you buy a bassinet, which typically costs under $200, make sure it bears a certification sticker from the Juvenile Products Manufacturer’s Association. Ditto for a cradle. You may also want to budget $50 to $150 for a changing table. 

Nursing and feeding: You can save on formula costs by breastfeeding. Later, considering how often your baby eats, a high chair is a key addition to any kitchen. It’ll cost you $50 to $400.

Toys: To keep your baby occupied, you can buy a portable swing for $60 to $140 and an activity center for $70-$80.

 

Baby's First Two Years: $25,360

Baby's First Two Years: $25,360 (or $12,680 per year)

That’s how much average, middle-income parents can expect to spend raising a baby from birth through age 2, according to 2015 figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the latest figures available. “Middle income” is defined by the USDA is having a combined gross income of $59,200 to $107,400.

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If $1,056 a month seems like a lot to spend on such a tiny child, consider that the initial costs may include a bigger house and car. You can save by staying in your current home longer or using public transportation.

Here’s how baby’s first two years’ expenses break down by year for middle-income parents:

  • Housing: $3,680. Includes utilities, furniture, and appliances.
  • Food: $1,580
  • Transportation: $1,790
  • Clothing and diapers: $750
  • Health care: $1,180
  • Child care: $2,870
  • Other: $830. Includes personal care items, entertainment, and reading materials.
 
 

Twins’ First Year: $25,880

First-year costs more than double when you have twins. Look for ways to divide expenses. Twins can share a room, toys, and clothing. You also may be able to find other twin discounts.

Here’s how the first-year expenses break down for a middle-income couple:

  • Housing: $8,140. Includes utilities, furniture, and appliances.
  • Food: $2,900
  • Transportation: $3,460
  • Clothing and diapers: $1,580
  • Health care: $1,800
  • Child care: $6,180
  • Other: $1,820. Includes books, toothbrushes, and electronics.

 

Expenses for Raising a Family

The cost of raising a family depends on how many children you have, where you live, and whether both parents work.

How many children you have. Some costs can be shared, like housing, transportation, food, clothing, and toys.

Where you live. Health care, housing, and transportation are often higher in urban areas.

Whether you need child care. It’s the largest expense after housing for younger children. Child care services often give sibling discounts. Otherwise, you can save money on child care if one parent stays home (although this can result in loss of income) or if family or friends can provide free care.

Raising a Child: $233,610

Try sinking your  teeth into that one. The USDA estimates middle-income families (two parents, two children, with a before-tax household income between $59,200 and $107,400) will spend $233,610 in 2015 dollars to raise a child from birth to age 17.

For those with a lower household income, the cost is roughly $175,000, and for those with a combined household income of more than $107,000, the bill will come to about $372,000. 

 

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Raising Twins: $490,680

You might say your twins are “worth” half a million bucks. Middle-income families will spend about $490,680 to raise twins born in 2013 through high school. If your income is lower, you’ll spend $353,100. If it’s higher, you may spend $815,640.

Think that’s a lot? It doesn’t even include college costs. So no time like the present to start putting a little aside for your baby’s future.

For a better estimate of how much you’ll spend each year to raise your child, use the USDA’s calculator.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 19, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

FAIR Health: "Estimate your healthcare expenses."

ConsumerReports.org

Investopedia: “How to Budget for a New Baby,” “Budgeting for a New Baby.”

Mark Lino, economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

March of Dimes: “Premature birth: The financial impact on business.”

Edward McCabe, MD, PhD, chief medical officer, March of Dimes.

News release, Childbirth Connection.

News release, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Carol Sakala, PhD, director, Childbirth Connection Programs, National Partnership for Women & Families.

Lorin Smith, spokesman, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Expenditures on Children by Families, 2015," “Parents Projected to Spend $245,340 to Raise a Child Born in 2013, According to USDA Report.”

Costhelper.com: "How Much Does a Baby Swing Cost?"

Babycenter.com: "First-Year Baby Costs Calculator."

FAIR Health: "Estimate your healthcare expenses."

Amazon.com.

American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology: “Healthcare expenses associated with multiple vs singleton pregnancies in the United States.”

Advances in Nutrition: “Lino M. Expenditures on children by families, 2013. Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion; 2014. Miscellaneous Publication No. 1528-2013.”

News release, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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