A Baby Costs How Much in Those First Few Years?

smiling baby looking at camera under a white blanket/towel
Iurii Sokolov
Babies bring a ton of joy and wonder into our lives -- and a ton of extra expenses.

The average cost to raise a child, over the course of 18 years, is around $241,000 for a middle-income couple, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (This doesn't include the cost of college, which is another article in itself). Let's break down basic baby costs in two categories: what you need at the beginning and what you'll be spending in the months that follow:

Upfront Costs
  • Childbirth. The costs of pregnancy, delivery and postnatal care are huge. Even if your insurance pays for part of it, you'll end up on the hook for your deductible (which may range from $500 to $3,000), plus your co-insurance (with can be 20 percent to 30 percent of the total), plus office visit co-pays (with can cost $30 to $75 per office visit.) Review your health insurance policy to see what is covered and what you must pay out-of-pocket, but expect the following price ranges for overall cost, according to Parenting.com: vaginal delivery ($7,000-$10,000), C-section delivery ($10,000-$12,500); delivery with complications (up to $250,000-$300,000)
  • Mementos. You might want a few keepsakes from your baby's birth, but remember that posting pictures from your phone on Facebook (FB) is free. Consider these price estimates: birth announcements ($50), baby book or scrapbook ($25) and photo printing ($130)
  • Insurance. You'll have two major insurance needs: health care for the baby, plus term life insurance for yourself. Adding a baby to a family health insurance plan will cost in the neighborhood of $200 to $450 a month. The cost of taking out life insurance for yourself will depends on your age, health and the amount of coverage you desire. But as an example, a healthy non-smoking male can get $500,000 in coverage for around $350 to $450 a year.
  • Supplies. Are you ready for an incredible list of everything you'll need when the baby arrives? Assuming you purchase everything new, here are the price estimates: furniture ($1,000-$3,000 for crib, changing table, rocking chair and accessories); bedding, blankets and mattress ($150-$200); bassinet ($100); stroller ($100); baby carrier ($20-$50); car seat ($100-$200); diaper bags ($50); feeding supplies ($90 for bottles and nipples, bibs, burp cloths and bottle brush); highchair ($100); baby monitor ($50); cleaning and toiletries ($50 for bathtub, towels and washcloths and accessories); play yard ($80); bouncer ($40); play mat ($50); mobile ($30); childproofing supplies ($45); and safety gate ($120). According to Parenting, new parents typically shell out $6,000 in total for supplies, though you could pull it off for $2,000 or less if you're a careful shopper.
Monthly Costs

Baby is here! Now here's what you can expect to pay going forward, according to a combination of estimates from BabyCenter.com and WhattoExpect.com:
  • Diapers. Many parents report that diapers are one of the biggest sticker shocks when their first baby arrives. Here are the costs: disposable diapers ($30 to $85 a month), diaper pail ($25), cloth diapers ($20 a month), diaper service ($75 a month) and cleaning wipes ($20 a month).
  • Food. You may or may not need baby formula, depending on your health and choices, but your child will start eating solid food after roughly six to eight months. Expect these costs: formula ($60-$100 a month); nursing bras ($50-$75 each); breast pump ($50-$250); nursing pillow ($30); milk storage bags, breast pads, ice packs and accessories ($75); baby food once your baby starts solid food ($50-$100 a month); and plates, bowls, sippy cups, utensils once on solid food ($45 one-time cost).
  • Day care. Day care when your child is a newborn will cost more than it will in later years since babies require extra care and attention. Depending on where you live, annual day-care costs can be $5,000 to $20,000 a year.
  • Clothes, toys, books, etc. These items are actually among of the cheapest, in part because they're mostly discretionary. Plan on spending $30 to $80 a month, for a reasonable quantity of clothes and other items.
Helpful Hints

By any measure, these are worrying numbers. And if you and your spouse decide that one of you should look after the child full-time, thus becoming a one-income family, the numbers become even more daunting.

One of the best ways to defray the costs of having a baby is by tapping into your network of family and friends. Can your brother, sister or your friends give you items -- like a crib, stroller, toys, books or some clothing that their own children have outgrown? Would grandma or grandpa be willing to watch the kids, even just one or two days per week, while you're at work?

Paula Pant ditched her 9-to-5 job in 2008. She's traveled to 32 countries, owns seven rental units and runs a business from her laptop. Her blog, Afford Anything, is a gathering spot for rebels who want to ditch the cubicle, shatter limits and live life on your own terms -- while also building wealth, security and freedom.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Banking Services 101

Understand your bank's services, and how to get the most from them

View Course »

Goal Setting

Want to succeed? Then you need goals!

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

$130 for photo printing ?.... Paula Pant is probably a angry lesbian that is bitter because no man will ever give her a child and continues to write these stories. Walmart will charge less than 19 cents per photograph.

and why would any mother not breast feed their child for free ?... unless they were flat chested like the writer of this story.

Also there is no need for life insurance if you are smart and save your money. This whole country is screwed in the head sitting around waiting for the worst to happen. Only one in a million will die younger than age 40 with a baby in the house, so chances are with you surviving till 40.

and oh wow, look at Paula put her whole hand on the scale with supplies.. They make all-in-one stroller, car seat, rocking chairs. So, no need to run out to the antiques store and buy expensive baby furniture.

and a crib ?... What mother doesn't want to sleep with their baby ?

Hey Paula, I know you are a lifelong hate filled old maid... but have you ever heard of a thing called a baby shower ?.... If you had friends and family, all of the upfront costs you mentioned are covered as gifts.

When we had our kids, my wife's friends threw her a baby shower and everyone from her work bought her something in addition to family and friends. We were given a year's supply of baby diapers, cloth diapers, clothing, one of those all in one car seat-stroller-baby carriers. We were given gift cards and all kinds of things..

See that is what is wrong with society. Whenever we hear of someone having a baby we go out and buy them a gift... As parents we know it is a hit to the wallet and a lifestyle change, and it is thing to do.

Don't let Paula Pant sell you on being an old maid.... Have faith that everything will turn out alright and don't go to your grave an angry old maid who left money behind for someone else's kids to find. Thinking poorly of people as you run around all over the world looking for happiness is a crappy way to live. Happiness is a home with your loved ones. I understand people aged 18-35 need to go out into the world and check it out...

What Paula Pant travels to 32 countries looking for I see in the eyes of my family everyday.

August 29 2014 at 2:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If it really cost $241,000 to raise a kid to 18, only those on welfare and the rich would have children. That's over $13,300 a year per kid. Most people don't need helpful hints on how to cut costs. They know all about hand-me-downs, shopping sales, yard sales, Goodwill type stores, baby shower gift lists and parents who help out by buying costlier items. Breastfeeding saves a ton of money. The biggest cost is disposable diapers before they're potty trained.

Once they're out of diapers, kids aren't that expensive to raise. Clothes and shoes are the biggest expense but not that great with smart shopping. I raised my son on Social Security death benefits but the kids in his school thought he was rich because he always had the best clothes. All he had was a mother who was a smart shopper who also cooked from scratch. My son never went without but it never cost me more than a few thousand a year to raise my son and that's adjusted for today's prices. Articles that exaggerate costs like this would scare most people out of ever having children if it were true.

August 29 2014 at 2:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sugarcreekchile's comment

yeah, this old maid of a writer is trying to scare people... We just got a bunch of pictures developed at Walmart for $5.... a far cry from the $130 she claims photo printing costs.

August 29 2014 at 2:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don't worry. If you're one of Michelle 0Bama's people or an Illegal Alien (the press calls them immigrants, they're not they're criminals who broke into USA), then most of your child rearing costs are paid by the Gub'ment. In fact most of 0Bama's voter-base makes money off having children, getting more and more welfare dollars for each illegitimate child they produce (claim they don't know who the father is that should pay to support the child). Most 0Bama voter-base therefore DRAINS the country for money to create more and more of their children, who in turn grow up greater likelihood to also be of lower intelligence, lower motivation to work and pay taxes, and more likely to be robbers and muggers. USA is therefore paying for its own decline.

August 28 2014 at 11:09 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

When my sons reached midteens I took them to the Chevrolet dealership and told them to pick out 3-4 Corvettes with the additional comment that was how much it would cost to have a child. Just letting them know their options. Seems to have worked out well for all so far.

August 28 2014 at 2:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to TWBCPA's comment

good, get your bloodline out of existence.... no loss

August 29 2014 at 2:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hi Gram, Ty&Dill

And then there's option #2- quit your job and go on welfare, let the taxpayers pay for everything for your 1/2 doz. kids. It seems more are going for this option.

August 28 2014 at 12:02 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Hi Gram, Ty&Dill's comment

It certainly does seem that way.

August 28 2014 at 12:43 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

you don't need to quit your job.... I put all of my money into a trust fund and we only claim $35,000 a year of income and get free health insurance and free school lunches. The trick is not having a house in your name so the trust fund has to cover all the bills. Then you only need expense money for food, clothing, and entertainment... and can appear poor to the government.

August 29 2014 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

all the news on the air today can confuse a senior citizen like my self.I grew up when a man was a man a woman was a woman.Now we have to take a guess.I am glad I do not have to make any of those decisions.

August 28 2014 at 11:45 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jackhamr225's comment

Most people don't even know what a man is anymore.... They were all raised by their mothers because the fathers were always off working or hanging out with their war buddies at the bar. The Greatest Generation didn't bother to take their sons out in the woods and kick their butts to teach them not to be a punk...

I think that is why so many men have women hairdos and act like a woman in how they live... concerned about their appearance, talking tough but unable to back it up, and letting their women make all the decisions. I am not even talking about gays either.. I think they call themselves metrosexuals or liberals.

August 29 2014 at 2:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What a bunch of crap........ $241,000.00 from birth to age 18. Holy Crap.

August 28 2014 at 11:18 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

get your tubes tied ! LOL !

August 28 2014 at 10:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This seems like a scare tactic. First there are maximums on the amount of out-of-pocket expenses for medical expenses with your health insurance. So to list 250,000-300,000 is unrealistic. If you are not self employed and getting your insurance from your work, your rates will most likely not go up 200-450/month. Don't even get me started on how the USDA comes up with that $241k figure. (Hint: they assume you live in a box before you have a kid and therefore all your housing cost are a result of having a child)

August 28 2014 at 8:26 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to john1089john's comment

of course it is a scare tactic.... when was the last time you paid $130 to get some photos developed at Walmart ?

August 29 2014 at 3:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply