Understanding The Costs Of Having A Baby

By Rebecca Lake. May 7th 2016

Having a baby can be one of the most emotionally rewarding experiences of your life, but it can also be one of the most expensive. In fact, the costs begin adding up long before baby makes his or her entrance into the world. Additionally, once the baby is born, there are ongoing costs associated with its care. If you’re thinking of having a baby or you’re already expecting, it’s important to understand the full range of expenses you may incur both before and after the birth.

Healthcare Costs

When it comes to having a baby, getting adequate prenatal care is vital to the health of both the mother and the unborn child. If you don’t have maternity health coverage or you don’t qualify for government-funded coverage through Medicaid, you can expect to pay a hefty sum out-of-pocket for health care. The cost of basic prenatal care hovers around $2,000, according to WebMD. The cost of care increases if you have a difficult or high-risk pregnancy or encounter health problems that require additional treatment.

In addition to the cost of prenatal care, you also need to prepare for the expense of actually giving birth. According to a 2011 Fox Business report, the cost of a hospital birth ranged from $6,000 to a vaginal birth to $16,000 for a C-section. If you or the baby experiences complications, the costs climb even higher. If you opt for a home birth instead, you can still expect to pay anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars for the services of a midwife or doula. Both mother and baby will require a health check-up in the weeks following the birth, which can result in an additional expense.

Buying Baby Gear

When getting ready for a new baby’s arrival, it can be easy to get carried away buying adorable outfits or the latest baby toys. High-end baby gear, including strollers, cribs and car seats may be fashionable but these items can also be very expensive. When planning for your baby’s arrival, it’s important to distinguish between needs and wants if you want to keep your budget in check.

For example, the most common needs include a car seat, stroller, diapers, wipes, diaper bag, functional clothing, blankets and bottles if you’re planning to use formula. These items can cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars. If you add in all the extra “wants”, getting ready for baby becomes even more expensive. Shopping secondhand is a good way to keep your costs down and make your money go further. Consignment shops and thrift stores are a good option for purchasing gently used clothing, furniture and other baby items without paying full price.

Feeding And Care

The cost of feeding your newborn ultimately depends on whether the baby will be breastfed or bottle-fed. While breastfeeding is generally considered the less expensive option, there are certain costs associated with the purchase of things like breast pumps, milk storage systems, nursing pads, etc. If you’re planning to bottle-feed, the most significant cost is formula. Depending on your baby’s appetite and the type of formula you use, you may end up spending several hundred or several thousand dollars to feed your little one over the course of the first year. Once your baby begins eating solid foods, your formula costs may go down but you can expect your grocery bill to increase.

In addition to feeding costs, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of diaper cream, baby lotion, baby powder, shampoo, soap and other items needed to maintain your baby’s hygiene. If your baby is allergic to certain dyes or other ingredients, you may have to buy specialized care products which can be more expensive than generics or other brand names.

Ongoing Costs

One of the biggest recurring expenses associated with having a baby is the cost of diapers. As a general rule, diaper changes will become less frequent as your child grows older; however, the per-unit cost of diapers steadily increases. For example, a 100-count package of newborn diapers may cost you around $20, depending on the brand but a 25-count package of Size 2 or 3 diapers may cost $10. In addition to the recurring expense of diapers, you’ll also have to routinely purchase new clothing and take your baby in for regular health check-ups. Daycare is another potentially expensive ongoing cost for parents who plan to continue working after the baby is born.

Raising a child requires a significant investment of time, patience and love but it also requires a substantial financial investment. According to a 2012 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture the average cost of raising a child from birth to adulthood is in excess of $230,000. That figure doesn’t include the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a college education can cost. When having a baby, it’s important to ensure that you understand to expect both emotionally and financially.

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