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How Much Does It Cost to Raise a Child?

Mother working from home while holding baby

As exciting as it is to welcome a new addition to your family, it's also majorly taxing on your physical health, your mental health, and, of course, your finances. Translation: raising a child can be very expensive.

When Brookings Institution analyzed 2015 data from the US Department of Agriculture, they calculated the current cost to raise a child from birth until age 17 to be around $310,605. That number — which totals about $17,000 a year — represents a $26,000 increase from the USDA's previous 2015 calculations, due to a rise in inflation.

Worth mentioning: this total calculated cost is based on middle class, married couples with two children — a very specific subset of the population — so while it's an OK ballpark figure, the actual numbers will vary for every family. These numbers also only represent the financial burden up to age 17. If you plan on supporting your child with college finances, as many parents do, it could run you another $25,313 per year, according to Sallie Mae's "How America Pays for College" 2022 report.

So what's the $300,000+ dollars going toward when it comes to the cost of raising a child? Here's an estimated breakdown of your expense sheet.

How Much Do Babies Cost?

First-year baby costs total more than $15,000, according to new research from BabyCenter — which we can use to represent your annual spend during baby years. BabyCenter estimates the exact total to be around $15,755 due to inflation. This includes both one-time costs and ongoing expenses. Of course this number may fluctuate with each family depending on your income level, but here's the general breakdown.

One-time first-year costs include items like a car seat, crib, diaper bag, bassinet, bottles, nursing bra, bathing and grooming tools, and baby-proofing supplies, among other things, according to BabyCenter. Those all add up to around $3,955. And while these are all considered "one-time" costs, your kid will grow out of some of those items, and you'll need to repurchase — like swapping a toddler bed for a crib, or a booster seat for a car seat.

Ongoing monthly costs account for the rest of the estimate for first-year costs. After that initial investment, you'll have to budget for recurring expenses like childcare, diapering, feeding (for formula and solid food), clothing, savings (to go toward schooling/college), toiletries, toys, books, and other media. These monthly expenses are really what add up. See the breakdown, per BabyCenter.

  • Diapers alone will run you an average of $76 a month.
  • Feeding costs are averaged to be $183 a month for formula and $66 a month for solid food. But given the recent formula shortage, cost and availability may fluctuate and increase.
  • Childcare costs are an estimated $725 a month.
  • Clothing is around $82 a month.
  • Other expenses include toiletries ($9 a month) and toys, books, and other media ($13 a month).

This all adds up to $11,820 for the first year for recurring costs. That said, BabyCenter left out the average cost of healthcare in its estimations. While healthcare costs can be a significant part of a baby's budget, they are hard to estimate and vary depending on your child's health and your insurance and copays. However, The Washington Post estimated healthcare to be around $600 annually, based on USDA data.

How Much Does a Kid Cost?

Now that your little one has ditched the diapers, think you're going to save a little money? Unfortunately, the chances are unlikely. As your child gets older, your spending is likely to increase or stay the same.

USDA data from 2015 estimates that the annual spend to be around $12,730 a year for children aged 3 to 5; $12,350 for kids aged 6 to 8; $13,180 for ages 9 to 11; $13,030 for ages 12 to 15; and $13,900 for ages 15 to 17. These expenses are divided up by housing, food, clothing, transportation, healthcare, childcare and education, and miscellaneous expenses.

This figure, however, doesn't factor in inflation over the past eight years, which the USDA estimates would add another $26,000, which would account for around a $3,000 increase to each expense category — increasing the cost of raising a kid to around $15,000 to $17,000 per year.

Again, that average is dependent on a two-parent middle-income household with two kids. To see a closer estimate for your situation, use the calculator from The Washington Post, which factors in your annual income and the age of your child or children. Depending on the income range you select, your total cost can range from $6,700 a year to $325,800 a year — a pretty huge difference.

Bottom line: while there are ways to cut costs, raising children is expensive. So before you make that major life decision, take a careful look at your finances. Maybe you'll decide the DINK lifestyle is for you, or maybe you'll start implementing important saving strategies to offset some of the costs. Whatever your decision, here's to going into it with a more informed point of view.

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