How Much Money Should Couples Have Saved for a Baby?

As you probably know, the cost of raising a child to the age of 18 these days is estimated at more than a quarter of a million dollars (ouch!) and that’s not even including college. But you can’t assume that the cost for your baby’s first year of life will be 1/18th of that number since the price to support your children will actually increase over the years. So how can you figure out what you should expect to pay in the first year, just to give you an idea of how much money you’ll want to save up in preparation for starting a family? Here are just a few of the costs you’re bound to face, not only during pregnancy and labor, but in order to care for your infant during the first year of life.

For starters, there are going to be medical bills, both pre- and post-natal, not to mention the actual birth. If you have good insurance, many of your medical costs will be covered aside from your co-pay and deductible, but you’ll certainly want to ask in advance if maternity costs are included in your policy (in some cases you may have to beef up your insurance to cover these costs). If you don’t have insurance, your costs could be much higher. For example, the average cost for prenatal care alone is roughly $2K. And once you go into labor, expect to pay nearly $10,000 for a vaginal birth and over $15,000 for a Cesarean. This is supposing you don’t run into any complications along the way. And once your baby is born you’ll have no shortage of doctor visits in the first year for basics like immunizations and check-ups, as well as any illnesses that might occur. The price tag for the minimum recommended seven visits in the first year, including the fee for visiting the office along with immunizations, could come in at over $1,000 if you don’t have insurance. Ouch.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll also have to outfit a nursery with furnishings and accessories, buy baby clothes in four different sizes, purchase plenty of diapers, and spring for essentials like bathing supplies and toiletries, baby first aid, bottles, pacifiers, formula, food, bibs, a high chair, a car seat, a stroller, a carrier, burping towels, and the best nursing pillow, just for example. Then there are plenty of extras like toys and books, child-proofing supplies, and more. And these small items could add up to thousands of dollars over the course of a year. Diapers alone will set you back by roughly a grand.

And then there is the cost of daycare, which could be significant (you’re looking at a median price of about $800-$1,000 per month for this service). Even if one parent opts to stay home for the first year (or longer) in order to raise baby, you have to factor the lost income into your overall equation. In short, you’re looking at approximately $20,000-$30,000 in expense, minimum from the time you find out you’re in the family way through your baby’s first birthday (without applicable insurance to cover some of the medical costs). So if you want to prepare adequately to bring a child into the world, you might want to hold off on getting a new car or putting a down payment on a house.

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