Marissa is the writer of "ThePracticalMommy" and owner of Mommy Knows What's Best. She's a former teacher and a stay-at-home mom to four.
What Does It Cost to Raise a Baby?
How Much Does It Cost to Have a Baby?
Many people, upon finding out they're having a baby, start looking to the future, especially future expenses:
How much does having a baby cost? How are we going to afford a baby and baby supplies?
I won't lie; having a baby can be an expensive adventure, especially if you don't prepare yourself before your little one comes. Here you'll find information about baby related expenses and how you can learn to save money during your baby's first year by making plans before the baby arrives.
Also, learn which items you should add to your baby registry or even find second-hand to save even more money. You'd be surprised to see how much money you can save by adding items to your baby shower registry or by making smart choices when shopping.
How Much Does a Baby Cost in the First Year?
Budgeting for a Baby
How Much Does a Baby Cost?
The first expenses you'll experience as a new parent will be from prenatal care and from the birth of the baby. What you will be spending depends on your level of health care insurance and how well the pregnancy and birth go.
You can expect to see your doctor or midwifeabout 10-15 times throughout pregnancy. or more if there are complications. You'll see your health care provider once every four weeks for the first two trimesters, once every two weeks until week 36, and then once a week until the baby is born.
During those visits or in conjunction with them, you'll need some tests done: blood work, urinalysis, ultrasounds, etc. If there are complications, you may have additional kinds of testing done.
If you are uninsured, the total cost of prenatal care can be about $2,000. To stem off some of those costs, do some research into clinics or other cost saving measures to save for your prenatal care.
If you are insured, it all depends on your level of health care coverage. You could pay anywhere from 25%-90% of the total cost of prenatal care. Look into your policy to see what is and isn't covered by your health insurance. You may only need to pay a deductible or a portion of what the total cost is.
In addition to the prenatal care, you'll be asked to take a prenatal vitamin as part of a healthy diet. A basic over-the-counter prenatal vitamin could cost around $5-$10. A basic prescription prenatal vitamin may or may not be covered by your insurance. If the doctor recommends that you take a DHA supplement as well, expect to pay about $5-$10 more for both over-the-counter and prescription vitamins.
If this is your first baby, you may choose to attend a childbirth class of some sort. These classes may range from $50-$200 a class (or total for all classes) if you choose to take them in a hospital or a birthing center. They may be more if you take them with a private group. Sometimes, these classes are covered by insurance, but you'd have to check your policy to determine if that is the case for you.
The birth of your baby has not only a physical cost to you and your body, but there's a monetary cost as well. The cost for an uncomplicated vaginal delivery can range from $9,000-$10,000. The cost for an uncomplicated c-section can range from $15,000-$16,000. If there are complications, the cost can go up depending on the procedures, tools, and medications used.
Total Estimated Cost for Everything Before Baby: $0-$18,500
Cost of Prenatal Care
25%-90% of $2000
$5-$30 per month
$5-$30 per month
Cost of Giving Birth in a Hospital
Uncomplicated vaginal delivery
0-90% of $10,000
Up to $10,000
0-90% of $16,000
Up to $16,000
What Does a Newborn Need?
Before your baby is born, it is important to figure out what the baby needs to survive the first 12 months of life. Distinguishing the difference between what you want and what the baby needs is one way to start saving money on baby supplies.
For instance, a newborn does not need much. A car seat, a going home outfit, a place to sleep, diapers and wipes, bathing supplies, clothing, and a chosen method of feeding is all a newborn would really need in the first few weeks of life. To entertain or otherwise soothe your newborn, you could add a tummy time mat or a swing to the mix.
Does that seem like the typical registry gift list for a baby shower? Not by a long shot. There are many more items on the list that a newborn doesn't necessarily need, but as the baby ages items like strollers, etc. are nice to have.
Below you'll find these things broken down into several categories: feeding, bathing, clothing, travelling, playing, etc.
Baby Registry Checklist
- Baby Shower Gift Registry Tips
Having a baby shower? Need to start a baby shower registry but don't know where to begin? Learn about baby gift registries, how to create a baby registry, what items to add to your baby shower gift registry, and where to register.
One of the first things you'll experience with your baby is feeding time. If you choose to breastfeed, you already save a bundle right away as breast milk is free.
You can, however, end up spending a small, one-time fortune on the items you purchase to breastfeed comfortably. Here are some of the items that you may want to purchase:
- Nursing bras
- Nursing shirts/dresses
- Nursing cover-up
- Nursing nightgowns/pajamas
- Bra shields for leaks
- Breast pump (either for extra milk or for returning to work)
- Storage containers for breast milk
- Bottles and nipples
- Nipple cream
While most are a one-time purchase, they tend to be expensive. To save some money, you can list some of these items on your baby registry, like the breast pump, bottles, and nipples. Some of the clothing, like the nursing shirts, bedtime clothing, and cover-ups can be found second-hand, either from family or friends, eBay, or a second-hand store.
Other breastfeeding essentials include the baby's bibs and burping cloths. These too can be listed on your baby registry, and you can be certain to receive a few of these as parts of gifts, even those not from your baby shower.
Total for Breastfeeding: Around $100-$400.
Advantages of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding vs Formula
breast pads $5 a box
formula, premixed or powder $20-$40
nursing cover $10-$30
nursing bras $20-$50
bottles and nipples $10-$30
nursing shirts $10-$40
storage containers $5-$10
nursing nightgowns $10-$40
bottle warming device $30-$40
breast pump $50-$300
burping cloths $5-$20
breast milk storage containers $5-$10
bottle carrier $5-$10
bottles and nipples $10-$30
nipple cream $5
burping cloths $5-$20
How Much Does Formula Cost ?
If you choose not to breastfeed or cannot breastfeed, then formula feeding is what you'll turn to. Formula feeding can be more expensive than breastfeeding as the food is not free and needs to be purchased usually on a weekly basis.
Here is what you'd need to formula feed:
- Bottles and nipples
- Storage containers
- Bottle warming device
- Bottle carrier
It doesn't seem like much, but since the formula and water need to be purchased often, the cost adds up. To save money, you can use coupons, sign up with the formula company for free gifts and money saving checks, use store brand formula, or buy in bulk. The items that can be added to the baby shower registry are the bottles, nipples, bottle warmer, bottle carrier, and other items. Gift cards given at the baby shower can also be used for formula and water, along with store cards like the Babies R'Us VIB card.
Total Cost for Formula Feeding: About $50-$300 a month, around $600-$3,000 a year*
*Depends on brand, store, insurance coverage (some specialty, medically needed formula can be covered), and savings used.
Enfamil Infant Formula
How Much Does Baby Food Cost?
Once your baby is ready for solid foods, usually around 4-6 months of age, you need to start adding in the cost of baby food. Whether you buy it or make it yourself, it still costs some money to feed your baby solid foods.
Babies usually start with a cereal, although studies now suggest cereal isn't necessary as a first solid food. If you do purchase cereal, you can anticipate spending about $10-$20 a month, depending on whether or not it is a store brand or name brand that you use.
Pureed fruits and vegetables are also some of baby's first foods. If you buy the fruits and vegetables pre-made in jars or pouches, you can spend about $30-$60 a month. If you choose organic, the cost could be even more. You can save money with coupons or by buying in bulk.
If you decide to make the foods on your own, you may spend about $30-$100 initially for the tools to make the food and then, depending on if the fruits and vegetables are in season, roughly $10-$20, or even less, per month. You can save money by registering for the baby food maker in your baby registry.
Total Cost of Baby Food (within the first year, about 7 months): from $200-$400
Making Your Own Baby Food
Cloth Diapers vs Disposable Diapers
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- Cloth diapers are less expensive than disposable diapers.
Interpreting Your Score
If you got 0 correct answers: Cloth diapers can be just as expensive as diapers when you consider the extra laundering you need to do, plus any inserts or accessories you use. They are, however, better for the environment.
If you got 1 correct answer: Great! While cloth diapers are great for the environment, they can be just as expensive per month as disposable diapers. Read for more info below.
Cost of Diapers
Diapers are one of items on the list of baby supplies that can be very expensive. When diapering your baby, there are two kinds of diapers to consider: disposable and cloth diapers.
Disposable diapers come in a variety of sizes, patterns, and absorbency. They also are available in organic materials as well as man-made materials. They can be store brand or name brand, such as the well-known Pampersor Huggies. Depending on your personal preferences, disposable diapers can cost from $40-$80 a month. You can save money by registering for different sizes of diapers on your baby shower registry, using coupons, and joining rewards programs from companies and stores.
Cloth diapers also come in a variety of sizes, patterns, and absorbency as well as man-made or organic materials. The difference with these kinds of diapers is that you will pay for them only once or twice while your baby is in diapers. This price may seem high at first, but it is less than buying disposable diapers every month. For a starter set of cloth diapers, plus inserts and other accessories, the price is around $100-$300. As the baby grows, you may need to purchase larger sizes, but again it is a one-time fee. You can save money by registering for them on your baby registry.
A hidden cost with cloth diapers may be in how you wash and treat them. Since you don't purchases as many cloth diapers as you would disposable, you need to wash the cloth diapers often, plus pretreat some of them before you even use them. Your water bill may increase a bit from the extra loads of laundry you may be doing every day. You also may need to buy special laundry detergents or treatments for certain cloth diapers. To stem these costs a bit, some people subscribe to diaper services that provide you with cloth diapers and wash them for you for a weekly or bi-weekly cost.
Total cost for diapers: from $500-$1,000 a year
Cost of Baby Wipes
Don't forget about the wipes when diapering! While you can make your own baby wipes, most people use the disposable baby wipes. They come in a variety of textures and can be made with man-made or organic materials. You can expect to pay about $20-$40 a month, but you can save money with coupons or by registering for them on your baby shower registry.
Total cost of baby wipes: about $200-$500 a year
Money Saving Tips
For the next few categories, you should think about not only your first baby but any babies who may come after your firstborn. By choosing gender neutral items that are of great quality, you can save a lot of money by only having to buy each item once . For example, I saved my infant car seat, swing, bouncy seat, saucer, pack n' play, baby bathtub, strollers, and high chair and saved around $600 when my second baby came!
Of course the same concept may not work out for clothing, but it might be worth it to save any gender neutral clothing from your first born. Plus, if you're the type to find out the gender of the baby, you can save whatever clothing you do have from your first born, and if the gender is not the same, sell or consign that clothing to purchase the new baby's clothing.
Saving Money Tips
How Much Does a Car Seat Cost?
Before you can take your baby home from the hospital, you may need to show the staff that you have a car seat and it is properly installed. A car seat is definitely something you may want to purchase before the baby arrives.
Most parents start off with an infant car seat, which consists of a carrier and a base and is very convenient. These car seats range in price from $50-$300, plus the any money you might spend on an extra base. They also can come as part of a bundle with a matching stroller system. They usually can hold an infant between 6-30 pounds and are meant to only be rear facing. This is definitely an item you can put on your baby registry to save some money or be on the lookout for coupons.
The other option is to purchase a convertible car seat, one that is able to go both rear and forwards facing, plus can accommodate babies weighing 6-30 or more pounds. These car seats also may range in price from $50-$300, but they do not require a base. This too can be placed on a baby registry to save money or coupons can be used.
You may decide to purchase the infant seat first, and when the baby outgrows that switch to a convertible car seat. If so, you can decide to keep the infant seat for your next baby or trade it in for a convertible seat to save some money.
Total Cost for a Car Seat: $50-$300
Buying a Car Seat
Car Seat Expiration Dates
Did you know that car seats can expire? Most, if not all, car seats today come with expiration dates due to the fact that the materials used to make the seats may break down over time and the seat will no longer be safe after so many years. To find out more, read this great article about car seat expiration and safety.
This is one reason why you should be very careful about second-hand car seats. Another reason to be careful is knowing whether or not a car seat was involved in an accident. Car seats that are in accidents are most likely no longer safe.
Before you buy a second-hand seats, check out the expiration dates and ask about any accidents the seat may have been in. Of course, if you are reusing a seat from your firstborn, do check the expiration date if it's been a few years between your kids and if it was in an accident, consider purchasing a new seat.
Convertible Car Seat
Baby Stroller Cost
There are quite a few options when it comes to baby strollers these days: umbrella strollers, full-sized strollers, jogger strollers, double strollers, strollers with MP3 speakers, strollers that have matching car seats, etc.
Umbrella strollers are probably the cheapest and lightest to use. While they're not suitable for infants, they're great for babies who can sit up.
Everything else can be used for infants, usually with an attached car seat carrier, but depending on the size and model can be quite expensive, ranging from $100-$800. To save money, add them to your baby registry, borrow them from family or friends, or find them second-hand. If buying second-hand, make sure to check which ones may have been recalled due to safety concerns.
Total Cost for Strollers: $20-$800 each (depending on make and model)
Re-Used Baby Gear
How Much Does Baby Gear Cost?
Baby gear in general can add up to a lot of money, depending on what you buy. Besides car seats or strollers, you may also be considering the following:
- Pack and Play or Play Yard
- Bouncy/ Vibrating Seat
- High Chair
- Safety Gates
- Safety Equipment, like locks or guards
These are just a few of the items available for babies. Most of these will cost from $50-$200, depending on brand names and features. To save money on all of these, add them to your baby registry, borrow them from family or friends, or find them second-hand. If buying second-hand, make sure to check which items may have been recalled due to safety concerns.
Total Cost of Baby Gear: $40-$200 each, about $200-$500 for all
Money for Baby Clothes
Next time you go shopping for clothing, head to the baby department and check out some of the prices for baby clothing. You may be surprised to see that some baby clothing can be as expensive or even more expensive than adult clothing!
It can be easy to spend a lot of money on clothing for a new baby, especially if it's your first. Here's a few things to keep in mind:
- When babies are young, from 0-6 months, they tend to grow out of clothing fast. They may only wear some items once.
- Since most baby clothing is seldom worn, second-hand baby clothing is a nice alternative to spending too much money in stores.
- Baby clothing will be given to you as gifts at the shower and gifts once the baby arrives in abundance.
- Baby's don't need trendy clothing or fashionable items to feel good about themselves. They'll be more interested in how comfortable they feel.
Store bought baby clothing can range from $3-$50 (or more) per piece. If the clothing is sold as an outfit, the prices range from $10-$50 (or more) per outfit. It all depends on the store, the brand, and the season.
Seasonal items like jackets, coats, hats, and gloves range from $5-$100, again depending on the store, and brand.
To save money on clothing, try the following:
- Register for clothing sizes 3-12 months for your baby shower.
- Shop when the clothing is going out of season (buy winter items in early spring for the following winter, etc.).
- Buy or borrow second-hand items from family, friends, consignment shops, or on eBay.
Total Cost for Baby Clothing: $100-$400 (or more)
Baby Nursery Rooms
When setting up your baby's nursery, you'll find there are a few items that tend to be on the expensive side: the crib, a mattress, a dresser, a changing table, a rocker/glider, nursery décor, and the bedding. These items can cost from $50-$500 each. Good news is that all of these items can be placed on your baby shower registry, plus, if you shop for these items when new patterns or styles are about to come in the stores, you can get older patterns and styles for a fairly good discount.
You may also want to consider where the baby will be sleeping for the first few weeks or months. Most parents keep the baby close in a bassinet or bedside co-sleeper. These tend to cost around $60-$200. To save money, register for one of these in your baby registry or use the bassinet feature in your play yard.
Another bedtime cost would be the baby monitor, which can be a simple one-way audio system or a video monitor. These can cost from $50-$300. Again, this is an item that can be added to your baby registry.
Total Cost of Baby Nursery Items: from $300-$2500 (or more)
Baby Bath Products
For the first week or so of your baby's life, bath time won't be much of a hassle. Until the umbilical cord stump falls off, sponge baths or just a gentle cleaning are recommended. For these early days, you'll only need a towel or two, some cotton balls, a washcloth or two, and some baby lotion.
Once the cord does fall off, the baby can be immersed in water. Then it'll be helpful to have a baby bath tub or a bath tub seat which can be placed in a regular bath tub. There are even fold-able tubs that fit in kitchen sinks. Any of these can cost around $20-$50. To save money, add a bath tub or bath seat to your baby registry.
During bath time, you'll want to have wash cloths, hooded towels, gentle baby wash, a baby brush, and lotion or baby oil. All of these cost around $3-$15 or sometimes more. To save money, add these items to your baby registry or use coupons to purchase.
Total Cost for Bath Time Products: From $30-$70
Setting Up a Nursery
bassinet or co-sleeper
bedding (sheets, comforter)
rocker or glider
nursery decor (paint, hangings, etc)
dresser or armoire
Baby Cost Calculator
- Baby Cost Calculator; Tools | BabyCenter
Get an estimate of your first year baby costs. Fill in the fields and let BabyCenter project the cost of raising your baby during the first year.
How Much Does Having a Baby Cost?
By this time, you have done some calculations as to how much you may spend on your baby's first year. Feeling a little surprised? Anxious? Don't be; in fact, if you follow the money saving tips and ideas found here you won't really be spending too much during your baby's first year. Just remember to be realistic about what your baby really needs and realize that some of the things you might want aren't necessary unless you're willing to spend some extra cash.
Enjoy the rest of the pregnancy, and good luck with the upcoming birth of your baby!
What It Costs to Have a Baby--WebMD (information about prenatal care and giving birth)
CatG on August 28, 2020:
Doctor visit costs were the most unexpected thing for us, so I was thrilled to see that you included that! We had to pay for each visit as we had not met our deductible. I think there are some things that are considered "must-haves" that aren't and things that I needed that I never got and needed to buy last minute.
Candypantsx on September 28, 2018:
Really great article for parents to be. Doesn’t all apply to some, I’m in the uk and we don’t pay for hospital fees etc.
I have one of 2yrs and one of 11yrs and personally I think they get more expensive the older they get!!
I think the mistake a lot of new parents make and I did myself, is going overboard on things that are completely unnessary or spending a buck load on things that last a few months at best. I bought my first some very expensive things and she grew out them very quickly, she would have been just as happy wearing cheaper or second hand clothes.
With my youngest I didn’t go over the top, nappies have probably cost me more in her two years than her pram or cot did
Jo-Ann Brightman on July 15, 2015:
This is really a very organized detailed list of,the costs of raising a baby in the first year. Thanks for this info.
Marissa (author) from United States on February 04, 2013:
torrilynn, I'm glad you liked the hub. Thanks for reading and commenting!
torrilynn on February 02, 2013:
I really liked your hub.Very organized and detailed. Will help me a lot in the future when I hope to have kids of my very own. Thanks. Voted up.
Marissa (author) from United States on October 18, 2012:
aethelthryth, thanks for sharing your story. It's true that you can break even when you have a lot of help and gift giving from loving family and friends. Thanks for reading and commenting! :)
aethelthryth from American Southwest on October 17, 2012:
It may depend on the region of the country, but 2 years ago, we paid only somewhere around $3,000 for an uncomplicated vaginal birth, after we weren't able to do a home birth due to state regulations about length of time you can be in labor after water breaks before you have to be in a hospital.
At some point, I hope to write an article about how by following many of the tips above, and by having a lot of friends past the childbearing years, and a lot of relatives with no children, and by tax credits, we figured out except maybe for the actual cost of childbirth, we actually broke even on costs!
Marissa (author) from United States on October 17, 2012:
Glimmer Twin Fan, babies, as little as they are, sure do cost a lot of money! Most people don't realize this until they are about to have their first baby and actually crunch the numbers. Thanks for reading and commenting! :)
Claudia Mitchell on October 17, 2012:
Great hub loaded with information! I was amazed by how much babies cost after I had our daughter. This is a great tool for parents-to-be!
Marissa (author) from United States on October 16, 2012:
msviolets, that's a great point to make about car seats. It definitely is cost efficient to buy one that will last. Perhaps I'll add some text about that. Thanks for reading and commenting! :)
Marissa (author) from United States on October 16, 2012:
chwalker, thank you very much for your kind comment! I'm glad you think this hub is 'awesome'. :D
msviolets on October 16, 2012:
Great article. In carseats, it's worth noting that the law requires kids under a certain age and weight limit to be in a carseat/booster seat; so it's cost efficient to buy one that will last.
Christina Walker from Utah on October 16, 2012:
I agree with billybuc. This is an excellent in-depth resource. Thanks for making such an awesome hub!
Marissa (author) from United States on October 15, 2012:
Chrissieklinger, ain't that the truth! I saw somewhere that in one child's life from 0-18 years, parents can now possibly spend upwards of $100,000, and that's not even including college... Yikes, right?
Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
chrissieklinger from Pennsylvania on October 15, 2012:
My 'babies' are now 9 and 12 and they don't get any cheaper as they grow up:( Great article!
Marissa (author) from United States on October 15, 2012:
billybuc, thanks so much for such a high compliment! It would be cool to see this as a HOTD. :D
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 15, 2012:
Wow! Great job of compiling information and then organizing it into an easy-to-read hub. This is extensive and oh so useful. You deserve a Hub of the Day for this one!