Here's How Much a New Baby Actually Costs

Babies are awesome. So cute! So cuddly! So much the embodiment of all our hopes and dreams. And so...expensive.

No matter how much we love and cherish them, the simple fact remains, from conception through the first year our children typically rack up an eye-watering tab. And costs only rise as they grow up.

Before you and your partner take the plunge into parenthood, take a moment to consider the costs, and make sure you're financially ready to welcome your little bundle of joy.

First and foremost, if you're considering parenthood, health insurance coverage is crucial. Without it, you'll have to pay all medical expenses for mother and baby out of pocket and that adds up fast.

Let’s talk numbers.

Prenatal Care, Doctor's Visits and Tests

Prenatal vitamins are crucial for the health of your baby. In fact, moms should begin taking them before they even get pregnant. Expect to pay around $15 for a one-month supply but check with your insurance provider, some plans will cover this cost.

Most health insurance plans consider prenatal care a preventative treatment, so they usually cover routine checkups, blood work and other diagnostic tests like ultrasounds. If you don't have a healthcare plan, expect to pay around $2000 for doctor's visits and related services.

Labor and Delivery

Government data shows that the average cost of labor and delivery is about $10,000 if there are no complications and if the family doesn't have health insurance. For those who do have a health care plan, the price drops to around $4k.

However, if Mom needs a Cesarean section, the cost jumps to almost $13,000 without insurance. Parents with coverage will pay about $7,500.

Formula and Food

Pediatricians recommend breastfeeding unless there is a medical reason not to. Breast milk provides a range of nutrients and antibodies that are crucial for your baby's developing brain, eyes and immune system, as well as many other benefits. 

As a bonus, breastfeeding helps keep food costs down, at least for the first several months. However, giving your child baby formula is a perfectly reasonable option, especially if Mom is unable to produce enough milk or needs to take medications that might be harmful if passed to the baby.

If you elect to bottle feed with formula, expect to pay about $25 per 22 ounces. The amount you'll need will vary from one child to the next, and will increase as the child grows, but this handy calculator can help you estimate quantities and costs.

At four to six months, your little one will be ready to start eating baby food, so you'll need to factor the cost of strained peas, rice cereal and other yummies into your budget.

Many options are available for around a dollar per serving, or a little more if you opt for organic brands. If you plan on spending about $2 per day, that's another $60 per month you'll need to include in your budget.

Clothing and Furniture

The good news, your friends and family will probably give you dozens of adorable outfits, so your expenses for clothing, at least for the first few months, should be low. The bad news, babies grow fast, so those adorable dresses and little flannel shirts won't fit for long.

Thankfully, unless it's picture day, your child doesn't need to be a fashionista, so take advantage of all the gifts and potential hand-me-downs. When you do need a new outfit, plan on spending between $15 and $30.

You can also save a bundle if you're lucky enough to receive hand-me-down furniture, baby monitors, playpens and other equipment from a loved one. If not, you can shop for bargains at garage sales and thrift stores. Just be sure that the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) has certified the crib you'll use, and check their guidelines for car seat safety.

Diapers and Wipes

For years, everyone thought cloth diapers had less of an impact on the environment than disposables. However, recent studies indicate that the water and energy needed to wash all those nappies may represent a comparably significant burden.

Plus, doctors have begun to back away from the idea that cloth diapers are unilaterally better for baby's skin, so it all comes down to your personal preference.

If you opt to use disposable diapers, plan to spend around $50 for a one-month supply. By contrast, it can cost up to $500 to get started with cloth diapers, including the cost of a diaper pail and supplies. Over time you'll begin to see significant savings over disposable diapers, especially if you have more than one child.

And don't forget the cost of wipes, that’s about $25 for a month's supply. Although you can make do with washcloths if you prefer.

Toys and Learning Games

Baby toys represent another excellent opportunity to avail yourself of the generosity of family and friends. Gently used items will amuse your little one just as much as new items.

Plus, you'll reduce your family’s carbon footprint and create lasting memories by reusing cherished items instead of buying more.

If you do purchase a Pooh Bear, for example, expect to pay anywhere from $12 to $25.

Daycare

Without a doubt, aside from the delivery itself, daycare and sitters represent the highest budget line item for new parents. Costs vary widely depending on where you live, but on average, you should budget around $5,000 to $6,000 per year for child care.

The Bottom Line

The USDA estimates the cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 is roughly $234,000. If you add up estimated costs for pregnancy, delivery and just the first year of your child's life, you'll find that they're nothing to sneeze at:

 Prenatal care, with insurance

 $135 ($15 x 9 months’ prenatal vitamins)

 Normal delivery, with insurance

 $4,000

 Formula and Food

 $750 (formula only for first 6 months)

 $860 (⅔ formula + ⅓ food thereafter)

 $1,610 total for first year of life

 Clothing, furniture and equipment*  

 Crib: $150

 Changing table: $85

 Car seat: $130

 Playpen: $55

 Stroller: $75

 Baby monitor: $50

 Total: $545

 Diapers and wipes (disposables)  $900
 Toys (two per month)  $360
 Daycare (depending on location)  $5,000
 Total for Baby’s First Year:  $12,550

*Prices vary widely depending on brand, features, etc.

Still, for most parents, children are a source of tremendous joy, regardless of the expense. Just do your research and plan accordingly, you'll be a lot less apt to experience sticker shock when your little one arrives.

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