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  • Written by Mike Brown

Having a child is a huge undertaking since they are dependent upon you for every need, from food to healthcare, education to clothing, and everything in between. Taking care of a child requires money, and that financial need is felt especially keenly in the first few years of your child’s life. How much does raising a child really cost? LendEDU decided to find out.

LendEDU conducted a survey of 1,000 parents raising a child between ages one and three and found some interesting facts about how much money it really takes to raise a child in their first year.

In Year One, Baby Will Cost $13,186 on Average

Raising a newborn from birth to age one is an expensive time. There are things to consider that first year that you won’t have to deal with for much longer, such as diapers, bottles, and other baby-specific supplies; those expenses topped the list at 30 percent of the parents’ total expense on their child’s needs.

Infants also need more healthcare; well-baby visits, immunizations, and other healthcare needs are paramount during this first year. Medical care, in fact, was the third-highest expense for the parents surveyed at 17 percent, while the second highest cost was food at 28 percent.

That $13,186 average has to come from somewhere, and for many parents that takes a sizeable chunk out of their annual income. For a full 25 percent of survey respondents, in fact, that money added up to 21 to 30 percent of their total income for the year. For another 16 percent of parents responding, it was up to or even over half of their yearly income.

Financial Commitment of First Baby Leads Some Parents to Stop at One

All of that money spent on the first year of a child’s life has left some parents thinking perhaps one child is enough. A full 26 percent of responding parents said they wouldn’t be having any more kids, with another 27 percent saying they planned to wait at least a few more years before having another. Only 17 percent of parents said they were already trying to have more.

First Year Costs Can Lead to Debt

Those costs can add up quickly, and some parents can get caught in a financial bind that forces them to take out a personal loan, use a credit card, or otherwise go into debt to meet the costs of having a child. While 64 percent of parents said they didn’t need to go into debt to pay for their baby’s care, 24 percent said they did. The average amount of debt parents ended up incurring that first year was $6,144; the median amount of debt was $3,000.

How Does a Baby Impact the Careers of Parents?

Almost half of parents participating in the survey said their baby’s first year affected their career decisions. Within that 45 percent, a third said they or their partner needed to ask for more flexible hours, such as working from home. Others said they had to either change jobs to increase take-home pay or even leave the workforce entirely to care for the child as a stay-at-home parent.

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