Opening a Savings Account for a Newborn Baby: What You Need to Know First

By Rebecca Lake · May 20, 2024 · 9 minute read

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Opening a Savings Account for a Newborn Baby: What You Need to Know First

When a new baby arrives, there’s much to celebrate and so many milestones ahead. It’s not uncommon to want to help secure a child’s future by opening a savings account. That can start Junior off with a little nest egg and hopefully, in time, some good financial habits.

If you’re thinking you might like to open one of these accounts, read on to learn more.

Key Points

•   Opening a savings account for a newborn can secure their future and instill good financial habits.

•   Compounding interest over time significantly increases the initial savings placed in these accounts.

•   Such accounts typically feature low initial deposits, minimal balance requirements, and nominal fees.

•   Essential documents for opening an account include the baby’s birth certificate and Social Security number.

•   Alternatives like 529 College Savings Accounts or custodial accounts offer different benefits for long-term financial planning.

Why Open a Savings Account for a Baby?

There are actually some very good reasons to consider opening a bank account for a baby and start saving. You might be wondering why someone would open this kind of account for a newborn. After all, they don’t have any bills or expenses to pay so what would they need to have money in the bank for? Consider how opening an account and saving for a baby can have real benefits:

•   Time is on your side. Compounding interest can help you grow your baby’s savings account over time. The younger your child is when you start saving, the longer that money has to earn compound interest.

•   Plan for specific goals. Opening a savings account for a baby can make it easier to fund long-term goals. For example, you might want to set aside money to help them buy their first car or pay for college when the time comes.

•   Tax advantages. Savings accounts may not be earning a lot of interest right now. Still, the fact that babies usually don’t typically earn enough dough to pay taxes is a bonus.

•   Increase financial literacy. Teaching kids about saving from an early age can help them get into the habit. By opening a savings account for them when they’re young, you can help them learn the money skills they’ll need as adults.

Kids’ savings accounts can also be appealing because they tend to have low initial deposit requirements, low minimum-balance requirements, and low fees. So you don’t need a lot of money to start saving on behalf of your newborn — and you may not have to worry about paying a lot of fees to maintain the account as they grow.

How to Open a Savings Account for a Baby

Opening a bank account for a baby isn’t a complicated process. To open a savings account for a newborn, you’ll need the following:

•   Information about yourself

•   Information about your baby

•   Required documentation

•   Minimum initial deposit and funding details.

You should be able to open a savings account for a baby either at an online bank or a traditional bank or credit union. You’ll need to fill out the savings account application and provide the deposit via check, money order, cash or ACH transfer if you’re opening an account with an online bank. The minimum deposit may be as little as $1 or even $0, though some banks may require a larger deposit ($25 and up) to open a baby savings account.

Keep in mind that some banks may require you to have an account of your own before you can open a savings account for a child. That could influence where you decide to set up a savings account for a newborn.

Also look into any account maintenance fees that may be assessed monthly. You don’t want fees eating up the principal and interest in the account. Let’s look at this a little more closely next.

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Can You Withdraw Money from Your Baby’s Savings Account?

Because a child cannot legally open or hold a bank account, an adult is a required presence. The parent or custodian who opens the account holds it jointly with the child and can indeed withdraw funds. It’s similar to a joint account that couples may have. However, there may be limits regarding whether your child can make withdrawals as they age and for how much.

If you were to open what’s called a custodial account (which becomes property of the child at adulthood; more on these accounts below), you may withdraw funds, but the intention is that they only be used for the kid’s benefit.

Types of Savings Account for Newborns

The best savings accounts for newborns are ones that allow you to save regularly, earn interest, and avoid high fees. You might look to your current bank first to open a savings account for the baby. Consider what type of features or benefits are offered. If you have to pay a monthly service fee, for example, you may be better off considering a savings account for a newborn at an online bank instead.

Online banks can offer the dual advantages of higher annual percentage yields, or APYs, on savings and lower fees. You won’t have branch banking access but that may not be important if you prefer to deposit money via mobile deposit or ACH transfer anyway. And once your child gets a little bigger, you can introduce them to the world of mobile banking and how to manage it on their own.

Also, consider how well a newborn savings account can grow with your kid’s needs. Some questions you might ask: Can you switch the account to a teen savings account or teen checking account down the line? Could you add a prepaid debit card for teens into the mix at some point? Asking these kinds of questions can help you pinpoint the best savings account for a newborn, based on your child’s needs now and in the future.

For some people, it can be a benefit to know that the bank has figured out ways to help accounts grow with their youngest customers and coach them along their journey to financial literacy.

Requirements for Opening a Savings Account for a Baby

The requirements for opening a bank account for a newborn are a little different from opening a bank account for yourself. That’s because the bank needs to be able to verify your identity as well as the baby’s.

Generally, the list of things you’ll be required to provide to open a savings account for baby include:

•   Your name and your baby’s name

•   Dates of birth for yourself and the baby

•   A copy of your government-issued photo ID

•   The baby’s birth certificate

•   Your address, phone number, email address, and Social Security number.

The bank may ask for the baby’s Social Security number though it’s possible you may not have this yet at the newborn stage. And if you don’t have a Social Security number of your own, you may have to provide a substitute federal ID.

Alternatives to Newborn Savings Accounts

A savings account at a bank or credit union isn’t the only way to set aside money for a newborn. While these accounts can earn interest, there are other types of savings you might use to fund different goals for your child. Here are some of the other options you might consider when saving money for a baby.

529 College Savings Accounts

Many parents — even brand-new ones! — wonder how to start saving for college. A 529 college savings account is a type of tax-advantaged plan that’s designed to help you save for education expenses. These accounts can be opened by the parent but anyone can make contributions, including grandparents, aunts and uncles, or family friends.

All 50 states offer at least one 529 plan. There are no annual limits on 529 plan contributions and you can open any state’s plan, regardless of which state you live in. Contributions are subject to annual gift tax exclusion limits, which are $17,000 for single filers and $34,000 for married couples filing jointly in 2023.

With a 529 plan, you’re investing money rather than saving it. You can invest the money you contribute in a variety of mutual funds, including index funds and target-date funds. This money grows tax-deferred, and withdrawals are tax-free when used for qualified education expenses, such as tuition and fees, books and room and board.

Coverdell Education Savings Accounts

There are other ways to save for a child’s college tuition. A Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA) is a type of custodial account that can be set up to save for education expenses. This account grows tax-deferred just like a 529 plan and qualified withdrawals are tax-free. But there are some key differences:

•   Annual contributions are capped at $2,000 and are not tax-deductible

•   Contributions must end once the child reaches age 18 (an exception is made for special-needs beneficiaries)

•   All funds must be distributed by the time the child reaches age 30.

If you leave money in a Coverdell ESA past the child’s 30th birthday, the IRS can impose a tax penalty. Any withdrawals of ESA funds that aren’t used for qualified education expenses are subject to income tax.

Custodial Accounts

Custodial accounts are savings accounts that allow minors to hold assets other than savings, such as stocks or other securities. You can set up a custodial account with a brokerage on behalf of your child. As the custodian, you maintain ownership of the account and its assets until your child reaches the age of majority, typically either 18 or 21. At that point, all the money in the account becomes theirs.

Opening a custodial account could make sense if you want to make irrevocable financial gifts to your kids. This could be one of the best strategies for building an investment plan for your child. The biggest drawback, however, is that once they turn 18 (or 21) you no longer have control over the account or how the money inside of it is used. For some parents, relinquishing that control can be hard, but remember: There’s lots of financial literacy that can be gained between your child’s birth and officially entering adulthood.

Let SoFi Show You How to Save

Helping your child be a smart, lifelong saver is a terrific goal. Saving money helps build wealth and finance your dreams. How are you doing on that front? One great place to open an online savings account is with SoFi Checking and Savings. Members with direct deposit can earn a competitive APY and pay no monthly account fees. So your money can really get growing.

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Can I start a savings account for my baby?

Yes, opening a savings account for a baby is something you can do even if they’re still a newborn. Traditional banks, credit unions, and online banks can offer savings account options for babies and kids. You can also explore savings account alternatives, such as 529 college savings plans or custodial accounts.

What type of savings account should I open for my newborn?

The type of savings account you open for a baby can depend on your financial goals. If you just want to get them started saving early, a basic savings account might work best. On the other hand, you might consider creating an investment plan for your child that includes a 529 savings account if you’re interested in putting aside money for future college expenses.

What are the typical requirements for opening a bank account for a newborn baby?

You’ll likely need to provide your name, address, and phone number, plus your email address, Social Security number, and government-issued photo ID. You’ll probably be asked for the baby’s birth certificate and an opening deposit as well, which may be as little as $1 or even zero.

Photo credit: iStock/michellegibson

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