Money Matters

The Hidden Costs of Having a Baby

12 Mar 2015 by: jhurley 

There are tons of articles that warn that the cost of raising a baby from birth to age 18 (or to college) is upwards of $300,000 with inflation. Here are a few not-so-obvious costs that you may encounter during the first few years of your child’s life:


New federal regulations require that most health plans cover the cost of a breast pump. Call your insurance company early to find out what they require and will cover, which may save you close to of $200. If you plan on returning to work and will continue breastfeeding, you will need pumping gear like storage bags, bottles, and cleaning supplies.

Cost savings is one of the many benefits of breastfeeding. However, not all women are able or do not wish to breastfeed, which means formula may be necessary. Annual formula cost is about $1,200.

Your baby is fed – what about you? With less time to cook for your family, you may begin to rely more on convenient takeout food. Consider preparing food ahead of time and freezing the meals for future dinners.

Health Expenses
Baby care classes, copayments for doctor visits, vitamins, and late night drugstore trips for medications all add up.

Child Care
Do your homework and shop around. Depending on where you live, there are likely many options for childcare – corporate centers, in-home providers, and private nannies. If you opt for a nanny, look into “nannysharing” with another nearby mom to help cut the cost. A benefit to this is that your child has built in socialization each day with another child. In-home providers tend to be less per week, but with that comes the trade-off of their holiday, vacation, and sick time, where you would either need to take time off from work to look after your little one, or find another provider.

Look into Flexible Spending Accounts through your HR department. Up to $5,000 per year pre-tax can be put aside for married couples filing jointly to help cover the cost of daycare or after school care. Check with your HR department on how your plan works.

Another thing to consider is the cost of not working. Paid leave may only provide you with a portion of your income. Check with your employer on disability policies in your state and what is available to you. If you’ve chosen to stay at home instead of returning to work, the cost of your lost income should be factored in to your family’s cash flow planning.

Home Expenses
Baby’s carbon footprint begins as soon as you bring him/her home with the added laundry – much more so if you’ve opted for cloth diapering. If their birth falls in summer or winter, expect your utility bills to increase since with newborns, you need to keep your home at a constant comfortable temperature.

Setting up the nursery falls under this category, but what about all the “stuff” that doesn’t necessarily go in the nursery? Things like bouncers and high chairs take up valuable real estate in your house and may inspire a conversation of moving into a bigger home if you’re currently living in a smaller space. And it’s not only your home that is feeling the effects of the baby gear – what may have once seemed like a perfectly reasonable roomy compact car now has been filled with the giant baby car seat. Of course, a bigger home and car are not necessities, but if you were already considering a bigger home or car, having a baby may make these higher priorities.

Baby Gear
Before you register, research what things you will actually “need” versus “want” or think you want. To avoid “overpurchasing”:

Purchase slowly.
Start with the necessities and wait on things you’ll need down the road to see what will actually work for your family, like jogging strollers and baby carriers.

Get input on what you need.
Check out user reviews, baby blogs, and ask friends with children for recommendations. However, each baby is different and what works for one family may not work for you, and vice versa! Buy just one of something, like diapers or bottles, to try before you commit to larger quantities.

Shop around.
Once you know what brand things like diapers and wipes work for you, shop around for the best price. Keep in mind that some stores now offer online “subscribe and save” programs at a discount that ship to your doorstep at set intervals without having to leave your home.

Buy after the baby-shower.
Hold off on buying clothes until after you’ve had your last baby shower – clothing is a popular gift and you’ll likely receive more newborn sized clothes than you’ll be able to use.

For more on baby costs, check out the Baby Costs Calculator at babycenter.com/baby-cost-calculator.

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