Having a baby can be expensive. The USDA estimates that it costs middle-income families about $12,980 per year. That comes out to be $233,610 to raise a child through the age of 17.
But that doesn’t mean that parents can’t be prepared or find ways to lower the cost. To be ready for this major life change, parents should start budgeting for baby costs now.
Anticipate common expenses and how they change as the baby gets older. No matter what, a baby will put your finances in flux, so be prepared to be flexible.
So here are the most common baby expenses that you can expect:
For most Americans, the delivery is the biggest expense of having a baby, though the cost will vary greatly by location and health insurance policy.
The average cost of delivery for US parents with health insurance is $4,500. And if the mother needs a C-section or there are complications, this number can grow quickly. That’s why it’s also important to find legal help in case of a birth injury caused by doctor malpractice.
One of the first things you’ll need to buy for your baby is a car seat. In fact, the hospital won’t let you leave without one because the law requires you to have a car seat when transporting babies in a car.
Generally, new car seats go for anywhere between $80 to $400. But all car seats in the US are required to meet safety standards, so you can buy a cheap one and not worry about sacrificing safety.
That said, it’s better not to get a used car seat since they might be built according to outdated safety standards. Plus, the wear and tear could compromise safety as well.
When you’re out walking with the baby, it’s also nice to have a stroller. Strollers for newborns should fully recline. When the baby gets older, you can get a simpler umbrella-style stroller, in which they can sit upright. New strollers can cost you anywhere from $100 to $1000.
You might also consider getting a baby carrier or sling for when you want to keep the baby close to you. You can find these for as low as $20.
At Home Items
You’ll need to have your home prepared with several baby items as well. Here’s a quick list:
- Crib or bassinet—The baby needs somewhere to sleep. And the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the baby sleep in the same room as the parents for the first six months but not in the same bed. You can get a crib, or a miniature crib known as a bassinet, for anywhere from $100 to $1000. And don’t forget to get a crib mattress as well.
- Baby monitor—A baby monitor allows you to listen to your baby or keep an eye on them from a distance. This is helpful for when they are sleeping in another room and you don’t want to worry. You can get audio-only or camera baby monitors starting at $20.
- Rocking chair, glider chair, or swing—It’s nice to have something to soothe the baby, and a rocking chair, glider chair, or swing can do just that. You can get them used or new starting as low as $50.
- Changing table—A changing table isn’t a must, but it’s nice to have a dedicated space for changing diary diapers. Most changing tables cost $100 to $200.
Feeding and Nursing Items
In addition to the travel and furniture pieces, you’ll need to spend some money on feeding and nursing items. Here’s a quick list of what you can expect:
- Nursing accessories—When nursing a baby, you’ll make life easier for yourself by getting a nursing pillow, cape, and bra. You can get each of these for under $50.
- Bottles—If you choose not to breastfeed, you’ll need to get 8 to 10 bottles in different sizes for formula milk. You can easily get a whole set for $20 to $50.
- Breast pump—Breast pumps are a nice option for mothers who want to breastfeed but want the flexibility of having extra breast milk on hand when traveling and breastfeeding isn’t convenient. You can get manual and electric breast pumps anywhere from $25 to $350.
Now that you know all the one-time expenses that come with having a baby, it’s time to take a closer look at the ongoing costs. Here are the main things you should prepare for:
- Baby formula—If you don’t breastfeed, baby formula can cost you up to $1,500 in the first year. So be sure to budget for this important expense.
- Baby food—Once your baby is about 6 months old, it can start eating baby food, which costs roughly $50 per month.
- Diapers—You can’t avoid paying for diapers. These will cost you about $75 per month. However, you can opt for reusable cloth diapers to save some money if you’re willing to wash them.
- Baby clothes—Clothing costs will vary, especially if you get hand-me-downs. But if you buy new clothes, you can expect to spend anywhere from $25 to $50 per month.
- Doctor visits—As the baby gets older, you’ll need to take it to the doctor for regular evaluations and immunizations. These can cost you a few hundred dollars per visit, especially without insurance.
- Child care—If both parents work, you’ll need to pay for child care. This will easily be your most expensive ongoing expense at an average cost of $1,300 per month.
Ways to Save
No doubt, baby expenses can add up quickly. But there are also some things you can do to lower the cost.
For one, you can shop at thrift stores, get hand-me-downs, and borrow expensive items like cribs and changing tables. And instead of paying for childcare, you can ask friends and family to help babysit when you need it.
You can always find ways to increase your income. Find a side-hustle or throw a baby shower to get some items for free.
At the end of the day, paying for a baby is manageable so long as you plan ahead. Know what the costs are and budget for them, and you’ll put yourself in a good position.