How much does it cost to raise a child?

Ever wonder how much it costs to raise a child? Expenses such as food and clothing start to add up the moment a baby is born. Learn how much you can expect to spend during the first year of your child’s life.

Young child getting a haircut.

List of monthly child expenses.

Admit it. Babies are cute, but they come with a big price tag. According to a US Department of Agriculture report, the average middle-income family spends between $12,000 and $14,000 on child-related expenses each year.1 For newborns, the cost is higher. Some studies show numbers ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 for the child's first year of life, depending on location and household income.2

Beyond the general items, like a stroller, crib, or car seat, here are some estimates of what you can expect to shell out in your baby’s first year. 

Baby expenses for month 0.

Some significant purchases are required in advance of your baby's birth. There's no established list of necessary items, but you'll probably invest in a bassinet, bottles, clothes, and a carrier for when your child arrives. Costs can span a wide range, but budget for $1,000 minimum to cover what you'll need at the start.

Month 1 – The biggest baby expenses.

The first month of your baby's life may be the priciest, because it includes maternity care, the cost of delivery, postnatal care, and a hospital stay.  

The numbers can vary depending on where you live, what kind of birth you have, and your insurance policy. While birthing costs in some states can exceed $27,000 the average cost is usually around $10,000.

Months 2 and 3 – Feeding and daily care expenses. 

Figuring out a sleep routine is the biggest challenge here. The good news is that babies usually don't require much beyond breastmilk or formula and diapers at this point. If you're breastfeeding, your costs will be lower (aside from the one-time expense of a pump, which costs anywhere from $40 to $185), while powdered formula will run you between $70 and $150 per month.  

Add about $60 for bottles and $75 for the monthly diapers and wipes you'll go through. There are vaccinations your baby should get and a couple of visits to the doctor during these months, which should be budgeted for as well. It's also time to start assessing your future financial goals. Estimated monthly amount: $300.

Two small children running inside.

Month 4 – Monthly childcare expenses.

If you return to work after the baby is born, childcare could take up the lion's share of your budget starting this month. According to Care.com data, weekly childcare costs have risen significantly over the past six years.  

The average weekly childcare cost for one infant is $565 for a nanny, $215 for a daycare or childcare center.3 These costs vary among states, and each family's arrangement with their provider, but a budget should be in place if you need care for your child while you work. Estimated monthly amount: $2,260. 

Months 5 and 6 – List of baby expenses as they grow.

Sometime around the five-month mark, the baby reaches a milestone in development and begins eating solid foods. Parents often start with purees, which you can easily make yourself. Compared with food for older kids, babies still get the bulk of their calories from milk or formula. But plan on spending roughly $50 a month on their applesauce, oatmeal, and avocados. 

Your growing baby is fitting into new clothes on a regular basis now. Baby clothes are the most common gift that new parents receive, but the average cost of clothes is around $50 a month for the first year. Using hand-me-downs or shopping at second-hand clothing stores can help you save in this area. Estimated monthly amount: $1,100.  

Months 7,8, and 9 – Baby safety expenses per month.

Babies typically begin crawling around this age, so now's the time to put up safety gates, install door locks and knob covers, and outlet plugs. Babyproofing can cost anywhere from $100 to $1,000, depending on the size and layout of your home. Estimated monthly amount: $1,200. 

Months 10 and 11 – Babysitting expenses for your baby.

By this time, you may be thinking about a babysitter, maybe for a few hours here and there or for an occasional night out. If you don't have a friend or family member to watch your child, you may have to consider adding babysitting into your childcare budget.  

According to Care.com, parents paid after-school babysitters an average of $16.20 per hour to care for one child for about three hours a day, or a total of 15 hours per week. But the average doesn’t necessarily tell you what you’ll pay a babysitter in your specific area, nor does it factor in considerations like the regularity of babysitting work that you are offering and the duties required.4 Estimated monthly amount for a babysitter: $975. 

Month 12 – First year of monthly child expenses complete.

Congratulations, you made it through your first year of parenting! By this point, you should have an idea of what's needed in your monthly baby budget, so hopefully there won't be any surprise expenses. As you prepare for the second year, start looking at ways you can save on childcare and new items you'll need. And plan for an additional $50 this month to treat yourself to a celebration. Estimated monthly amount: $1,300.

Parents tending to their baby on a changing table.

The benefits of life insurance for children.

Now that you’re a new parent, you should consider child life insurance. Life insurance can give your child an invaluable head start. If offers many of the same benefits as regular whole life insurance, but with lower premiums. The benefits include: 

  • Lifetime protection
    A life insurance policy purchased for your child can provide death benefit protection into adulthood.

  • Cash value that grows
    A child’s life insurance policy can accumulate cash every year that your child can access it for future purchases and expenses, such as college tuition, a down payment on a home, or retirement. Accessing cash value will reduce the death benefit and available cash surrender value. 

  • Tax advantages
    Cash value accumulates tax-deferred and can be accessed generally income tax free, if structured properly. 

  • Low premiums 
    With this type of permanent life insurance, it’s possible to lock in the premium at the child’s current age for life.

  • Guaranteed future insurability  
    Once the policy has been issued, coverage cannot be canceled if all required premiums are paid.  

Having a baby can be an amazing journey filled with excitement and wonder. While variables around geography, childcare needs, and insurance coverage may impact how much you spend on your child, there are clear advantages to working with a New York Life agent early on to develop a financial strategy for your child. 

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Want to learn more about financial strategies for children?

A New York Life financial professional can help determine what’s right for you.


1,2 Mark Lino, “The Cost of Raising a Child,” U.S. Department of Agriculture, February 18, 2020. Usda.gov 

3 “Childcare Costs More in 2020, and the Pandemic Has Parents Scrambling for Solutions,” Care.com, June 15, 2020. Care.com 

4 Ashley Austrew, “How Much Does a Babysitter Cost?” Care.com, July 10, 2020. Care.com