Having children can be one of the most rewarding moments of a lifetime — and also one of the most stressful and complicated. The annual cost of raising a child reaches into the tens of thousands, and USDA estimates it can cost nearly $250,000 to raise a child to age 17. That figure doesn’t include higher education.
After taking home the little bundle of joy from the hospital (and paying for that hospital bill, a large cost up front), parents can expect to encounter several expenses related to a baby, including a big one that isn’t so obvious.
Even if you don’t plan on buying every action figure or doll at the store, the National Association for the Education of Young Children indicates that certain toys are beneficial for different stages of development.
From birth to 6 months, rattles cost about $3, plush toys are about $14 for WubbaNub dolls with pacifiers, and toys with shatterproof mirrors are $17 from Target. Unless you want to go searching for the toys when the baby starts crying and needs to be calmed down, you’ll need at least two of each toy for a total of about $75 — and that’s just for the first six months.
When it’s time to leave the hospital, parents should have already dealt with one significant cost: the price of a car seat.
Infant car seats start at $50, but those will seat babies up to 25 or 30 pounds only, and prices escalate from there. Or if you want to get an all-in-one seat, you can expect to pay up to 10 times that much.
Maybe you’ll be walking around the city with your baby instead of driving, but that’s no money saver. You will still need an infant car seat, so the little one has a secure and supportive place to sit in addition to strollers that start at about $150 (but like car seats can be up to 10 times more expensive).
When that baby gets bigger, he or she will probably want a bike to get around the neighborhood. Starter bikes can set you back about $40, but like with most child expenses the cost goes up over time.
Down the line, you might want to pay for an additional family car. Even if you choose not to purchase a car, you will have to pay insurance premiums for a teen driver. Insurance.com states that family premiums can rise by an average of 152% when adding a teen driver to the policy.
5. New furniture
The newest member of the family will require his or her own set of furniture — or at least a few key items.
The baby will need its own place to sleep, so a bassinet or crib is necessary. The least-expensive bassinet from Buy Buy Baby starts $80, but that will hold a baby only up to 25 pounds. After that you’ll need to upgrade to a full crib, which will set you back about $200. And unless you want to throw your back out stooping down to change all those dirty diapers, you might want to invest in a changing table, which start at $100.
Diapers are an obvious expense, but new parents might be surprised with just how much they will be spending on them each month. A box of 216 Pampers diapers sells for $42.99 at Target. A baby that soils 10 diapers a day will go through that box within a month. If buying a box of 216 every three weeks, that is more than 17 boxes, or more than $731 annually.
Whether giving formula or breastfeeding, keeping a baby fed is a cost that can quickly spiral out of control. A 1.45-pound container of powdered formula costs roughly $28 from Walmart. That size container will last about one week, so the annual cost approaches $1,500.
Even breastfeeding, though more economical, is not without costs. Pumping supplies, such as breast shields (about $12) on Amazon, lactation pads (also about $12), and extra bottles for storage ($14) quickly add up. If the mother is planning on returning to work, the parents will likely have to add formula to the feeding regimen.
Even if you already own a home and are paying your mortgage before the baby arrives, there are added costs associated with having a baby in the house.
A handy calculator provided by the USDA shows a middle income family in the Midwest (one of the more cost-friendly areas of the country to raise a child) pegs the annual housing cost at $4,400, about $250 less than the national average. Mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, utilities, and repairs and maintenance are all rolled up in that figure.
In addition to the normal cost of upkeep, additional costs include increases to utility fees. Washing bottles and clothes, turning on the lights for middle-of-the-night feedings, and using the furnace and air conditioner more often in order to maintain a comfortable climate are additional costs.
1. Child care and education
Infant child care is an expense some parents can avoid by having grandparents or cooperative neighbors watch the child. But those relying on babysitters or day care should be prepared to pay a hefty sum.
A survey conducted by Care.com indicates the cost of day care comes in at around $10,500 per year, though the sum swings from a low of $6,600 all the way up to more than $20,000. If planning on hiring a nanny or au pair, the cost can more than double.