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Advice

John Daly: Making Sure the Cost of Having Children Adds Up

Not long ago in class, a female student asked me what it cost to have a baby. Not a surprising question. I get honest queries from students all the time, because The Key Class classroom creates an environment of trust and honesty.

That led me to extensive research on what it actually costs a family or a single parent to deliver and raise a child ... before sending him or her to college. It dawned on me that this might be invaluable information to share with anyone who might be considering expanding a family.

Yes, expectant parents can figure on baby showers where some of the expensive items can be gifted. But, infants grow very quickly and items need to be replaced.

A baby may be a fashion plate the first six months, but then what? As the baby grows, the size of everything else — clothes, car seats, etc. expands.

So, let’s do the math.

» Typical cost of prenatal care and delivery ... at least $8,000 to $9,000 with a hospital stay without complications

» The first six months feeding formula milk — $35 a week or $1,820 a year

» The introduction of food in addition to formula — $3 to $4 a day or $1,095 a year

Now let’s add in the nursery setup.

» Crib and mattress cost — $160 to $750

» Bedding set — $35 to $270

» Blankets and sheet for crib — $8 to $20 each

» Mattress cover — $10 to $20

» Rocking chair — $90 to $500 (not essential but wise)

Then, there’s the baby gear:

» Good quality stroller — $150 to $800

» Car seat — $40 to $280

» Play pen — $60 to $180

» Baby carrier or sling —  $40 to $180

» Play center — $50 to $125

» Swing — $45 to $200

» Bouncer seat — $30 to $120

» Baby monitor — $30 to $300

Don’t forget about diapers. Newborns use an average of 75 diapers per week and up to 320 diapers per month. 

» At 25 cents each, diapers will be approximately $80 per month

Then, add:

» Two boxes of wipes per month — $3 each or $6 per month

» Soap, lotion, powder, ointment — $14 a month

Finally, think about baby clothes. The average cost for the first year alone is about $1,000.

Cost from Prenatal to 18 Months (Midrange)

Pre-natal and delivery        $8,500
Formula                              $1,820
Food                                   $1,095
Crib and mattress               $590
Bedding                              $150
Blanket and sheets (2)        $30
Mattress cover                    $15
Rocking chair                     $250
Stroller                                $300
Car seat                               $140
Play pen                              $90
Baby carrier                        $90
Play center                          $75
Swing                                  $100
Bounce seat                         $60
Baby monitor                      $150
Diapers                                $1,440
Wipes                                  $108
Soap, lotion, powder           $252
Clothing                              $1,500
Total                                   $16,755

All of the above figures are based on NO COMPLICATIONS. And, as the child grows, baby monitors, diapers, formula and baby items will be replaced with expenses for the child’s growing needs — different clothes, toys, furniture, food, day care and education — not to mention the child’s needs as a teenager.

This is not to deter anyone who wants children. It is only for the purposes of making educated decisions.

When I share this with students, I always equate it to their potential earning levels. If the breadwinner earns $10 per hour for 40 hours per week, that’s $400, less taxes of $60 with a take home of $320 a week, or $1,280 x 12 = $15,360 per year.

If the cost to take care of just baby for the year is adjusted above to $13,812, that leaves $1,548 for everything else (rent, food, car maintenance or bus passes, and entertainment, etc.)

How does this all translate? A middle-income family can expect to spend at least $235,000 raising a child from birth to age 17. This computes to a conservative $1,151 a month for 17 years.

So anyone contemplating expanding the family or being in a position to potentially become pregnant should always ask the question: “Can I afford this?”

Anyone from young couples to mature families to single teens should consider whether they can afford to produce and bring up a baby in the best possible and safest manner, and money should always be one of the factors — for the sake of the child.

*Data collected for this article was conducted by The Key Class team.

— John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for good manners and job search success. Click to learn more about The Key Class, or to buy the book.  Follow John on Facebook and Twitter @johnjdalyjr. Do you have an etiquette question? ASK John at [email protected] The opinions expressed are his own.

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