How Much Does a Baby Cost Per Month on Average–REALLY

Last Updated: June 18, 2024
Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

By Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

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When it comes to having babies, mama, we get so lost in the experience of things growing and engorging and drooping and hurting that it’s easy to get lost in the physical aspects of it.

But it’s really important to think about the money. Stop to really think about it, lady. How much does a baby cost per month on average?

Averages are important. It’s always going to be different at the moment. You’ll have medical costs that differ, kids that eat way more or way less once they’re slinging goop at your face.

You’ll even have different diaper requirements by size and gender.

So there’s really no true or exact figure on how much a baby costs per month. But for the big picture, the averages tell all. So let’s take a look!

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The Cost of Having a Baby Per Month

If you boil it down to the barest form, the cost of a baby is all about diapers and food, clothing, toys, and medical appointments. All else is variable. Sometimes even OPTIONAL.

But let’s face it, mama.


How Much Does It Cost to Have a Baby

According to survey data gathered and analyzed all the way back to the 1960s by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (the bureau of “let’s find out how hard we’ve all been working”), a middle-income family with 2 parents and two children will spend an average $12,980 per kiddo each year.

So on average, we spend $1081.67 a month raising a munchkin.

But wait! Why are we worrying about how many parents there are? And how many kids? And what the heck does middle income have ANYTHING to do with it.

OK, some of those might be pretty obvious. We can expect it’s going to take a whole lot more to raise a kid who lives in the penthouse downtown and wears Armani to the gym. In his private limo. When it’s too cold to just walk his pet tiger around Central Park for exercise.

Unfortunately, the inverse is also true. A family that only HAS $1081 a month is certainly not going to spend 100% of it on their child–as much as they might want to.

Baby Cost Calculator

Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the deaths of kings. That’s just a little Shakespeare for ya.

In this case, the death of the USDA “Cost of Raising a Child” Calculator.

See, it would be amazing if you could just whip out your trusty “expenses of being a parent” calculator and factor those 2.5 children to the 12th degree.

Unfortunately, there is no longer a government-provided calculator for figuring out the cost of having a kiddo.

The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) used to have a calculator, but a recent (ish?) move to a new domain appears to have left the tool behind.

Because it is no longer available, it is necessary to sit at a higher level and focus on what we know about our requirements, and how much those requirements will ultimately cost.

How Much Does It Cost to Have a Baby

So let’s take a deeper look at the math for ourselves. If the government can’t give us something to answer that question of how much a baby costs a month on average, we’ll have to get scrappy.

Regardless of how various your options or how rigid your constraints, there are a few things that are mandatory.

Keep in mind, some of these aren’t monthly expenses, so they’ll hit the wallet once and only once.

How Much Does a Crib Cost

Every baby needs a crib. At least, every baby who wants to be safe from SIDS or rolling face-first onto the floor.

If you get really creative, you can actually manage an expensive crib second hand for as low as $100 – $200 on online marketplaces where peers sell to peers. Facebook Marketplace is one great example.

You can also get your cribs on Amazon, Etsy, or smaller shops like Chairish and This Is Not Ikea.

If you’re looking to go with brand new, there are several great options, ranging from [this actually IS] Ikea’s incredibly budget-friendly $79 to Walmart or Target or Kohls, who all have nice median price ranges to the tune of $100 – $200 as well.

If you’re looking for the top of the class, try Crate and Kids, which sports beautiful craftsmanship worthy of dropping $600+!

Running Total: $79 – $699

Baby Registry Guide

Average Cost of Baby Items

What you’ll need for baby in advance of birthday 0 might range significantly, depending on your expectations and requirements.

For a full list of things you’ll want for baby (and for you!), check out my favorite baby registry items, the list includes essentials for mom, too!

When it comes down to it, the best we can do is figure for necessities, and maybe a few more-or-less guaranteed useables. You can go ahead and call them “mandatory”, because I know you need them.

1. Diapers

Expect to spend an arm and a leg on diapers. In small, separate chunks. It seems really manageable unless you’re really hard-pressed.

By and large, though, this is one of the MAJOR expenses from raising a baby. Eventually, childcare will take over as the king-high jerk of money stealers.

Until then, savor the nickels and dimes you’re bleeding with every day that gorgeous little monster doesn’t potty train.

Average Cost of Diapers (2020)

We’re using a median cost estimate and saying that diapers range from $0.25 – $0.30 a pop, depending on the size of the diaper.

How Much to Expect to Spend on Diapers

Let’s put it all into context.

According to the specifics provided by top diaper brands, you’ll need the following amount of diapers per size with an average baby–in this case, baby boy since baby girl tends to skip size 4.

Diaper SizeNumber of DiapersCost per Size
Size 1728$185.64
Size 2735$191.83
Size 32415$690.69
Size 4952$298.93

Running Total: $1,447 – $2,066

We get more into this in the article, How Many Diapers Per Day to Keep Your Little One Dry & Healthy <– go check it out!

2. Diaper Wipes

Let’s add wipes onto that, though. We’ll figure about 1 pack of 60 wipes for every 40 diapers, we come in from 131.25 packs of wipes.

How Much Will Diaper Wipes Cost

At 3.3 cents from a personal favorite (Pampers Sensitive wipes) or 4.5 cents a wipe from Kirkland, you’ll run yourself $433 – $590.

Running Total: $1880 – $2656

3. Baby Formula & Food

How much you’ll spend in this space will depend on whether or not you breastfeed, mama. You can ultimately save a bit by going natural. Formula can be really expensive, and breastmilk is… well, free!

Although that extra sustenance has to come from somewhere–you’ll likely be feeding yourself a little more so it may very well even out. Who knows.

Average Cost of Formula Per Month

When you consider how much a baby costs per month on average, baby formula can be a big deal. If you have to supplement, choose not to, or are simply unable to breastfeed, there is no better source of nutrition.

The benefit of full and complete nutrition comes at a price though, mama.

Most babies start at about 1-2 ounces of formula every 2-3 hours, which lasts for the first few days. Within those few days, this eventually slows to every 3-4 hours (about 4 ounces per feeding)

Between 1 and 4 months of age, the baby will keep on increasing until running at about 8 ounces.

After 4 months baby will bump to anywhere from 6 to 8 ounces per feeding, at about the same frequency.

The last leg of the officially recommended minimum journey with formula is a stint of feeding 5 to 6 times a day after about the 6 months mark.

That’s an awful lot of numbers. And we’ll check that against the average cost of formula per ounce, which is anywhere from $0.09 – $0.32.

Let me boil it down:

~7 days1-2 oz8-12$5 – $53.76
23 days4 oz6-8$50 – $235
90 days8 oz6-8$388 – $1,843
180 days8 oz5-6$518 – $2304
Total:$961.92 – $4436.48

Obviously, that’s a gargantuan range, mama. With a few exceptions, these expensive brands are going to be for things like special dietary needs and intolerances.

The truth that any doctor will tell you is that those are the ONLY reasons you should over-worry about price when it comes to formula.

Why? Well, formula has to meet a very specific requirement in order to go to market. They basically have to prove that it has 100% of everything a baby needs or it never hits the shelves.

Running total: $2,841.92 – $7,092.48

Related Reading: How to Choose the Right Formula for Your Baby? Organic vs Non Organic

How Much Does Baby Food Cost Per Month

Keeping in mind that your baby may still breastfeed or take formula that whole first year (at least), you will also be best served to help your little one integrate solids into their diet beginning as early as 4 to 6 months.

Recommendations seem to change here, so always check with your doc for the latest and greatest.

The lovely thing about solid food for babies is that you have a phenomenal range of options. There are lots of really great brands seeking to help ensure that your littles is fully prepared to get that steak on board just as soon as humanly possible.

There are also those companies prepared to scalp you for every spare penny you find on the street.

Related Reading: Make Your Own Baby Food

Types of Baby Foods and Training Treats

If you really want to understand the cost associated with these things, you need to classify them a little.

You have cereals, mama. Many doctors recommend you start here, with nice bland rice cereal or something comparable. It fills baby’s tummy and it’s a grain, so it helps grind all the gunk out the other end as tubbs first learns to get the guts moving.

You have legit baby food. You know the stuff. Cute little jars filled with something that looks innocuously like pudding, featuring that adorable little baby in stark relief?

Then you have the little crackers, cereal bars, puffs and melts that claim to support your baby’s snacking habits while helping them teeth.

Cereal, good. Baby food, great. That’s the good stuff.

Those little snacks? Holy crap, do they make it easy to stall your baby out on that little fuss train.

They are actually AWESOME for the diaper bag and that spare minute that you just need to park the baby in their high chair for five freaking minutes of having two hands.

We aren’t really budgeting for these, because they’re literally just filler. Some might have a little nutritional value but you’re certainly not going to transition the kiddo to mango puffs alone.

For this reason, we’ll leave them out of the equation today.

Baby Food in Review

Cereal is very transitive unless you find that the kiddo really likes it. It’s usually gone pretty early because it typically has little or no nutritional value.

The place you’ll get the most bang for your [every last] buck is the jarred food. You can find recipes for making it online to reduce cost, and it’s an awesome experience to do this with your partner.

If you don’t have the time or the capacity, jarred food will run you anywhere from $1.00 to up to $7.00 or so for designer or fully organic brands.

With a monster that starts eating at six months and doesn’t stop until, well, ever, we can assume that in that first year we’ll have something that goes like this:

  • Birth to 6 months: Breastfeeding or formula only
  • 4 to 6 months: 1-2 TBSP of solids a day (depending on doctor’s recommendations!)
  • 6 to 12 months: 4-6 TBSP cereals, 3-4 TBSP veggies, 3-4 TBSP fruits, and 1-2 TBSP of proteins (again, depending on advice from your doctor)

So with these figures, you’d be looking at one 2.5 oz jar of fruits, veggies, proteins every one to two days.

Except that you aren’t supposed to store them after opening. Wink. Nudge. Nice one, right?

So for every day that you feed your little one (presumably from the 6 month mark, on average), you have 3 jars per day.

I’ll save you the nitty gritty. 3 Jars at 180 days is $540 – $3,780.

Running total: $3,381.92 – $10,872.48

So How Much Does a Baby REALLY Cost Per Month on Average?

We’ve talked through a bunch here, mama. And you probably noticed we skipped out entirely on things like childcare and toys.

We’ve seen ourselves almost to the mark on what the government tallies say we should be spending on average once we have that white picket fence in place.

The bottom line? With $12,980 as our high mark, you’re looking at an average of about $1,080 a month to raise a child, and babies come real close to this line without getting too far out of the bare necessities.

The reality is, there’s a lot to cover when you ask how much a baby costs per month on average, but with what you’ve got here I’m sure you’ll have a really great grasp on the important things and how to do right by your baby and yourself.

Happy baby-raising, mama.

Baby Registry Guide
Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve spent countless hours with women who felt anxious — even fearful — about giving birth. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way for you!

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