How Much Does It Cost To Have A Baby?

When expecting parents think about having their baby, the first thought that comes to mind definitely isn’t money. The joy and the excitement that almost instantly come with it can sometimes obscure the practical sides of the experience, such as the financial ones, for example. Indeed, when people think of having a baby or find out they’re expecting, nobody asks how much does it cost to have a baby.

Well, pregnancy, childbirth, as well as raising the little nugget that will come into this world is, unfortunately, not a cheap experience. In the first moments, you’ll probably be a little overwhelmed with hospital bills, the need to buy baby essentials, and other early-month necessities and onetime baby supplies. Now, while we don’t wanna scare you, you will certainly have to prepare for some additional expenses, even if you’ve already calculated the basics. 

Generally speaking, the cost of having a baby and raising one depends on several factors, the most important ones being: the place where you live, your personal income and your family’s income, whether you have health insurance or not, and also the way you give birth. 

So you don’t end up thinking in numbers the whole way through your pregnancy, we’re going to try and make things a little easier for you in this article - we’ll try to orient you towards the main points that you should focus on in terms of expenses during and after your pregnancy. Getting ready for it reduces half the shock, trust us! 

So, here are the main ideas on what to expect when you’re expecting!  

The Where and How You Give Birth Matters 

There is a common difference in price when it comes to the ways of delivering a baby. In most cases C-sections are more expensive than vaginal deliveries, which does seem logical in a certain sense, considering how the preparation of the delivery includes more details to be considered, it involves a type of surgery and the baby being born in an operating room. But, this doesn’t mean that vaginal deliveries are without their own sets of details and complexities. In fact, the more problems you encounter while giving birth to your little one the natural way, the more it will cost you, unfortunately. Of course, this is something that you can’t really choose by your own will - it all depends on what’s best both for the mother and the baby at that particular moment. So you have to be prepared for either of them when you enter into labor. Have in mind that prevention and preventative care, as well as regular visits to the doctor during pregnancy,  could help in avoiding the occurrence of certain complications when the moment of childbirth comes. 

In the US, the average cost for giving birth varies by state and by way of giving birth, as we mentioned earlier. In NYC (New York City) a regular delivery (non-cesarian), with the inclusion of anesthesia and basic post-childbirth care in the hospital, moves somewhere around $9,600-$13,500 (this is according to 2017, FAIR Health data). Have in mind that the lower number of the range actually represents the cost that you’ll encounter with private insurance, while the latter sum is without any health insurance at all. 

Deliveries with a C-section in NYC, with the inclusion of anesthesia and post-childbirth hospital care, usually range from $8,000 to $15,000. But there’s a huge difference from state to state: costs generally tend to be higher in the Northeastern states, while lower in the Southern and central ones. 

For mothers from the US, consider getting on Medicaid - this will significantly reduce the costs of childbirth. If you have Medicaid, giving birth will most likely cost you either very little or nothing at all. 

Mothers from Europe, on the other hand, face costs almost half the price when it comes to childbirth. That’s why in Spain giving birth will cost you around $2000-$3000 (regular vs. C-section birth), while in the Netherlands it’s slightly more expensive ranging from $3000 to $6000 (regular vs. C-section). One of the more expensive European countries to give birth into is Switzerland, coming close to the costs in the US, ranging from $8,500 to $10,000. However, these are prices that come from the insurance company payments and not ones that have been billed. 

In certain Asian countries, such as Singapore, the costs range around $6000 (this is in the lower range - they actually tend to be bigger). 

Because, as you can see, the costs of giving birth are so versatile everywhere and also depend a lot on whether you have health insurance (and what kind!), it’s always best to inform yourself of them beforehand. This means that you should (if possible), plan on where you’re intending to give birth and ask the local hospital for more info. That way you can save yourself the trouble of having another set of pregnancy pains once the baby already comes! 

Baby Essentials 

Well, this category comes with both good and bad news. The good news is that certain essential baby items that you buy, you usually buy once and no more. They’re in the onetime expenses category and can be reused later if you happen to have more than one child. They’re also commonly called onetime baby supplies. 

The bad news is that most of the other baby essentials that are ongoing, the baby will grow out of pretty quickly or use them for a very short time (these include various pieces of clothing, tons of disposable diapers, baby bathtime and nighttime essentials, toys). Granted, some of them, such as the clothes, for example, can be reused as hand-me-downs, for other children that might come later on. 

Onetime Baby Supplies

First, let's get back to the good news - money that you’ll have to spend only once when the baby finally arrives. These are essentials that you certainly must have among your baby necessities, stuff like a crib for your baby’s nursery, a car seat which meets all up to date safety standards, and also a pram, a buggy or a carrier, where your baby can ride happy and curious, while you’re carefully watching over them. You might also want to consider purchasing a cradle, which always comes in handy when you want to make your little one extra calm. Some parents consider getting a changing table - it can make the whole undesirable diaper changing experience a little bit easier. Also, once they’re a bit bigger, you’ll certainly think about getting a high chair for the feeding sessions. 

So, how much will all this cost in the end? Have in mind, we haven’t mentioned a lot more other one-time stuff, such as certain room decorations and perhaps also accessories that some parents might want, if they plan on doing sports with their babies (such as a jogging stroller, for example). But let’s stick to the basics, for now, so as not to make your head spin too much from all the info and costs involved. 

On average, for the onetime baby supplies, you’ll need about $1,500 to $3000+, depending on what kind of products you buy: whether they’ve got only basic functions, or are a premium model, and also whether you prefer to buy designer baby items (then the price will go way over $3000). 

For example, the first set of wheels for your baby might cost you somewhere around $100, while premium models cost around $300-$500, and designer ones can go up to $1000 and more. A baby car seat lies within a similar price range - the regularly priced vary somewhere between $60 and $150, but there are some that go up to $500. A highchair for feeding will cost you between $50-$400. 

Other onetime baby items include furniture pieces for the baby’s nursery, such as a crib, which costs from $120-$850; a changing table is also a must for some parents and it can range from $80 to $250. Then you’d also have the crib mattress ($60-$140), essential linen - bedding and blankets ($50-$100), a lamp ($20 - $70), baby monitor ($40 - $60), and also, possibly even a rocker or a glider, which will cost you somewhere between $170 and $600. You’ll also need a dresser ($80-$500), and a lamp ($20-$70), although sometimes you can get by with stuff from your own home that you haven’t used much, just to save up a little on other items that you might need more. 

The good thing about these essentials is that they can be reused if you happen to have more children. They can also be used as gifts and hand-me-downs, for good friends or relatives that are in need - of course, given that they’re in good condition. That’s what you should always have in mind if you receive or buy used baby items - that they meet the current safety standards. If you can, try to avoid having used baby car seats, especially ones that have expiration dates. A lot of the times their parts might just be worn out; also safety standards change quite often, so it’s always better to have a newer model at hand. 

Other Ongoing Baby Essentials 

These ongoing expenses change as the baby grows (both in age and in size). This means that you’ll have to constantly buy new ones every couple of months and years. 

(*The particular details of which items you’ll absolutely need, you can check out here, just to make it a little bit easier for you.)

These items include, first of all, all the clothing your baby will need - undershirts, nightgowns, socks, pants, sleeping bags, jackets, baby blankets, and burp cloths, and a lot more - these will all cost around $60 each month. As we all know, babies tend to grow rather fast. 

Another absolutely essential item you’ll need is diapers. You can usually choose between two types: cloth diapers and disposable diapers. If you decide on cloth diapers, you’ll most likely have a monthly cost of $20, if you wash them yourself, or around $70 if you’re using a cloth diaper service. If you opt for the disposable diapers, you’ll spend somewhere between $60 and $100 a month. When you’ve found your perfect disposable diaper, you can start buying in bulk, because it’s much cheaper that way. Baby wipes will cost you around $20 per month. 

If you want to save money on feeding costs, then maybe it’ll be better to switch only to breastfeeding, without using formula (this will save you around a $100 a month). But of course, this also depends on the needs and the particular conditions of the mother and the baby. 

Maintaining essential hygiene is also crucial, especially in those early months of a baby’s life, where they’re still very delicate and gentle and their skin is susceptible to all kinds of allergies and irritations. And while top and tail is the first bathing method for newborns, very soon they will have their regular baths. This means that you’ll also need a tub or a basin, which will cost you around $20; in comparison, a tub for an older baby will be around $15. If you want to save a little money, you can just use your own, house bathtub. You’ll also need a baby hooded towel, which is around $10-$15, and you might just want to take an extra pair of it. This also will have to be changed when your baby grows out of it. You can save a few dollars if you just wrap them in a regular, soft and clean towel when they’re very little - trust us, they won’t really know the difference. Baby washcloths, brush, and a comb, as well as a nail clipper all cost between the range of $3-$8. Shampoos and washes will cost you around $5-$10 a month, or $10-$15 every 2-3 months, depending on the brand and the size of the bottle. 

The baby nighttime essentials we covered in the onetime expenses section (phew!). What’s left are safety items and toys. 

For childproofing supplies and safety gates you’ll need around $40-$100, depending on how much you’ll need to put around the house. 

Toys are another item that you can either buy or get as a hand-me-down - depending on how many you get and how often you buy, it’ll cost you somewhere between $20-$8. A lot of the infant toys the baby will get bored of after a couple of months or the first year, so it’s a good idea not to spend too much money on them. 

All in all, the onetime and ongoing baby essentials coupled together will probably be within the range of $3000-$6000. 

Baby’s First Year 

Now we’ve come to the big numbers, so we recommend you brace yourselves before you continue reading. 

According to statistics (as in the research done by the USDA, the US Department of Agriculture), raising a baby in the first year of their life will cost the parents around $12,680 per year. This means that in the first two years of having a baby, you’ll need to spend around $25,000. 

Broken down, these costs for parents with income in the middle range (which goes between $59,200 and $107,400) is the following: 

Final Estimate

The expenses of raising a family depend on a lot of factors. The number of children you have, the place you live, whether you and your partner are employed or not - all of this affects the final number of the long-term costs of raising a family. A good thing is that if you have more than one child, you certainly won’t need to pay again for particular items and costs -  some of them can be shared, like the housing for example, as well as food, transportation, clothes, and also toys. 

The place you live also largely determines the costs of raising a child. Have in mind that housing, transportation, childcare and also health care tend to be higher in the urban areas. 

If you’re a stay at home parent, you can definitely save a significant amount of money on childcare. However, if this might cause a significant loss of income, then maybe it’s not such a good idea. The costs above are in the lower range and also depend a lot on where you live and whether you use daycare centers or house help, such as a nanny. You can also try and ask family members for help, or friends with more flexible hours that are ready to jump in frequently or only occasionally, when you’re in real need of them. 

If you want to cut back some more, you can try using public transportation instead of the family vehicle, for the various tasks you and your baby will need to do together. Although this might not be the most practical solution sometimes, it’s worth a shot if you have more convenient transportation connections around your home. 

The USDA’s final estimate of raising a child (from age 0 to age 17) amounts to a whopping $233,610! We’ll give you a minute to let that one sink in. This is a number for middle-income families, with two parents and two children. For parents with a lower household income, the cost is somewhat lower, around $175,000, while parents with a combined household income will probably have to spend around $372,000. 

If you want to make a more detailed calculation of the costs of raising a child and the yearly spending that comes with it, you can try the USDA’s calculator for free. 

We hope we haven’t made your head spin too much from all the baby items and the numbers accompanying them! We do hope though that we’ve made things just a little bit easier for you. Have in mind that college tuition fees and other college-related costs aren’t included in these numbers. That’s why it’s always a good idea to start saving from the moment your baby comes into this world!