piggy bank next to little ballet slippers
The costs of having a baby

Who would think that such an expensive thing could come in such a cute little package? Between hospital costs, diapers, food and everything else, Baby's arrival is sure to make you a bit lighter in the wallet. So what sort of costs should you plan for?

Prenatal costs

Baby costs can start piling up even before Baby is born. Prenatal vitamins are sure to ring you up quite a bit, as might the cost of your food if you've made major changes to your diet to eat healthier. Maternity clothes, prenatal classes, and healthcare provider appointments may also start to add up, so it’s not unreasonable to spend upwards of $1,500 - $2,000 for prenatal care and precaution. These amounts can vary quite a bit depending on your insurance coverage, out of pocket healthcare costs, dietary changes, what sort of prenatal classes you choose to take, and how many new clothes you need or choose to buy. One place to potentially save? See how far you can creatively stretch your pre-pregnancy wardrobe - and how comfortably you can physically stretch your clothes as your waistline expands. And if you have friends who have recently been pregnant, you can always see if you can borrow any maternity items from their wardrobe. 

Hospital costs

Women without health insurance can expect to pay about $10,000 or more for a normal vaginal delivery, and over $15,000 for a C-section without any complications. However, most insurance plans, Medicaid included, will end up covering just about all hospital costs. You can check with your insurance provider to get a better sense of what you might expect to pay out of pocket.

Initial baby needs

So you’ve already dropped a few hundred or thousand dollars, and Baby is just now arriving! But what else do you need? At a minimum, you should make sure that you have all the items you'll need for your little one's first days - like a crib and mattress, car seat, baby monitor, diaper bag, first clothes, burp cloths, diapers, and other grooming and body care supplies - ready to go before she is born. Certainly, you can keep things rather simple to get started, though many parents also want to use this time to get some of the extra items that they'll need very soon - like a stroller, additional baby gear, toys, extra clothes, and even items to baby-proof your house once your little one is on the move. After all, you're not going to be any less busy once Baby arrives. In terms of how much damage this might do to your wallet, again, there is a huge range here. Will you be purchasing new items? Outfitting a whole nursery? Are family and friends planning to graciously gift you with a lot of baby registry items at a shower? If you're looking to cut costs or reduce waste, can you borrow or buy any items second-hand? (If you go the second-hand route, just make sure that anything you get - like a previously used or older crib or car seat - hasn't been recalled and meets the latest safety standards.) Even if you lean toward the very minimalist, initial costs for what Baby will need at birth could set you back somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,000. And if you're buying a lot of new items by yourself for her first year, costs can obviously be far steeper - more in the ballpark of $3000 - $5000+ - depending on what you're planning to purchase. 

Ongoing costs

Now that those big-ticket items are out of the way you're in the clear right? Well, not exactly. Once you have all those initial essentials, there's still a lot more that you'll be buying over the next 18+ years. Some estimate a cost of about $50/week for baby’s food, clothes, and diapers, but this figure doesn't include some major costs, like insurance or childcare. And if you want to buy toys, books, or make a special trip to Disney World on top of that, you will, of course, want to save and budget accordingly. 

The bottom line

Raising a baby certainly isn't cheap, but there are definitely ways to cut costs. And all families are different. What might be a necessity for one family, might not work for or not be needed by another. So make sure you have the essentials, then go from there in a way that works for you. 

Reviewed by Dr. Jamie Lo
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