What to Expect When You’re Expecting: The True Cost of a Child

The decision to have a child is a very personal one, and it’s imperative to consider all aspects that having a child carries. One important thing you may be considering is: Can I afford to have a baby? Kids can be expensive, and they tend to require more or less money at different points of their life. These “economic stages,” so to speak, include: pregnancy; birth; infancy through toddler ages; elementary school age; high school age; college bound; the struggling new member of society; and, finally, the independent adult.


What to expect when you’re expecting.

The costs will start occurring from the very beginning: your pregnancy. This can be further broken down into what you’ll be experiencing trimester by trimester.

First Trimester

This is when you start having the dreaded morning sickness. Depending on how bad it is, you’re probably going to find yourself adding anti-nausea medicine, crackers, and peppermints into your cart. It is also advised that pregnant woman begin taking pregnancy vitamins from the start. Most women will also purchase a pregnancy book, but you may be able to avoid this these days with Google.

Second Trimester

A whole new wardrobe may become necessary at this point. You may also find yourself making purchases to adapt to your growing belly, such as a body pillow or maternity belt.


Third Trimester

This is when it really starts to get pricey because you have to buy everything that you’ll need to introduce this new person into your home. The list of items you’ll be looking at include:

  • Car seat
  • Crib
  • Diaper and wipes stockpile
  • Bottles and pacifiers
  • Breast pump
  • Baby clothes
  • Stroller
  • Toys

It may also be necessary for you to begin making changes to your house itself, such as clearing out a room, repainting, or maybe even buying a new home.

Pregnancy costs

After making all of these purchases and arrangements over nine months, you’re going to have to make extra room in your budget from the very start. You’ll probably end up spending at least $2,000-$3,000 making the pregnancy more comfortable and preparing for your child to live in the home.


This the really painful part. An average birth costs over $10,000. You may also have costs of flying family out to see the new baby and buying more than usual. This time period is going to be a costly one.

Infancy through Toddler


The bulk of your expenses here are probably going to be diapers, to be honest. Veteran parents aren’t kidding you when they tell you to ask for diapers on your baby shower list. Formula is also on the list of expenses, costing around $20 – $30 per jar.

Depending on the parents’ work schedule, you may need to find a day care center. Day care programs on average cost about $11,000 a year.

You will also probably find yourself spoiling your new addition to your family with toys, which will also help their development. This can get pretty pricey, depending on just how much of your budget you set aside for this.

They will also being growing quickly, requiring new clothes every few months to make up for their growth. But, depending on how and what you eat, you may start saving or spending more money on food at this time.

Then, enrolling them in preschool can also cost you a pretty penny if a public preschool isn’t available. This price ranges from $372 to $1,100 each month, making a year of preschool average at about $10,000.

Elementary School


This is the age that your kids are old enough to beg for everything at the grocery store. It’s also likely that you’ll be taking more opportunities to create memories with your children.

Most of your school expenses will be lunch, field trips, class parties, and other smaller things. However, in a house with low income, school lunches in particular can quickly become a burden.

Middle through High School


With trends changing all the time, you’ll probably find yourself having to purchase a whole new wardrobe or buy a new collection of the coolest new thing every few months.

You may also want to provide your kids with an allowance. Some parents choose to do this by increasing their allowance by a dollar with each year. Another consideration is opening up a youth spending account or limited credit card so that they can learn to make responsible financial decisions early on.

You may also need to buy a car for your newly licensed teenager. Activities with friends, family vacations, money spent on extracurriculars and projects, and more can be a slow building expense over each year.



This all depends on how much you are able or plan on contributing to your child for their education. With college costing an average of $20,000, it can be a hard burden for your young adult. You may have to co-sign on loans or Venmo $20 here and there in times of need. Encouraging your child to have their own savings is essential at this age so that they have backup in times of need, taking the pressure of of yourself.


This is where things get much easier or much harder. Hopefully, you have raised a well-functioning adult with responsible spending habits and a steady income. You may not have to ever loan this child money.

Sometimes, however, it may take your new adult some time to adjust and get the hang of “adult-ing.” This may require some of your funds to make sure they have the support needed to get to where they want to be in life.

And it’s never-ending…


Soon after, you will find yourself with a whole new batch of grandchildren to spoil. Preparing for children financially is an important aspect of family planning. It’s been figured that a child will take about $14,000 annually to support. However, the pros of having a child should also be considered, as having a child can be an amazing part of life. Budgeting well, saving, and preparing for every period in your child’s life is essential to having a financially independent family.

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