It’s a good thing babies are so cute. It distracts parents from thinking about just how expensive they can be. But when you do consider the cost involved in just one year of raising an infant, it can make you anxious. About 70 percent of new moms worry about money after having a baby, according to a 2007 survey of 3,000 women conducted by the folks at BabyCenter. Another figure from the year 2007 estimated that you could easily spend $10,000 in your baby’s first year, according to BabyCenter. Other estimates figure that you could spend close to $14,000 in just one year for a baby.
All babies need food, diapers and clothes. If you plan to transport the baby by car, you need a car seat. A stroller is also helpful. These expenses can vary depending on decisions you make. Breastfeeding costs less than buying formula, and formula varies based on the type you buy. Store-brand formula typically is the least expensive. A year’s supply of brand-name powdered formula costs about $1,400. It costs the most to buy brand-name ready-to-feed formula. You would need to buy plenty of bottles, too. Jarred baby food is another expense. Disposable brand-name diapers can run you about $750 to $1,000 in the first year. Cloth diapers are an option, but the constant laundering they require increases your water bill.
New parents can be tempted to overspend on clothes because your baby looks even cuter in the latest baby styles. Even if you are conservative, you will spend money on flame-resistant sleepwear, onesies -- T-shirts that snap under the diaper -- pants, tops, jackets, hats, mittens and socks. Don’t forget the baby blankets and burp towels that you will also need. Every baby needs toys. You can choose from bouncers and jumpers, learning toys, musical toys, play stations, bath toys, plush toys and crib toys. Depending on how extravagant you go, add another $800.
Your baby needs a safe place to sleep, so you’ll need a crib and bedding to go in the crib such as crib sheets and a bumper pad. Another helpful nursery item is a changing table. Besides the thousands of diaper changes that will take place there, you can also sit the baby on it when you dry her after a bath, brush her hair, clip her nails and many other care duties. Babies need their laundry washed in milder detergent than you probably use for yourself, so a hamper used to separate your baby’s dirty clothes from yours comes in handy. Two other furniture pieces you might buy for the nursery are a nightstand to store feeding items and to place a nursery lamp and a rocking chair.
Most parents fare better financially when both Mom and Dad work and put one baby in child care, but the scale tips the other way when you add a second baby. Putting two children in licensed child care costs more than the median annual rent payments, reported CNNMoney, based on a report from the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies. The average cost for child care at a day care center for one year is about $11,000, but prices vary greatly depending on where you live. Home day care costs an average of almost $8,000 a year, again varying based on location.
Even if you have health insurance, you typically have a co-pay. In addition, your insurance premium will probably go up when you add a child to your plan. Some child immunization vaccines are not covered by insurance, and they can cost $200 a shot, according to BabyCenter. Infants younger than 3 months need to see a doctor for any sign of illness, including a common cold. After 3 months, take your baby to a doctor if he has a fever or is having difficulty breathing. An ear infection is another common infant ailment that requires a trip to the doctor.
Many parents want to move to make room for the new addition, which can be quite expensive. According to BabyCenter, 35 percent of moms who took the survey planned to or did move. Whether you move or not, expect your utility costs to skyrocket. You will likely do more dishes and laundry, and if one of you stays home or if you have a nanny come in, expect your heating and air conditioning bills to rise. The two-door sports car you might have had will not be practical anymore, so a new car more suitable for a family might be in the picture.
- BabyCenter: By the Numbers: Key Stats From Our Moms and Money Survey
- BabyCenter: The Real Cost of Raising a Baby
- CNNMoney: The Rising Cost of Raising a Child
- Family Education: First-Year Expenses
- Creative Baby Nursery Rooms: A Nursery Checklist For New Moms
- Parenting: Dr. Sears: Guide to the Top 7 Infant Illnesses
- BabyCenter: How Much You'll Spend on Child Care
Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.