According to the thousands of moms and dads who took a recent survey, parents are likely to spend almost $10,000 on baby's first year. As if becoming a parent for the first time isn’t stressful enough, many parents are also worried about the financial stress of bringing a child into the world. Many new parents aren’t aware of how much you need for your child, and how even buying things for the smallest person in the family can all can add up – big time!
But this shouldn’t scare new parents. Yes, the cost of having a baby can add up. It can be really tempting to want to provide the newest and best things for the baby. (Plus, baby clothes and shoes in tiny sizes can be nearly impossible to pass up!) And although nothing can fully prepare parents for the challenges (and all the joys) of becoming a parent, there are ways to prepare financially. Having a stable income, health insurance, emergency savings, and room in the budget for diapers can help families spend less time worrying about money and more time enjoying the new baby!
There are some tools out there to help parents predict what they will spend on raising a child – everything from diapers to daycare. One of them is the Baby Center First-Year Baby Costs Calculator. Parents can easily enter and adjust costs for things like diapers, formula, a crib, a car seat, a stroller, and other common baby items to determine how much of a bundle they’ll be spending on their new little bundle of joy!
So what makes having a baby so expensive, anyway?
15Sky-High Hospital Bill
The scariest part about having a baby isn’t the delivery itself – it’s the hospital bill you get months later. Childbirth in the United States has been getting more and more expensive over the past decade. According to a report, the prices for vaginal births has risen 49 percent and Caesarean sections has risen 41 percent. The average total price for pregnancy and newborn care was about $30,000 for a vaginal delivery and $50,000 for a C-section. Women with insurance pay an average of $3,400 out of pocket, according to a Childbirth Connection survey. Two decades ago, women hardly paid anything, except for a fee if they opted for a private hospital room or other amenities.
The United States is by far the most expensive place in the world to give birth. You pay for every service you receive in the hospital, so if you want an epidural, you’ll pay for the medication and the staff that administered it and monitored you while you were on it. Want pain relief after the delivery? Your doctor might prescribe you Ibuprofen, and you could easily end up paying $10-$15 for every pill. Talk about paying until it hurts!
14Diapers Aren't Cheap
The diaper decision is a personal one, and disposable and cloth diapers both have their pros and cons. Brand name disposable diapers can cost approximately $0.25 - $0.30 apiece. Store brands tend to be a little cheaper, and if you can buy in bulk, that’s great! While $0.27 for a diaper doesn’t sound like much, you can expect to use somewhere from 6-10 a day, maybe even more when you’re dealing with a newborn. Plan to use somewhere between 3,000-4,000 disposable diapers in your baby’s first year!
While cloth diapers are clearly better for the environment, some may debate over whether or not cloth diapers are better for your budget. You might fork over a little extra cash up front, but once you’ve built up a stockpile of cloth diapers, you don’t have to make any further monetary investment. You do, however, have to pay for electricity and water to wash those suckers, and you’ll probably end up spending a little more time doing laundry.
13Formula Isn't Free
Yes, you can avoid this cost altogether if you breastfeed. However, some women can’t breastfeed or simply don’t want to – a decision that’s theirs to make.
According to Consumer Reports, you can spend about $1,500 on formula during baby’s first year. Powdered formula that is mixed with water tends to be the least expensive. There are liquid concentrate versions and ready-made liquid versions of formula, but they are a bit pricier, as are prescription formulas or formulas made for sensitivities or allergies. Consider using store brands or buy in bulk at a warehouse store to save a little on formula.
The good news is that you only need to buy formula for a year because after the baby’s first birthday, they can switch to whole milk. But… once the kid starts eating real food, your grocery bill will probably jump up quite a bit, too! Kids may be little, but they’re constantly growing, and they eat a lot!
12Babies Need A Lot Of Stuff
If you’ve ever set up a baby registry, it can be a little intimidating when you look at the lists of suggested items. However, try to remember that when they’re really little, babies really just need three things: food, diapers, and love.
Of course, they’re also going to need a car seat to get around in and a place to sleep. You may choose to pump breast milk, so you’ll need a pump and all the accessories. Or you may go the formula route, in which case you’ll need bottles and parts. And you’re going to need a diaper bag of some sort to carry all of baby’s stuff around in.
Additionally, there are lots of other things that you’re either really going to want for the baby, or that would really be nice to have: a decent stroller, maybe a pack and play, a vibrating swing or a rocking baby seat, a baby monitor, and of course, lots of toys and books! Cha-ching!
11Baby's Gotta Sleep Somewhere
Your baby is going to need a place to sleep. Some people may start their baby off in a mini crib or a bassinet to keep the baby in the same room when they’re newborns. Other parents may opt for a co-sleeper that keeps the baby within arms’ reach of the bed. Eventually, your baby will probably end up in a crib or bed of their own.
When planning your nursery and/or buying furniture for your nursery, it’s a good idea to remember that your baby won’t always be a baby. So when buying certain items, think about buying something that will be usable for a long time. For example, you’ll probably end up buying a crib. Did you know that some cribs can be converted to a toddler bed, then a twin bed, and then a full-sized bed? You just need to buy the accessory parts and rails (and eventually a regular full-sized mattress) to make it happen. It might cost a bit to outfit the baby’s room initially, but if you take good care of the furniture, then you don’t have to buy any more furniture for the kid!
10But Baby Clothes Are So Cute!
Babies grow like crazy! In the first couple months of life, healthy babies can pack on one and a half to two pounds and grow an inch to an inch and a half just in one month alone! By his or her first birthday, your baby will likely triple his birth weight! Also, babies don’t always keep an outfit clean for a whole day with spit-up, diaper leaks and blowouts, and later on – pureed food and solids! So you’re likely to go through a couple onesies or outfits a day.
It’s tempting to want to buy a closet full of cute clothes for your tot, especially when you can catch a great sale! But sometimes you can end up with too much stuff, depending on what you purchase yourself and what people give you as gifts. You may end up hurrying to dress your kid in an outfit before they outgrow it, or worse – realize that they’ve already outgrown it and haven’t had a chance to wear it!
9Gotta Have The Shoes - Or Do You?
In addition to outgrowing clothes, kids can outgrow shoes pretty quickly, too! It can be pretty shocking to go shopping for baby or toddler shoes and find out that a tiny pair of kids’ shoes can cost almost as much as an adult pair of shoes. And what’s more, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, during the first few years of life, a toddler will likely end up needing bigger shoes every two or three months.
But before you run out and buy your baby a bunch of different (and pricey!) pairs of shoes, consider asking your pediatrician’s advice. A lot of doctors recommend that babies learn to stand and walk without anything on their feet. Unless she’s toddling about on a surface that is too hot, cold, or rough for her little piggies to handle, she doesn’t really need anything on her feet. No matter how cute the shoes are.
8Daycare Or Don't?
Maybe you had it all figured out before you got pregnant. Maybe the decision was easy for you. But when you have kids, working parents have a big choice to deal with. Will you give up one source of income so that a parent can stay home with the baby, or will you both continue working and put your baby in daycare once maternity leave is over?
If you both plan on working and have to work the cost of daycare into your budget, get ready to crunch some numbers. In some states, the cost of full-time daycare can be about the same cost as a mortgage payment – or even more! Of course, completely doing away with a second stream of income might not be plausible for a family, either. Some families may really need whatever income they can get, even if it’s partly reduced by factoring in the sky-high cost of childcare.
7Finding A Babysitter
Once your baby comes along, your date nights and girls’ nights outs might become fewer and happen less frequently. They’ll also become a little more expensive because you’ll have to add in the cost of a babysitter to whatever it is that you’re doing.
According to Care.com, if you live in a big city, you can expect to pay more for a babysitter than someone who lives in the ‘burbs or in a rural area. As an example, babysitters in San Francisco make, on average, over $16 an hour. But in Grand Rapids, Michigan, babysitters charge just over $11 an hour. You may also pay a couple extra bucks an hour if you have more than one kid.
In a way, having to pay for a babysitter might encourage you to go out less, which will also help you spend less money. But every couple needs some alone time together, especially new parents who need a chance to relax and unwind! Don’t be afraid to treat yourself once in awhile.
6Start Saving For College
If you thought college was expensive when you were in school, (raise your hand if you’re still paying off your student loans!) the projected cost of a four-year college degree for the 2029-2030 school year will make you lose your mind! If your kid wants to go to an in-state public school, it will likely cost you (or them!) over $40,000 a year. If they want to head to a public school in another state? Tuition can jump up an additional $30,000 a year – for a total of $70,000. A year at a private college is projected to cost over $90,000!
There’s more than one way to save for college. Some of the most common options include a regular savings account, a 529 savings plan, a state prepaid education plan, and Roth IRAs. Each account comes with its own benefits, contribution limits, and restrictions on how the money can be used. For example, funds withdrawn from a 529 plan must be spent on expenses related to college or graduate studies; if the money is pulled from the account for something other than educational purposes, it is subject to income tax and penalty on any gains.
5Do You Really Need Life Insurance?
A lot of people understand the importance of life insurance, but don’t necessarily want to think about why they may need it someday. Thinking about life insurance means thinking about death, and if you’re just starting your family, that’s probably not something you want to dwell on right now.
You don’t really need life insurance until you have someone (a spouse or a child) who depends on your income. If you pass away, life insurance should prevent your spouse from having to worry about how they will manage to continue paying for living expenses without your source of income.
Life insurance isn’t something that you need to have for your entire life. You need it most when you are starting your family and your children are young. You need it when you haven’t accumulated enough assets so that your family has something to fall back on – if something happens to you.
4High Cost Of Health Care
Every insurance company is different, so don’t just assume that because you’re covered by an insurance company that your baby will automatically be added to or covered under your plan. As soon as you find out that you’re pregnant, it’s a good idea to contact your insurance company to find out what steps you have to take to get the baby coverage. Usually, you will have to call the insurance company within a few days of the baby’s birth to add the baby to your plan.
While we’re on the topic of health care, you should start scouting out possible pediatricians well before your due date. Some offices may offer information nights, open houses, or have doctors that are willing to meet with you to discuss their practice and answer any questions you may have. If you give birth at a hospital where your pediatrician can see patients, he’ll see the baby right after delivery. If not, a pediatrician on staff at the hospital will be responsible for examining your baby, and you can schedule your first visit with your pediatrician a few days after you go home from the hospital.
3Time To Move Up To A Minivan?
While your current set of wheels might not really be affected by your baby’s arrival, she might have an effect on what car you purchase in the future. If you are driving a small car with limited space in the backseat, it’s about to get even more tight with baby on board!
One of the first pieces of baby gear many parents register for or end up purchasing themselves is the baby’s car seat. Properly installing a car seat isn’t really a difficult task, but according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 80 percent of car seats are installed incorrectly. Be sure to install the car seat base and practice putting the car seat in and taking it out so that you get the hang of it before you have to do it with a brand new baby in there. Then go and have your car seat inspected. You can find a child seat inspection station by looking at seatcheck.org.
2Time To Eat!
If you’re not going out as much, you’re staying home and cooking more, which means you might be spending more at the grocery store. And babies might be little, but once they start eating solid foods, your grocery bill will grow as fast as your kid! Whether you buy packaged baby food or buy the fruits and vegetables to make your own, it all adds up! Some families may even buy special baby food processors or blenders and storage containers. And of course, if you’re buying all organic foods for your baby, your grocery bill will be even higher!
Many moms swear by making their own food, and in some cases, it probably is cheaper! Of course, you need the time to prepare the food, and the fridge and freezer space to store it all! It gets easier once your kid is out of the pureed food stage, but then you have a growing toddler… who needs more to eat!
1Ways To Save
Even though the thought of spending all this money can be more than a little daunting, having a baby doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank. Here are some tips to help you save.
Shop smart: Do a little homework and comparison shopping. Buy stuff on sale, use coupons, and purchase in bulk. Join rewards programs for things like diapers and baby stores so that you get a little bonus for spending money on things you’re definitely going to buy anyway.
Don’t be afraid of hand-me-downs: If you’ve got friends that have little ones, be grateful for any hand-me-down items they offer to let you have or borrow. And keep the cycle going; pass down whatever you can to the next in your circle of friends to have a baby.
Skip the decked-out nursery for now: The baby doesn’t care what his room looks like. He just needs a place to sleep. If you don’t plan on spending the money on furniture that can transition to age-appropriate furniture with your child, then consider saving money and buying used or secondhand furniture.
Sources: Parents, Huffington Post, What to Expect, PopSugar, WebMD, Baby Center
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