Planning for the Cost of Having a Baby

December 04, 2018 · 5 minute read

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Planning for the Cost of Having a Baby

There’s nothing quite like the joy of planning for your first child. But don’t let visions of cute little onesies, bibs with clever sayings, and the perfectly decorated nursery distract you from planning for the cost of actually having a baby.

Hospital costs and basic needs such as diapers, formula, and even checkups can add up quickly. Factor in the cost of childcare, too, and you’re looking at potentially spending several thousand dollars in just the first few months.

Keep in mind that hospital and day care costs vary from state to state, and that a complicated birth can quickly add thousands of dollars to your hospital bill. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Most shopping lists for newborns have more than 50 items and even if you plan to skip extraneous items such as a changing table, diaper pail, and fancy diaper bag, there are still plenty of basics you need to buy to keep your baby safe and healthy, including food, diapers, and a car seat.

Having a baby can be the most joyous time (but also an expensive time) in your life. Here’s a breakdown of the average cost of having a baby.

What is the Cost of Having a Baby?

Hospital Costs

The birth of a newborn is ranked third among the most expensive hospital inpatient stays in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project .

And this doesn’t even take into account Cesarean section costs. Nearly 32% of all babies are delivered by c-section, according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics .

Prenatal care and delivery costs, including C-section costs, can span a huge range: from about $9,000 to over $250,000 . The average cost of having a baby is $5,000 to $14,500, but can easily rise depending on your insurance coverage and any complications for the mother or baby at birth. And even though many insurance companies offer maternity benefits, many policies demand at least some form of deductible for each family member.

For example, your newborn family member will probably be sent a separate hospital bill from mom’s bill, and baby will be expected to pay a deductible. If you (and baby) each have a $2,000 deductible , you’d be expected to pay the initial $4,000 for baby’s and mother’s hospital care, as well as anything else not covered by your insurance plan.

Car Seat

The hospital won’t let you take your baby home by car without a proper car seat , which can cost from $80 to $400. Most states also require you to have the car seat installed and checked for safety before baby’s first ride home. Fortunately, many hospitals, police stations, and fire stations offer car seat installations and inspections for free.

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Disposable diapers can set you back $30 to $60 per month. Cloth diapers might save you around $2,000 for the two years most babies are in diapers, but only if you plan to wash them yourself.

If you send your cloth diapers out to be laundered, then cloth diapers end up costing about the same as disposables. Baby wipes can easily add another $25 a month to your tally.


Even if mom breastfeeds for the first six months or even a year, many families find themselves eventually purchasing baby formula. Powdered formula can easily cost between $70 to $150 per month . Add to that the cost of bottles, and you’re looking at spending an additional $50 for bottles and up to $400 for entire bottle feeding systems (pumps, bottles, then later spoons, bowls, etc.).


Once mom and baby are home, the family will want to go out for a walk and show baby the neighborhood (and get out of the house, too). That means you’ll need a stroller. Depending on how fancy you want to get, a stroller can cost anywhere between $50 to $1600 ; if you’re very active, all-terrain strollers can set you back around $300 to $1,200 . A high-end travel system that includes an infant car seat, car seat base, and stroller can cost more than $700.


Come bedtime, baby will need somewhere safe and comfortable to sleep. A crib can cost from $100 to $2,000, but you’ll also need a mattress and sheets, adding another $50 to $400 to your total (again, depending on how fancy you want to get).

High Chair

At around four to six months, you’ll probably start feeding your baby solid foods . That means you may need a high chair (between $60 to $300 ), baby-proof spoons and bowls, and baby food ($.50/jar at three jars/day = at least $45 per month).

Doctor’s Bills

It’s a fact of life that babies need frequent checkups. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies get checkups at birth, three to five days after they are born, and then at one, two, four, six, nine, 12, 15, 18, 24, and 30 months.

Even with a copay, you will likely be paying for at least a dozen doctor visits during your baby’s first years. It’s also not unusual for babies to get sick in between doctors visits. Many new parents may even take their child to the emergency room during their baby’s first two years, even though it might not be medically necessary , and potentially leave with a staggering bill .

All these items, essentially to protect the baby and help the baby to grow, can easily add up, making the average cost of having a baby more than $10,000 for your child’s first year.

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