How Much Does a Baby Cost: The First Year

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So you’re going to be a parent? Congratulations! As a father, I can tell you that the anticipation of parenthood is exciting! I can also tell you that during pregnancy, us men have it easy. For the most part, it’s business as usual for us. We eat, sleep, go to work, and do our thing. For the woman actually growing the baby, it’s a whole new ballgame. Her hormones will fluctuate, she may have morning sickness (often all day nausea or vomiting), and to add insult to injury, no wine or sushi! Then after 9+ months, it’s the final stretch: labor. Let’s not get into that, but suffice it to say that soon, you and your exhausted wife are sent home to care for this tiny human, all by yourselves — probably driving slower and more carefully than you have for years.

At this point, the cost of caring for your new bundle should be one of the last things you should worry about. Unfortunately, there’s a cost to everything, and new parents don’t get a free pass. That’s why there are baby showers and beer and diaper parties (The latter is for us dudes. It’s a newer trend, and I didn’t get one) to slightly help ease the challenges ahead.


Since this is a personal finance blog, I will only share the monetary costs of a baby in the first year. Below is a breakdown of the costs to consider.

  • Nursery – crib, dresser, changing table, rocking chair, decor
  • Diapers, wipes, and supplies
  • Formula (if you use it) and baby food
  • Clothes
  • Car Seats
  • Toys, swing, bassinet, baby monitors, strollers, doctor visits and medical supplies, miscellaneous.
  • Daycare and babysitting
  • 1st Birthday

The first year is the hardest and the most expensive because as new parents, you really don’t know what you’re doing. So you buy a lot of stuff that you think you need. Mobiles for their crib, baby monitors, random toys, baby books for parenting and sleep training, and gimmicky outfits that are supposed to help your baby sleep. Let’s also not go here. Suffice it to say that we may have been a little sleep deprived.

Here are my numbers for the first year.

  1. Nursery: $1000. Most of the costs were gifts from the baby shower, so the actual cost to us was around $400.
  2. Diapers, wipes, & supplies: $980. 186 pack of diapers cost around $45 and we went through that box in under 3 weeks! This is common in the first few weeks, but as he got older, he used fewer diapers, and yours will too.
  3. Supplements & food: $720. A 33 oz. box of formula was around $32 and he would go through that in two weeks. But again, this only lasted until he was ready for real food. You can save a little if your wife wants to (and is able to) breastfeed exclusively.
  4. Clothes. $300. We were fortunate to only spend this much throughout the year because of all the hand-me-downs that we received from my brother.
  5. Car seats. $900. We bought two convertible car seats so that each car had one ($300 each). The infant carrier costs $200, but another $100 for an additional base for the other car. My paranoid wife won this one–you could go as low as about $150 each for car seats that meet all the safety standards.
  6. Strollers, bassinet, swing, baby monitors, toys, and misc. $650. It took us a year to realize our infant carrier came with a stroller (blame the sleep deprivation) but buying those together is one way to save.
  7. Daycare. $8,775. We pay $225/week. My wife was on maternity leave for 3 months, so this only covers 9 months of daycare. Believe it or not, this is actually a good price since most in this area charge $300 on average.
  8. 1st birthday. $200. That was my budget which includes his gift, decorations, and food for the guests.

First Year Grand Total: $13,525 or $1,127.08/month

The monetary costs of having a baby can be an eye opener when you see it for the first time. The actual costs will vary depending on where you live. But for us, the amount above is practically what we spent in our son’s first year.

After seeing the first year grand total, it does make you wonder if you can afford to raise a baby. The monthly cost of $1127 is a mortgage!  Without Daycare, the total cost is still $4750 or $396/month which is equivalent to a monthly car payment. Either way, babies are expensive. If you’re planning to start a family, I encourage you to start a budget.

Would I prefer to spend and invest that money for myself to travel and do other things? No. I would not trade or even postpone my experiences with my family, either. Sure, the cost of having a baby is high, but as soon as your baby comes home, and you see how fragile he/she is, you quickly learn your duties as a parent. You will do whatever it takes to make sure he/she gets the best nutrition and care. No matter the cost.

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