A few months ago, my closest friends shared the most exciting news anyone could ask for - they're having a baby!
It's been exciting to watch them go through various stages of the journey. From surprising family, friends, and co-workers with the news to buying first time parenting books. Yup, they are figuring out how on earth they're meant to raise a whole human!
Baby shower prep is underway and it's been heartwarming to watch the soon-to-be mom diligently take care to exercise, eat right and ditch the wine.
But there is one thing in particular that has really struck me about this couple. They've committed to giving their baby the best of everything, without breaking the bank. Are you in this same position but trying to figure out what the costs of having a baby will mean to your budget? Let's discuss this.
How much does a really baby cost?
If you are having a baby, outside of celebrating this amazing news, the next thing on your mind is probably what it will cost. Here are some key expenses for before and after delivery to keep in mind as you map out your budget.
1. Prenatal care and delivery costs
The biggest costs during this window for any parents-to-be are the delivery costs. In most cases, a new mom will have her delivery in a hospital. These costs include prenatal doctor visits, ultrasounds, the actual delivery, and the hospital stay.
According to a U.S. study by Castlight Health, routine vaginal deliveries can costs average anywhere from $6,075 (Kansas City, MO) to $15,420 (Sacramento, CA). While the average c-section costs run anywhere from $6,891 (Pittsburg, PA) to $27,067 (Sacramento, CA). If complications occur, these costs can be even high.
Where you live has a big impact on your delivery costs and your insurance type has a big impact on your out of pocket expenses. Costs not included are things tests, prescribed medicines, and anesthesia associated with epidurals.
Based on all this, Business Insider estimates the average cost of having a baby in the U.S. to be $10,800.
2. Upgrading your living situation
Many couples need more space once they have their first or second baby. If this is you, you may even be considering buying your first home. This would mean factoring in saving for a down payment, moving costs and more. To avoid becoming house poor or stretching yourself too thin, it's essential to factor in any moving and home purchase cuts into your budget as you plan for your new baby.
3. Baby things
Babies need a lot of things. However, it can be a very slippery slope and super easy to go overboard in this category. Here are some key baby items and general costs associated.
- Car seats and strollers: The price range for car seats and strollers can be all over the place depending on how fancy you want to go. However, You can get a really good car seat and stroller combo brand new for between $150 and $300. While it makes sense to save money as a general rule, you may want to buy a car seat brand new to ensure that you're getting the safest kind available on the market for your baby.
- Diapers: According to Pop Sugar, the average baby goes through six to ten diapers in a day which can come to $80 a month or close to $900 in diaper costs a year. To really save on this expense, consider buying diapers in bulk (hey Costco and BJs), using coupons or accepting diapers as part of your registry. You'll also need to remember wipes!
- Baby food: Depending on how formula your baby needs, costs of baby formula can come up to $1,200 to $3,000 a year or $100 to $250 per month. This based on the average can of formula costing $25 to $30 and lasting around one week.
- Baby bottles and breast pump: Baby bottles can run $5 to $20 and breast bumps can come in the $200 - $400 range.
- Baby clothes: When it comes to baby outfits, a good question to ask is how much is too much? On one hand, you want your baby to look super adorable in that new trendy outfit but on the other hand, he or she will outgrow the outfit in no time. If you're sticking to essentials, you'll be pleased to know that you can comfortably budget $60 to $80 a month for the first year and then as the baby's growth rate gradually slows, clothes will naturally start to last a little bit longer.
- Toys, nursery, and furniture: Babies lead busy lives playing, sleeping and bouncing around but they need baby gear to make it all happen. And if there's one place that every mom holds dear, it's the nursery. These costs can be pretty significant depending on how out there you choose to go with it. When it comes to toys, this can get as expensive as you want it to be. So start by focusing on the essentials in this category such as the crib, bassinet, high chair, swing or walker and a few toys and books to keep your baby entertained. As you plan through this, ask yourself "will this make a positive impact on my baby?" You'll quickly realize that the crystal chandelier you're eyeing for the nursey will do nothing for the baby's wellbeing!
4. Childcare and babysitting
If you're working parents, you will no doubt need additional support with taking care of your baby. For some fortunate parents, family such as grandparents and aunts and uncles live close by eliminating the immediate need to pay for costly daycare.
However, not all parents don't have this luxury. Many daycare options exist, however, your budget will largely determine which will be best for you and your family.
Where you live will be a huge driver of your overall childcare costs. According to this study, annual childcare costs ranged from $4,822 in Mississippi to $22,631 in Washington D.C. But it's not all bad for your pocket. The IRS chips in to help with keeping costs at a manageable level by offering various tax credits to eligible recipients.
5. Ongoing health checks
Once the baby is home, it will be important to periodically go for doctor visits to ensure that your baby is in good health. Additional items will need to be factored into your budget. These could include out-of-pocket expenses for things like immunizations and wellness checks every so often.
How to calculate your first-year baby costs
Calculating your first-year baby costs can seem overwhelming. However, online calculators like this amazing baby costs calculator can make it super easy to do. It covers pretty much every potential baby cost you might have.
Other costs to consider that are not specifically baby costs but are may be related to having a new baby included:
- Higher food costs from more home cooking or from buying more convenient foods. p.s. Meal planning can help!
- Increased utility usage like electricity and water
- Higher health insurance premiums from adding your new addition
- Upgrading or buying a car to transport your family around
Once you know what your approximate costs will be, you can focus on adjusting your budget to achieve your savings goals.
Be sure to check out our blog post on tips to save when you are expecting a baby.
Tips for successful budgeting when you have a baby
You may have had many false starts on your budgeting journey in the past and that's totally ok! However, when a baby is in the picture, you'll want to try your best to get on top of budgeting. This is so you can keep working towards your financial goals.
The best way to start is by going back to the basics.
- Ensure you have a solid emergency fund. You'll always want to be prepared for anything. A solid way to do this is by having 3 to 6 month's worth of expenses in an emergency fund. Ideally, if you don't have an emergency fund in place when you find out you're pregnant, you can start saving up. You won't regret it.
- Try to live on one income. If you come from a 2-income household, you and your spouse may find it helpful to live off one income if you can. This will help you save intentionally as you grow your family. In turn, you'll have more money to put toward savings, college funds, and other long term goals.
- Have fun with it! Remember, parenting is a gift that is meant to be enjoyed (not endured)! Make the most of it. If you mess up from time to time, know that it's ok. You may be navigating this chapter for the first time or for the fifth time, but remember that each time will be different. Know that you're a worthy parent, you're doing your best and you're making your baby proud! The key is to practice healthy financial habits that will set up the next generation for success!