If you ask 10 different parents what their baby cost them financially in their first year of life, you’ll get 10 different answers. There are so many variables! Some parents buy brand-new top of the line everything for their baby, others are content to use the baby swing that’s been passed around all of the families at church for the past three years. Some families have health insurance that’s totally covered by their employer and they have no medical expenses when they have a baby, others have to deal with sky-high deductibles or no insurance at all. To help eliminate the mystery for you, I created a printable baby budget worksheet
So how much does a baby cost? Are babies really that expensive? It totally depends.
My plan is to walk you through all of the different variables and things that you should think about when figuring out how much your baby will cost.
It will still be more of an educated guess because things can always go wrong and plans can change, but I hope that by the time you’ve worked through my cancel the dispute as Gumroad does not let us refund a transaction that is under a dispute.
, you’ll have a ballpark figure for how much your baby will cost you.
I won’t lie to you and pretend that having a baby isn’t a major hit to the wallet. Having a baby WILL cost you some money, although exactly how much is largely up to you.
Before we go any further, print out the baby budget worksheet
so we can work through it together as you read the post! I created this printable worksheet so that you can easily prepare your finances for having a baby.
Got it printed out in front of you? Good! Let’s go!
How much does a baby cost out of pocket?
To start with, you do you know what your prenatal care and baby’s delivery will cost you? Don’t bother asking the hospital, they won’t be able to give you a straight answer. Find out what your health insurance deductible and max out-of-pocket amounts are and be prepared to pay the full out-of-pocket expense in a worst-case scenario.
Many doctors offices and hospitals bill globally for your prenatal and delivery care, so you’ll just pay one bill for all of the care that’s provided to you throughout pregnancy until your six week postpartum check up. So you might not have to worry about paying the doctor as well as the hospital separately. But be sure to check this out for yourself! Never assume.
You might think that a C-section would be far more expensive than a vaginal birth, but it can completely vary. I had a C-section for my first and a vaginal birth for my second and they were both exactly the same price at the same hospital.
Figure out what your baby’s medical expenses will be with the printable baby budget worksheet.
Ways to save on baby medical expenses:
Do NOT pay any bills before checking with your insurance company to make sure they were processed properly. Hospitals and insurance companies miscommunicate ALL THE TIME and charge you for things you shouldn’t have to pay for. For example, we got a bill for $8000 after my C-section. I called my insurance company and had them sort it out with the hospital, and it turned out that I actually only owed about $200. MUCH BETTER.
No insurance? I don’t recommend planning to have a baby if you don’t have a stable income with health benefits. Work on getting both of those things in place and then make baby plans.
BUT life happens, so of you find yourself stuck with a large bill and no insurance to help pay for it, consider contacting the hospital and ask for a manager (not the first customer service rep that comes on the line) and explaining your situation to them and ask them if there’s anything they can do to help you. You may find that there are often there are scholarships and other help available for special circumstances.
The cost of baby essentials: Everything a baby needs!
Ah, baby stuff. This category is where you can really go crazy and spend thousands of dollars on all of the latest and greatest baby equipment, or you can wisely choose a few basic pieces and have a much more reasonable budget.
In terms of survival, there isn’t much that your baby really needs. When you think about it, most baby “essentials” are just for the convenience of parents.
If you’re really on a tight budget for baby, ask yourself if the item you’re thinking about buying was available to parents and babies 100 years ago. Apart from a few health and safety items (like a carseat), if they didn’t need it, you probably don’t really need it either.
I’ve put together a list of items in the printable baby budget worksheet that you might want to consider getting for your baby. It’s certainly not exhaustive, but neither is it necessary that you have everything on this list in order to properly care for a baby. This chart is primarily for brainstorming purposes!
Ways to save on baby essentials:
1) If someone throws you a baby shower, you might receive a lot of these items for free! I know it’s hard, but try to wait until after the baby showers to start buying things for your baby. Once you’ve taken inventory of all the gifts, you can fill in the gaps of what’s left to buy!
2) Borrow from friends! Chances are you have a friend or a family member who’s had a baby within the last year who would be more than happy to lend you some baby items. This is a great way to test out different equipment to see if it works for you and your baby.
Your friend swears by their baby swing, but it turns out that your baby absolutely hates it. This really stinks if you just spent $80 on a brand new swing. But if it’s borrowed for free? No harm done! Just return it and see if you can borrow something else from another friend, and see if your baby likes that before you commit to buying!
3) Another great way to save is to buy baby equipment used! Craigslist and the Facebook marketplace have revolutionized the market for used baby stuff. You can shop online garage sales in your area almost as easily as Amazon! I often find the exact product and brand that I’m looking for for a fraction of what it would cost new.
After I’m done with it, I put up a post to resell it, and then send it off to someone else who has a need for it!
When you buy used, don’t forget to utilize your bartering skills and offer a little less than asking price for maximum savings.
How much does it cost to feed a baby? Breastmilk or formula? Store-bought baby food or make your own?
Tiny though he or she will be, you’ll probably notice an increase in your monthly food budget with the arrival of your newborn. How much of an increase largely depends on how you choose to feed your baby, because the cost of breastfeeding vs. formula and store-bought baby food vs. making your own at home is vastly different.
If you breastfeed exclusively, the impact on your budget will be minimal because, hey, the baby isn’t eating any food yet. Mom will need to consume a few hundred more calories per day to produce enough milk for the baby, which really only comes out to like, a banana and a cheese stick. So like I said, minimal impact on your budget.
The cost of formula feeding per month is significantly higher. The average can of formula is about 11 cents per ounce, and the average baby will drink about 10,000 ounces over the course of his or her first year. 10,000 ounces x 11 cents/oz works out to about $1200 a year. You may spend more or less depending on the brand of formula that you buy as well as how much your baby drinks.
Once you start to introduce solids, your costs will continue to go up because baby will eat solid food but continue to drink as much or more breastmilk or formula as before.
You can easily spend a $1 or more per jar or pouch of baby food, so if baby takes a whole jar three times a day, your grocery bill will instantly go up $100 or more a month in baby food. If you add in snacks like yogurt melts or cereal puffs, this number can be even higher!
But there are always ways to save!
Making your own baby food is one great way to save tons of money on baby costs! They even make kitchen appliances dedicated entirely to making baby food at home. Although if the reason you want to make your own baby food is to save money, I recommend skipping a dedicated baby food maker. But if you just don’t like the idea of your baby eating green goop out of a plastic jar and want to feed them fresh, organic foods, a Baby Brezza could be a good investment!
Personally, I stuck with cooking vegetables on my own in a pot and mashing it with a fork. No extra equipment required = more savings.
Baby’s impact on your housing costs
Every year, the Department of Agriculture puts out an estimate of how much it will cost to raise a child born this year until they turn 18. Lately it’s been something over $200k, which is really scary for new parents.
One of the factors that severely inflates those numbers that the Department of Agriculture puts out every year is housing. Technically I suppose it is true that a baby requires a certain amount of space and thus the money that it takes to pay for a larger home should be included when considering the cost of raising a child.
But unless you live in a studio apartment, you probably don’t need to find a new, larger living situation with each new addition to the family. I know plenty of married couples without kids who live in three bedroom homes, and plenty of families with four kids who also live in three bedroom homes. When it comes to space, you make do with what you have, so I don’t like to include mortgage or rent when it comes to considering how much a baby will cost in first year.
The American Academy of Pediatrics actually recommend that you room share with your baby until they are 12 months old, so you don’t even need any extra space for baby in the first year of life with them.
But if you do plan to move as a direct result of having a baby, feel free to add the increase in your monthly payment to the running total of your baby expenses.
The best car for your baby and your family
On the other hand, many people, including myself, find themselves in need of a new vehicle when a baby comes along.
We actually bought a new vehicle for each baby we’ve had! It was somewhat coincidental because it just so happened that our cars died right around the same time that the baby was coming both times. But knowing that our family was growing led to us buying bigger and more reliable cars than what we might have purchased otherwise, so having a new baby totally increased what we needed to spend on transportation.
Having a new baby might increase your utility bill.
Electricity and/or gas
How does a baby affect my utility bill? If you live in an area with cold winters, you may feel a need to keep your home at a warmer temperature than you would otherwise with only adults in the house. In the summer, you’ll want to make sure that baby’s bedroom stays no warmer than 72 degrees to help prevent SIDS. Keeping your house warmer or cooler can definitely contribute to higher utility bills once you have your baby!
A baby doesn’t require a whole lot of water, but it’s possible you may notice an increase in your water bill as well, especially if you cloth diaper. An extra two to three loads of laundry in addition to bathing the baby a few times a week can add up fast!
Also consider the extra water and power that you’ll use if one parent plans to stay home with the baby. When you’re gone at work all day, the lights are off, you’re not using any water, and perhaps you even set the thermostat to stay a few degrees cooler during the day. When people are home all day, that’s no longer a savings you can count on having.
Ways to save:
Invest in some wearable blankets to keep your baby warm in the winter without raising the temperature of your home. Know that it’s okay if your baby’s hands are cold. Just make sure their torso stays warm and they’ll be good to go.
Keep lights off in rooms that aren’t in use, turn off the heat in unused rooms of your house, install more efficient appliances throughout your home, invest in some smart home technology to help you save on your energy bill. There’s tons of information out there on this subject that goes way beyond the scope of this post, so I’ll leave you with that and encourage you to do your own research.
How much is childcare for an infant?
If both parents plan to go back to work, the cost of daycare is the biggest expense that you’ll face in the first year of having a baby. Daycare prices vary widely depending on where you live and the type of daycare that you choose. On average, though, you can expect daycare to cost anywhere from $20 to $70 per day for an infant.
Ways to save on those expensive daycare prices:
Consider an in-home daycare rather than a traditional childcare center.
If you work part-time, find another parent near you who works part-time as well and swap babysitting each others kids on a regular basis.
Consider whether your baby really needs a play-based Montessori bilingual education (or whatever) at this point. You can wind up paying a huge premium for top-of-the-line childcare. All of those fancy extras can be so tempting, but as long as you’re confident that your child will be safe and well cared for, there’s no real reason to pay for your baby to learn french. Stick to the basics.
Still can’t afford a baby?
So you’re finished filling out the baby budget worksheet. Did you add up all the ways that a baby will cost you money and realize it’s more than you can afford? Don’t worry, there’s still hope!
Go back through the baby budget worksheet and see if there’s anything you might be able to do without. Remember, not everything on the list is absolutely essential! Could you make do with just a baby carrier and skip the stroller for now? Could you use a blanket instead of investing in nursing cover? Do you have an old radio you could tune to static instead of getting a white noise machine? Make it work with what you have!
You can also look at your household budget as a whole and see what you might be able to cut out there. Eating out less often, canceling subscriptions and cutting out travel are great places to start when your budget needs a little slimming.
Sure, having a baby can be expensive, but exactly how much is totally up to you. If you have dual incomes and plenty of spare cash, you can easily spend thousands of dollars buying all the latest and the greatest for your baby. But if you’re barely scraping by on minimum wage and trying to figure out to afford a baby, there are lots of ways to make it work! Download the baby budget printable planner to figure out how much your baby will cost!
Did you find the baby budget worksheet helpful? Let me know in the comments, I love hearing from you!!
Melinda worked with children for years in a professional setting before becoming a full-time stay at home mom. She currently has three young children, and enjoys sharing tips and ideas about parenting and how to manage a home with excellence. She’s been featured on Heathline and Her View From Home.