How Much Does It Cost to Have a Baby?
So much excitement, so many expenses—the extra scoop on saving up for your child.
December 6, 2018 5.5 min read
A newborn will bring you endless surprises—you don’t yet know the color of your baby’s hair or eyes, or perhaps even the gender. You haven’t heard the sound of his giggle or felt the curl of her hand around your finger.
Yet these tiny, thrilling humans bring financial surprises, too. So how much does it cost to have a baby? How much does it cost to raise a child? As you plan for a new baby, think about leaving enough wiggle room to cover unexpected expenses, too. Here are some costs to keep in mind:
Lighting the Way
The average U.S. household spends $3,885 per year on utilities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 You might not expect the smallest addition to your family to hike up your electricity bill, but that’s exactly what will probably happen. The reason is simply more of everything…more laundry, more dishwashing, more baths, more tweaking the thermostat to keep baby comfortable.
You’re also likely to spend more time at home as a new parent, so you’ll be running up electricity at times when you might otherwise have been out on the town. On the flipside, you can probably expect your restaurant and bar tab to drop quite a bit. So when you’re asking "How much does a baby cost per month?" it’s about more than diapers and formula. These little bundles actually have the power to raise your power bill. Pretty impressive.
Keeping Everyone Healthy
Although it varies by state, the average cost to have a baby in the United States without complications is $10,808.2 Having insurance that covers a portion of that bill can naturally help a lot. But this is also when you might switch to an insurance plan that covers the whole family, new addition included, which can increase your monthly premiums.
Then there’s everyday wellness. When your baby needs a trip to the doctor—a cold, a fever or a tumble can all seem doubly frightening when you’re a new parent—those copays and other bills can quickly add up. According to the most recent Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data, the average American spends $3,552 per child each year on health care expenses.3
If your employer offers maternity or paternity leave, this is one less thing you need to worry about. But if you’re in the 85% of private sector workers who do not have access to paid family leave, you are most likely running the numbers on how to take time off so you can care for your newborn.4
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible workers 12 weeks of unpaid parental or medical leave, but many people can’t afford to give up all those paychecks.5 As a result, about 45 percent of FMLA-eligible workers don’t use this benefit because they feel they can’t afford it.6
For most people, unpaid leave requires a lot of planning ahead, and while you know how much money you’ll be giving up in income, it’s not always easy to know when you’ll be ready to go back. Here’s where an extra savings buffer can come in extra handy. With a few more weeks or months of savings to fall back on, you may be able to take more time off if you find that you need it.
Expecting the Unexpected
Even with very careful planning, surprise expenses can come at you from all directions. Lose a pacifier at a critical moment (say, right before you head to the airport), and you might be willing to pay any amount for the first available replacement. Your friends swear by a certain brand of bottle, but your baby refuses to drink from it—so you try another model, and another. Much of parenting is trial and error, and the errors can really make a dent in your bank account.
The takeaway? Baby costs can add up fast, especially the ones that sneak up on you. So the best plan of action may be to start saving more than you think you’ll need. (Isn’t that the case with everything in life?) New parents can’t foresee every surprise expense, but with a baby fund tucked away you might be more able to enjoy the good surprises coming your way. And those will probably never be in short supply.