Having a baby in America is definitely very different from having a baby in let’s say Kenya, where I was born and raised. It can be costly. But if you prepare well mentally, emotionally and financially, it’s something you can manage.
Two years ago when I found out my husband and I were going to become parents, I was excited. Then shortly after, fear, doubt and anxiety set in. How were we going to afford a kid when we were just still figuring out things ourselves?
If it wasn’t for Sammy’s (hubby) positivity and resourcefulness, I know I would have worried myself to death. Fortunately, together we reached out to friends and family for information that made our transition to parenthood smoother than we had anticipated.
In this post, I want to be that source of information and support for you if you are either pregnant or planning to have your first child in America. Having a financial plan in place can help you reduce money anxiety and allow you to fully soak in the joy and wonderful experience that is motherhood.
We will take a look at the six biggest expenses that you will incur when you have a baby and for each expense, I will give you tips and strategies so you can financially prepare and save on certain costs.
If you’re strapped for time and just want to download the checklist that goes with this blog post, leave your name and email below and I will send you the checklist straight to your inbox.
Let’s get started.
Expense #1 : Medical costs
The first thing to think about when you are having a baby or thinking of having a baby in America is how you are going to pay for pregnancy and delivery costs. Having a baby here is quite expensive. But how much you pay depends on a variety of factors like where you live, whether you have any complications with your pregnancy or if you have a vaginal birth or a c-section.
The average total price charged for pregnancy and newborn care is $30,000 for a vaginal delivery and $50,000 for a C-section. Yeah! I know that’s a lot but don’t freak out yet. This numbers are actually without insurance coverage.
Now if you have health insurance, the insurance can cover up to $18,329 for a vaginal delivery and $27,866 for a C-section. Meaning that if you have health insurance you will end up paying about $3,400 out of pocket on average.
And that’s not all, once your baby is born, you will need to add him/her to your insurance plan which may end up costing you an extra $75- $150 per month.
How to prepare for and save on increased medical costs
- Ask friends, family and coworkers with kids how much prenatal care and delivery cost them.
This will allow you to get a rough estimate of how much it will cost you where you live. Also, you can begin gathering information on how to cover these costs.
- If you already have health insurance coverage from your employer, be sure to study and understand your coverage to know whether or not maternity services are covered. And if they are how much coverage you have.
Most companies with at least 15 or more full time employees hold insurance policies that cover maternity services.The coverage is usually between 20% and 90% of the total cost of prenatal care, delivery and newborn care. Also, this is after the deductible has been met.
So for example, if your deductible is $2000 for each family member covered, you will end up paying $4,000 ($2000 for you and $2,000 for the baby) before the insurance company can pay for the remaining amount. Keep in mind that you will also pay for all the other costs that your plan does not cover.
Now, do you understand why it is important to review and understand your insurance coverage?
Feel free to meet up with HR or call your insurance provider to fully understand what is covered and what is not.
- Make sure you go in network
Before you choose an OB, maternity hospital or birthing center, making sure that it is “in network”. This way, you will avoid paying any more charges than you need to.
- If you can, don’t stay at the hospital too long
Confirm the length of stay that is covered and only stay that long if possible. Of course there are circumstances when it is not possible and in that case, stay until you are released to go home.
- Notify your insurance carrier of your baby’s birth as soon as possible
Confirm with HR or your insurance provider how soon your insurance provider requires you to notify them of your baby’s birth in order for the baby’s expenses to be covered. Some policies may not cover your baby’s medical expenses if not notified within 30 days or even as soon as you check in to the hospital to deliver.
So far, we’ve covered what to do if you already have health insurance coverage. What if you don’t?
There are still other ways to cover the cost of prenatal care and delivery if you are not covered for maternity services. Here are other options:
- Medicaid– this is a federally funded program that provides medical assistance for low income families and individuals. You can apply and see if you qualify for this program.
- State health insurance programs
- Healthcare.gov– this is a healthcare marketplace that provides basic medical care including prenatal care on a sliding scale fee basis.
- COBRA– a plan that provides health coverage to families and individuals who lose their health benefits because of job loss or other circumstances.
- Charitable organizations– if you can’t qualify for any of the insurance programs above, then look into local private and charitable organizations that cater to the health care costs of pregnant women for a lower out of pocket cost.
And that’s it when it comes to preparing for the medical costs of having a baby in America.
Expense #2 : The cost of diapers and wipes
Once your baby is born, you will definitely need to budget for diapers and wipes. On average, a newborn uses 8-12 diapers a day. Which amounts to averagely 300- 400 diapers a month. So about $100 a month on diapers for at least the first six months or so.
HOW TO FINANCIALLY PREPARE FOR AND SAVE ON THE COST OF DIAPERS AND WIPES
- Ask family and friends who want to shower your new baby with gifts to buy you diapers and wipes instead
Make sure they buy a variety of sizes especially size 2, 3 and 4. Don’t buy too many newborn diapers because your baby might outgrow the newborn diaper size faster than you expect. My hubby and I had a small baby shower and we were blessed with enough diapers that lasted the first six months.
- Shop wholesale
Consider shopping at superstores and big box stores for diapers and wipes. Also buy in bulk.
- Subscribe to Amazon moms and save 20% on diapers and wipes
Do this once you know the diaper brand that works best for your baby. It will save you a lot of hustle and money too in the long run.
- Use coupons
When you visit your OB or if you sign up for pregnancy magazines, they will have lots of coupons for diapers and other baby products. Don’t be shy to get these and use them to save some extra money.
- Take samples and ask for diapers at the hospital
Your newborn baby will be offered diapers at the hospital. Be sure to carry home the extra diapers provided at the hospital. Also, companies will send you diaper samples so be sure to sign up for these and take advantage of these samples to decide what you like best.
Expense #3: The cost of baby food
Another expense to really think about is baby food. Most moms plan to breastfeed their baby which is not only healthy but saves a lot on the cost of buying formula. But not every mom is able to exclusively breastfeed unfortunately. Not that they don’t want to but because sometimes it just doesn’t work out.
If you plan on breastfeeding, here are some expenses to plan for:
- Nursing or feeding pillow
This pillow was a lifesaver for me. Especially because my son was born a week earlier than the due date and it took a few days before my sisters arrived to help me with the baby. Having a nursing pillow made it easy for me to position the baby well for breastfeeding. I highly recommend this pillow. It cost about $45 but I included it in my registry so a friend got it for me.
- Nursing bras
Nursing bras make breastfeeding less challenging so I definitely recommend getting at least two of these. I purchased mine at Motherhood Maternity and they were really great quality.
Also, I would suggest to wait until the baby is born to get these because your breast size will change between pregnancy and when the baby is born. And then again, you don’t know if you will breastfeed or bottle feed. So wait at least two weeks after your baby is born to buy these.
- Breast pump
If you plan to return to work, you may need to invest in a breast pump so you’re able to express baby’s milk while at work. Be sure to budget for the cost of this. Depending on which one you go for, it may cost between $50 to $300 approximately.
Some insurance policies cover the cost of a breast pump so be sure to check with your insurance carrier. Also some employers will pay for this as part of their benefits package for moms.
I once worked for an employer that offered this benefit to encourage moms to come back to work after having a baby. So please check with your insurance provider and your employer before spending money on a pump.
If your insurance or employer doesn’t cover the cost of a breast pump, check with the hospital. Sometimes they let you borrow a breast pump. For me, since my son exclusively breastfed for the first four months, I bought the cheapest breast pump I could get for about $50. It came in handy when my breasts were sore and I needed a break.
- Breast milk bags
Sometimes you will have more milk than baby can handle and that’s where the milk bags come in. Once you have pumped the excess milk you can store it in the milk bags and freeze it. These cost between $10 and $30 and you can find them at stores that sell baby items.
- Breastfeeding accessories for the new mom
Other than the nursing bra, as a new mom you will also need lanolin ointment for when your breasts are sore. This you can get at any drugstore for less than $10. You will also need breast pads to prevent leakage. You can also get this at regular stores either disposable or reusable.
What if you don’t breastfeed? What costs should you plan for?
This may cost between $20- $30 per week which averages to about $100 per month for at least the first six months.
- Feeding bottles
There are a variety of feeding bottles to choose from. Some come highly recommended while others not so much. My advice is to try as you go. Don’t buy too many bottles at first, try one brand and see how your baby will like it.
In fact, just buy two bottles first. You can buy more as you need them. We started out with Avent bottles and stuck with them since our son didn’t like to bottle feed. We also tried other brands but didn’t like them as much as Avent.
HOW TO FINANCIALLY PREPARE FOR AND SAVE ON THE COST OF BABY FOOD
- Try and breastfeed exclusively as much as you can
It may be hard, you may experience problems with production and other issues. But if you can, please do it. There are lactation consultants at the hospital who will be so helpful and resourceful for you. Ask for help if you find yourself struggling.
I say this with love and respect because I know it is not easy and it’s ok to give up if it does not work for you. Do what works best for you and your baby.
- Buy in bulk
As soon as you know the type of formula brand your baby takes to well. Try and buy in bulk to get those savings. It also saves you from going back and forth to the store when you could use that time to sleep or have some me time.
- Use coupons
When you visit pregnancy stores and baby stores, you will be offered lots of coupons for different things including formula. Take advantage of this coupons to cut some costs.
- Get as many samples as you can
Whether from the hospital or OB’s office, you will get samples of formula and baby food. Take these samples as you may need to try the samples first to know which one works best for your baby. This will save you from buying a brand that does not go well with your baby and having to throw away lots of formula because your baby did not take on that type of formula too well.
- If you qualify, apply for supplemental vouchers and grants
If you qualify, definitely take advantage of programs such as WIC that offer you vouchers and grants for baby food.
Expense # 4: The cost of baby gear and furniture
Beyond medical costs, food and diapers, you will also need to budget for baby gear and furniture. This is one area that most new parents overspend on unnecessarily. My advice here is to focus on the necessities and avoid buying gadgets designed to cushion the baby.
Babies grow so fast and you’ll be surprised that you won’t use all the gear you buy. So now, I guess you’re wondering what the necessities are. Here is a list.
- A car seat
You need a new one that is safety approved. It may be tempting to get a used one but you will not be allowed to leave the hospital with a used one so just get a new one. The cost for a good car seat ranges from $100 to $400.
- A stroller
You need this to move around with your baby. You can either get a new one or used one. It all depends on your budget.
- Baby sling or baby carrier
A baby carrier or sling is very useful for moving around with your baby. It can allow you to do other things with baby in tow. They cost $20 or more depending on which one you choose to go for.
- Changing pad or table
You will need somewhere to change the baby from. If you can get a changing table. But this is not necessary. A changing pad can work as well. This is what I used and I’m still using. My changing pad cost $45 and it was also a gift from my in laws.
- Crib, mattress and bedding
Your baby will need somewhere safe to sleep so you have to consider the cost of a crib, mattress and bedding. Generally, a new crib costs between $150 upto $1000. Mattresses go for $30 to $200. And beddings go for $ 20 or more.
Also consider that your baby may not be able to sleep in his/her crib as a newborn so you may need a bassinet. This cost $80 or more depending on your budget.
- Bath tub for infants
Lastly, consider the cost of an infant bath tub. This costs $30 or more
HOW TO FINANCIALLY PREPARE FOR THE COST OF BABY GEAR AND FURNITURE
- Add some of this items to your baby registry for family and friends to help you buy them.
- Get used furniture where you possibly can
- Focus on the necessities first
- Buy as you go to ensure you only spend on what your really need
- Remember your baby does not know brand names or class, don’t go for an expensive brand names when there is something else that can do the same job without the brand name.
Expense # 5: The cost of baby clothes
Next, you have to consider how much it will cost you to dress your baby. It can be very tempting to spend a lot on baby clothes because there are so many cute baby clothes in the stores and everywhere. But don’t.
Babies outgrow clothes really fast. My hubby and I barely bought our son any clothes because we chose to use clothes his cousin who is a year older than him had used. Most of these clothes were still new as he had worn them once or twice max.
We ended up just getting a few onesies to add on what we had already received. We also got baby blankets and a few other cloth items.
OTHER WAYS TO SAVE ON BABY CLOTHES
- Buy clothes on clearance.My favorite stores currently are Ross, Marshalls and Burlington
- Don’t buy too many clothes in advance, babies go through growth spurts and may skip some clothe sizes
- Get gently used clothes from family, friends and coworkers who had kids recently
- Buy gently used clothes from stores like Once Upon A Child and consignment stores
- Buy a size up
- Don’t fall for cute, buy practical clothes that the baby can actually wear more than once
- Skip on baby shoes, most babies don’t like them anyway
Expense #6: Childcare costs
Finally, prepare for the biggest cost of being a parent. Childcare. On average, daycare costs between $800 to $1200 per month depending on where you live. The day care hours also vary so make sure you get a daycare that operates within the hours you need to be able to drop and pick up your baby on time.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR AND SAVE ON THE COST OF CHILDCARE
- Ask a family member or friend to take care of your baby at a lower cost than daycare
- Get an in home daycare, they tend to be less costly
- Use on site childcare if your employer offers that. This will be less costly than other day cares
- Ask your employer to allow you to work from home some of the time. You can save a day or two of daycare charges and spend more time with your baby as you work.
- Adjust your work schedule so that one parent is home to take care of the baby when the other is at work. One parent can work at night while the other works during the day. Or one parent can work Monday to Friday while the other works Wednesday to Sunday. Saving two days in childcare expenses each week.
- Share childcare costs with other moms in your area. Partner up with another mom, hire a nanny and share the cost of care between the two of you. Or find a stay at home mom who is willing to take care of your kid for a lower cost than daycare.
- Consider going part time for a while
- Consider taking a year off until your baby becomes a toddler and child care costs a little less than newborn care.
- Consider starting a home business that allows you to raise a family while working to contribute financially to your family income.
As you have seen above, having a baby in America is a huge financial undertaking but it is also very fulfilling. Looking at the money stuff can make you feel stressed and worried but no need to. This is just to give you some insight on what to expect so you can start preparing early in advance.
Have a budget and do what you can to stick to that budget and you will be ok.
OVER TO YOU
If you’re a mom or were a first time mom in America, head over to the blog comment section and add any advice for first time moms in America. You never know, your insight may save someone a lot of money.
Thank you for taking your time to read.