How Much Does it Cost to Have a Newborn Baby

by Mike on March 17, 2010

Recently, I was invited to a couple of baby showers. Neither had gift registries so I did my shopping at a local department store. I suffered from sticker shock when I saw the prices of these essential items. Below are pictures I took while shopping. The Good Start formula costs $22, the basic car seat costs $80, and the swing is $119. This is from a discount department store. I started to think of the recurring costs of diapers, bottles, clothes, cribs, strollers, high seats, toys etc. Not to mention the pre-natal care and other hospital expenses, lost employment wages, childcare, and additional health insurance premiums. Having a baby can really add up!

Here are some cost basic saving methods:

– Cloth diapers vs. disposable can save nearly 50% if the diapers are laundered without the use of a laundry service
– Breastfeeding eliminates the cost of formula
– Purchase items from consignment shops whenever possible (babies won’t know the difference between a new toy and a used one!)

I’m not a parent, so I’m really interested in hearing from you all.

Update: Financial Fizzle mentioned their baby financial expense tracker in the comments. These are real numbers from month to month that I thought others may want to follow.

What money saving tips have you used? When do you start planning financially for a new addition? Did you go overboard spending or did you seek out bargains?

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 stlrapper January 19, 2012 at 7:48 am

Not allowing the cost of a child deter you from having one is an irresponsible statement to make to the masses. As an advocate for children and knowing the reality of how many children in the US alone go hungry, I find that to be potentially dangerous and unrealistic advice.
When a parent is not financially prepared to raise a child, the act of rearing suffers as so much time, energy and frustration is placed into providing the basic Maslow’s needs.
It sounds as if many of you subscribing to this ridiculous statement are not paying for commercial daycare. That cost alone could be financially debilitating. If you have help with daycare such as family members or friends, be aware many people do not, nor will you necessarily always have that luxury. I have no idea why some people who have children get so invested into convincing others to do the same, to the point of spreading poor, illogical, and irresponsible advice. Everyone is different, and clearing misconceptions can be a good thing, but you should do so more responsibly and include disclaimers of your own personal circumstances that obviously won’t apply to all.

My experience and views come from seeing the long lasting negative affects on children from being brought into this world by parents who were not financially prepared. Do you need to be rich? No. But you do need to have long standing, viable means to feed, clothe, house, educate, and expand the horizons of this child through cultural activities for a minimum of 24 years (through master’s degree level education, which may not be enough by then as a bachelors often equates to a high school diploma right now), maybe longer, depending on the needs and temperament of your child which no one knows ahead of time.

2 Stephanie December 10, 2010 at 9:39 am

I do have a couple of concerns…. I am not a parent yet I am a little scared
I am 24 years old and live with my boyfriend for aprox 1 year now. we have been talking about having a baby, we really want one but I am extremely scared!
I read all of the comments above me and its says “don’t ever let the cost of having a child keep you from having a child. You’ll never be ready if that’s the case”
and that is actually one of my biggest reasons why i hold back!! I am a recent college grad and just started my new job and im scared for many reasons like getting fired not being able to give a the Necessary things for the baby (like health care, diapers wipes lotion clothes etc), also not beining able to pay the bills?
I know it might sound like an excuse but i had a lot of examples around me and it was very hard for them specially my sister.
If there is anything else you want to recommend for me please do so!!! I really need advise.
Thank you

3 newborn toys April 16, 2010 at 12:21 pm

You spend as much as you want. Most overspend. I will give you the budget amount as I used to advise new mom college students.

If you breastfeed, make your own baby food, use cloth diapers, cosleep, use a sling, and buy a new car seat, you can get by for about $1000 including health insurance ($89/mo individual policy for infant) even if you buy new clothing (save even more buying via garage sales). Add another $225 for a regular crib (not a convertable), mattress and sheets if you can’t cosleep. Baby vitamins not needed, but if you live in the north, cod liver oil costs about $6. Lightweight stroller (not a travel system) can be bought for about $90.

Cloth diapers are not an economical option if you have to use a laundromat – Target Brand diapers work fine for most.

4 Dr Dean March 20, 2010 at 10:46 am

As an OB/GYN it is amazing to me how many people conceive, with no thought what so ever on the cost of having, and raising a child.

Just as home buyers frequently forget there ongoing costs of maintenance, insurance, property taxes, and utilities.

Just as new car buyers forget the higher insurance costs of a new car.

Planning, Planning, Planning! That is the difference between successful financial households!
Great Post and reminder for all.
.-= Dr Dean´s last blog ..“Linchpin” by Godin: A Book Review by The Millionaire Nurse =-.

5 harvestwages March 20, 2010 at 5:34 am

Hey Latika,
You thought about the babies this time.
I’m not yet a parent, yet i consider your point advice. Buying from consignment shops has never been my choice, yet it saves some cash.
.-= harvestwages´s last blog ..Do you succeed when most people fail? =-.

6 Craig Ford March 19, 2010 at 3:16 pm

I’ve got three kids under four years old. We’ve done cloth diapers and yes they save a TON of money. I calculated all our annual baby costs on this post (

The thing that non-baby folks forget is that there are so many people who have already had kids and they are happy to share what they have. Between showers, gifts, and handed down clothes we didn’t hardly spend anything on our kids.

Don’t let sticker shock scare you. If your frugal you can do it for much less.
.-= Craig Ford´s last blog ..Are Your Kids More Generous Than You? =-.

7 The Rat March 18, 2010 at 11:28 pm

One of my relatives recently had a baby, and sometimes getting the baby’s room ready (crib, paint, decor) can cost a chunk of change but when I talk to parents, its one of the most exciting things to do! Visiting a baby’s room before he/she is born is interesting because there is an aura of anticipation and its nice to see people excited about that.

One of my friends held a ‘pamper party’ for all the guys while his wife had a baby shower. Sometimes gifts such as a stockpile of pampers can come in handy and last a long time and save money. Having friends and family give gifts makes a big difference in my view.

Nice post.
.-= The Rat´s last blog ..Rethinking Mutual Funds & Biting The Bullet With MERs =-.

8 PF Journey March 18, 2010 at 8:07 am

@Machelle ~ Thanks for stopping by and providing more insight! While cloth diapers may be cost effective they may not always be time effective as you demonstrated.

@Divine & Debt Free ~ Too funny!

9 Forest March 18, 2010 at 12:09 am

I’m not a parent either and have no plans to be currently. However one thing that does stop the thought coming up too often is cost…. I didn’t grow up very comfortably and could not bring a child through that if I did not have to. I want to have more than enough cash before I ever have a child…. It may mean I never do have one!
.-= Forest´s last blog ..FREE DOWNLOAD -Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin =-.

10 PF Journey March 18, 2010 at 8:13 am

A few things to keep in mind:

– Money can’t buy love, affection, and attention
– If you make more than $33K, you’re among the richest 5% in the world
– Being aware of the financial impact of a new addition gives you an advantage that others caught off guard won’t have.

I think Jason summed it up best in the first comment.

11 Divine and Debt Free March 17, 2010 at 8:19 pm

I am going to let my ignorance show for about to seconds when I saw “Ewwwwwww” to cloth diapers! After reading all the more mature comments I tried but tried to come up with something smart but just couldn’t on this one lol. Just yucky yucky yuck!

But I agree with everything else 🙂

12 Wojciech Kulicki March 17, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Breastfeeding is HUGE as you point out. We’ve also been blessed by the fact that most of our friends and family just love to buy our son new clothes, so we’ve never had to purchase any outfits for him.

Other than that, I would just like to point out that a lot of the “estimates” that are out there are either high averages, or just meant to scare people. We’ve found our recurring costs to be pretty low (for those who are curious, we publish a baby expense report monthly on the blog), and as we learn they will get even lower.

More money for the college account!!
.-= Wojciech Kulicki´s last blog ..Baby Expense Report: Month 2 =-.

13 PF Journey March 17, 2010 at 1:25 pm


That expense report is a wonderful resource for those that are looking for “real” numbers. Thanks for sharing. I added it to the article 🙂

14 Joseph | March 17, 2010 at 9:03 am

I am not a parent yet.. but on clothes diapers i beg to differ that it saves you money. Yes you buy one time and can use them over and over but what about the cost of water to wash them? what about electricity to dry them?(unless you use a cloth line during the summer or live in the tropics).
Good point Jason.. i have heard that from our pastor “don’t ever let the cost of having a child keep you from having a child. You’ll never be ready if that’s the case”
.-= Joseph |´s last blog ..Some DIY Savings Tips =-.

15 Machelle March 17, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Yeah the cloth diapers can be both an awesome thing as well as a challenge- especially for parents that work fulltime and acquire childcare (not a nanny). I found it to be a savings by purchasing diapers in bulk. There are many stores that sell them in bulk or by the case such as SAMs Club, Costco and even the manufactures if you place your orders online. I remember saving over $50 a month purchasing in bulk. It can add up quickly.

16 Lakita (PFJourney) March 17, 2010 at 9:41 am

Interesting points Joseph! Though I’d imagine the cost difference would still be in favor of disposables once you factor in the added resources for washing and drying.

17 Jason @ One Money Design March 17, 2010 at 7:46 am

Well, Lakita, you’ve stumbled onto something here that may be shock to many new parents, but it is all manageable with some planning and common sense. I have two awesome little children at home. First, don’t ever let the cost of having a child keep you from having a child. You’ll never be ready if that’s the case. Second, you hit on a few good tips such as breast feeding which saved us a lot of money in formula (can’t believe I’m writing about that). Also, just use some common sense. Don’t buy the most expensive items and definitely don’t fall into the gadget trap. Do you really need it? Ask that question and talk to some experienced parents before going crazy at Babies R Us. Probably one of the biggest expenses to make sure to watch out for is health care. I would recommend getting the best health care insurance possible while children are little. Anyway, those are a few thoughts. Now you’ve got me thinking about a post to respond to this post (we’ll see). Good stuff. Thanks for raising this for discussion.

18 Machelle March 17, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Jason, you have definitely hit on some great pointers. Especially for new parents. I like yourself am a parent of 3 awesome male children; a new college student, middle schooler and a toddler.

Needless to say, when they were in their under years, I found it best (economically) to shop in bulk. I found it to be a BIG cost savings. Although I wanted to use cloth diapers, I found it quite challenging since both of us were working parents so we purchased diapers and wipes in bulk. As as Jason mentioned previously- as for the gadgets (you really need to COUNT THE COST) not just in your wallet! Bargain shop is the way to go with the little ones because they do grow up you know so you don’t want to find yourself spending money on countless things!

Health Insurance is another one- do your research and the comparisons. Find out if HMO vs PPO is good for you especially when you have an infant that needs well baby for the first two years can be quite costly. There are deductibles and share of cost involved with PPO’s and general copays with HMO. Bottomline- do your research……and don’t perish for a lack of knowledge!

19 PFJourney March 17, 2010 at 8:15 am


You bring up a good point! Every life decision won’t make financial sense so that can’t be the determining factor. I hope you do decide to do a response post…I’m interested in hearing from other parents which is why I didn’t write much.

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