Bringing a new baby into the world can be one of life’s greatest joys, but that thrill most definitely comes with a price tag – both in actually delivering your bundle of joy and raising the child to adulthood.

For starters, the average price of delivery in the U.S. stands at $4,300, according to a January, 2020 study by Health Affairs that calculated delivery prices from 2008 to 2015.

That’s the case even with health insurance, Health Affairs reports.

“Our data indicate that between 2008 and 2015, average out-of-pocket spending for maternity care rose among women with employer-based insurance,” the report states. “This increase was largely driven by increased spending among women with deductibles.”

While the price of delivering a newborn baby varies significantly from country to country (for instance, it only costs $60 to have a baby in Finland, although citizens pay substantially more in taxes for the discount), the cost to U.S. parents is skyrocketing. According to Health Affairs, it cost $2,910 to deliver a baby in 2008 compared with the $4,300 price listed in 2015.

If complications arise, and a cesarean birth is required, that price rises to $5,161 – that’s up from $3,364 in 2008.

For Americans with no health insurance, and the number is rising in 2020, the cost of delivering a new baby is more than twice the amount listed above.

Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that it costs $10,800 to have a baby without complications, if you don’t have health insurance. That’s a big disparity between having a new child with health insurance compared to having one without health insurance.

The numbers do vary on a state-by-state basis, although the figures are always higher when having a baby without health insurance.

For example, in Iowa, a traditional delivery costs $6,400 with insurance and $10,900 without insurance. But in Massachusetts, it costs $7,700 to have a baby, even with insurance.

Raising a Child Grows More Expensive, Too

Paying for a new baby delivery is one budget-busting item, raising that baby is another.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regularly tracks the price tag attached to raising a child in the U.S., the average family “will spend approximately $12,980 annually per child in a middle-income (i.e., with an income of $59,200-$107,400), two-child, married-couple family.”

Additionally, middle-income, married-couple parents of a child born in 2015 will spend, on average, $233,610 ($284,570 if projected inflation costs are factored in) “for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise a child through age 17 and this does not include the cost of a college education,” the USDA report says.

The USDA has also reported that parents can count on spending at least $12,000 in the baby’s first year alone. Federal government data generally breaks down household parenting costs as follows:

  • Housing = 29% of all child parenting costs.
  • Food = 18% of all child costs.
  • Childcare and education = 16% of all costs.
  • Transportation = 15% of costs.
  • Healthcare = 9% of costs.
  • Clothing = 6% of costs.
  • All other costs = 7%.

All told, by the time that newborn baby turns age 18, U.S. families will have spent an average of $233,610 on their child – and that is before college tuition bills start factoring in to the household budget.

By the Numbers

How much does that spending translate into cash dollars? The numbers tell an interesting story there, too.

“Baby” Expenses

When you bring home a new baby, you need a bundle of goods and services that directly accommodate that baby’s good health.

For example, parents can be expected to spend approximately $50 a week on baby food, diapers, and baby formula alone. Then there are “one-off” charges, like taking the baby to a pediatric physician for checkups and building a baby-safe bedroom complete with a quality crib, changing table, and clothing. Combined, that can easily run into thousands of dollars.

Food Costs

The very act of feeding a child can boost child care costs significantly, as well. Depending on household income the USDA estimates that a 1-year-old child will cost up to $173 a month to feed; a 9-year-old costs up to $266; and an 18-year-old will eat his way through $304 every month.

It’s not an issue parents tend to focus on but the figures support the fact that food takes up 18% of all child care financial costs.

Child Care and Education

According to federal government estimates, U.S. parents shouldn’t pay more than 10% of their annual household income on child care. The fact is, many parents spend well over 20% of their income on day care and pre-school education.

The average cost of day care varies depending on which state a family resides, but a recent study from Care.com shows that the average weekly cost for a single child at a family care center is $199, $211 for a traditional day care center, and a massive $596 for a full-time nanny.

Child Activities

Signing a child up for soccer or gymnastics doesn’t cost nearly as much as day care or pre-school fees and charges, but doing so will ding the household bank account. On a per-season basis, parents are expected to spend between $500 and $1,000 annually on organized sports, according to the Aspen Institute.

Add to the mix several hundred dollars on arts and crafts, dance, YMCA, and other family activity costs on a regular basis, and just keeping junior active can add several thousand dollars a year to the family budget.

Cost of Lost Parental Income

Often, two working parents will have a baby and one of them will opt to leave the workforce, for the short- or long-haul, to care for their child or children. Most often this is the mother, and studies shows that choosing the life of a stay-at-home mom over remaining in the workforce, as spiritually fulfilling as that can be, leads to a serious decline in overall household income.

In fact, any study will point to a family living on a single income as financially weaker than a family with two incomes. Forbes magazine points to a “salary penalty” of 30% for being out of the workforce for two or three years.

Plus, salary alone doesn’t tell the entire “financial loss” story of being a stay-at-home caregiver. Loss of retirement and Social Security income, and lost years of wage growth factors into the child-raising financial equation, too.

A 2016 study from The Center for American Progress shows that a women earning about $30,000 annually on the job and who left the workforce at age 26 to care for a newborn child, and returned to work at age 31, would lose an estimated $467,000 over the course of her career. That’s almost a 20% decline in over career wages, the study notes.

The Takeaway on the Real Cost of Having a Baby

This isn’t to shine a negative light or cast aspersions on anyone who has a growing family. There’s nothing like the sheer joy of raising a child to adulthood, and seeing that child go out and change the world.

But for any would-be parent, a reality check, on the financial front, is in order before you start your family .

Doing so will help you make better family and finance decisions, now and down the road, and still give you the opportunity to raise great kids and not sweat over family finances – not too much, anyway.