Are you preparing for the birth of your first child? What an exciting time! Bring on the crib, car seat, high chair, swing, and all the other baby gear. But while you’re busy preparing for the grand entrance of your bundle of joy, there’s something else you should think about: expenses.
It’s no secret; raising children is a costly endeavor that’s definitely not for the faint of heart. The good news is by understanding the true costs associated with having your first child, you’ll be equipped to set realistic savings goals and execute a plan. That way, you can enjoy your little prince or princess without stressing about money or digging into your emergency fund.
How Much Do Babies Cost?
It depends, but the safe answer here is simple: a lot. While there are tons of ways to curb costs, some expenses simply can’t be avoided. Below are detailed breakdowns of baby costs before childbirth, during childbirth and after childbirth.
Baby Costs Before Childbirth
The costs of prenatal care will vary greatly by the type of insurance coverage you carry. Expect to go in for check-ups at least once a month at the beginning of the pregnancy, assuming you don’t encounter any complications. But as the due date draws near, your healthcare provider will want to see you biweekly, and then weekly towards the end of the pregnancy.
As mentioned earlier, the costs of potential complications and unplanned visits should also be factored in. And don’t forget to include prenatal vitamins and other medications and tests your provider may prescribe or order.
Baby Costs During Childbirth
At last. Your bundle of joy has arrived. This is arguably the most exciting part of the entire process. But there’s a slight downside. Besides the sleepless nights that are soon to follow (although they are so worth it), you could get hit with a hefty bill from the hospital.
How hefty? Well, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project estimate that the average cost for deliveries devoid of any major complications is $3,500, notes Parents.com.
But here’s where it gets interesting. A study for March of Dimes from Thomson Healthcare found that when you add prenatal and postpartum care, that number quickly jumps to an average of $8,802, Parents.com adds. More on postpartum care, shortly.
Baby Costs After Childbirth
If only you could give birth and never return to your obstetrician again. After all, they tortured you enough during your pregnancy and now that the baby’s here and doing well, you’ll heal on your own in due time.
It doesn’t quite work like that. Of course, the baby will have a series of checkups when they are fresh out the womb, but you’ll have to go in for a checkup (or two) of your own to ensure your body is healing properly. This is also the time to select what form of birth control you’ll be using (if applicable) and retrieve any medications you may need to foster the healing process.
And if you had a C-section, the doctor will tend to your wound at this time. And again, depending on your insurance policy, you may have to cough up a little dough.
Planning to return to work once maternity leave has come to an end? Unless your partner plans to stay at home or you have a generous family member willing to provide care for your new baby, you’ll need to determine which form of childcare works best for your situation.
Daycare is by far the most popular choice as the costs are substantially cheaper than what you’ll find with a nanny. On average, parents spend around $11,666 annually on daycare per month, according to VeryWellFamily.com. This breaks down to a whopping $972 per month or $224 per week. However, daycare costs go as low as $3,582 or as high as $18,773, annually, the article adds.
And if you choose an in-home daycare, you could save money as the overhead is lower. Even better, your little one could benefit from a smaller more comforting environment since there are fewer children. On the other hand, if you want your little one to receive one on one attention and your wallet can absorb the cost, a nanny may be a better fit.
You should also know that as your baby grows older, the costs of daycare will go down. Why so? Well, the older the child, the less attention they need, which means the daycare facility can cut costs by lowering the number of teachers in each classroom.
Thanks to the special enrollment period extended by insurance providers, you’ll be able to add your new arrival to your policy shortly after giving birth, even if open enrollment has passed. Doing so could change your monthly premium, so it’s a good idea to speak with your provider before you give birth to determine the financial impact.
Another important consideration: co-payments on routine and emergency medical visits, specialist visits, surgeries, prescriptions, and hospital stays. No one wants to expect the worst, but you just never know with children, and it’s better to be safe and save up then be sorry if something comes up and your bank account is empty.
It’s downright amazing just how much babies need to survive and thrive. The list of basic needs include:
- Formula: Planning to breastfeed? You may not have to worry about formula (unless your pediatrician recommends that you supplement it with breastfeeding). But if you do decide to go the formula route, you’ll spend around $100 per month. And that doesn’t include the cost of bottles.
- Food: Once your baby is a little older, the pediatrician may recommend rice cereal, which only costs a few bucks per box. But once they start eating baby food, you’ll spend a bit more, to the tune of $40 or $50 per month (or more if you go the organic route).
- Diapers and Wipes: Cloth diapers, anyone? They are tempting if you want to cut back on the cost of diapers, but they’re also a lot of work, which is why most just opt for the box of diapers from the local grocery store or big-box retailer. Boxes are around $20 and you can expect to need two or so per month. Add a case of wipes at $10 a pop and that will get you to $50. Keep in mind that as your baby grows, you’ll spend more since the quantity per box get smaller and smaller as the diaper size increases.
- Clothing : If you want to save money on clothing, shop thrift stores or ask around for hand-me-downs from others in your circle. Just be sure to wash everything with fragrance-free baby detergent before you put the pieces to use. You can also go on a shopping spree and buy everything brand spanking new, but keep in mind that babies grow like weeds. So that cute outfit or onesie you spent $30 on may not fit very long.
- Household and Car Gear: Cribs, car seats, strollers, high chairs, rockers, pack and plays, swings, and all the other baby gear come in all different shapes, sizes, and price points. It’s all a matter of personal preference. You could spend several thousand to get your little one all the latest and greatest household and car gear from the most popular brands on the market. Or you could purchase items that are just as safe but now as well-known, and spend $500 or less.
All the Extras
And then you have all the extras, which include fancy toys, gadgets, monitors, electronics, and anything else you want to add to the list.
And don’t forget about footwear. When he or she gets a little older and starts to take their first steps, socks won’t cut it. Your little one will need walking shoes, which could cost up to $50 if you want them to get off to a good start. Or you could buy used and slash costs.
The list for all the extra is practically endless. Walk into any store that has a baby section or attempt to create a registry and this will become apparent sooner than later.
According to The College Board, the average cost of attendance for college is as follows:
- Public Four-Year College (in-state): $9,410
- Public Four-Year College (out-of-state): $23,890
- Private Four-Year College (in and out-of-state): $32,410
- Public Two-Year College (in-state): $3,440
Now, adjust those figures for inflation in 18 years, add in housing, meals, textbooks, and other related expenses, and you may find yourself taken aback. But before you go into panic mode, take a breather and search for a financial adviser that can help you get the ball rolling on a college savings plan for your new baby.
By starting now, you’ll have plenty of time to save up for the costs of continuing education.
There’s paid maternity leave and then there’s the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The latter protects your job for up to 12 weeks when you take off to give birth, but it doesn’t put any money in your pocket while you’re away.
So, many expectant mothers pool their sick and vacation leave to fill the void if their job doesn’t offer paid maternity leave. Don’t have this luxury? Start saving now so you can actually enjoy your time off after giving birth without worry about how bills will be paid.
How to Know If You’re Financially Prepared for a Baby
Getting your financial house in order for a new baby can be overwhelming. And maybe you’re wondering if you’re even prepared financially for a new baby. A few questions to ask yourself:
- Do you have a budget plan that allows you to save money and prevents you from spending more than you make and racking up more debt?
- Have you reviewed your health insurance policy to determine the anticipated costs of giving birth (including prenatal and postpartum care)? Adding the little one to your policy?
- Have you started allocating extra funds towards the increase in premiums once your little one arrives?
- Do you have a savings account set up to cover basic expenses for items and care your baby will need?
- Have you started shopping around for childcare options and adjusted your budget according to cover the forthcoming costs?
- Have you begun researching college savings plans?
- Have you considered other types of insurance (i.e. life insurance, disability coverage) you will need to purchase once baby arrives to cover costs in the event you’re out of work or pass away?
- Do you have a will? Who will be listed as the beneficiary of your assets and life insurance policies?
If you haven’t yet given attention to some of these items, it’s not too late to get to work on whipping your finances into shape.
The Bottom Line
Saving money for having your first child isn’t always a walk in the park. You have the option of picking up side hustles or drastically curbing your spending to jumpstart your savings progress and meet your goals faster. However, there are plenty of ways to cut costs of raising a little one, starting with staying in your own lane and sticking with the necessities instead of going all out and spending money on excessive items to keep up with trends.
It all boils down to buying what they need and not what you want them to have if you want to make your dollars stretch.