how much does it cost to raise a baby

Ever since getting pregnant, this personal finance blogger has wanted to find out how much does it cost to raise a baby? She's curated a list of what other personal finance bloggers have paid.

Ever since finding out our blessed news, I’ve been super-curious about the finances behind having a baby (big surprise there, eh?).


  • What will our hospital bill for a “normal” delivery look like? What would it look like for a c-section (hopefully that won’t happen)?
  • Does the global billing from our OB-GYN include part of the hospital costs? What doesn’t it include?
  • Is it true what I’ve read, that hospitals charge for all of the baby supplies they use during our stay (i.e. diapers, wipes, pacifiers…), and so I should pack my own to save money?
  • What are the things I really need to add to our baby registry versus the things that other parents thought-they’d-need-but-never-used?

In true Amanda-fashion, I set out to scour the interwebs for specific information from others on how much these things have cost them (of course knowing full-well that other people's’ info may not completely apply to our situation due to location/insurance/other differences).

Once again, my financial blogger colleagues did not let me down. They’ve been writing about this topic for years, and were eager to share their juiciest, money-breakdown posts with me. And I’m now sharing them with you!

How much does it cost to raise a baby? The Lowdown from Other Parents

  1. Mrs. Money Mustache: What Do Newborn Babies Really Need?: Mrs. Money Mustache offers up an interesting, Zero Dollar Baby Challenge. “[If] you do need to make a few purchases for an upcoming baby, try getting it from friends and from various used sources. And then sell some extra stuff you have lying around your house for the same amount of money. Voila!  Zero dollar baby.” Her main points are that everyone around you will lavish you with wonderful, used items (and so far, this has been the case with us — we’ve been SO blessed with a full maternity clothes wardrobe, a crib, baby clothes, baby carriers like the Moby Wrap, etc. So far I’ve only purchased a maternity bathing suit, a belly band, lots of hangers, and a few nursery decorations!).
  2. How I Raised My Baby for the Cost of a Cup of Coffee Per Day: After disbelieving her brother that a baby could be raised on the cost of a cup of coffee per day, this lady kept a tally of the cost of raising her baby for the first year. The total came to $641, which breaks down to $52.41/month and just $1.75/day. This included everything, like diapers, baby food, clothes, presents, toiletries, official documents, medicine, and even her birthday party expenses. I love her idea — “I would budget $100 per month for baby and at the end of the month put what is left in a savings account for her. It’s been adding up.”
  3. Our Kid Doesn’t Cost that Much (So Far…): After finding out, from CNN’s estimator, that it would cost a whopping $255,237 over 18 years to raise RB40 Jr., Mr. Retireby40 decided to write a post on what he and the Mrs. have actually spent over the last three years. While his numbers are mighty impressive, it is interesting to note that they did pay for a year’s worth of daycare at $1,250/month (and $100 just to put their names down on a waiting list!) before Mr. RB40 quit his day job to pursue blogging, various income streams, and being a Stay-at-Home-Dad full-time. They now spend $300/month for 2 days/week of preschool. All in all, he estimates they spend $5,000/year or $417/month on their little one.
  4. The Only 21 Things Our Newborn Kids Have Ever Really Needed: Instead of using the checklist places like Babies ‘R Us conveniently give out to their new parents registering for a baby for the first time (it’s quite extensive, I can assure you), check out this guy’s post for items he finds absolutely essential (hint: several of them, money can’t buy!).
  5. Financial Independence and the Cost of Raising a Family: Now that The Military Guide Guy just finished, “emptying our 529 account with the final payment for our daughter’s college room & board”, he thought it would be a great time to talk about how much it cost to raise his child (past tense). “According to the government’s agricultural experts, my spouse and I should have spent at least $300K raising our little bundle of joy. If we’d elected to stay childless and invest that $16,700 per year in the S&P500 between 1992 and 2010, then we’d have a cool $543K in our Fidelity account.” He’s been tracking their spending on their daughter since 1986 (incredible information!), and can confidently say he’s spent just under $156,000 (that includes college expenses).
  6. The Grand Finale (29 Months) of the Baby $$$ Tracker: The Military Guide Guy is not the only one who decided to track every cent spent as part of a cool money experiment. J. Money from Budgets are Sexy made it all the way to 29 months. His total cost for baby J. Money up to that point? $28,185.49.
  7. Having Kids Vs. Retiring Early: Darrow explains how he actually reached financial independence sooner because he had a son. Throughout the article, he shares specific costs involved which he also has tracked for 20 years, including $32,000 for “personal” expenses, an estimated $72,000 for the child’s cost of food, and $153,000 in private school costs after having moved to Tennessee where they found the public schools inadequate.
  8. Preparing for Unpaid Maternity Leave: Rebecca writes this post right before her second child is due. “We waited four years to add to our family because our finances couldn’t bear the burden of two children in daycare or one of us staying home — it’s the cold reality of $200,000 in student loans.” She planned on taking a two-month maternity leave (she’s self-employed like me, so can choose), and works through how much they’ll need to save up in order to afford this ($500 per month, plus the $1,550 in one-time expenses).

As you can see, the costs to raise a child vary significantly based on lots of things, such as income, personal preferences, needs of the child, schooling, location within the US, and the child’s age (it’ll be interesting to re-compare years later where RB40 Jr. and J. Money’s little one stack up against the articles where the parents are ‘finished’ parenting).

I hope this has helped you as much as it’s helped me! It’ll be interesting to see how we fare with baby expenses compared with others (sounds like a good follow-up post to me).

2 replies
  1. Bill in Houston
    Bill in Houston says:

    What will our hospital bill for a “normal” delivery look like?

    That’s a good question. Neither of our deliveries were 100% normal. Back in 2012, Bun got an infection and had rapid breathing, so he spent his first two days in the NICU. This year, Biscuit had to be induced two weeks early because she wasn’t growing.

    So we had the added costs of a NICU the first time, and the drugs used to induce labor (pitocin and other meds) the second time. Thanks to our insurance and my wife pre-paying her OBGYN, our out of pocket expenses post-hospital expenses were about $1200 this time. I think she paid her OB-GYN a similar amount.

    One thing that bothers me about our hospital system (Memorial Hermann) is that they do NOT create a single account for you and have expenses added. Instead you are billed separately by every Tom, Dick, and Harry who stopped by your room to say “Good morning.” This makes it hard to keep up sometimes. A long itemized list also makes it easier for you to know how you’re being charged, and allows you to contest anything that doesn’t look right. I’m convinced Memorial Hermann bills this way to overwhelm you so you’ll just throw up your hands and say, “Fine, I’ll pay!”

    • Amanda L Grossman
      Amanda L Grossman says:

      YES–I find it very annoying how we are getting bills left and right from all different departments/doctors/at the hospital where we delivered (it wasn’t Memorial Hermann either). I would MUCH rather get one bill with an itemized list.

      Thanks for sharing your experience! I’m so glad that both of your babies turned out healthy:).


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