The new baby is coming. It’s a joyful, miraculous, and awe-inspiring moment in the life of any family. It’s also easily one of the most expensive things you’ll ever do. From building a nursery to stocking up on diapers, from routine doctor’s appointments to replacing everything in your home that your suddenly mobile toddler destroys, from supporting costly sports and hobbies to saving for college—having a kid will cost you a lot of money.
But let’s take it one step at a time. Before you start stressing about your unborn child’s expensive orthodontia and semesters abroad, let’s talk about the basic costs for having a new baby and how you can be better prepared for that first year. According to New York Life, the average family can expect to spend between $20,000 and $50,000 on childcare costs in just the first year, with variations depending on location, household income, and personal preferences. After that, says the life insurance provider, you can expect to spend roughly $12,000 to $14,000 on child care related expenses in each subsequent year.
Before you begin adding up the costs of having a kid, we should mention that the global economy has been in the midst of a pretty intense inflationary trend. We’re guessing you probably already noticed when filling up at the pump or checking out at the grocery store. If you’d like to learn more about how this trend might affect your household budgetary and savings goals as you prepare for your newborn, check out our look at How Inflation is Impacting American Consumers.
For a deeper look at the costs of having a new baby, read on…
1. Maternity Stuff
For just a tiny hint at how much having a baby will cost, consider what you’ll spend starting on the day you find out you’re expecting. From prenatal vitamins and dietary supplements to an ever-evolving maternity wardrobe, this baby will begin to cost your household money months before it comes into the world. Vox reports that, for starters, “pregnant women, on average, spend almost $500 per pregnancy on maternity clothes. That breaks down to between $50 and $60 spent per month of pregnancy.”
Expect to spend on an array of other items aimed at supporting, easing, or improving your experience, from specialized exercise equipment and body pillows to a full spectrum of moisturizers, morning sickness cures, and baby books. And because you’re suddenly focused on every little ingredient in every single thing you eat, you should also budget for a few new food items in your pantry.
Plan to budget $1000-1500 for maternity clothes, vitamins, supplements, foods, remedies, and books.
2. Prenatal Care and Delivery
It won’t take you long to experience one of the biggest costs of having a baby. If you do so through a hospital or other medical facility, the likelihood is that your out-of-pocket expenses for both prenatal care and delivery will be considerable. The cost is naturally lower for home delivery, though you will still pay for doula services, which can cost between $500 and $2000 for the delivery process.
Prenatal care entails monthly check-ins, regular blood work, a series of ultrasounds, genetic tests, glucose screening and a host of other tests aimed at measuring the health of the mother and baby. Though some screening may be optional, the vast majority are necessary. What you’ll pay for these appointments and tests will vary dramatically depending on the scope of your insurance coverage as well as your copay and deductible rates. In order to anticipate the likely cost of prenatal care, be sure that you fully understand the terms and conditions of your health insurance policy. This will give you a clearer sense of what you are likely to owe to your medical providers as you continue down the path of pregnancy.
According to Investopedia, “in the U.S., the average new birthing parent with insurance coverage will pay more than $4,500 for their labor and delivery, according to a 2020 research article published by the journal Health Affairs.”
But the actual cost will vary widely depending on your region, your insurance policy coverage, and even the specific hospital or healthcare system where you deliver. Beyond that, any number of added complications to pregnancy and delivery can raise your cost. There may be cost distinctions between a vaginal delivery and a caesarian section, and costs will most certainly be added if any additional time in the hospital is required for either the mother, baby or both. These factors are fairly unpredictable, and once again, how much you are personally responsible for out of your own pocket will depend on the nature of your insurance coverage.
But whatever the nature of your coverage, you must be prepared for the first major cost of child-bearing to come in the form of a hefty hospital bill.
Plan to budget $6000-$12,000 for prenatal care, co-pays, and delivery costs.
3. Home Nursery
The design of your home nursery and the items you include in your nursery may be a matter of preference. You can do it all on a budget by acquiring gently used second-hand items along with some clever DIY design work. But there are a few items that will be absolutely essential, including a crib, a changing table, a rocking chair or glider, a diaper pail, and the usual furniture you might need for a room including a dresser, bookshelf, sheets, lighting, etc.
There are also countless optional items that you might want including area rugs, hanging mobile, decor, and additional storage solutions. Costs may vary considerably here depending on your taste, your budget, and the proportion of used versus new items you’ll use to outfit your baby’s nursery.
For instance, you can purchase a perfectly safe and functional crib at a traditional big-box store like Walmart or Buy Buy Baby for as little as $150 to $400, or you can spend as much as $3000 at a high end furniture boutique. It’s entirely up to you how you want the nursery to look and feel. As long as you don’t sacrifice safety, comfort, and the creation of a soothing environment for your baby, there are lots of ways to keep your costs down.
Plan to budget $500-$3500 for crib, rocker, changing, table, furniture and decor.
4. Household Baby Stuff
Now that you’ve put all that time, money, and effort into creating an amazing nursery for your kid…it’ll be a while before the baby actually sleeps in it. According to What to Expect, at night, “The safest place for your baby to sleep is in your bedroom, in her own separate sleep space — the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends infants sleep in the same room as their parents for at least the first 6 months of life, and ideally the first year.”
This means that this nursery will essentially be a home base for naps, changing and the storage of baby stuff. Most of the time, the baby will be with you, somewhere in the house. So that means you need a whole lot of other things to accommodate the baby when she’s in your bedroom, the living room, the kitchen, etc.
What to Expect says that “Bassinets, mini cribs and playards can all get the job done: Budget options start around $100, with most models costing between $150 and $250. But prices can go as high as $1,000.”
You’ll also want some combination of rockers, bouncers and swings to keep the baby safe, busy and close by when you’re doing laundry, cooking dinner, or squeezing in an hour of work on the computer. If you have a home with multiple floors, you probably want a few rockers or swings so that you aren’t constantly lugging them up and down the stairs.
Just like the stuff outfitting your nursery, your cost will depend on the relative extravagance of your taste and your willingness to hunt for bargains.
Plan to budget $400 to $1500 for assorted bassinets, rockers, bouncers and swings.
5. Diapers, Diapers, and More Diapers
There’s no gentle way to say this. Babies go through a lot of diapers—dozens over the course of a single week, in fact. According to What to Expect, you should anticipate changing just about 3000 diapers in that first year alone. If you’re using disposables, What to Expect estimates that you’ll spend roughly $0.17 to 0.31 per diaper, for an annual total that falls somewhere between $510 to $930. Throw on a few hundred dollars more for wipes, which you’ll use for pretty much everything, and we mean everything.
If you choose to go the reusable route, you may be able to save a bit of money while also benefiting the environment. Statista says that roughly 21% of American households with babies do use cloth diapers. However, for those who then send these cloth diapers to a cleaning service for reuse, the overall cost is relatively the same as what you’ll spend on disposables.
By contrast, says What to Expect, “If you buy and wash your own, you’ll save big, although your water and electric bills will go up, you’ll need to stock up on detergent and you’ll be taking on some extra housework.”
In a universe where time is money, the sweat equity you put into cleaning cloth diapers yourself may be pretty comparable to the amount of money you’ll save. In other words, the most compelling reason to use cloth diapers is to save the environment. Any monetary savings thereafter are a bonus.
Plan to budget $1000-$1500 for diapers and wipes in the first year.
6. Going Out and About
As a new parent, you’ll quickly discover that leaving the house requires a lot more effort and a lot more stuff than it used to. The days of traveling light are behind you, at least for the time being. You’ll need a few essential items before you can go anywhere with your baby. In fact, if you choose a hospital birth, you won’t be allowed to drive away from the hospital with your baby unless you have an infant car seat properly installed in your vehicle. At a cost of anywhere between $100 and $500, there are many different models of car seat available on the market.
It’s important that your car seat meets current safety standards. Every car seat sold in stores must, by law, meet those standards. In other words, even if you spend on the lower tier car seat, it will still meet all proper safety requirements. This is, however, one item that you can’t buy secondhand. Car seats that are even just a few years old may not meet the most immediate safety standards. While you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune, only a brand new car seat will do.
From there, expenses for getting out of the house with your baby should include a diaper bag, a stroller, and—for extended visits away from home—a pack n’ play. The last of these is a particularly valuable item—a portable foldaway playpen that doubles as a crib. These can range in price from $60 to $300.
As for strollers, once again, it all depends on your taste. You can spend less than $100 on a no-frills umbrella stroller or as much as $1000 on the deluxe jogging model with precision steering and all the whistles and bells. For the diaper bag, you can spend up to $200 on some of the fancier pieces of baby luggage on the market, or you could just repurpose an old backpack with lots of compartments, which is obviously free.
Plan to budget $300 to $2000 for a car seat, stroller, pack ’n play, and diaper bag.
7. Nursing and Feeding
For women who are able, nursing is not only considered the healthiest way to feed your newborn, but it’s also the most affordable. For women who can readily produce it, breast milk is, of course, free. That said, there are some affiliated costs. According to What to Expect, you’ll need a few items to support both nursing and pumping “such as three or four nursing bras (anywhere from $15 to $50 on average). Pumps can range from $25 for manual models to $350 for some double electric models, though many new moms are eligible for a free one through their health insurance plan.”
You’ll also need somewhere in the range of a dozen bottles, which can go for a few dollars apiece.
The cost of nursing a newborn will be much higher for women who either are unable or choose not to breastfeed. A newborn will likely consume more than $1000 worth of formula in the first year. One cost-effective alternative for women who can’t breastfeed is donated breast milk, which you may be able to locate through an online nursing support community like La Leche League International.
At some point during the year, you will also begin feeding solids to your baby, which means you need to build baby foods into your grocery budget as well. You can purchase pre-made jars of puree, yogurt pouches, and fruit smoothies, or you can make your own. Either way, add several hundred dollars to your food budget to account for the new mouth in your household.
Plan to budget $550 to $1600 for nursing bras, pumps, bottles and food. Add roughly $1200 more if using formula.
Outside of your medical expenses, childcare will be the largest first-year expenses for most families composed of either two working parents or single mothers. The cost of this care can vary extremely widely depending on an array of factors including the type of care you choose, how much time you need coverage for, and where you live.
According to Investopedia “The Care Index pegs in-center child care costs at just under $10,000 per year. The average cost of a nanny or other in-home care is around $28,350 a year, but again that can be higher or lower based on location and so on.”
Bear in mind that many families are eligible for a child tax credit, or in some cases, tax deductions for the amount spent on childcare. So it’s likely that most households will see some return on that expense. But your upfront cost for a daycare service or an in-home nanny begins at $10,000 and goes up from there.
Plan to budget $10,000 to $30,000 for daycare, babysitting, and/or nanny.
While not the biggest expense, new clothing is likely to be a constant one. As your baby grows or renders certain garments unusable—when it happens, you’ll understand what I mean—you may make frequent trips to the baby section at Target or Amazon. And because babies are obviously super cute, there are probably all kinds of things you might want to buy just because they’re stinking adorable. Your baby is only a baby once, so you should definitely have fun playing dress-up if you can afford it.
But no matter how you approach it, you won’t get much mileage out of anything your baby wears that first year. So unless you’re planning a big photo shoot, don’t overspend on any one item. And make yourself available to friends and family members with an abundance of hand-me-downs. This is a great way to save money, especially when your baby is deep in the spit-up and diaper blowout stage of development. New York Life says that you can expect to spend roughly $50 a month on clothes (which honestly sounds a little low to us).
Plan to budget $600 to $1000 for assorted onesies, tops, bibs, socks and hats.
In the first few months, one of the most important safety items you can get is a baby monitor. This is a valuable commodity when it comes to putting your baby down for naps, bedtime or just for your own sanity. While your baby gets some rest or independent play time inside a secure crib, you can keep an ear or an eye on things from another room.
Basic audio models go for as little as $20 to $40 but the price goes up as you add features like a video, wireless connectivity, and even sleep tracking and monitoring of your baby’s breathing. You can spend up to $400 or $500 for an advanced monitor.
Babyproofing demands will definitely increase as your infant becomes mobile. First and foremost, you’ll need to ensure that you install safety gates in front of the open portal to any flight of stairs. Baby gates can vary in price depending on the length and style, and will range from $30 to $100 and beyond.
Fortunately, most of the other expenses that come with increased mobility are pretty modest. You’ll need to cover open electrical outlets, place locks on any kitchen or bathroom cabinets within your child’s grasp, add safety knobs to doors to prevent your baby from entering forbidden rooms, bracket any vertical furniture to the wall to prevent climbing accidents, and affix protective foam or rubber protectors to any potentially sharp or dangerous corners on furniture, counters, and ledges.
Plan to budget $100 to $800 for a baby monitor as well as assorted gates, outlet covers, furniture brackets, and cabinet locks.
Now that you have a growing family, it may be time to start thinking about how that family might be protected in the event of something tragic and unforeseen. While it may be difficult to talk about death with loved ones, it’s important to make practical preparations to ensure the security of those you leave behind. To learn more, take a look at these 5 Reasons You Should Get Life Insurance.