Having a baby is very exciting, but it can also be daunting. If it’s your first child, you probably have lots of questions about how your new bundle of joy will change your life, like when your baby will sleep through the night or even what things babies need. This guide will help you understand what to expect when your newborn baby arrives, costs associated with your baby, and finally some thrifty and savings tips.
How Much Does a Baby Cost?
It’s estimated that the cost of raising a child through age 17 is $233,610 — and that’s not even counting the cost of college!
While there are a wide variety of factors that will impact how much you spend on your newborn during their first months, some studies show that it costs $20,000 to 50,000 to guide your child through their first year of life. A good portion of that cost is giving birth. The average cost of having a baby in the United States is $10,808 — more than it costs for royals to deliver a baby at the famed Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital in London!
Actual costs can vary depending on what parents decide are the necessary things you need for a baby, but these are some of the expenses you can expect in the first year:
- Bedding: bassinet, crib, sheets, sleep sacks, portable playpen, baby monitor
- Feeding Supplies: bottles, bibs, burp cloths, breast pump, milk storage bags, nursing pillow, bottle brush, spoons, forks, plates, snack cups
- Diapering: diapers, wipes, diaper cream, changing table, changing table pads, diaper pail
- Bath: baby bath tub, towels, washcloths, soap, lotion
- Travel: car seat, stroller, diaper bag
- Health: nail clippers, comb, bulb syringe, thermometer
- Clothing: pajamas, shirts, pants, socks, jackets, hats, no-scratch mittens
- Toys: play mat, rattles, blocks, balls, teething toys
- Other: pacifiers, baby carrier, night lights, rocking chair
In addition to the one-time costs you will experience with a newborn, these are some of the monthly costs you may incur in the first year:
- Diapers: $70–80
- Wipes: $10
- Formula: $150
- Clothing: $60
- Child care: $800
How Much Will Your Hospital Stay Cost?
While hospital costs associated with having a baby will vary based on insurance, it’s no secret that giving birth is expensive. The average U.S. mother with insurance will pay more than $4,500 for labor and delivery out of pocket. Without insurance, these costs are astronomically higher. Women with high-risk pregnancies may face increased costs if additional ultrasounds or weeks-long stays at a hospital’s NICU for a premature delivery are needed.
Some of the common costs new mothers can expect to face after delivery are:
- Mother’s hospital charges
- Baby’s hospital charges
- Obstetric care
- Laboratory tests
There are also postnatal visits for new mothers to make sure they are healing and adapting properly after delivery.
All About Diapers
There is one thing you can count on when having a baby – you will be changing a lot of diapers. Whether you decide to use cloth diapers or disposable diapers, in the first few weeks, a newborn baby goes through about ten diapers a day!
Before starting a diaper change, gather everything you may need, including a clean diaper, wipes, and diaper cream. Keep one hand on the baby at all times for safety. Unfasten the diaper and clean the diaper area with a clean wipe from front to back. Make sure to place the dirty diaper out of reach. Slide a clean diaper underneath baby, apply diaper cream if needed, and fasten the diaper.
If you are using cloth diapers, place used baby wipes in a plastic-lined trash bin or place cloth wipes in a diaper pail. If the child has defecated, discard it in the toilet and place the dirty diaper in a diaper pail. For disposable diapers, place used baby wipes inside the diaper and dispose in a plastic-lined trash bin.
The Costs of Diapering
With so many diaper changes, the cost of diapers can really add up, with the National Diaper Bank estimating that you’ll spend an average of $70–80 per month, or $840–960 in the first year. That’s not including the cost of baby wipes, which could cost an average of $10 or more per month!
One option to save money on diapers is to look into cloth diapers. They are reusable, meaning they’ll have a higher up-front cost but will last much longer. Parents can expect to spend about $800–1,000 on cloth diapers in the first two years of a child’s life. Cloth diapers also reduce landfill waste since they can be cleaned and used again, making them an environmentally friendly option.
- Giving Baby a Bath
Newborn babies only need a bath one to three times a week and can only have sponge baths until the umbilical cord stump heals (about one to four weeks after birth). It can be nerve-wracking at first, but new parents will quickly get the hang of it. The safest place to bathe a newborn is in a baby bath tub until they are able to sit up unassisted. Bath time has many benefits for both baby and parents, including bonding, learning, and getting little ones in the right mood for sleep.
Baby Sleep Patterns
Chances are good that if you’ve decided to have a baby, you know that sleep patterns in the first few months can be unpredictable and it’s hard to know what to expect with a newborn. While newborns sleep 14 to 17 hours a day, they have very small stomachs and typically need to feed every 2 to 3 hours. Newborn babies have no set schedule, and they often confuse their days and nights as they adjust to life in the outside world.
Your baby may be ready for sleep if you notice any of these signs:
- Rubbing eyes
- Looking away
Baby sleep patterns at the infant stage change monthly as babies grow and develop. The following is a guideline of how much sleep you can expect your baby to get:
- Newborn: 16 hours (8–9 at night, 8 during the day)
- 1 month: 15.5 hours (8–9 at night, 7 during the day)
- 3 months: 15 hours (9–10 at night, 4-5 during the day)
- 6 months: 14 hours (10 at night, 4 during the day)
- 9 months: 14 hours (11 at night, 3 during the day)
- 1 year: 14 hours (11 at night, 3 during the day)
You may be wondering when your newborn will finally sleep through the night. Most babies don’t sleep through the night (considered to be a stretch of 6–8 hours) until they are about 3 months old or weigh about 12 pounds.
To make newborn care even more complex, babies often go through several sleep regressions. This means that a baby who is sleeping well may all of sudden have trouble getting to sleep or wake up crying. These sleep regressions are usually triggered by developmental milestones, teething, disruptions in routine, or growth spurts. Common sleep regressions occur at 4 months, 6 months, 8 months, and 12 months. While these can be frustrating for both baby and parents, they are typically only temporary.
Costs Associated With Newborn Sleep
Since babies sleep so much, it’s important to purchase everything you’ll need to ensure a safe and comfortable sleep environment for your child. Safe sleep spaces should be free of obstructions and things that could get in the way of a baby’s breathing.
These are some of the estimated costs associated with sleeping you can expect:
- Bassinet: $150
- Baby monitor: $40–400
- Crib: $125–250
- Crib mattress: $50–150
- Crib sheets: $20–50
- Swaddle or sleep sacks: $20–30
- There are plenty of products and gadgets on the market that promise a better night’s sleep for your baby, but the most important thing is that your baby has a safe place to lay their head.
Baby Development Milestones
It’s exciting to watch babies learn and grow, and parents look forward to each new milestone. Many new parents have questions like, “When do babies start to crawl?” This guide will help parents understand when they can expect their children to meet developmental milestones. According to the CDC, babies should meet these milestones within their first year:
- 2 months: starts to smile at people, coos and makes gurgling sounds, turns head to noise, starts to follow objects with eyes, can recognize faces at a distance, can hold head up and starts to push up when lying on stomach, makes less jerky movements with legs and arms
- 4 months: smiles spontaneously, enjoys playing, mimics movements and facial expressions, starts babbling, responds to affection, indicates if they are happy or sad, shows improved hand-eye coordination, can hold their head steadily unsupported, pushes down on legs when feet are on surface, may roll from stomach to back, can hold and shake a toy
- 6 months: knows and recognizes familiar faces, enjoys looking in a mirror, responds to their name, responds to sounds by making their own sounds, strings vowels together, brings things to mouth, can roll over in both directions, start to sit without support, rocks back and forth
- 9 months: may be clingy with familiar people and wary of strangers, has favorite toys, makes different sounds like “bababa,” uses fingers to point, plays peek-a-boo, can start picking things up between thumb and index finger, gets into a sitting position, pulls to stand, crawls
- 1 year: has favorite things and people, puts out arms or legs to help get dressed, hands you a book when they want a story, responds to simple requests, can make gestures like waving and shaking head, says “mama” and “dada,” uses items like cups and brushes correctly, bangs things together, follows simple directions, walks holding on to furniture, may take a few steps without holding on, may stand without support
Costs of Developmental Toys
There are certain baby products that are meant to assist in fostering development. Many parents choose to purchase these toys and activities in order to give their child stimulation and exercise.
These are some of the toys and products new parents may buy for their baby to promote developmental growth along with estimated costs:
- Rattles and teethers: $5–20
- Bouncer: $20–50
- Board books: $5–10
- Activity gym: $30–150
- Sensory toys: $10–25
- Blocks: $10–30
- Activity table: $25–50
Buying gently used items from online reselling websites, local thrift shops, or garage sales can be a good way to get baby gear at a low cost.
A Note on Postpartum Depression
Having a baby can trigger a variety of strong emotions. Two emotions that may be unexpected are depression and anxiety. While most new moms experience fluctuating hormones and many experience the “baby blues” for the first few days after childbirth, postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum anxiety (PPA) are more severe and long-lasting. PPD and PPA are nothing to be ashamed of, and experiencing any form of depression or anxiety after childbirth does not mean that a new mom is weak or won’t be a good parent.
Some symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Depression and severe mood swings
- Difficulty bonding with your new baby
- Loss of or unusual increase in appetite
- Excessive crying
- Fear of or thoughts that you’re not a good mother
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Intense anxiety or panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
It’s important for new moms who think they may be experiencing PPD or PPA to seek help from a health-care professional. Call your doctor if your symptoms are getting worse or are interfering with your ability to care for your child. Seek immediate help from family or call 911 if you are thinking about harming yourself or your baby. The U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255 or via online chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/.
Helpful Money-Saving Resources for New Parents
Thankfully, there are many online resources to help parents save money and safely navigate the newborn stage.
Discounts and Freebies for New Parents to Save on Costs
The following companies offer free samples and coupons for baby products like formula, diapers, wipes, bibs, and more:
- Target Baby Registry: Create a baby registry at Target, and you’ll get a free welcome kit filled with all sorts of good stuff for you and baby valued up to $100. Plus, you’ll get a 15% off discount on anything left on your registry, 8 weeks before the baby's expected arrival.
- Amazon Baby Registry Welcome Box: coupons and samples valued up to $35 plus a 10–15% completion discount on items left on your registry
- buybuyBABY Goody Bag: samples and a coupon to use at buybuyBABY
- Babylist Hello Box: samples of baby items after making a minimum purchase on the site
- Walmart Baby Registry Welcome Box: samples and coupons for baby items
- Enfamil Family Beginnings: coupons and samples of formula
- Similac StrongMoms: coupons and samples of formula
- Aeroflow: breast pumps at little to no cost through your insurance company
- Seventh Generation’s Generation Good: coupons for baby products
Buying or Selling Pre-Owned Baby Items
These websites are great for finding new or gently used baby gear:
Websites and Communities for New Parents
Find your tribe and learn about the ins and outs of parenting on these websites:
- What to Expect: This website based on the popular “What to Expect” book series provides helpful articles and resources for parents.
- BabyCenter: This site has helpful information for parents of children of all ages as well as a community for parents.
- Lucie’s List: Known for their useful baby gear guides, this site also has information on developmental milestones from pregnancy to preschool.
- Parenting: Get information on all things parenting, including gear reviews and kid-friendly activities.
- Café Mom: This site offers stories from real parents about the trials, tribulations, and joys of raising children.
- Bundoo: This is a doctor-led resource that provides parents with reliable information reviewed by doctors and health-care experts.
- The Bump: Originally a bustling community for pregnant women, this site now also has forums for parents of kids of all ages.
- La Leche League: La Leche League is a nonprofit that focuses on advocacy, education, and training related to breastfeeding.
Bringing a child into this world can be an overwhelming endeavor; this new chapter of your life can feel like taking a plunge into the unknown. All parents know the feeling of balancing that nervous excitement and not truly knowing what's to come. Hopefully, this guide will help make the transition to parenthood easier and even more exciting!