No one wants to spoil the excitement of welcoming their new bundle of joy by thinking about money. But the reality is, babies and budgets go hand in hand.
Just how much does it cost to have a baby? It can vary widely. Depending on where you live and whether you have a vaginal birth or Caesarian section, the average cost for prenatal care, hospital delivery and postpartum care ranges between $30,000 and $50,000 — though rates as high as $70,000 are possible.
HEALTH INSURANCE IS KEY
If you’re considering pregnancy, it’s extremely important that you have health insurance, which can cover anywhere from 25 to over 90 percent of these costs. With the state of health care currently in limbo, you’d be wise to have insurance before you get pregnant, and to do a deep-dive into what is covered for maternity care and what isn’t. You’ll be thankful when those bills start rolling in.
Know what your deductible is, what length of hospital stay is covered and make sure to use an in-network OBGYN and hospital to avoid extra out-of-pocket charges. Make your birth plan and budget after you’re clear on insurance coverage.
In addition, know what tests are and aren’t covered. Insurance will often cover genetic testing for moms who are at-risk or 35 and older, but may not for younger moms. If those tests are important for you, make sure to budget for them.
One tip you probably wouldn’t consider: Bring your own over-the-counter medications, such as painkillers. Hospitals can charge $20 a pill for these basics. Just be sure to let your doctor know so he or she can make sure they play well with anything you’re prescribed.
Make your birth plan and budget after you’re clear on insurance coverage.
Below is a cost cheat sheet to help you prepare.
- Prenatal care: Prenatal care, which typically involves monthly appointments with your OBGYN, runs $100 to $200 per appointment. Insurance will usually cover most of these costs.
- Prenatal vitamins: $150
- Maternity clothes: $0 to $300+
Hit up your mom friends for hand-me-downs, as well as garage sales to keep costs low here. Budget to buy yourself a few new feel-good pieces, but don’t spend too much on clothes you’ll never wear again.
- Hospital stay: $0 to $9,000+
- Car seat: $45 to $400
Hospitals will require you to have one in order to leave. You don’t necessarily need the Bentley of car seats, but don’t be tempted to buy a second-hand model. There’s no way to know whether a used seat has been involved in a car accident, which would render it unsafe for use.
- Crib: $200 to $400
- Baby bedding: $100 to $300
- Baby monitor: $20 to $250
- Stroller: $50 to $800
- High Chair: $45 to $240
- Full-time infant care: $6,590 to $16,682
- Newborn clothes: $0 to $60+ per month
Hopefully you’ll get enough as gifts and hand-me-downs that you won’t have to buy too much. Don’t load up on too many newborn-sized clothes; there are no fashion shows for the first few months, and babies often leave the hospital already too big for the smallest sizes. Instead, focus on seasonally appropriate sizes for future months. Make your best guess at how big your baby will be, but don’t go for the pricey stuff when you’re buying basics: Babies love nothing more than to prove their parents wrong.
- Diapers: $70 per month
Look for deals and buy in bulk, and be strategic, since little ones grow quickly. Buy just as many as you need for about a month at a time, and then reassess for sizing, comfort, etc. Some babies suffer skin reactions to certain brands, so avoid being left with an opened case. If you’re willing to put in some extra work, using cloth diapers that you wash yourself can cut the cost down to $20 per month.
- Baby wipes: $14 for 800 sheets
- Breastfeeding accessories: $300
This includes nursing bras, nursing pillow and a breast pump kit. Many insurance plans will pay for a pump, so be sure to check if yours is covered, and order it before you give birth.
- Formula: $25 to $50 to start
- Bottles and nipples: $25
Even if you’re planning on breastfeeding, some babies need supplemental nutrition or have trouble latching, so many moms prep by having some formula on standby. If you’re stumped on which brand to buy, find out what your hospital keeps in stock — and make sure to ask for extra samples before you leave.
Even if your baby is exclusively breast-fed, you may want bottles and nipples in the house so you can pump to keep a store of milk in the fridge. The benefit is two-fold: Your partner can participate in feedings and you can (gasp!) actually leave the house once in a while.