The Cost of Bringing Up Baby

Financial preparation for new parents

Having a baby is priceless. Paying for your little bundle’s arrival and upbringing— well, that can be breathtaking!

From breast pumps to bumper pads, car seats and cribs to diapers and daycare, the expenses for new parents mount quickly. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, raising a child costs an average of nearly $11,000 the first year and more than $220,000 for the first 18 years. Most parents can tack on thousands more if they help their son or daughter with college costs.

Medical Costs

Healthcare costs connected to pregnancy and childbirth vary widely. These costs are influenced by where you live, where you receive prenatal care and give birth, and the quality of your medical insurance.

According to CostHelper.com, a Web-based, cost-comparison information community, the typical cost of a vaginal delivery without complications for women who do not have health insurance ranges from about $9,000 to $17,000 or more. This includes costs for doctors, hospital room and board, nursery fees, laboratory fees, medications and medical supplies. For women with health insurance, typical out-of-pocket costs range from less than $500 to more than $3,000.

Health complications increase costs significantly. The cost of having a baby born by Cesarean section without complications generally ranges from $14,000 to $25,000 or more, according to CostHelper.com. Medical care for a premature babies (born before the 37th week of pregnancy) or low birth-weight babies (born weighing less than 5.5 pounds) for their first year of life average $49,033, according to a 2008 March of Dimes Foundation study.

Finally, while health insurers generally cover most charges related to a woman’s pregnancy and a baby’s birth, you should contact your health insurer to determine the insurer’s requirements for covering prenatal and delivery expenses.

Feathering the Nest

Equipping your baby’s nursery with brand-name products can easily reach five figures. But while you are expecting is not the time to over-extend your finances. Many retailers offer gift registry programs to help new parents understand their needs— and get word out to loved ones on what to buy for baby. Take advantage of baby showers and baby gift registries, letting your friends, relatives and co-workers know where you have registered for items. Alternatively, flea markets and consignment shops can also save you a bundle on your baby accessories. Just be sure that important items such as the crib, strollers and car seats are in premium condition. Your child’s safety comes first.

Childcare

For parents who cannot stay home with their baby, daycare costs can be significant. How much you’ll pay for this care varies widely by where you live (region of the country and size of the community), the type of care you select (licensed versus unlicensed), where the care is given (in a childcare facility versus in a home) and the designated caregiver (family member versus nanny versus childcare professional). Costs can range from $100 per week to more than $800 per week for a newborn.

The Long-term Financial Picture

Welcoming a baby has both short- and long-term financial implications for a family. While the short-term needs are often obvious, including medical bills, nursery costs and childcare, long-term security needs are equally important.

“For new parents, one of the biggest financial priorities we hear about is their desire to protect their family’s financial future,” says Christine Crane, young families segment director for Thrivent Financial. “The foundation of this protection starts with having the appropriate insurance in place in case of an unexpected event. This protection can give a degree of comfort.”

Crane offers these five financial tips to expecting and new parents.

  1. Start early. During your pregnancy, take the time to determine your family’s immediate financial needs as well as your long-term goals.
  2. Create a realistic budget. Figure out the true cost of what you will need and weigh it against the new realities of your household income.
  3. Build an emergency fund. The chances of unexpected expenses increase with baby’s arrival.
  4. Protect your family with insurance. Insure your health, property, income and life through appropriate insurance. Update the beneficiary designations on your policies once baby is born.
  5. Save for college. A financial professional can assist with options for growing a college fund.

Preparing for baby financially can be intimidating. But with preparation and perseverance, you can build the financial future that you and your baby deserve.