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The Cost Of Raising A Baby

Published: November 29, 2008
Dear TeenHealthFX,
Could you estimate for me how much money it would cost to raise a baby for a year? I'm not pregnant, (I'm 16) but I do have friends/classmates who are, and I was just curious. Certainly you would raise the baby for much longer than a year, but I just wanted to know how much it would cost yearly.
Signed: The Cost Of Raising A Baby

Dear The Cost Of Raising A Baby,

 

TeenHealthFX thinks this is a wonderful question because money is a very important consideration when it comes to family planning. Teens who want to have babies often get all wrapped up in how they think it will feel to spend time with their baby, easily losing sight of all the practical aspects, such as the financial responsibilities. It is hard enough for two working parents with college educations to bear the expenses and deal with the stress of supporting a family, let alone a teen who will have limited job opportunities and lower incomes.

 

Below we have listed information on the cost of raising in the first year, the cost of raising a child from birth until age 17, and a break-down of where the money goes. If you have friends who are pregnant and you think this information could be useful to them – print out a copy of this question and answer or have them look at this question/answer on the website.

 

 

Cost of Raising a Baby in the First Year:

 

To answer your specific question, the financial burden of having a baby is considerable, with the cost of raising a baby estimated to be $11,000 in the first year alone. That breaks down to approximately $900 a month in extra expenditures.

 

Cost of Raising a Baby From Birth Until Age 17:

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) releases a yearly report called “Expenditures on Children by Families,” with the report dividing the total costs of raising a child from birth until age 17 based on family income levels.

 

  • Families with a before-tax income of less than $45,800 spent an average of $148,300 on their children from birth until age 17. That breaks down to about $8,700 per year ($725 a month).
  • Families with an income between $45,800 and $77,000 averaged a total of $204,060. That breaks down to about $12,000 per year ($1,000 a month).
  • Families earning more than $77,100 averaged a total of $298,680. That breaks down to about $17,500 per year ($1458 a month).

 

Where Does The Money Go?

 

Housing:

Teen parents may choose to live outside of their parents’ home or may be told by their parents they cannot live at home if they choose to have a baby. Either way, there is then the huge expense of housing. Teens who continue to live at home with their babies will save money on housing (unless they are asked to pay rent to their parents). While this may ease the financial burden, having a new baby in the house may create problems when it comes to family dynamics. For example, the teen may feel like their parents take charge too much of the baby, creating friction between the parent and the teen.  

 

Food:

During the early months, one large expense can be formula. Some people choose not to breast-feed for their own personal reasons. Some plan on breast-feeding, but when the time comes find that they are unable to do so because of low milk production or difficulty maintaining a regular schedule of nursing and/or pumping. Whether this expense was planned or a surprise, either way it is considerable.

 

Then there is the cost of baby food, and finally an increased grocery bill once the child has moved on from baby food. Many newer parents find their grocery bills go up, not only because they have another mouth to feed, but because they are buying more things like fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure the child has a balanced diet.

 

Healthcare:

If a teen has health coverage through her parents, that health coverage will most likely pay the costs of prenatal care and the delivery. However, their parents’ health insurance will not cover their baby’s medical care. A new baby will generally go to the doctors at 6 days, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 18 months, 24 months and then yearly for well-visits. These visits are important to ensure that the baby is developing in a physically healthy way, as well as to ensure the baby has all of his/her needed vaccines. On top of well-visits, there will be many times that the child will have to go to the doctor’s when he/she is ill. A teen parent will either have to find a full-time job that gives them their own health benefits, pay for their own private insurance, apply for insurance through the state that helps those with low incomes and minimal or no insurance, or pay out-of-pocket.  

 

If a teen does not have their own health insurance for themselves, it is important to know that The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that the average pregnant woman incurred costs of $7,600 for prenatal care and hospital fees. In addition, 23% of women were found to use prescription drugs during their pregnancies, with an average cost of $640. Costs were higher for women with any kind of complications during pregnancy.

 

Daycare:

For teens going to school or working, there is the cost of daycare, which can range between $3,000 and $15,000 a year. Even if the child is not in daycare, there may be times when a baby-sitter is needed and must be paid to stay with the child.

 

Transportation:

Whether driving, taking the subway, or riding the bus, there will be increased transportation costs to get the baby to things like daycare and doctors visits.

 

Furniture and Gear:

This can be a tremendous expense, especially before the baby is born in terms of ensuring that the baby has everything he/she needs. Furniture and gear might include: crib, crib mattress, crib mattress pads and sheets, changing table, car seat, high chair, stroller, bath towels, crib/receiving blankets; digital thermometer, humidifier, baby monitor, stair gates, baby bathtubs, nursing bras/pads, breast pumps if you work or go to school, pacifiers, bottles, “sippy” cups, baby utensils, bibs, diapers, wipes, and more.

 

Clothing:

Children, babies in particular, will grow out of clothing quickly and it often feels to parents like they are buying clothes non-stop to keep up with their growing child. Another consideration is that it is important for physical growth that children wear well-made shoes. Shoes can be very expensive, and, again, are something children go through quickly.

 

Education:

Many public schools do not offer pre-school programs, and a parent wanting their child in pre-school will have to pay for that out-of-pocket. In addition, parents living in certain areas of the country may have concerns about sending their child to the public schools for a variety of reasons, and will choose to pay for private school.

 

Finally, there is the expense of college. Today, the national average cost of tuition and fees (not including room and board) at a public four-year college is $5,800 a year. To attend a private four-year college, the national average cost of tuition and fees has risen to an astonishing $22,200 a year. As a result, students and their families are going into debt to finance their education. The average debt of college graduates (not counting parental debt) has climbed to $19,200.

 

Miscellaneous:

Then there are all those extras that can add up very quickly: Life insurance for the parent to ensure the child is taken care of financially in the event something happens to the parent; birthday parties and gifts for the child; toys; eating out; family trips; medication; toiletries; lunch money; money for class trips; and more.

 

Keeping down expenses:

There are many ways to keep down expenses, such as getting pass-down furniture and clothing – but it important to think about whether you will truly feel okay keeping expenses to a bare minimum and making certain sacrifices, and whether making those sacrifices will impact your child in any negative way. For example, will you be okay using only pass-down clothing and not buying any yourself? Will you be okay sending your child to your local public school because private may not be an option financially, and will this impact your child in any negative way socially or academically? Will you mind not having your child in extra-curricular music or art classes? Will you be okay not having much time to yourself because you cannot afford a sitter? How will you feel about your long-term financial situation if having a baby means quitting school and settling for a lower-paying job then if you completed your education?

 

 

Resources:

 

The following links provide parents-to-be (or those considering parenthood) with tools to calculate the costs of raising a child depending on various personal factors (such as income, area where you live, education plans for the child and more).

 

http://cf.consumerreports.org/cro/calc/childcost/form.cfm

http://www.teenageparent.org/english/costofbaby2B.html

 

If you are teen and you know you are not ready for these types of responsibilities, abstain from having sex or use a condom and back-up method of birth control (like the pill) each time you have sex. If you are a teen who is considering becoming a parent, think about all the things that go into parenthood – including the financial responsibility – and consider whether you are truly ready to be a parent. If you are currently pregnant and have concerns about how you will be able to manage financially, speak to a trusted adult as soon as possible about your concerns. You could speak with your parents, an extended family member, neighbor, school counselor, teacher, or your doctor. They can provide you with support and guidance and link you up with helpful resources for teen mothers that are in your area.  

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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