I absolutely love being a mom, but I can’t deny that kids can be expensive. When I first saw that the U.S Department of Agriculture estimated the average cost to raise a child from birth to age 17 was more than $233,000 I scoffed at the number initially. Now, however, I can totally see how this is a reasonable estimate if you’re comfortably raising a child in the U.S. today.

As someone who also likes to be financially savvy, I take comfort in knowing that I can save for planned and unexpected costs when raising a family. That way, the budget doesn’t get too tight but it’s still possible to give my child a good life. When it comes to determining the cost to raise a child if you’re considering growing your family, here are a few important things to think about saving for.

1. Hospital Fees

A recent Parents.com article used research to determine it will cost most insured couples an average of $4,500 to give birth in a hospital even after insurance pays their part. Sometimes, the cost can be more than $11,000 depending on certain factors like prenatal care, medicine, and other procedures involved.

Yes, having a child is not cheap and I’d even recommend saving for hospital costs and medical bills in advance if you plan on having a family one day in the future. It helps to obtain great insurance, but you can also consider additional options like setting up a Health Savings Account (HSA) if your employer allows it. That way, you won’t be bogged down by high medical bills as you’re trying to enjoy your new bundle of joy.

2. Baby and Toddler Gear

It’s no secret that the cost to raise a child can be high especially when you have a baby or toddler due to all the gear and supplies. While you can get some items used or on sale, sometimes you don’t want to skimp on items like car seats which are regulated and will keep your child safe.

Standard car seats for infants range from $100 to $200 to start. Plus, the cost of diapers and formula continues to go up among other things. While you can have a baby shower and see if loved ones want to pitch in and supply items, you may not want to do this with each child.

Try making a master list of all the baby supplies you’ll need. Then, see what you are okay with getting used to or receiving as a hand-me-down. Shop around and use coupons to save money on new items. As always, you can use the months leading up to the baby’s birth to maximize your savings as well.

3. Utility Bills

Increased utility bill amounts are one of the most unexpected costs parents encounter. With a new baby, you might want to reprogram your thermostat and keep the temperature in the house reasonable since someone will be home most of the day. Plus, you will likely have many more laundry and dishwasher cycles.

As your child gets older, they’ll still continue to use utilities like electricity, heat, and everything else that you use. I remember when I lived at home with parents, my younger sister was more sensitive to cooler temperatures so we’d run the heat a lot more in the winter and sometimes even spring.

That said, be sure to increase your emergency fund and short-term savings fund to handle any added utility costs. Over time, you can start to budget for increased utility costs over the years.

4. Transitional Clothes

Don’t underestimate the costs of clothing your kids. The average amount parents spend on clothing per child is around $737. This includes back-to-school hauls. This amount could be more or less depending on where you shop for clothes and how often you have to restock their wardrobe.

Unlike adults, children are constantly growing so they can’t accumulate shoes and other clothes year after year. When they outgrow clothes and shoes, it will be time to get more. Right now, my son is in a constant growth spurt and I’m buying new clothes each year, each season. The things he wore last summer are too small to wear this upcoming summer. Another thing to consider is the quality of the clothes you buy.

5. Additional Doctor Visits, Braces, Etc.

Ongoing medical expenses and wellness costs should also be carefully planned for when you’re considering the cost to raise a child. Your insurance premiums will likely go up when you add another family member. But this isn’t the only cost. You’ll need to pay for regular immunizations as well as other testing and care for your child over time.

Dental care is a big expense in our household. We might be considering braces for our son in the next few years which could easily be $3,000 or more.

6. Traveling

Family trips are the best. Of course, traveling is going to cost more when you throw a few kids in the mix. Sure, traveling is not a requirement on this list of costs to raise a child. However, many families go on vacation at least once a year if not more so it’s important to save for this if you plan to explore new locations with your kids eventually.

I find that when I try to book an Airbnb and mention that a child will be staying with me, some hosts set the nightly price of their space to increase. When traveling with kids, you’ll want to stay in a place that’s comfortable for them.

While you might have been able to get away with a hostel when you were single, you’d be better offer getting a hotel, entire house on Airbnb, or a villa when vacationing. That way, you kids have lots of space to stretch out and run around. Also, factor in the costs of extra flight tickets, more food, and family-friendly activities that will all add up when traveling.

About a year or two before you feel you’re ready to start traveling with your child, start setting money aside in a high-yield savings account.

Summary: Cost to Raise a Child

The overall cost to raise a child is not cheap, but it’s well worth the money in the long run. Family is very important, but this also doesn’t mean that you have to be stretched thin financially. Start saving for the cost to raise a child early. Identify your planned and even unexpected spending categories.

Having kids can also motivate you to advance your career and earn more money over time. That way, you can keep up with inflation as well as all the new gadgets and tech that come out. Parenting is such a rewarding experience. Saving up for certain costs in advance will allow you to enjoy your family even more and live comfortably.

What are some of your biggest costs when it comes to raising kids? How do you prepare for them?


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