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How Much a Baby Costs the First Year

How much does a baby cost in the first year?
Rebecca Safier
Rebecca SafierUpdated March 12, 2023
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When you’re thinking about having a baby, it’s not unusual for couples to worry how that decision will impact their finances. As a parent, you’ll face plenty of new expenses: crib, stroller, car seat, diapers. At the same time, your income can take a hit if one parent stays home for a while. How does anyone afford to start a family?We break down how much a baby really costs in the first year, and how many families are able to make it work. 

Average Cost of a Baby the First Year

The average cost of a baby the first year varies widely depending on a family’s income and location. A Brookings Institution analysis calculated average expenses to be almost $13,000 in total. However, take that number with a grain of salt, since most parents don’t pay full retail price for all of their baby supplies. 

What Is Included in the Average Cost of a Baby the First Year

Parents encounter many brand-new expenses, from hospital delivery costs to diapers and equipment. Here are the major purchases you’ll need to consider. 

Carriers and Car Seats

Leaving home with your baby isn’t easy. For one, you’ll need a fair amount of equipment. You’ll most likely need a car seat ($100-$500) and stroller ($55-$1,400), and perhaps a separate baby carrier ($30-$200). Opting for pre-owned items or hand-me-downs can significantly reduce costs. Just keep in mind that safety experts recommend purchasing a new car seat over a used one. Recommended: Opening a Savings Account

Nursery Furnishings

Since newborns spend most of their time sleeping, it makes sense to invest in safe and comfortable nursery furnishings. Many of these items can be borrowed or purchased second-hand. But as with car seats, safety experts recommend getting a brand-new crib. Now is a good time to redeem those credit card rewards
  • Crib or bassinet: $120-$1,000
  • Crib mattress: $30-$230
  • Crib sheets: $10-$100 
  • Changing table: $100-$200
  • Nursing chair: $130-$1,100
  • Monitor: $15-$200
  • Diaper pail: $28-$130 
  • Baby bath: $10-$40 
  • High chair: $70-$150 
  • Bouncer seat: $40-$210 

Medical Bills

Medical bills vary depending on location and health insurance coverage. According to the Peterson-Kaiser Family Foundation, the average out-of-pocket cost for a vaginal delivery with insurance is $2,655, while a C-section is $3,214. (Learn about the pros and cons of medical credit cards.)Adoption fees can range from $5,000 to $40,000 (which is why adoption loans are a thing). Costs vary significantly depending on whether you’re adopting internationally or domestically. And don’t forget all the pediatric visits babies need in their first year. If you have insurance, expect a copay for each doctor visit of around $20. 

Nursing Supplies and Baby Food

If you think breastfeeding is free, think again. Nursing mothers will need a breast pump ($380 for an electric model). Nursing bras typically cost $25 to $50, while a nursing pillow may cost $25 to $50. Formula runs $45 to $100 per month, depending on the brand and whether it’s liquid or powder. When your baby graduates to solid food, expect to pay $37.50-$75 per month for the jarred stuff.


Diapers are another significant expense, considering infants can go through up to 12 per day. According to the National Diaper Bank Network, diapers usually cost $70-$80 per month.  Baby wipes will be $10-$45 per month, and you’ll likely want to pick up special soaps and creams for your baby’s sensitive skin, too. Recommended: How Much Does the Average American Have in Savings?

Expenses You May Cut the First Year

Thankfully, due to lifestyle changes, there are several areas where new parents can easily cut back. 

Dining Out

Eating out at restaurants significantly adds to your food costs. (The alcohol tab doesn’t help either.) According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household spends $3,459 per year on restaurants. Cutting back in favor of meal planning and eating at home can result in major savings. 


Entertainment, such as movies or concerts, are another area where you can cut back. The average household (sans newborns, presumably) spends $3,226 per year on entertainment. You’re back to Netflix and chill, with a decidedly different connotation. 


You will likely cut back on travel during the first year of your baby’s life. About 40% of Americans take at least one trip per year, which can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars depending on how far you travel. Opting for staycations or local road trips during your baby’s first year can free up cash. Also, because hauling your baby with you on errands is a hassle, you may find you’re making fewer trips around town. And that can translate to lower gas bills


If you regularly shop for clothes and home goods, or enjoy mani/pedis and salon haircare, these treats will naturally taper off after your baby is born. The average American family spends $1,866 per year on clothing alone, according to the BLS.

How To Know if You Can Afford To Have a Baby

Given all the expenses that having a baby incurs, the prospect might feel financially overwhelming. And sure, it’s important to know what you’re getting into and to prepare accordingly:At the same time, remember that many of the items above are one-time costs. Plus, as we mentioned, you can save a ton by shopping for pre-owned items on eBay or Facebook Marketplace, and soliciting hand-me-downs from friends and family. And don’t be embarrassed to throw yourself a baby shower. This celebration, which originated in the 1940s-50s, was designed to provide parents-to-be with all the material goods they need. Amen to that.Recommended: How To Financially Prepare for a Baby

3 Savings Tips

  1. Because online banks don’t have the overhead costs that brick-and-mortar banks have, they may offer a higher savings account interest rate. Just keep an eye out for minimum balance requirements and monthly fees.
  2. To set up a simple monthly spending budget, consider the 50/30/20 rule. This involves splitting your after-tax income into three categories of spending: 50% on needs, 30% on wants, and 20% on savings.
  3. To get into the savings habit, consider having 10% of your paycheck directly deposited into your savings account. Or, set up a small automatic recurring transfer from your checking account into your savings account on the same day each month.
Lantern can help you compare online savings accounts and find today’s best rate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average cost of a baby for the first year?
How can you afford baby expenses for the first year?
Can you get a personal loan to cover baby expenses for the first year?
Photo credit: iStock/monkeybusinessimages

About the Author

Rebecca Safier

Rebecca Safier

Rebecca Safier has nearly a decade of experience writing about personal finance. Formerly a senior writer with LendingTree and Student Loan Hero, she specializes in student loans, financial aid, and personal loans. She is certified as a student loan counselor with the National Association of Certified Credit Counselors (NACCC).
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