Budgeting for Baby: The Dollars & Cents of Parenthood in the First Year

Pink and blue pacifiers are sitting on top of two twenty dollar bills, two two dollar bills, and two one dollar bills. These are sitting on top of a wooden table.

When we start thinking about our parenting journey, most of us imagine cute baby outfits, quiet afternoon strolls, and evenings spent rocking little ones to sleep. What we often forget about is budgeting for baby.

If you’re anything like me, you might have to start thinking about cutting back on food delivery and date nights. From pregnancy expenses to baby gear, growing a family can hit your bank account hard.

If you’re already pregnant or trying to conceive, creating a solid financial plan is the best way to afford this new chapter of life while still enjoying some modicum of your old life, too (hellooooo new parents NEED food delivery!).

But how much do you need to save? What are one-time costs? Which items become continual line items in your budget? 

Before you start looking for a paper bag to breathe into, let us calm your nerves. 

There’s good news! You can do plenty of things to alleviate the financial strain that pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting can place on your family.

Whether you want estimates, comparisons, or tips for finding coupons, the information below will help you create a workable savings plan and monthly baby budget that works for your family’s needs. Let’s get started!

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What to Expect When it Comes to Unexpected Expenses During Pregnancy & Beyond

No matter how prepared you are to become a parent, most of us are taken aback by the multitude of one-time purchases and continual payments required to raise a child. Before we dive into specific numbers, it’s helpful to know what you can expect to pay for.

You can easily break budgeting for babies down into three primary categories:

  • Pregnancy and Other “Pre-Baby” Costs
  • Labor & Delivery
  • On-Going Expenses During Baby’s First Year

Each of these categories contains a wide range of sub-categories, including insurance costs, diaper bills, and maternity clothing. Keep reading to learn more about the average amounts most parents can expect to spend.

An African American couple is sitting on a bed with a white sheet. There are a pair of peach baby pants, a dark denim baby dress and baby booties laying in front of them. The man has a notebook and pencil.
If you’re already pregnant or trying to conceive, creating a solid financial plan is the best way to afford this new chapter of life. We’re sharing our tips on budgeting for baby!

Pregnancy and Pre-Baby Costs 

Pregnancy is a whirlwind of emotions and activities – especially when you have your first baby. You aren’t just experiencing the excitement of pregnancy itself, but you’re also laying the groundwork and planning for your life as new parents.

If you want to start planning now, expect some of the following financial responsibilities while pregnant:

1. Doctor’s Appointments and Pregnancy Labs

When it comes to prenatal care, costs can vary greatly, depending on the unique circumstances of your pregnancy. 

On average, you can expect pregnancy care to cost between $1,700 and $3,000. This amount includes doctor’s visits, lab tests, and ultrasounds. Keep in mind, though, that these numbers reflect out-of-pocket medical charges. 

If you have health insurance, your financial responsibilities will be far less than if you had to pay for services in full. Each insurance provider is different, but companies will pay approximately 85 – 90% of total prenatal care costs on average.  

Please note: While the birth of a baby is considered a qualifying life event to obtain health insurance outside of enrollment periods, pregnancy usually isn’t

If you’re actively trying to conceive, it’s a good idea to sign up for health insurance coverage. Be sure to utilize the Healthcare Marketplace if you aren’t offered insurance through work or can’t afford a private policy.

2. Maternity Clothing

Where pregnancy essentials are concerned, buying yourself maternity clothing will likely be a mandatory purchase. On average, we can expect to spend around $500 on pregnancy clothes throughout the entire nine months.

There are plenty of ways to limit what you’re spending on pregnancy clothing, though. One excellent option is to create a maternity capsule wardrobe filled with flexible basics and quality staples! We love the capsule wardrobe idea.

There are also many great online and in-store options for affordable maternity clothes, such as Amazon, Target, or H&M.

3. Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins are a necessary part of any expectant mama’s diet. How much they cost, however, can vary a ton. When you’re budgeting for baby, expect to pay between $.30 and $.65 per vitamin, which comes out to around $9 per month.

Since many healthcare experts suggest taking prenatals for at least three months before conceiving and three months after delivering, new moms will likely pay around $135 in total for our vitamins.  

Need some recommendations for quality prenatal vitamins that won’t break the bank? Be sure to check these out:

4. Nursery Items and Required Baby Gear

No list of pre-baby purchases would be complete without mentioning all of the STUFF that babies require in the first several months to years of their lives. 

From nurseries to high chairs, babies come with a lot of shit. Want to know how much you can expect to pay for these one-time expenses? I’ve listed out the average prices of some essential baby gear items:

Want the full breakdown of what you’ll need? We have an insanely detailed pregnancy planner just for this purpose! It breaks down everything you’ll need (including cost-effective options) in terms of safe and trusted baby gear and more.

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Labor & Delivery: How Much Does it Cost to Have a Baby?

As you prepare to welcome your new addition, you might be stressing about how much you’ll have to pay for labor and delivery (L & D.) There’s no denying this is one of the most expensive aspects of having a baby, but it’s also a significant financial priority.

For your and your baby’s safety, quality care throughout childbirth is essential.

Quality, however, can take many forms. We’re breaking down approximate costs for hospital births and birthing centers.

1. Hospital Births

In the United States, nearly 98.4% of expectant parents give birth in hospitals.  While this option is more expensive, studies prove it is a safer delivery choice – especially if you’re someone with higher risk factors. 

The median costs of hospital births are as follows:

  • Vaginal Birth Without Complications — $10,958
  • Vaginal Birth With Complications — $13,010
  • Cesarean Section Without Complications — $18,570
  • Cesarean Section With Complications — $21,704

Now, many of us head into L & D planning on getting an epidural. If this sounds like you, you’ll want to know that the average fee for epidural administration is between $800 – 1,000.

  1. Birth Centers

Delivering at a birth center with a midwife is significantly less expensive than a hospital. What to Expect estimates the overall cost before any insurance coverage to be between $3,000 and 4,000

Insurance Coverage for Labor & Delivery

Any time you’re mulling over medical expenses, it’s crucial to find out what your insurance policy offers.

If you’re pregnant, ask your carrier questions about co-pays, out-of-pocket maximums, and deductibles. You should also find out what exactly is covered by your policy.

Ask questions like:

  • Does your coverage include payments for epidurals? 
  • Are birth centers within the network? 
  • Do you have short-term disability coverage for maternity or paternity leave?

On-Going Expenses During Baby’s First Year

The financial fun doesn’t end when little ones make their big debut. Baby’s first year comes with a wide array of items that can strain any monthly budget. 

From baby clothes to child care, below you’ll find information on all the necessities you should plan for.

1. Baby Clothes

Most of us will start shopping for our babies before they arrive. In fact, choosing the perfect newborn outfit to bring them home is one of my favorite things to do! No matter how much you buy ahead of time, stocking an infant’s first-year wardrobe is a staple item for any baby budget since they grow out of clothes so quickly.

We should plan to spend approximately $60 on baby clothing each month for the first twelve months, but don’t shy away from thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace, and new mom sales! 

2. Diapers

Any new parent will vouch for me when I tell you that babies go through A LOT of diapers during their first year. Heck, I remember specific record-breaking changes where we would go through multiple diapers at one TIME.

That said, it should be no surprise that when you’re budgeting for a baby, including your diaper bill is a must!

If you’re one of the 95% of parents who uses disposable diapers, you can expect to spend around $70 a month – that’s $840 a year!

Cloth diaper users usually spend between $800 and $ 1,000 a year if they wash the diapers themselves. For those that send them out to a laundry service, the cost is usually over $2,500

3. Doctor’s Appointments

During the first year of an infant’s life, they’ll usually have at least seven well visits with their pediatrician. The standard out-of-pocket fee for these appointments is $100 each. With insurance coverage, these visits will likely be free or only require a minimal co-pay. 

Immunizations are also necessary and cost approximately $600.

If you don’t have insurance, the total charge will be around $1,300 for medical visits and vaccines during baby’s first year. 

Again, though, insurance will help lower these fees. Since childbirth IS considered a qualifying life event, you’ll have the chance to get insurance for your little one after they’re born. 

4. Formula or Nursing Supplies

When budgeting for a newborn, we might think breastfeeding is the cheaper option. Some of us might even think it’s free. It might surprise you to learn, though, you’ll be paying a significant amount of money whether you choose to formula-feed or nurse.

At a bare minimum, you can expect to pay $800 on formula during baby’s first year. The average, however, is closer to $1,100. If you choose a more costly formula, your annual spending could reach up to $2,500.  

Since most of us start producing breastmilk soon after birth, you might wonder why you’ll have to pay anything to nurse your little one. There are actually several fees you can attribute to breastfeeding, such as:

The average amount spent on breastfeeding necessities like these is around $950 during the first year. 

5. Child Care Costs

One of the steepest expenses new parents face is child care. If your little one attends a center-based daycare program, you will likely pay around $1,230. The monthly fee for family-run child care centers is less but still costs approximately $800

A light grey wall is in the background. A pregnant woman with a black and white striped shirt has her right hand on her stomach and is holding a pink piggy bank in her left hand.
Having your first child is a fantastic experience, but it’s also costly. Find out everything you need to know about successfully budgeting for baby.

Budgeting for a New Baby: 7 Tips You Need to Know

In 2015, the Consumer Expenditures Survey released information showing that parents pay approximately $12,980 annually for each of our children. Since then, these numbers have likely increased significantly – especially if you consider current inflation prices!

As if this number wasn’t shocking enough, when you’re budgeting for a baby, the number ranges between $20,000 and $ 50,000 during their first year.

These are astounding numbers to reconcile with any annual budget. While money shouldn’t be a factor in any individual or couple’s decision to grow a family, there’s no denying it plays a significant role in our choices as hopeful parents.

You’ll be happy to hear that there are tips and tricks you can implement to make your baby budget process less stressful and more manageable!

1. Start Saving Before You’re Ready to Have a Baby

If you and your partner know a baby is in your future, why not make saving for that next chapter one of your financial priorities if you are able to?

Using some of the numbers in this article, you can map out a basic budget for your baby’s first year. Some websites even offer a convenient baby cost calculator to help you break down your monthly and annual cost estimates. 

2. Make the Most of Baby Registry Must-Haves

While you’re on the hunt for cute baby shower ideas, make sure that planning your registry is at the top of your priority list. 

You can’t expect your family and friends to buy everything on your list, but often baby showers are an excellent way for soon-to-be parents to receive new baby must-haves, such as cribs, strollers, car seats, and more.

What if you don’t feel comfortable asking for pricier items?

Many people will plan diaper-only showers where guests bring diapers and wipes instead of traditional gifts. 

Just make sure to fill out your baby registry accordingly, so guests will know what types of things you want and need.

3. Buy Things in Bulk

Did we mention you need A LOT of diapers and wipes? Why not utilize your membership to local bulk shopping stores like Sam’s Club or Costco to get the most bang for your buck? You can expect to receive better prices when you buy in large quantities.

Don’t have a membership to one of these stores? Why not put one on your baby registry?

4. Don’t Forget About Borrowing

When my sister-in-law and I were having our babies, we made it a habit to always ask one another to borrow things before we went out and made big purchases.

This won’t work for everything, but if you need a particular item that you won’t be using all the time, borrowing is a great money-saving trick. It also works when friends and family have items they’ve outgrown and won’t need for a while. 

5. Get Thrifty By Shopping Second-Hand

In my family, we’re big believers in shopping used. Check out your local second-hand shops, consignment shops, and Facebook Marketplace before buying brand-new items. You’ll be amazed by what you can find. 

Seasonal events, like Rhea Lana, are also fantastic for thrifting baby gear. 

Hand-me-downs are another great way to save extra on things like baby clothes and toys.

6. Look for Coupons & Savings Apps

Whether you’re clipping paper coupons out of the Sunday paper or digital ones from your phone, plenty of options are available to help you save a few bucks here and there.

In today’s smartphone era, there are also several trusted savings apps that budget-friendly parents love, including:

7. Focus On What You Really Need

There are a million different baby registry checklists online, but here’s the thing – most of them are chock full of crap you’ll never use.

When you’re budgeting for a new baby, focus on items you’ll want to have around. Put your mom guilt away and ignore the bougie mommy communities who tell you your baby needs things like sterling silver rattles and high-end crib shoes.

Keep your baby budget practical, and you’ll go far. 

The Best Tip of All – Try Not to Stress About Budgeting for Baby During the First Year

Yes, babies need a lot of stuff. Sure, your little one’s first year might be expensive. Here’s the thing, though, try not to let financial worries get in the way of the most important thing of all – your baby. 

Moments with infants are fleeting. Why let money worries consume every beautiful second and get in the way of your experiences?

The best thing you can do is plan well, strategize, and utilize our tips and tricks to help ease the monetary burdens of parenthood. Your baby will only be this little once – make sure not to miss it!

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Have you given much thought to budgeting for baby? If you’re already a parent, what were your baby budget experiences like in the past?


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