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Cost Of Raising A Baby In The First Year

It might come as a surprise to you, but raising a baby is quite an expensive ordeal. There are all kinds of large purchases that you will need to make upfront, and then there are also a number of ongoing expenses. In this article, I have outlined the cost of raising a baby in the first year.

I have also touched on the cost of delivery toward the end, since that is really the point where raising a baby begins.

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One Time Baby Purchases

There are a lot of things that you will need to get before your baby arrives, or shortly thereafter. You will probably need to buy some of these yourself. However, this is not a time to be shy about accepting gifts or hand me downs. If you have a friend or family member that has young children, it is definitely worth asking if they have any old baby supplies that they want to part with.

It's also a good idea to set up a baby registry before your baby shower, so that people know what you need.

Car Seat

Car seats are a must have item. In fact, you won't even be allowed to leave the hospital after delivery without one. This is also one of the few items on the list that you will want to get new. There are a lot things that you can buy second hand if you want to save money, but a car seat is not one of them.

One reason that this is a good item to buy new is that car seats actually come with expiration dates. It's also difficult to tell if a used car seat has been through too much wear and tear to function properly. If it's been through a fender bender or two it might not be working at 100% anymore. In addition, safety standards and product specifications change all the time. So, if you buy something used, it might not be as safe as the newer models. Most people spend $100 - $200 on their first car seat.

Stroller

There is a pretty broad price range for strollers. If you buy used, you might get one for under $100 and if you go ultra high end it could easily cost something in the low thousands. That said, if you plan to spend $150 - $350, you should be in good shape.

It's also worth noting that a lot of people purchase travel systems, which include a stroller and a car seat that fit together. Whether you choose to buy a travel system or not, it is a good idea to make sure your stroller and car seat are compatible.

woman pushing a stroller

Crib & Bedding

A crib on its own can easily cost $250 - $500, and that's just for the frame. You have to buy the mattress and mattress cover separately, which will add another $100 - $200. While baby might not care too much about how the crib looks, you will certainly want your little one to be comfortable sleeping. If your baby is happy sleeping, then maybe, just maybe, you will be able to get some much needed shut eye too.

Baby Monitor

Once your baby starts sleeping in a different room, you will want a baby monitor. That way, when baby drifts off, you can still keep tabs on him or her.

You should be able to find a baby monitor for $75 - $150. It's also worth pointing out that while more expensive baby monitors generally have more bells and whistles, they aren't necessarily more reliable than low and mid priced options.

Glider / Rocker

These aren't necessary strictly speaking. However, when you're trying to put your baby down to sleep, a nice glider or rocker can certainly help. They are also pretty relaxing for mom and dad. If you want one, you should plan to spend $125 - $200,  but this is definitely an item that you can skip if you're on a tight budget.

Bassinet

Bassinets are not a necessity, though a lot of parents do get them. There are a couple of really nice things about bassinets.

For one, they can generally be transported fairly easily. So, if you plan to travel with your baby, you will always have a place for your baby to sleep. While hotels often have bassinets on hand, relatives and Airbnb units may not.

It can also be nice to move the bassinet into different rooms within your home. In fact, it's pretty common for parents to bring the bassinet into their bedroom at night for the first few months, so that the whole family can sleep in the same room (at least to the extent anyone is getting any sleep).

You can find a good bassinet for $75 - $100.

bassinet

Nursing Pillow, Bra & Cover

For moms that breastfeed, nursing pillows can make things much more comfortable both for baby and mom. For anyone that breastfeeds outside of their home from time to time, a nursing bra and nursing cover can make things easier and also provide a small amount of privacy.

These should cost under $100 in total. So, it's not a huge expense.

Dresser / Changing Table

There is a good chance that as your little one grows, you will need a place to put those little pieces of clothing. You will also need to change diapers. A lot of diapers.

Some parents kill two birds with one stone by getting a dresser that doubles as a changing table. Most people spend $150 - $400. Just like any other piece of furniture though, you can spend a lot more on this if you want or pick up something used for a bargain.

Diaper Bag

As a new parent, the one thing you can never, ever leave home without is a diaper bag. A diaper bag that is well stocked with diapers and wipes that is. You just never know when your little one will decide to have a blow out.

You might get something purely functional or you might get a designer diaper bag that looks more like a hand bag. $35 - $75 will get you something pretty good.

Baby Carrier

These can be great when you're carrying a baby around in a place that isn't convenient for strollers. Sometimes when you're walking around inside a building or on unpaved terrain, strollers can be a bit of a drag. It can also be a hassle to take strollers in and out the car all the time.

A baby carrier lightens the load and is also quite easy to transport. It's not a must have item but it is very much a nice to have item. These generally go for $50 - $100 or more.

baby in a baby carrier

Diaper Pail

Not to be overlooked is the diaper pail. This is something that you will generally keep on hand right beside your changing table. It helps mitigate the odor that comes from all those diapers.

Now, you don't absolutely need one of these but they will make your home smell a bit more pleasant and they can be picked up for about $40.

Highchair

As your baby move from an all liquid diet to one that includes some solid food, a highchair becomes an important item to own. This typically happens when babies are around 4 - 6 months old, so you have a little time before you need to get this one. Plan to spend $50 - $150.

Childproofing

Electric outlets, table corners, stairs, cabinets. All of these things (and more) represent potential hazards for baby. This is particularly true once baby learns to crawl.

In order to keep your little one safe, you will need to child proof your home. The cost will vary depending on the size of your home. Some people even choose to have professionals come in and do the job so they don't miss anything. Normally though, childproofing supplies will run less than $100.

Eating & Drinking Supplies

In the early days, you won't need to buy anything for baby to eat or drink, except maybe a few bottles. Then, the little eater will graduate to sippy cups and start using small plates, forks and spoons. One thing is for sure, your aspiring eater will need a bib, since for baby it can be quite a challenge to get that food directly from plate to mouth. Budget $100 in total for these items.

Toys

Toys are not only entertaining, they can also help baby to develop. The right toys will build motor skills, and peek your little one's curiosity about the world. Activity mats, rattles, stuffed animals, and books are all staples.

One word of advice here. Your little one has no idea how much toys cost. So, baby might discard that shiny new toy that lights up, makes sound and costs a fortune after just a few minutes. Then, baby might decide to play with a set of stackable cups for hours and hours every day. It's very hard to tell which toys will be a hit, so I would avoid spending too much on any one toy in the early days.

It's a good idea to budget $200 here.

baby boy with a toy truck

Ongoing Baby Expenses

Beyond the large upfront purchases, there are lots of small things that you will need to buy every month. I have included a list of the major ongoing baby expenses below.

Diapers

In the early days, your little one will go through diapers at a prodigious rate. 10 changes a day or more will be fairly typical. Over time, this scales back a little but you will still go through a lot of diapers. $500 - $800 in the first year is around average if you use disposable diapers.

Formula

Breastfeeding is free, but formula is decidedly not. If you formula feed, the total expense in the first year will come in at around $1700 or more.

Clothes

In the early months baby will go through an unbelievable number of outfits in a day. Between diaper mishaps and spit ups, you will end up changing clothes all the time to keep your little one feeling fresh.

Then, there is the fact that babies grow at an amazing rate in the first year, especially in the beginning. Every month or two, your baby will go up in size.

I would caution against spending too much money on any one outfit since they will only be used for a couple months. The possible exception would be a nice outfit here and there for photos. Clothes will probably run about $500 - $700 in total in the first year.

Child Care

If both parents are going back to work, someone will need to take care of baby during the day. If you're lucky enough to have a family member that can help out, you might be able to save a small fortune.

Child care will generally run anywhere from $650 - $2000 per month depending on where you live. Assuming some amount of maternity and/or paternity leave, you might be looking at 6 - 8 months of child care in the first year.

Healthcare / Medical Expenses

You might be able to add your little one to your insurance plan at no extra cost, or it might be quite expensive to do so. It's probably a good idea to consult your employer or plan administrator about this one.

In addition, most insurance plans require the patient to pay some sort of co-pay for doctor visits. With all of the visits to the doctor's office that you will make in the first year, all those co-pays can really add up.

This might cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to something in the low thousands depending on your situation.

Life Insurance

Very few people look into life insurance before they have kids. However, once your baby arrives, everything changes.

If one parent should pass away, it can put an incredible strain on the surviving parent. While the emotional impact is unavoidable, life insurance can help ease the financial burden. This will probably run anywhere from $30 - $50 per month depending on the size of your policy, and other age and health factors.

College Fund

It's never too early to start saving for college, particularly as the price of admission continues to soar. With all of the new expenses that come with a new baby, it can be very difficult to set aside anything for college, which seems to be an eternity away.

That said, it can be a good idea to start setting aside some money sooner rather that later so that it can grow over time.

Other Baby Related Costs To Consider

All of the items above are things that you will need to buy for your baby. However, there are a lot of other indirect baby related costs. I have included some of these below, but really there are probably too many to count. Then there is the cost of delivering at a hospital.

Cost Of Actually Having A Baby

While this article has focused on the cost of raising a baby in the first year, it is worth pointing out that the delivery itself can be quite costly.

The average cost to have a baby in the U.S. is $10,808, but it varies quite a bit state to state. Any complications that arise also increase the cost. For example, C-sections will add to the total cost.

Perhaps the biggest factor is in your insurance. In some cases, insurance will cover the vast majority of the total hospital bill, and in other cases much less.

Living Expense Increases And Other Small Expenses

Aside from all of the direct baby related expenses included above, there are a lot of indirect expenses to consider as well. These are a little tough to estimate, but they do have a real impact on your budget.

For example, if one parent takes time off from work to stay home with the baby, your electric bill might go up. You are also highly likely to spend a lot more on things like laundry detergent after baby arrives.

Some parents even move to a new home either in anticipation of a baby or shortly after a new baby arrives. This, of course, may increase your rent or mortgage payments.

There are also tons of small purchases that aren't worth budgeting for but do add up over time. For example, I included diapers in the budget above but not baby wipes, diaper cream, or diaper pail liners. However, you will end up buying these things as well.

Then there are things like cradle cap. Ever hear of this one? You will. You might even find that you need to buy a special shampoo to take care of it.

Final Thoughts

Raising kids is one of the most wonderful and rewarding experiences that you can go through. But, it's certainly not cheap. In fact the cost of raising a child through age 18 is over $260,000. Luckily, you don't have to pay all of this in the first year.

The best advice I can offer is to try to start saving what you can ahead of time. Most new parents feel overwhelmed at some point by all of the things that come along with taking care of a baby. To the extent that you can build yourself a bit of a financial cushion ahead of time, you may be able to relieve a bit of financial anxiety.

Of course, this isn't always possible. My hope is that this article is at least able to make you aware of the cost of raising a baby so you know what to expect.

About the Author Ryan Howard

Ryan is a co-founder of Smart Parent Advice. When he isn't spending time with his wife, Cristin, or his two children, he can often be found running around on the tennis court.

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