Your baby may be priceless to you, but raising your little one will likely put a healthy dent in your bank account. Not that you’d trade your littlest family member for a boatload of cash, but knowing what to expect financially can put you in the right frame of mind to pay Junior’s way to adulthood. Where you live, the size of your household and your income all influence how much you’ll spend to raise your baby.
From Infant to Adulthood
The United States Department of Agriculture reports that a baby born in 2010 will cost $226,920 by the time it reaches adulthood. This is the amount for a middle-income family, which the Department of Agriculture defines as a two-parent family earning between $57,600 and $99,730. Families that earn less than $57,600 a year will spend about $163,440 raising their child, while families that earn more than $99,730 will spend $377,040.
The annual cost of raising your baby isn’t equal over the little boy or girl’s childhood. Infants are relatively inexpensive: a survey by the parenting website Baby Center in 2011 found the cost of a child’s first year was about $10,000, while NPR’s Planet Money show calculated first-year expenses as less than $12,000. Infants don’t eat much, require schooling (though they may require child care) or need expensive clothing. As children grow, so do their expenses, so that teenagers cost more than $13,000 a year to raise.
Cost Break Down
Housing accounts for 31 percent of the child-raising costs in the Department of Agriculture figures. If you purchase a larger house to accommodate a child, your costs will wise. That's another reason infants aren’t as expensive, since they don’t take up much room or require a lot of extra space. Child care and education account for the next biggest chunk of cash, followed by food and clothing. Full-time child care adds to the cost of raising your baby. If you opt for private instead of public schools, the cost climbs further. Choosing formula instead of breastfeeding in the baby’s first months of life also adds to the cost of raising your baby.
It costs more to raise a child in the urban Northeast, with the urban West and urban Midwest the next most expensive places to bring up baby. If you want to save the most money on child-rearing, move to a rural location or the urban South. Your first child is the most expensive; each subsequent child costs less to raise. That is because you can take advantage of hand-me-downs, shared bedrooms and toys and child-care discounts. A second child costs 25 percent less than the first, and a third child is 22 percent less.
Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University.