The Real Costs of Having a Baby
Bringing Baby Home: What to Expect Financially
Depending on the birthing method chosen and any complications that arise during the course of pregnancy, the cost of prenatal care and delivery can range between $5,000 and $10,000. Health insurance typically covers a large percentage of this cost. For most new parents, however, the real costs of having a baby encompass far more than this initial medical expense. Parents-to-be should plan for a number of other expenditures that may be required after delivery; these added costs can have a significant impact on finances during the baby’s first few years of life.
Child care arrangements
One of the biggest expenses working parents will face, child care costs vary widely depending on the location, facilities, the type of care offered, and the qualifications of the care giver. Child care is one area in which parents should not try to cut costs. The right child care provider can make a significant difference in the baby’s socialization and mental growth. A clean, safe environment and a dedicated child care provider can help to lay the groundwork for the baby’s future educational success by stimulating his or her imagination and providing enrichment activities designed to suit the child’s particular needs and interests.
For mothers who cannot breastfeed or who must supplement their breast milk with commercially available products, baby formula can constitute a significant expense. At peak consumption times, babies can consume as much as $150 worth of formula in a given month; this can create financial difficulties for parents who are unprepared for this additional expense. Breastfeeding as much as possible not only offers additional protection and health benefits for the baby, but can help parents save money as well. Parents are cautioned against attempting to make their own homemade baby formula; this can lead to serious nutritional problems and may result in obesity, malnutrition, or both.
Diapers and baby wipes
Disposable diapers are one of the major expenses parents face during the first two years of their baby’s life. Bargain brands are available at lower cost, but may not provide the fit, comfort, or style that parents expect and want for their babies. Some environmentally conscious parents choose to use a cloth diaper service rather than disposable products. While this can reduce the amount of trash that ends up in a landfill, it typically does not reduce the cost of diapers significantly if at all.
Car seats, crib, swings and other necessities
Providing the baby with a safe, secure place to sleep, sit and play can prove expensive for new parents. Most state laws require that babies leave the hospital in an approved car seat; this alone can cost as much as $100. Additionally, a well-constructed crib offers a safe environment for baby to play and sleep; prices range from around $50 for a very simple crib to over $500 for an elaborate nursery set. Changing tables and bottles for feeding the baby can also cost a considerable amount of money.
The costs associated with raising an infant can be overwhelming for some new parents. By planning carefully and taking these additional expenses into consideration during the budgeting process, however, most couples can manage their finances and balance the responsibilities of work and parenting effectively during the baby’s crucial first years.