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Are you planning to have a baby or expecting a baby soon? Knowing the REAL cost of having a baby is going to help prepare you financially and also allow you to plan your finances properly.
First of all, I have been wanting to write this topic for a very long time because having gone through it myself makes me qualified to share my first hand experience.
Cover your ears now because I cannot help but say this at the top of my lungs, “Having a baby is bloody expensive!!!”
Okay, I’ve said it.
Now, let me back up my claim with facts and numbers.
What I am going to do now is to go through all the costs that you have to pay from the day that you found out you are expecting a baby to the day your child is going to college.
Yes, you will be paying a lot of money even before your baby is born.
Before your baby is born, there will be a lot of prenatal checkups.
Here’s the recommended schedule of prenatal visits for a healthy pregnancy:
- Weeks 4 to 28: 1 prenatal visit a month
- Weeks 28 to 36: 1 prenatal visit every 2 weeks
- Weeks 36 to 40: 1 prenatal visit every week
In total, there will be about 15 doctor visits.
There will also be lab tests and ultrasounds that you will be asked to do to make sure that your baby is healthy.
Let’s not forget about all the supplements (e.g. vitamins and folic acid) that you will need to take.
If you have a health insurance plan, do check with your insurance providers about the plan coverage and also your deductible, copay and co-insurance.
So, you will know how much you have to pay out of pocket and how much your plan can cover.
If you don’t have any health insurance, the good news is that maternity care is one of the 10 essential health care benefits that must be included in all new individual and small group health policies according to ACA guidelines.
You can apply for health insurance through the ACA insurance marketplace
Even if you are already pregnant, you can’t be denied coverage because by law they cannot refuse to cover you based on a pre-existing condition such as pregnancy.
If you are eligible, you can apply for it because they both cover prenatal and childbirth costs.
Before your baby’s arrival, you will need to make sure you have a lot of things in place already.
Here is just a list of all the essential items:
- Baby crib
- Mattress & mattress cover
- Newborn clothes (mittens, overalls, swaddles, etc)
- Diaper changing station with diaper changing mat
- Milk bottles
- Milk powder
- Milk bottle brush & washing liquid
- Breast pump
- Breast milk storage cups or bags
- Newborn Diapers
- Wet tissues
- Baby carrier
- Baby nail cutter
- Baby bathtub
- Baby towel
- Diaper cream
And some of these items mentioned above are consumables.
That means you have to keep buying it once it’s finished.
Here is a list of the non-essential items:
Baby Room & Baby Room Renovation
If you want to save money, decorating your baby’s room isn’t really essential.
Even a baby room might not be necessary for the first few months after your baby is born because you can put your baby’s crib in your bedroom right next to your bed. (That’s what I did)
Your baby is not going to walk in another 7 to 8 months.
So, newborn shoes are a complete waste of time.
By the way, shoes are NOT necessarily good for babies.
According to research, going barefoot is actually good because it allows for optimal foot development and also improves motor development
Your baby will outgrow all newborn-sized clothes in just a couple of weeks.
So, it’s best to just get clothes that fit 0-3 month old babies.
If you can ask your friends and family for hand-me-downs, that’s even better.
Baby Blankets, Baby Pillow & Crib Bumpers
Actually, it’s recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that the baby crib should be free of blankets, pillows, toys, crib bumpers and other items until baby is 12 months old because these can become a suffocation hazard and increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Remember that your baby cannot turn or roll until maybe 6 to 8 months old.
So, it’s best NOT to put anything unneccessary inside the baby crib.
For me, mattress and mattress cover is all I have for my son’s baby crib.
I didn’t buy a bassinet at all for my boy.
For me, baby crib is more than enough and your baby can use the baby crib until he or she is at least 2 years old.
Another reason why I advise against buying a bassinet is that your baby is going to outgrow it very quickly.
So, it’s really not worth.
Baby Food Maker
This is one of the BIGGEST spending mistakes that I have ever made.
I bought this baby food maker to steam and blend baby food for my son.
Why do I feel it’s a mistake?
First of all, I only got to use it for a few months.
Second, it’s such a pain to clean and wash it after use.
Now when I think back, I could have saved a lot of money by just using a normal steamer or maybe just a pot to make baby food.
Childbirth is going to be a big medical expense if you don’t have a health insurance plan with childbirth coverage.
Depending on what kind of delivery you will have and whether there will be complications during delivery, the cost will vary.
Below is a graph that shows the median amount of hospital charges for childbirth.
For a normal vaginal birth without complications, you could be looking at a hospital bill that is more than $10,000.
If you are going to have a Cesarean birth with complications, the bill could easily go up to $30,000 or more.
So, how much do you actually pay even with a health insurance that covers childbirth?
According to a new study in Health Affairs, the average new mother with insurance will pay more than $4,500 for her labor and delivery.
The actual amount you pay will depend on your hospital bill and your policy plan.
One way to lower your childbirth costs is to go through your hospital bill line by line to make sure that there is no billing error.
Don’t be afraid to clarify your hospital charges with the hospital staff.
Here are the common charges that hospitals are going to bill you:
- Hospital charges for mother( e.g. ward, facility such as delivery room or operating room, professional services, anaesthesia)
- Hospital charges for baby (e.g. facility fees, nursery care, professional services such as the standard newborn baby checks like hearing, eyesight, counting fingers and toes)
- Routine obstetric care by your doctor
- Laboratory tests
- Vaccines, other preventive
If you don’t have health insurance, what you can do to lower your hospital costs is to negotiate with your hospital and ask for discounted rate for cash payment.
Infant & Toddler Stage
Once you have taken your baby home from hospital, your journey has only just started.
If you are going to breastfeed your child, it is not only good for your child’s health but it will also help you save a lot of money on newborn milk power which is the most expensive of all the milk power.
You will also be using a lot of diapers and wet tissues because your baby pees and poops at least 5 to 6 times a day.
If you are on maternity leave, you will need to search for infant care for your baby.
According to a study, the national average cost of childcare is between $9,000 and $9,600 per year.
What is more shocking is that, in some states, center-based infant care costs more than college tuition in a public school.
For example, in California, a center-based infant care costs about $16,000 a year while the yearly college tuition is about $9,600.
So, if you are a working mom, you can check out some of the much cheaper childcare alternatives here.
With high child care costs, it might be good to compare and see whether quitting your job and staying at home to care for your baby makes financial sense.
Not to mention, there will also be routine health checkups scheduled with your baby’s pediatrian to make sure that your baby is healthy.
You can find a doctor visits checklist here.
For my son, we took him to see his pediatrian a few days after birth because his jaundice was quite bad.
When he was one week old, we had to rush him to hospital because his temperature was slightly more than 37.5 celsius. (And based on all the stuff that I’ve read online about newborn care, I knew that it’s very bad for newborn to have fever (even slight fever))
Back then, one of our family members was actually down with cold and was staying together with us.
Being a paranoid mom, I called his pediatrian and had him come down to check on my son.
His recommendation was to observe him first for one night because if we admit him now to NICU but he is not sick, he will be put together with all the other babies who are seriously ill and risk falling sick.
Fortunately, it was a false alarm.
There was another time where I was told by the doctor that he could hear hear murmurs in my son on more than one occasion.
So, we had to schedule a visit with a pediatric cardiologist to examine my son to rule out potential heart problems.
Thank God, the results were good.
Although it costs a lot of money to take him to see various doctors, the mental stress and worry is definitely worse.
When your kid reaches two to two and half years old, it’s time to look for good pre-schools.
Is it necessary?
Personally, I think it is good to put my son in preschool.
It’s definitely helpful because it helps your child develop good social skills and also better prepares your child for formal school education with its classroom activities and well-designed curriculums.
So, how much does it cost to send your child to preschool?
Let’s look at some numbers.
Some really good private preschools’ tuition fees can go up to $22,000 a year. That does not even include other miscellaneous fees such as uniform and school trips.
However, there are much cheaper alternatives such as home-based preschool or joy school.
The cost varies, depending on where you live and the quality of the preschool.
The average cost can go from $4,460 to $13,158 per year, according to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA).
If private preschool is not an option for you, here’s the good news.
More and more states are providing public funded preschools.
There is also a big push for universal pre-k across the whole country.
For example, in Washington, D.C., 90% of 4-year-olds and 70% of 3-year-olds attend a full-day preschool program for free, according to the Center for American Progress.
Currently, Florida, Georgia, and Oklahoma are the only states that offer Universal Pre-K for all 4-year-old children.
So, make sure that you check whether it is available in your city.
Universal Pre-K in the United States
School Age (Kindergarden, Primary School, Middle School & High School)
In United States, you don’t have to pay any tuition to attend public schools from kindergarden all the way to high school.
Although there is no tuition fee, you still have to pay other school-related expenses such as school supplies, school trips, enrichment programs and uniforms.
But if you choose to go to private schools, the tuition fees can be quite high.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of private primary school is about $7,770 a year. For private high school, it can cost up to $13,030 a year.
If your kid is going to attend private school from kindergarden all the way to high school, you could be looking at a total cost of about $132,000 in tuition fees for 12 years of formal education.
Bear in mind that you have not factored in all the living expenses such as food, transport, clothing and entertainment.
So, the decision of whether you want to send your kid to public school or private school can affect your finances in a big way.
The cost of having a baby is about $233,610 excluding college tuition, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you break it down, that is about $1,000 per month for 18 years before your kid goes to college. I hope that by getting an accurate financial picture of having a baby, you can start to plan your finances properly and prepare yourself financially.