[ The Money Side of Lifeā„¢ ]

The Cost Of A Kid: Adding up 18 years of parenting

By Alison Fallecker on August 31st, 2010 •

Let's be honest, having and raising a child is an opportunity to shape the next generation and is one of the most selfless acts you can commit. Plus, babies smell nice (sometimes) and are cute--have you seen those mini pink UGGs and tiny dishes? It can be hard not to get the "itch" to have one of your own. However, don't let the emotional side of wanting a child obscure the practical fact that kids cost money. Raising a child is a huge financial responsibility--expect to shell out $10,000 just in the first year.

Pregnancy to potty training

Pregnancy costs begin with maternity clothes and end with birth expenses. Second-hand stores and recycled duds from similarly sized friends can reduce clothing expenses. Then there are health costs. Be sure to purchase insurance with maternity coverage before pregnancy--around 87% of pre-natal and birth costs can be covered by insurance. Pregnancy involves 10 to 15 visits to your ob-gyn ($100–$200 per visit without insurance), blood tests (price varies), and at least one ultrasound (about $200 without insurance).

When Junior is ready to make his appearance, an epidural to manage the pain can cost around $1,200 without insurance. For a natural birth without complications, out-of-pocket costs for labor and delivery range from $500 to $3,000 with insurance, and between $9,000 and $17,000 without. For a Csection without insurance, be prepared for a bill up to $25,000; the average out-of-pocket cost with insurance is $523.

Hopefully you've already received the basic necessities like a crib and car seat from the baby shower, but Junior will need to eat and use the facilities. Prepare to spend $2,300 on diapers before potty training and another $30 per month on wipes. Baby formula will run about $150 per month.

Junior will also need vaccinations--for hepatitis, measles, tetanus, etc.--which can be more than $1,000 without insurance (usually covered in full with insurance). In addition to standard new baby visits, don't forget incidental visits and medications for bouts of the flu, ear infections and the like. Speaking of getting sick, unpaid days off work to care for him can add up. For someone with an average annual income of $50,000, one day off can cost nearly $200.


Toddlers to ten-year-olds

Junior is going to grow a lot in the next several years, and running around in his underwear won't always be "cute." So if you're not a big fan of hand-me-downs or thrift store bargains, be prepared to spend about $150 every season on basic clothing necessities. Throw in an extra $150 for winter clothing if you live in a cold climate.

As he gets older and a little braver, don't be surprised if Junior gets hurt. A single visit to the emergency room for a laceration can land you a $750 bill. (Try to visit urgent care when possible; the same visit will cost about $150).

As he begins school and starts developing a circle of friends, family-only birthday parties may no longer be an option. Throwing a birthday party at the local ice skating rink with his eight best friends, will cost around $180. When summer comes, Junior will need some activities, whether it's day camp at the local YMCA (about $220 per week), sleep-away camp (around $2,200 per two-week session), or a babysitter to take him to the pool ($10 per hour).

Pre-teens to pre-college

Junior, like all teens, will have needs beyond food, clothing and shelter. Think of them as the three major Cs--car, computer, cell phone. He may get a job to help offset some costs, but minimum wage isn't going to put much of a dent in these expenses. The average used car is $8,244. Insurance with a clean driving record will tack on another $2,000 per year. An average Windows laptop will run $700 and if you add him to the unlimited family cell plan, expect to pay $170 a month.

If he becomes involved with sports or other extracurricular activities, the cost of league fees, equipment, and travel add up quickly. Competitive travel teams run between $1,000 and $3,000 per season. If Junior is musically inclined, private piano lessons add up to $5,200 a year. There are plenty of recreational sports leagues and school music classes at more competitive prices, but even these expenses will add up, no matter how frugal you are.

Editor's Note: Costs are estimated based on current reported prices. Actual costs may vary according to parenting choices and other factors.

The Bottom Line

While he is your pride and joy, be prepared to spend around $291,570 (adjusted for inflation) to raise Junior to age 18. Then be ready to fork out for college.

Sources: babycenter.com; costhelper.com; thelaboroflove.com; surebaby.com; aetna.com; ymcarichmond.org; independentlake.com; cdc.gov ; personal-finance.thefuntimesguide.com; cars.com; att.com; kaisernetwork.org; rmiia.org ; cnet.com ; usda.gov