How Much Does Having a Baby Cost?

If you’re newly pregnant, congratulations! There’s plenty to think about during your early pregnancy, but one thing that often weighs heavy on the minds of expectant families is money. While the cost of a birth and the first few months of baby’s life can vary widely, based on your insurance coverage, where you live, and how fancy your tastes are, in this post, we’ll discuss the expenses to expect during pregnancy and the first year of baby’s life, as well as how you can save some money while having a baby.

Pre-Conception Costs 

For some people, it’s easy to get pregnant. If would like to conceive, you could start with getting a preconception check up and start taking a prenatal vitamin. With some luck, you’ll be pregnant before you know it. If on the other hand, you’ve been trying to conceive for a while and it’s taking longer than you’d like, it’s possible that you’ll face other expenses in the way of doctor visits, fertility treatments, and potentially surrogacy.

Pregnancy and Birth Expenses

While you’re pregnant, you may not have any change in expenses. On the other hand, if you’re not a salaried worker or even if you are, but you have any pregnancy complications, it’s possible that you’ll have to take unpaid time off work before your baby is even born. In order to plan for this type of expense, it’s a good idea to look into the policies of your workplace around paid and unpaid leave and to speak to your human resources representative if needed.

Another expense during pregnancy, albeit an optional one, is pre-baby travel. If you embrace travel and have the means, it’s a nice idea to plan for a babymoon—a last trip for you (and your partner, if you have one) before baby comes. There are also some other expenses that I wish that I’d planned for during my two pregnancies, too, such as prenatal massages and maternity and birth photography.

On the subject of paying for your baby’s birth, having a baby in the United States can be shockingly expensive. Depending upon what kind of birth you choose (home, hospital, or birth center), who your provider is (doctor or midwife), and the number of medical interventions you end up having during birth, the range of costs you can expect will vary from a few thousand dollars to more than $20,000. If you have health insurance that covers the costs of birth, you might pay nothing, or you could be responsible for a portion of the total costs. The way to plan for this expense is to talk with your insurance provider and care provider early and often.

Baby Gear and Supplies 

There are some great posts on this site about the essentials of what baby needs in the first few weeks of life, how to plan for the number of diapers baby will use (and choose cloth or disposable), and how to enjoy baby’s first year on a budget. In general, babies need much less stuff than the people and companies who sell baby stuff would have you believe. The material things babies need include diapers, somewhere to sleep, a car seat (if you plan to ever put them in a car), something to wear, and breastmilk or formula. They don’t need baby classes, fancy strollers, or designer baby clothes—though by all means include these things in your budget if it makes sense for your family.

Childcare and Healthcare 

One of the biggest kid-related expenses in the United States is childcare. If you plan to stay home with your kids, you’ll save money, but also lose potential income. If you plan to pay for childcare, you’ll likely spend between $6,000 and $16,000 a year for center-based childcare, according to a report from the nonprofit ChildCare Aware of America. [1] Childcare is less expensive in certain regions of the country, but it’s nonetheless a considerable expense for most families. If having a relative take care of your child is an option for you, it could be a good, and more cost effective, choice.

  1. “The US and the High Price of Child Care: An Examination of a Broken System,” ChildCare Aware, 2019.
Abby Olena
Dr. Abby Olena has a PhD in Biological Sciences from Vanderbilt University. She lives with her husband and children in North Carolina, where she writes about science and parenting, produces a conversational podcast, and teaches prenatal yoga.

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