In the U.S., the cost of having a baby can range from $4,000 - $30,000 The average cost of your baby's first year is $1,700 - $1,400/month Once the baby is born, Zeta recommends socking an extra $462 away for surprise expenses
So, you’re having a little human! A new baby comes with a barrage of emotions, one of which might be fear. Maybe you’re worried that you’re not fully prepared or particularly qualified. Or maybe you’re just down-right terrified because you’re not sure what to expect.
The truth is, those feelings are completely normal, especially for an adult-sized human. And while you’ll invariably figure it out, it’s also true that a new baby means it’s time to get serious about getting your finances in order.
To help you prep for the new addition, we’ve put together a money guide for first-time parents. After reading this, hopefully the only thing you’ll be worrying about is where to store all the baby pics to come.
It can be tough to calculate the exact costs of childbirth because there are a gaggle of variables that make them up: health insurance, location, birth complications and post-delivery care being the main culprits. Unfortunately, the US is the most expensive country for childbirth (about 4x more than the average for Germany and France, for instance).
Based on 2016 calculations from FAIR Health, the average cost of having a baby (with insurance!) ranges from $4,000 (without complications) to $30,000 (with complications). Having a vaginal birth tends to be less expensive averaging between $4,000 and $12,000 with insurance. If a C-section is required, the costs increase by about $3,000. Of course, not having insurance leads to higher costs for delivery (about twice as much).
If the delivery of your little one turns out to be more complicated than expected, you may pay closer to $30,000 for extra care for you and your baby. According to The Guardian, a woman who gave birth to triplets prematurely spent nearly $51,000 which included the birth of the triplets, along with additional neonatology bills. This is an over-the-top example, but it shows that complications, and a couple more babies, can bring your bill up quite a bit.
With standard insurance coverage, couples should stash a baby fund of $5,000 - $12,000 to cover their bases. If you’re at all worried about having complications or you know that you’re having more than one baby, consider putting away another $10,000 or so to make sure you’re covered.
Once you leave the delivery room with your baby, you’ll move into your plan for the baby’s first year costs. According to NerdWallet, families with a five-figure income should expect to spend more than $2,000 during the first year on miscellaneous expenses such as diapers, food and clothes. But you’ll need to factor in additional costs such as furniture, child care and health insurance. The estimated annual costs for baby care are roughly between $21,248 and $51,985. The range is pretty large due to a variety of factors, like how frugal you are as a parent, if you want to start a college fund immediately, and if you get life insurance for you and your baby right away. When broken down monthly - you’re looking at adding an extra $1,770 to $4,332 per month. Since there’s no return policy on kids, it’s important to build that into your budget prior to the baby’s arrival!
One note worth mentioning - before you start buying all the baby goods, have a plan. There’s no need to buy the Rolls-Royce of strollers when a Ford Focus will do.
Speaking of in-network, accidental or unpreventable visits with out-of-network doctors is the most common surprise cost for new parents. You can find an in-network hospital, but that doesn’t guarantee the specialists you see will be. This goes for the ambulance ride too. Until ambulances operate like Uber, and you can swipe right on in-network doctors - the only way to prepare for these costs is a savings fund.
That savings fund will come in handy for other unexpected costs. These include:
- Utility Bills - You can leave the dogs at home with the A/C off in most states, nbd. But you can’t do this with a baby. One couple reported that after childbirth, their electric bill nearly doubled and their water bill increased by 30%. This resourceful family combatted their increased utility bills by purchasing a space heater for their son’s bedroom. This creative solution helped them cut back on their A/C usage and saved them a boatload on their electric bill. That said, you’ll probably end up paying more in utilities across the board to ensure your baby is happy and healthy. To give you an idea, the average utility bill in the US is $171 monthly. Considering that your bill may double when the baby arrives, have an extra $171 handy per month.
- The Convenience Factor - You’ll whip up your own baby food with the Ninja blender then meal prep for yourself some salmon, rice and veggies for the week before settling down in a nice bubble bath…think again. It’s more likely you’ll be speed dialing the pizza joint and using those frozen veggies to ice your swollen toe after it’s wrecked by a stealth toy. Prepare to spend a little more on things that are convenient and literally keep you sane. To budget for this before the baby comes, consider saving an extra $200 per month (to order fast food/takeout 3 nights a week).
- Unplanned Doctor Visits & Specialists - At least seven checkups in your baby’s first year is the norm. This doesn’t account for colds or other unexpected ailments. Many new moms need help with feeding which might require a lactation specialist and an artillery of nipple products. Baby nurses and postpartum specialists can also ramp up your costs unexpectedly. With lactation specialists charging between $150-$300 an hour and unplanned pediatrician visits charging the normal copay of around $25 per visit, stashing away an extra $1,100 ($91 monthly) would be good to cover any unplanned specialist help.
To ensure you’re covered when it comes to the surprise costs of having a baby, it would do you well to have an extra $462 in your baby fund per month, in addition to the $1,770 - $4,332 monthly costs for the baby’s first year.
If you’re reading this, you’re already ahead of many parents who underestimate the cost of having a baby. In fact, 44% of surveyed American parents believe the baby’s first year will cost $5,000. The daunting truth is that you’ll probably need to budget for a lot more than that to comfortably prepare for the arrival of your little human.
If you want some help, you can start planning your baby budget now with Zeta, a free tool that helps modern couples master their money, together.
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