Babies Are Expensive! Total Cost of Having A Baby

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This is a post by Connie Brooks, a new mommy in Louisville, KY.

Having a baby is one of the most incredible experiences in the world.

There are no words to describe the moment you hold your baby in your arms for the first time. When their little eyes look up to you and you realize you made the little tyke. There are no words to describes the feeling of pride the first time you see them turn over, or when they crawl and then eventually walk.

While these memories are priceless, having a child is a very costly endeavor. Most parents expect to pay for the obvious things once the baby arrives like food, diapers, and clothes but they often don’t anticipate “the other stuff.” When we had our daughter, we expected to pay for more food and diapers, but we never planned for “the other stuff.” From the moment I found out I was pregnant though, a seemingly limitless chain of bills started showing up. We were literally supporting our baby from the moment we knew about her. It doesn’t have to be that way.

If you are thinking about having a baby any time soon, here are some of the expenses (“the other stuff”) you’ll want to plan for, even before your baby arrives:

1. Prenatal Care

As scary as it is to think about, most miscarriages happen within the first three months. Chances are your Ob-gyn will not even want to see you until you hit the three month mark because of this. After that, you can expect to go once or twice a month for the next six months, and even more frequently for the final three months.

Every time I went to my Ob/Gyn, it cost me an insurance co-pay of $30. We had hyperactive prenatal doctors so we ended up going even more often than average. Our cost for pre-natal doctors visits over nine months was around $500. Your cost will vary depending on your insurance plan.

2. Prenatal Diet

Your baby is literally depending on you for its nutrients. If you don’t have a healthy diet, then your baby will not get what they need, and that could have long term consequences.

The truth is, we weren’t eating very well when I got pregnant. We ate out once, sometimes twice a week, and ate a lot of beans, rice and eggs otherwise. Doing that kept our before baby food budget to around $300 a month.

After I found out I was pregnant, our food budget literally doubled. We stopped eating out, and I bought fresh organic fruits, vegetables and yogurt. The only food I craved when I was pregnant was steak (which was odd since I am a semi-vegetarian!). The steak was expensive too because I chose to buy only top quality grain-fed beef.

I did not care how much our food ended up costing us, I wanted my baby to have every building block she needed to grow. Over a twelve month period (I breast fed for three months afterward, so we kept our diet the same.) Our food ended up costing us $7,200. Prenatal vitamins added in another $270 over nine months.

3. Maternity Clothes

– I gained around 20 pounds while I was pregnant, so my clothes fit me for most of my pregnancy. However, by the eighth month, there was no containing my belly. I had to face facts and invest in a few good quality maternity clothes. I bought a week’s worth of clothes as cheaply as possible. I also used my husband’s shirts and bought things like hip-hugger pants that I could wear after my baby. The total cost of my maternity clothes was around $400. If you’re careful you might be able to get by cheaper, but it could easily cost more depending on your needs. Try to maximize sales whenever you can!

4. Baby Clothes & Supplies

We were very blessed because our friends and family gave us nearly everything our daughter would need for her first few months. If you don’t have a strong supportive network, then this will be a real expense.

Wal-Mart and Target have the most reasonably priced baby clothes. If I had to put a price on what we were given I would say that it amounted to easily $800 to $1000 worth of diapers, clothes, shampoo, and supplies. Again, we had an extremely generous family, who put all they had into helping us prepare for our baby. In retrospect, If I were the one paying for the items, I would have spent around $400 total on clothes and supplies for my daughter’s first few months – and that would have been plenty.

5. Nursery & Travel Items

The crib for our daughter was $500. Her mattress was $100. We bought a crib that would turn into a toddler bed, and eventually a full sized bed as she grew. Her car seat and stroller ran us about $400 – again because we bought for the long term and wanted something that would last through several children if necessary. You can definitely do this cheaper than we did! The total cost for her nursery was around $1,500 after decorations.

6. The Big Day(s): Hospital and Delivery Costs

How much this ends up costing you will depend on your insurance, how difficult your labor is, and how well everything goes.

In my case, nothing was simple. I spent two days in the hospital being induced and ended up with a c-section. My daughter had a fever when she was born, so she spent a week in the hospital on antibiotics undergoing a lot of tests. (She was fine, thank God!) They kept me for four days after my surgery. I can honestly say that for a month after we came home I dreaded going to the mailbox and pulling those medical bills out!

The total cost for her delivery was nearly $4000.

7. The Paperwork

After my daughter was born, we did have to take care of some paperwork. Particularly ordering several copies of her birth certificates. This was another unexpected cost. I’m not sure why I thought that the hospital would provide us with one – they didn’t. They sent her birth records off and we had to order an official copy. Those were $10 each, and we ordered 3, so we $30 spent on her paperwork.

8. The Aftermath

In the first few months following her delivery she and I both went back to the doctor a couple of times for routine checkups. This was not a huge expense, but it was one I did not expect. The follow-up visits probably ran us around $150.

From conception to birth, our daughter cost us about $14,000. Fourteen thousand dollars. Oh, and that does not even take into account the diapers or the eventual formula costs once I went back to work. It also does not include childcare, which thankfully, we did not have to get.

If you are considering having a baby, please make sure that you get a hefty savings account going before you take the plunge. Many of these costs we had not planned for, and that made it more difficult than it had to be. When we planned out our finances before getting pregnant, we always planned out what we thought the costs would be after we had her, and we did not take into account what it would cost just to get her to delivery!

I am very sure that if I had it to do over again, I could do it for less money. I think that I went into it from the mindset of doing what I thought was right for my baby, and the finances took a backseat. That being said though, my daughter’s birth story is an excellent example of how having a baby can easily cost you a fortune – so it’s something to think about.

How about you? Do you have children? What would you say it cost you and your spouse to have your baby? Leave us a comment below!

{ 65 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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65 Responses to “Babies Are Expensive! Total Cost of Having A Baby”

  1. Traciatim says:

    Holy crap I’m glad I live in a good country. I have two kids, and in preparation for each one from conception to birth I would have to put the figure at about 2500 a piece. My spouse was also a gestational diabetic so had some food restrictions we weren’t used to and had to have a major diet shift.

  2. Dave says:

    Our daughter had to stay in the NICU (thankfully only for a week) and the cost for the delivery and after care totaled about $13000. Having a preemie could easily result in a few weeks in the NICU, so this is not that uncommon. Luckily our insurance covered every bit of it.

  3. James says:

    Great to know! We have our first on the way and are definitely in savings mode, particularly since my wife is a government contractor and won’t be making a dime while she’s off. We have good insurance so hopefully, we won’t get dinged to hard.

  4. Jeremy says:

    What a timely post. We just found out my wife was pregnant last week, and had our initial prenatal visit yesterday. Luckily our insurance doesn’t require a copay for these visits, and we were able to get a supply of prescription prenatal vitamins that will only cost 1 dollar per bottle.

    So far, so good in that department. Luckily our eating habits won’t require any change either since we don’t eat out and cook every meal at home anyway. So aside from maybe adding a few more fruits and veggies, we should be good there.

    Of course there is no idea what will happen once it comes time for delivery, and I’m not looking forward to all of the ongoing costs. But I will be opening a 529 plan immediately and begin putting a few dollars a week in that. I want to give it a full 18 years to grow and compound 😀

  5. I’ve never considered the “cost” of having children. All I know is that the “return” I’ve received from my two boys goes far beyond monetary measure.

    Even when I take the financial perspective, my first thoughts go to a time when my oldest boy, when he was 4-years old, noticed I was away from home quite often and asked me where I was going all the time. I told him I was “working to earn money for all of the things we have.” He instantly replied, “I’d rather have my Daddy than money.”

    My life changed almost instantly. I now own a successful business and I spend more time with my family than ever. Just that bit of “advice” from my son was worth much more than all the money I had ever spent on him to that date…

    In fact, when I really think about it, I am in debt to him for the rest of my life…

    “I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man…” ~ Socrates

  6. Connie says:

    Wow, thanks for all the great comments everyone!

    To Traciatim: Oh, I am so glad you were able to have your little ones cheaper than I did! I totally understand the diet change too. Gestational Diabetes is tough. I remember sweating during that test. I think I was actually more afraid of that test than I was of the labor process. I am so glad everything went well, and that you were able to adjust her diet.

    To Dave: Wow, I am glad your insurance covered that total. I’m glad your little one only had to stay a week too. I remember that being the hardest thing, my baby was there, and It was tough to be able to spend time with her that first week. It all fades to a distant memory pretty quickly though, or at least it did for me when I got her home.

    To James: Congratulations! I am so happy for you two!! Having a baby is amazing. I mean, without words, knock-you-over extraordinary. 🙂

    To Jeremy: Congratulations to you too! How exciting! I’m thrilled for you that your insurance is that good. That should make the process less stressful for both of you. Excellent move on the 529, you will not regret it. I did the same for my daughter. Can you imagine how many things we will be able to teach them about investing as they grow?

    To Kent: I’m a huge fan of your blog, It was really neat to see your comment. You are exactly right. “I’d rather have Daddy than money.” I bet that stopped your heart a bit. Every day I realize more and more how very precious this time is, and how I don’t want to miss a minute of it.

    “from virtue comes money and every other good of man”. Thanks for making me think a bit. I do agree with that totally.

  7. PT says:

    @Connie – Welcome aboard and thanks for this post. Emailed to the wifey. We’re three months into our first pregnancy. I’m planning on saving up a few thousand for furtniture and deductibles. Everything else I’m thinking we’ll be able to take in stride.

    @Jeremy – Congrats, man!

  8. Connie says:

    Hey PT thanks for your comment, and congratulations!

    You are smart to save. I was really glad I got furniture that would grow with my daughter. Especially when she started climbing out of her crib at 18 months. We were able to turn it into a toddler bed that night, and super-baby proof the room.

    Thanks for passing the article on, glad you liked it. 🙂

  9. Thu says:

    The total cost of having a kid up until the age of 18 is around £150,000 UK sterling.

    Then there are the university fees,etc.

    It’s no picnic but you can see why we all do it.

  10. Connie says:

    To Thu,

    Thanks for your comment! I would absolutely believe it costs that much, especially after what I paid for prenatal care. It would be neat to see what it costs to raise a child in various parts of the world.

    You are right though – no matter what the costs, there are some things you can never really put a “price” on – children especially.

  11. LC says:

    I am lucky that my prenatal care has only one copay for all the visits, and the total cost of care for the delivery is $3600 all covered by my insurance. I got the “expensive” vitamins for only $13/mo and bought all the baby clothes I need for the 1st year at garage sales for $100. I plan to do only minimal decorating until the child gets older. So my total is under $5k for the whole pregnancy and 1st year including diapers. You are right that babies have unexpected costs associated but I think you exaggerated them a little. If it really cost that much, there would be a lot fewer kids around!

    • Sharon says:

      I am planing on getting pregnant this coming november, but don’t know what insurance to get on. My husband and I are still in school and have a tight budget. Do you have any pointers to give me? I could use the help.

      • Heidi Burns says:

        The indivial insurance for your health care needs I think maybe uh State Farm Health insurance if you can afford it.
        Or for a while you could put the baby through dshs for a while then won’t have to pay out of pocket expenses
        If can help try not to put the baby dshs because they not really that good of health insurance if you can help it.
        Until you get a good job.

  12. Connie says:

    Hey LC, thanks for your comment!

    You did some excellent thrifty things like shopping garage sales. I think in my second pregnancy that is exactly what I will do.

    The main cost of my pregnancy was because my daughter was in the NICU for a week, and because I ate only organic food for 12 months. Those two things alone raised the tally considerably. Thanks again for the thrifty tips – I’d be really interested in any more of them you have, since I do plan to do this at least one more time 🙂

  13. Mimi says:

    I’m surprised the artivle did not also include the cost of adding a child to the family insurance. The costs average from $200-400 per month.

  14. Connie says:

    To Mimi – oooh good point. I did forget that! Our insurance went up about $140 a month. We just made a change this year to a policy that lets our preventative care be free, so thankfully, no more paying for shots.

    Thanks for your comment!

  15. Anonymous says:

    The time to consider whether you need supplemental medical insurance is BEFORE you get pregnant. Please put it on your to-do list. Don’t assume that you won’t have any issues and they won’t be costly. You never know.

  16. Jim says:

    Thanks for the interesting article. My wife and I plan on having children before long so this is good information for me.

    I notice half your costs are in food alone and you spend quite a lot there. I’m a little curious on how that broke down: You spent an extra $7200 in a 12 month period on food? Thats about $20 a day in additional costs on top of what you normally spend. Your before baby budget was around $300 a month. So you spent $30 a day on food?? Is that just for 1 person or does it cover 2 people (you say ‘our’ and ‘we’ about the food budget).


  17. Matt says:

    I would say this number depends a lot on your lifestyle. My wife is currently pregnant and aside from a bigger house the biggest expense was her clothing. She works in a professional environment where she needs to maintain a certain dress code that she couldn’t maintain with a growing belly. Unfortunately the clothing wasn’t cheap and although I’m sure some lower cost options existed this has been the one item that has been really expensive.

    Now the one thing I have to say we don’t have to contend with medical bills in Canada which definitely helps. I wonder what the cost of actually having the child (not the pre-labor costs) are. What can an expecting parent and financially conscious person expect after the child is born?

  18. Connie says:

    To Anon: Yes, I totally agree with supplemental medical insurance. We had insurance through my husband’s job, but not through mine – that’s part of the reason we had such high co-pays for the prenatal visits and the vitamins.

    To Jim: The food budget was 3 meals a day, + snacks, for two people, and pretty much everything was organic. It was extremely expensive, but worth it to me. I knew that my baby was getting the very best I could give her to grow on. It’s hard to find both organic and non-gmo foods (genetically modified).

    To Matt: The total cost of having a baby definitely depends on your lifestyle. We got reamed on food expenses, but I was lucky that I did not have to pay a lot for clothing. I think we have a couple of upcoming articles on what things cost after the baby is born. I’d love to have your opinion on those too.

    Thanks for the great comments everyone 🙂

  19. Anna says:

    I only had to pay a co-pay at my first prenatal visit, which was anywhere from 4-6 wks. pregnant w/my kids. The rest was completely covered, ultrasounds, office visits, delivery, hospital stay, etc.

    I was also lucky that 2 of my best friends are the same size as me and we all would pass maternity clothes to each other depending on who was pregnant at the time. That’s not to say I didn’t buy any maternity clothes, because I did!

    It’s different for everyone, however, this is a great article!

  20. Student says:

    Well, I have a class assinment and we have to watch an egg. Yet this project may seem silly and unneccisary more kids who are teenagers are becoming pregnant. One of my daily questions was; List some of the expenses you as a parent would have before a baby would be born. Record the approximate cost of these items. So when I look on here I am truly wowed to see how much a baby must cost parents and to think that this is only in their younger years of birth to my guess of 1-2 years old. Wow, how do you do it?
    -13 year old child-

    • Trevor I. says:

      Hey Student, u sound like u are in my class, we have to do exactly the same thing.~ Trevor from NC

  21. Connie says:

    To Anna: Wow! That’s wonderful that you had such good insurance – Who do you use? Lucky also to be able to trade those maternity clothes. I ended up donating some of mine to a friend too. It’s nice to be able to trade out, and help where you can because things are so expensive.

    To Student: You, know it really wasn’t easy. Thankfully my husband and I make enough money that we could afford to do things like we did. If we had made less, then I would have borrowed anything I could, shopped at discount and goodwill stores, and certainly not eaten as well as I did.

    There are ways to do things cheaper, but as a parent (or at least many parents) we want out kids to have the best we can afford to give them. Especially while they are developing. That is why it is so important to get a good education, and even learn skills on the side that can make you some money. Money gives you choices, like my choice to eat organic food. And usually, the education brings the money! Thanks for your comment!

  22. ken&marie says:

    The cost of a misscarriage after 2nd month:

    Prenatal visit: $500

    Lab test: $600

    Outpatient DNC (hospital & Doc): $12,000

    Prescriptions: $300

    We did receive reimbursement for $11,000. The remainder was out-of-pocket.

  23. Michelle says:

    Connie great advice. I am currently expecting my first child and didn’t account many of what you talked about. It definitely was helpful and insightful. I hope to offset some of my cost because my husband has very good insurance which pays 100% of the birth cost and I have a very supportive family and network of friends who are sharing the wealth of hand-me-downs. I think my little one already has clothes and accessories up until the age of 8. 🙂 Thanks for the great article.

  24. ConnieB says:

    Thanks Michelle!

    Congratulations on your first baby!!! How exciting. I hope that everything goes very well for you – I know it will.


  25. Danielle says:

    Yeah, price of having a baby changes where-ever you are.

    I used a midwife, insurance covered 80% I paid 20% which was about $1800 for all 9 months of care and the birth. I had 3 ultrasounds, good thing we had insurance each one had a facility fee of $2000/visit and a doctor fee of $800/visit. With our insurance we had to pay $150 total to to doctors and $300 for the facility fee. 3 ultrasounds cost almost $10000, which is more than my entire 9 months of care and delivery of my daughter.

    I’m glad I went the route I did, the average hospital birth in Washington state, out-of-pocket $100000, and thats with no extras or complications.

    They say that once they’re born a child costs you $200000 in 18 years.

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