While many women might easily become preoccupied by the visceral bodily horrors associated with giving birth, at first glance the costs involved in raising a child can be almost as horrifying.
On average, raising a baby costs approximately $15,000 to $18,000 for the first year. These costs include cloth diapers, wipes, baby food, medicine, and miscellaneous items. To include a one-time cost including giving birth, you should consider saving up to $12,000 for the first year of having a baby.
While a new addition to a family should be happy news, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the stress of providing for a new child financially. In order to ease that burden, it is important to prepare as much as you can before the baby’s arrival.
In this article, we will provide a broad overview of the many costs involved in raising a child, tips for reducing those costs as much as possible, a comparison of childbirth costs in different cities, a sample budget for one-time and ongoing costs, ideas for saving money before the baby comes and recommendations on how much to save before having a baby.
Baby Food Costs Per Month
Generic brand formula costs around $40-$60 a month, and brand name formula like Similac and Gerber costs around $150 a month.
Ready-to-feed infant formula is even more expensive, a 2 Fl Oz (Pack of 48) is around $50-$60 and can cost up to $300/month. Once it is time to buy baby food, it will cost you approximately $60 a month.
If at all possible, breastfeed your baby and make your own baby food to save hundreds of dollars each year.
Average Cost of Baby Wipes Per Month
You can expect an average cost of $0.04 per wipe and $20-$80 per month. The monthly difference can be based on the brands you buy, and how you use them. Try not to think you’re being frugal by buying the cheapest possible baby wipes on the market. Some low-quality ones are not thick enough to do the job, and you may end up spending more by using 1.5x or 2x more wipes per use. Stick with major brands like Pampers or Huggies and you should be fine.
Save big by buying in volume from bulk retailers like Costco or Sam’s club. However, you should first buy in small quantities from Walmart. Use the baby wipe for a while and make sure your baby does not have any skin rash from that particular brand. This applies to when you’re switching brands as well.
If you want to save more you can consider subscription-based baby wipes. After you’re certain which brand suits your baby, look for the baby wipes subscription and order 3 months to a year at a time delivered to your door, and you will find yourself saving from this in a long run. Here is an example price from Incredibundles.com, Honest.com, and Amazon.com:
$96.45 $79.95 for 7 Diapers Packs (18-32ct) & 4 Wipes Packs (72ct)
Amazon.com: Save 5% more with Subscribe & Save
Tip: Use coupons for wipes and diapers. It really adds up and you may save hundreds of dollars in a year. Amazon.com often has instant coupons you can clip before you check out.
Average Cost of Baby Items
There are several different categories of baby items that most new parents will need to buy at some point.
Essential items at home include a crib/bassinet, a crib mattress, bedding, a changing table, a rocking chair, a monitor, a diaper pail, a small dresser, a bouncy seat/portable swing and a playmat. If you buy a crib new, it can cost you $180 to more than $3,000, so purchasing gently used items is a great way to save money. You can also purchase a set that includes a crib, changing table, rocker and a dresser for roughly $2,000.
Tip: Convert the dresser into a changing table so that you can use one piece of furniture for two different functions.
The approximate cost of baby clothes is about $60 per month for the first year.
An average child will go through more than 2,700 diapers in the first year, which can total more than $550 (based on the average cost of $0.20 per disposable diaper). However, it is possible to buy disposables for as low as $0.15 with coupons. A cloth diaper service will cost roughly $70 per month, and cleaning dirty cloth diapers yourself at home plus purchasing the needed materials upfront will cost somewhere around $250.
Tip: You can save 5 to 10 percent by buying diapers in bulk and online. For example, on Amazon, you can buy 132 diapers from Pampers for $38. If you visit CVS, you will have to pay $31.49 for 88 diapers from Pampers.
Nursing and Feeding Items
If you are a mother who can stay home and does not have trouble breastfeeding around the clock, you will only need a breastfeeding pillow and burp cloths/a cape. Once the baby transitions to more solid food, a high chair and dishes will be needed. For mothers who plan to store breast milk, items such as bottles, nipples, cleaning materials and a breast pump will be needed, which can all add up to $200 to $400. If breastfeeding is not an option, formula feeding will add up to approximately $900 to $3,000 for a year.
Tip: Ask friends and family members and search Facebook marketplace, secondhand stores and thrift shops for baby items instead of buying them brand new.
Most parents will require at least a car seat, a stroller, a baby carrier and a diaper bag. Seat and stroller combos can cost anywhere from $150 to $1,000 for a very high-end model.
How Much an Average Person Spends on a Baby
The average spending for routine maternity care is $8,775, but this depends on your location. According to Investopedia, typical (non-cesarean) delivery is roughly $6,075 in Kansas City, but approximately $15,240 in Sacramento. In Pittsburgh, the average cost of a cesarean delivery is $6,891, but the same procedure costs approximately $27,067 in Sacramento.
These costs do not factor in any coverage by insurance, but health coverage varies widely depending on your policy. If you endure a difficult labor with a long hospital stay, you might be looking at a bill greater than $100,000, but insurance will likely cover at least some of the cost. On the other hand, a normal labor with a brief stay might cost $5,000 and not be covered at all.
The average copay for a mother covered by insurance is about 19 percent, so using the cost example of a typical birth in Kansas ($6,075), the mother would be responsible for approximately $1,200. However, expect the total out-of-pocket cost of giving birth to be somewhere between $2,244 and $2,669.
Tip: As soon as you find out you are pregnant, start putting money away in an HSA account and then any extra money in your savings.
Average Cost of Natural Birth (with Insurance) Source: Business Insider
For three to four wellness visits including evaluations, immunizations and a few additional visits for illnesses, it should cost less than $7 a month over the span of a year with insurance.
If you and your partner are both working parents, the most expensive part of budgeting for a baby will be child care, which can cost anywhere from $400 a month to $1,500 a month. The cost of child care depends on where you live, how old your child is and the level and type of care required.
How Much to Save Before Having a Baby
A baby will likely cost approximately $1,500 a month without child care.
The average cost of the first year is roughly $13,000—and that does not include the cost of childbirth.
According to the USDA, the total cost of raising a child born in 2013 until age 17 is $245,340—and that is before college. With inflation, that number is significantly higher in 2020 (around $284,570).
While this is a staggering figure, there are certainly ways to drastically reduce it—one of which is to buy many items gently used instead of new. Additionally, couponing might not be the most stylish hobby, but it definitely helps alleviate the costs associated with raising a child.
Below is a breakdown of the sample one-time costs of having a child. Keep in mind, there are many non-essentials on this list. For an example, you can choose a manual breast pump instead of an electric breast pump.
Examples of One-Time Costs (Total: $3,247)
|Electric breast pump||$250|
|Convertible car seat||$150|
|Diaper pail refills (16)||$96|
|Milk storage bags, breast pads, wtc||$73|
|Bedding and blankets||$65|
|Bottles and nipples||$60|
|Manual breast pump||$30|
|Cups and sippy cups||$21|
|Baby towel with a hood (2)||$16|
|Plates and bowls||$10|
|Baby washcloths (5)||$10|
|Brush and comb||$8|
|Baby nail clippers||$3|
|Daycare center||$380 per month|
|Cloth diapers (wash yourself)||$20 a month|
|Wipes||$20 a month|
|Formula (six months)||$105 a month|
|Solid foods (six months)||$57 a month|
|Clothing||$59 a month|
|College savings||$50 a month|
|Medicine||$23 a month|
|Toiletries||$21 a month|
|Toys/Books||$35 a month|
The number above is most likely the most you would need for the first year of raising a child outside of extreme cases (such as a child who requires a great number of hospital visits or other medical care).
After the first year, the number decreases significantly during the rest of a child’s early childhood years, dropping to roughly $8,000 a month, even with college savings.
Once your child is toilet trained, the cost of wipes and cloth diapers will disappear as well, saving you $480 a year, and when your child is ready to go to school, the hefty cost of childcare will also go away, saving you a whopping $4,560 a year. This brings your monthly total down to roughly $3,000.
Therefore, a safe amount to put away if you would like to save all the money you need for a baby’s first year is $10,000 to $11,000. However, if you and your partner are both working and have jobs that pay average salaries, there is no need to save all of that first in order to have a baby. It is perfectly reasonable to save half of that and then pay the ongoing monthly expenses with your wages as you go along.
Accumulating $5,000 in your savings will help cover your medical expenses and the upfront one-time costs associated with having a baby. There will be time to worry about the other expenses later.
Tips for Saving Money Before Your Baby Arrives
- Pick up as many extra hours at work as you can before the baby is born—even a second job if possible. If both you and your partner pick up a second job or even some freelance work in your off-time, you could save thousands of dollars before the baby comes.
- Redirect money that is going to non-essential items such as travel and meals out—that might mean delaying your vacation trips for a little while.
- Wait until after your baby shower to purchase all of your baby items in order to avoid spending money on duplicates.
While the costs associated with having a baby are enough to cause almost anyone to feel a little faint, it is entirely possible to save enough money with a bit of hard work—and to use the money wisely in order to reduce the overall costs as much as possible. To summarize, here are several of the main points from this article:
- Baby food costs about $60 a month, and the average price of wipes is approximately $20 a month.
- A baby will likely cost approximately $1,500 a month without child care.
- Upfront one-time costs for baby items will equal roughly $3,000.
- The first year of baby expenses might total as much as $8,000.
- The average out-of-pocket cost of giving birth is usually between $2,244 and $2,669 with insurance.
- The average cost of a baby’s first year is roughly $13,000 to $16,000—depending on your labor costs and insurance coverage.
- It is wise to save at least $5,000 before having a baby, assuming that you and your partner both have jobs with average salaries.
- If you want to error on the side of caution, saving $10,000 to $11,000 for your baby’s first year is a good idea.
- Thankfully, children get a little less expensive when they are toilet-trained and ready to go to school, and your monthly total will likely decrease to roughly $3,000—at least until they start developing very large appetites as teenagers.