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.

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.

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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.

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 his 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.

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.
 
 

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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. The only way to save money on child care is for one parent to stay home (although this can result in loss of income) or for family or friends to 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. 

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 Anita Schroff, MD on December 15, 2017

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: USDA: "Expenditures on Children by Families, 2015."

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

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

FAIR Health: "Estimate your healthcare expenses."

© 2017 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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