A Baby Costs How Much in Those First Few Years?

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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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