You’re having a baby! Long before your belly bump makes the news obvious, you’ll probably experience a roller coaster of emotions. You might even have that anxious feeling that leads to the question: How am I going to budget for this? To help you keep those financial fears at bay, we put together an all-inclusive list of the most common (and costly) expenses you will likely encounter when having a baby.
Ready, set . . . let’s get ready for a baby!
Figuring out the cost associated with having a baby can get pretty confusing—and it all starts before the baby even gets here! Between your prenatal checkups, baby essentials and even a new wardrobe to dress that growing belly, things can add up quickly if you’re not careful. Here are some pre-baby expenses to include in your budget before your bundle of joy even gets here.
The largest cost in prenatal care comes from doctor visits. Traditionally, pregnant women will see their doctor or midwife a few times during the first two trimesters, once a month beginning in the third trimester, and once a week in the final four weeks. Again, that depends on your health care provider and whether or not the pregnancy is considered high risk.
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If you have health insurance that covers some of your prenatal expenses, that’s great! But be sure to find out what your coverage includes and what your expected out-of-pocket contributions will be. Knowing your plan ahead of time will help you be fully prepared for any surprises that might come up.
Review your coverage or speak with your provider to get details on the following:
- Copay amount for doctor visits
- Deductible required before coinsurance kicks in
- Percentage of coinsurance coverage
- Your out-of-pocket maximum for the year
- Any additional costs incurred by going out of network
Ultrasounds and lab work
In addition to the cost of those visits, you may receive a separate bill each time you get an ultrasound. Ultrasounds are an amazing opportunity to take a peek at your little one, but they can really add up if you’re footing the bill.
Typically, insurance will cover a first trimester dating and viability scan, as well as another sonogram around 20 weeks to check on the baby’s organ development (and reveal the gender, if you choose). Anything additional may be an extra cost to you, depending on what your insurance provider covers. And of course, you might have to hit your deductible first before any coverage kicks in.
Tests, lab work and blood draws can cost a pretty penny too. Most required or standard tests should be covered by your insurance provider, but elective tests may not be. Again, this will depend on your insurance and deductible.
Prenatal vitamins are vital to the health of your growing baby and fortunately, won’t set you back too much. Over-the-counter prenatal vitamins can cost $10–30 for a month-long supply, depending on the vitamin you select. If you choose prescription vitamins, you’ll simply owe the copay associated with your insurance. You can also ask your doctor for sample-sized boxes of vitamins to maybe hold you over until your next appointment.
Your baby needs a wide variety of nutrients to grow strong and healthy. And much of that depends on what you eat—which means your grocery bill should include some particular items. Look for fruits and leafy greens with lots of folic acid, foods heavy in protein and iron, and a variety of whole grains. Don’t worry, none of this has to break the bank. Some affordable staple items to keep in your grocery cart are eggs, nuts, beans, Greek yogurt, avocados, sweet potatoes and protein-packed lean meat.
If you want to save money, you shouldn’t buy new clothes every time the season changes. That’s pretty obvious. But take heart! If you’re going to be growing a tiny human for the next nine months, you need to shop for clothes. It is an actual need. That said, you don’t necessarily need $150 designer maternity jeans (they are a thing). Here are four ways to stay comfortable and stylish while sticking to your budget.
- Shop your closet. Believe it or not, you already have a lot of things in your own closet you can wear throughout your pregnancy. Maxi dresses, stretchy skirts, flowy shirts, blazers, cardigans and sweaters can all be worn as your baby bump grows.
- Buy non-maternity items (when you can). It’s unfortunate but true. Sometimes clothing is marked up just because it’s labeled maternity wear. It might make more budget sense if you purchase non-maternity items that you can wear after your pregnancy. For example, a specially made maternity button-up really isn’t a necessity. You can get that layered look with a non-maternity button-up at a fraction of the cost and wear it for years to come.
- Borrow, borrow, borrow. Borrowing with a credit card is a no-go. Borrowing your sister’s previously loved maternity wardrobe is perfectly fine. Sure, there might be some stretchy, blue-striped workout tops that aren’t your style, but keep sifting through. Every piece of clothing you borrow is more money you get to keep in your budget.
- Buy consignment or preowned maternity clothes. One woman’s former maternity clothing is another pregnant mama’s treasure! We know nine months can seem like an eternity, but remember, you’ll only be wearing these clothes for a few months. That’s it! So shop your local consignment and thrift stores or hit up online resources like Poshmark and eBay. You’ll be surprised by how many budget-friendly pieces you can find—some never even worn!
For the house
The first thing we think of when it comes to baby gear is a crib (don’t forget the mattress and sheets too). But for the first few months, you’ll want the baby close to you—and that means you’ll probably need a bassinet. Since you’ll only have the baby in this thing for a few months, don’t spend an arm and a leg on the cutesy bassinet from Buy Buy Bambino. Borrow one instead!
You’re going to need a spot to change all those diapers, right? Instead of buying a changing table, opt for a portable changing pad or use a dresser as a changing table. All you need for that is a padded changing mat with sides. Pop it up on top of the dresser for diaper changes in the infant stage and use it on the floor once the baby becomes a wiggly worm.
You’ll need other things too like a baby monitor, bottles, a high chair (or chair seat that attaches to your dining room chairs), a baby bathtub, and a playpen or swing. Remember, if you can’t pay cash for it, don’t get suckered in to opening up a store credit card to save 20% while you’re stocking up. It’s 100% okay to borrow baby items from your friends or hope Aunt Ida buys it off your registry.
For the car
Whatever you do, don’t forget the car seat! They won’t even let you bring the baby home if you don’t have a car seat properly installed! That’s kind of a big deal, you know. Don’t forget the other things you’ll need when going out and about—like a stroller and diaper bag (or a large tote, purse or backpack).
Once you make it through all of your checkups, there’s only one thing left to do: Bring your sweet baby into the world. But before introductions can be made, you’ve got a few additional expenses to cover.
According to Fair Health, a regular delivery in the United States averages out at $6,598 with an in-network insurance provider. This varies from state to state though, with Alaska having the highest cost at $10,413 and the Alabama having the lowest at $5,017.(1)
A C-section, on the other hand, costs around $9,000 on average—which means you’ll have a higher out-of-pocket fee.(2) Again, the cost changes based on where you live, with Alaska tipping the scales again at $14,528, and Washington D.C. offering the lowest cost at $7,439.
Of course, there are some hidden costs beyond the delivery. A mother’s hospital stay and meals add up per day, with families staying anywhere from one to four days depending on the delivery method. A birth center stay is typically shorter and may not include meals. But if complications arise at either the hospital or birth center, you may end up staying longer and paying more.
Other incidental costs such as induction, prolonged anesthesia, excessive monitoring, or a stay in the NICU may be added onto your bill as well. Be sure to ask about these costs ahead of time if you’re unsure of what’s covered by the bulk delivery fee. Your birthing facility should be able to provide you with a breakdown of expected costs.
Just be sure to check with your doctor and insurance provider to confirm your actual out-of-pocket expenses.
You probably already know this, but we’re going to say it anyway: You should go with a minimalist approach and only buy the baby gear you actually need. Diapers are a need, but baby knee pads? Not so much.
Remember: You don’t have to purchase everything brand new. No, we’re not saying to compromise your baby’s safety by getting a used car seat from Craigslist. But a hand-me-down crib from your sister, a used baby monitor from a consignment shop, and baby clothes from a garage sale are just fine.
If you’re going the formula route, there are still ways to help ease that expense. Ask your pediatrician for samples you can try out, and always be on the look out for manufacturer coupons.
Or, nurse your baby for as long as you can. This isn’t going to turn into one of those dreaded bottle-feeding vs. breast-feeding internet battles. All we’re saying is, if you want to save on the high price of formula, consider nursing or pumping milk for your baby (if you’re able). Many insurance providers will supply you with a free pump.
Make your own baby food! You may be thinking, Who has time for that? We get it, and we’re with you. Still, you can’t knock the fact that pureeing your own green peas will save you money. And don’t forget to grab budget-friendly things like oatmeal cereal, Cheerios, or other bite-sized, bland foods to help baby get accustomed to eating solids.
It’s no secret child care can be out-of-this-world expensive. If you and your spouse both work, then child care will be a cost in your budget somewhere. Finding an in-home day care or a stay-at-home parent to watch your child can be a major budget saver.
Books and toys
These are great items that friends and family will most likely gift to you. But if you want to save on them in the meantime, gather coupons and look in secondhand consignment shops. And don’t forget to use the library for sweet books to read to your little one.
Having a baby will make you see things in a whole new light. It’s a good idea to have your life insurance in place before your baby arrives.
We get it, baby clothes are so small and so precious—but can be so expensive. Buy secondhand whenever you can. It’s hard to believe, but babies grow out of things faster than you’d think. Don’t waste $40 on a baby outfit that will only be worn once before it gets covered in mashed carrots or a diaper blowout (yeah, get ready).
Higher water and electric bills
You might notice your water and electric bills going up from all the extra laundry costs. Here’s an easy tip: wait until you have a full load of Junior’s dirty clothes to wash before you run a load. Trust us, it won’t take long for that washer to fill up.
Diapers (cloth or disposable)
Okay, so talking about cloth diapers can divide people almost faster than any political debate. While cloth diapers have come a long way since the 1970s, it might not be your cup of tea. Still, it’s worth noting you can save money in the long run this way. Instead of buying disposable diapers week after week, you’ll make an initial investment for reusable cloth diapers. The diapers adjust in size as the baby grows, so you’ll be able to reuse your stash until they become a potty pro.
Prefer to use disposable diapers? No problem. Did you know many of the top, well-known diaper companies have their own rewards system? It’s true! You can rack up points every time you buy a new pack of diapers or wipes. As your child journeys throughout the land of diaper wearing, you can cash in those points for things like baby books, toys and yes, even free diapers!
Did you know your favorite grocery store probably has its own line of generic diapers? Oh yeah, even Aldi. You might have to go through some trial and error to figure out if the diapers are dependable. But after a while, you might find a brand you like for a fraction of the cost.
And since you’re pretty much guaranteed to use diapers, you might as well stock up and buy them in bulk. There’s a lot to be said for the peace you’ll feel knowing there are plenty of diapers in the house.
Unpaid Time Off
More employers than ever are offering paid maternity and paternity leave for their employees. Workplaces offering paid maternity leave increased from 26% in 2016 to 35% in 2018. Likewise, paid paternity leave increased from 21% in 2016 to 29% in 2018, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.(3) Still, many parents aren’t that lucky. Depending on your state and your workplace, some mothers are only offered 12 weeks of unpaid leave, and fathers are basically told, “Use whatever vacation time you have.”
If your leave isn’t fully paid for by your employer, then you need to figure out a backup plan. How many weeks will you take unpaid? Can you use banked-up vacation time or sick leave to cover some of it? Will you be able to live on one income throughout the leave? Can you work from home? Can you earn some extra cash to fill in the gaps? Start making plans now so you aren’t blindsided when the time comes.
Budgeting for Baby
Are you already living on a budget? If you aren’t consistently telling your money what to do before the month begins, now is the perfect time to start. It takes about three months to get a handle on budgeting, so you’ve got plenty of time to practice. Trust us. You’ll want to make living on a budget a seamless process before sleepless nights set in.
Can it get expensive preparing for a baby? Sure. But having a budget in place will help you manage those expenses and be able to prepare for them well in advance. A budget will also show you if you’re going overboard in any particular area (hello, adorable tiny clothes). It will also hold you accountable when that super chic $800 stroller is calling your name. Whip out your budget and tell that frou-frou stroller, “Nice try.”
Once you have your plan in place, don’t waste the next few months fretting about the cost of having a baby. Instead, focus on living by the plan you’ve made and getting excited about bringing your new addition into the world! But don’t fall for the lie that having a baby gives you an excuse not to budget. You need that budget now more than ever!
Before your bundle of joy arrives, start your baby-friendly budget using our free app, EveryDollar. In the wild and wonderful adventure of all things baby, this might just be the easiest step of all.