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.

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There are 3 million babies born in the USA every year, one million not really wanted, one million accidents, where is the free birth control, where is the free abortion, where is the 6 month maternity leave with pay and job security after that, where is 30 day father's leave with pay. Until the USA gets these things done it will continue on a level of 3rd word or lower country in infant mortality.

November 10 2015 at 5:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Oh just do what all the ghetto females do. Don't get married, piss a few out by 20 years old and let millions of good taxpayers support you and your litter of spawns.

July 07 2015 at 2:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The federal health care guidelines are the biggest blame for all this crap. Regulations that make it against the law.....to just have a baby. Just get pregnant and when the baby is due....have it. Oh no, that's against the law. You must check into a hospital and receive licensed doctors and nurses aid to have a child. But Eve never had these things when she had Cain and Abel and Seth. Children are the product of their environment. Mothers had children in cotton fields and they were healthy. Because their mothers didn't use drugs, or refrained from alcohol, They didn't go on special food diets and do all that extra crap. They used the design given to them by God and nature. But when health care took a political turn...the venom became the poison that killed natural child birth and raising. Politic's has created and destroyed the American gift of birth. All these extreme costs does not guarantee that a child will come from its mother's womb any better or more healthier. Than when women had their offspring in a cotton field. Doctors have no more ability to bring forth life, than they do when the spirit of a person leaves its body on an operating table. And dies. These phenomenon's are God's gifts and displays of recreation. Women were never required to have trained professional help to deliver a baby no more than a cow does when she drops a calf in the field. Its politic's that causes all this extra cost of living and cost of child birth. Some whiny political moron thinks he has to pass a bill to make it a " law " to make sure that baby's are born according to government regulations. Rather than according to a mother's instincts and natural body functions given to her by nature. God first passed the first law governing child birth when He told Adam and Eve, " Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it ". Their capabilities were no different than even the animals. Eve carried her children and when the labor came and the water broke, she passed a child from her body. End of story. No politic's, no doctors, no nurses, just old Adam, who had never assisted anyone with child bearing. Because they were the only two human's on the planet. So now we have come all the way from simplicity to complexity. Because our great idealist who think they are smarter than God. Have instituted a plan....to rob you of your money, by placing an extreme cost on a very simple operation of natural child birth. Regulation, policies and mandated laws...all to the tune of inflated costs and scalping young parents to bring their children into this corrupted miserable world.

April 19 2015 at 12:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Get a job you tiny liberal leeches. Freeloading little brats.

March 10 2015 at 5:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


March 08 2015 at 3:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Baby's don't cost near enough, their presious at any price.

December 31 2014 at 11:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

oh In reading someof these comments id like to say i know alot of lesbien women they usually all have had a bad experience with the male manyhave children they bore they hate the way they were treated but wont trust again and thats probably all right besides they are just human beings trying to live a good life your criticism is unjustified

December 11 2014 at 3:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

well i had 12 pregnacyies and 7 living children backin my day the most delivery and 7 days in the hopital was under 300.00 used baby things are good buys and generally safe to buy for any baby remember the dollar stores for announcements and scrapbooks and scrapbooking Youll get a shower brobaby especailly the first born tho i luckily had one or 2 for each on eof mine and bithdays and hiolidays are good for toys
e bay and amazon have great things and most inexpensive we bought new for the firsat and some for the secon 5 6 and 7 got new because i thought i wouldnt have them but God had his plan in motion for us
we managed i miss those meal tables with all my kids at them and thier friends uyes even at breakfast we had other kids but it was a wonderful life and i wouldnt trade it y kids went toschool on grants and scholarships and all worked thru college all good citizens good families love God and serve thier churches and communities in the end whenthe grands vomer and the ghreat grands youll be so proud youlll bust your buttons and the table will grow and flourish God is in charge his grace is always sufficient to our ned dont measure every thing in money love and happiness are some ting you give and make

December 11 2014 at 3:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

$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 +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to standfordgrays's comment

Wow is all I have to say. I breastfed my second child for 8 weeks and CHOSE not to breastfeed after that. I did not breast feed my first child at all and chose formula. He is one of the healthiest people I know. I work full-time and I am sorry but I am not going to pump at work. Thankfully I have a great job and can afford to do so. Not every woman supports breastfeeding until they are a year old.

Keep in mind women are having children much older. I have a 24 year old and a 10 month old (I am 40) so yes life insurance is important. I am saving for college but being a single parent can make it difficult to save but I am doing the best I can. I do shop at thrift stores, goodwill for a lot of her clothes, but also wanted some new items since this is the last child I will ever have. I then re-sell the items through work.

I do not want to sleep with my baby. It has been proven to be very dangerous. It is not worth the risk. Plus I want my child to learn to sleep indedpendently which she has since 2 1/2 months old (she is now 10 months). She sleeps in her crip just fine in her own room.

Not everyone is as lucky as you are to get all the diapers and wipes they need from the shower. I had two showers for my 2nd child and the stuff only lasted the first three months.

You really need to not judge so much. I am sure you are not perfect although you seem to think you are. .

April 17 2015 at 4:43 PM Report abuse +1 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