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The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any other industrialized nation. Teen pregnancy is associated with poverty and low graduation rates. In fact, babies born to teen parents are at a higher risk for going to jail, not graduating and becoming teen parents themselves. While some teen parents are able to beat the odds, it’s a lot more difficult for them. On top of all of that, it is very expensive to raise a baby. 

Becoming a parent is a big deal. Babies require a lot of love and attention, but they also have other basic needs that parents have to pay for. Raising a child might be a bigger expense than you think! Bills start to add up before the baby is even born. In fact, they start as soon as someone learns they are pregnant.

Cost of Raising A Baby Quiz

On this page we've listed things a parent would need to get in the baby’s first year of life, and some things that aren’t necessary, but nice to have. Click on each section to read about what is needed. But before clicking on the answer, write down your best guess on how much these items cost. When you’re finished, add up all the sections to find out how much money you’d need for one year.  Assume that you do not have hand-me-downs and no baby shower, so you’re starting from scratch.

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  Before the Baby Arrives

When someone finds out they are pregnant they have to pay for monthly prenatal care check-ups, prenatal vitamins, a visit to the hospital to deliver the baby and a car seat to take the baby home in. Some of these expenses will be paid for if you have insurance, but it depends on the insurance and how much they will cover. Assume for this exercise that you have insurance.

Depending on insurance coverage, hospital birthing out-of-pocket costs can range anywhere from $1,000 to over $6,000. With no insurance they can be upwards of $30,000. These costs include the hospital room, doctors/obstetrician, nurses, anesthesiologist, drugs and more. Costs can go up with longer hospital stays, complications during pregnancy and having a caesarean section rather than vaginal birth. In addition to the hospital costs on the day of the baby’s birth, there are costs throughout the entire 9 months of pregnancy including monthly prenatal care check-ups, prenatal vitamins and a car seat to take the baby home in. 


Prenatal & Birth Total

  Nursery Items

Babies need a safe place to sleep. Babies are prone to suffocation, strangulation, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) when sleeping environments are not safe. Some parents sleep with babies in their bed and it is very common in some countries and cultures. Safe sleeping with a baby is possible, but it takes a lot of education to understand what precautions must be in place for this practice to be safe, including types of mattresses, bedding and sleep patterns. Babies should never be placed in the same bed as parents who have been drinking, parents who smoke or placed in bed with other children. In Milwaukee, unsafe sleep practices are a reason for babies dying within their first year of life. In this scenario, you have decided that your baby will sleep in a crib, whether that is in your bedroom or in their own. 

You will need the items listed below. Remember for some items, you may need to buy more than one. 

  • Crib
  • Crib mattress
  • Crib sheets (3)
  • Crib mattress pads (2)
  • Receiving blankets (5)
  • Changing table
  • Changing table pads (2)
  • Changing table pad cover (3)
  • Baby monitor 

Optional Items:

  • Crib mobile
  • Crib activity center
  • Cradle or Bassinet

Nursery Total Cost

  Health/Safety Items

Babies need special bathtubs, soft washcloths, towels, no-tear shampoo, gentle soap, lotion to keep their skin from getting dry, powder to keep them from getting bacterial infections and diaper rash and special gentle detergent for their clothes. On top of that the baby will start moving around and they are prone to accidents if their home isn’t safe for them. Below is a list of those things.

  • Soft hairbrushes
  • Combs
  • Thermometer
  • Toothbrushes
  • Baby monitors
  • Baby bathtub
  • Baby washcloths
  • Baby towels
  • Soap
  • Lotion
  • Powder
  • Baby oil
  • Bathtub rings & faucet protectors
  • Laundry detergent for washing baby’s clothes
  • Baby gates
  • Drawer latches & outlet covers
  • Humidifier, nasal aspirator, and medicine droppers (if baby gets sick - which they will!)


Health/Safety Items Total Cost



Babies will use 10-14 diapers per day. Some people use cloth diapers to cut costs and reduce the impact on the environment, but they have to figure in extra time and money for laundry and extra diaper covers. Most people use disposable diapers simply because the baby will go through so many in the first few years. In addition to diapers, the baby needs to be cleaned and dried every time the diaper is changed. 

You will need a ton of diapers for your baby. Calculate the cost of diapers and supplies for one year.

  • Diaper pail
  • Diaper bag (2)
  • Diapers (remember to calculate for one year) Hint: You will use about 75 diapers a week (52 weeks in a year).
  • Baby wipes (remember to calculate for one year) Hint: You will use about 2 packages of wipes a month.

Diapers Total Cost

  Breastfeeding or Formula Feeding

Breastfeeding has many benefits for the child as well as the mother. Babies who are breastfed are protected from a variety of illnesses and disorders, have less risk for becoming overweight (even as adults), have been shown to have higher IQ’s and are less likely to develop allergies. Breast milk is easier to digest and protects babies from ear infections and may reduce their risk for childhood cancers. Breastfeeding is also a protective factor against babies dying before their first birthdays. Mothers who breastfeed also see the benefits. Their uterus shrinks to its pre-pregnancy size faster and it reduces the amount of blood lost after delivery. Mothers who breastfeed lose weight faster – they burn up to 500 additional calories a day! Breastfeeding reduces a mother’s risk for breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.  

Some women are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons. Formula can never replace the benefits of breast milk, but is designed to meet the needs of any baby, from those that have sensitive stomachs to those that are lactose intolerant and anything in between. For the purposes of this activity choose either to breastfeed or formula feed, but not both. Eventually the baby will be able to start eating baby food in addition to breast milk or formula. There are many varieties and flavors of baby food, and sometimes it takes trial and error to know what your baby likes and doesn’t like. In addition to breast feeding/formula feeding, calculate 6 months of baby food.

You will need to decide if the baby will drink breast milk OR formula for the first six months.


Breastfeeding - If you plan on breastfeeding the baby (most women breastfeed for 3-12 months) you will need the following items:

  • Breast milk
  • Breast pump
  • Nursing pads (21 per week)
  • Nursing bras (3)
  • Breast milk storage bags/bottles (10)
  • Burp cloths (12)
  • 4 oz feeding bottles for pumped breast milk (10)
  • 8 oz feeding bottles for pumped breast milk (10)
  • Bottle brushes (4)
  • Additional bottle nipples (10)

Breastfeeding Total Cost


Formula Feeding - If you plan on using formula (hint: baby will be on formula exclusively for at least 6 months) you will need the following items:

  • 38 oz cans of formula (60)
  • 4 oz feeding bottles (20)
  • 8 oz feeding bottles (20)
  • Bottle brushes (4)
  • Additional bottle nipples (20)
  • Bottle liners (48)
  • Burp cloths (12)

Formula Feeding Total Cost

  Baby Food

At 6 months old the baby starts to eat baby food. You'll need the following items:

  • High chair
  • Bibs (5)
  • Infant spoons (10)
  • No spill cups (5)
  • Childproof plates & bowls (15)
  • Baby food (500)

Baby Food Total Cost


Babies go through a lot of clothing within their first year (and every day) because of accidents during feeding, changing diapers and because they grow quickly. It is also important to have plenty of different types of clothes within the first year because of changing seasons. Most young babies also like to be swaddled - it helps calm them down and they feel protected.

Below is a list of typical clothing items that baby will need:

  • Sleepers/Swaddlers
  • Gowns
  • Hats
  • Booties
  • Jackets
  • Outfits
  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Shirts
  • Pants
  • Onesies

Clothing Total Cost

  Child Care

Babies need someplace to go when their parents are at school or work. Most moms go back to work or school after two to three months of maternity leave. Assume that you do not qualify for free child care and that relatives are unable to care for the baby during the day. Calculate your total based on 28 weeks of needing child care for one child.

Child Care Total Cost


The following items aren’t necessities, but they make life with a baby much easier so you decide to buy them! 

  • Carrier/Sling
  • Pacifier (nook)
  • Stroller
  • Baby swing
  • Baby jumper/Bouncer
  • Toys/Stuffed animals
  • Teething rings
  • Books
  • Professional pictures
  • Rocking chair

Extras Total Cost

  Total Cost of Raising A Baby

Grand Total - Breastfeeding                                  Grand Total - Formula Feeding

Cost of Abstinence $0.00 

Abstinence is the best way to prevent pregnancy. If/when you choose not to remain abstinent, there are other ways to prevent pregnancy. 

Cost of Condoms Free - $15.00 (36) 

Find Free Condoms - Also, some Milwaukee Public Schools nurses have free condoms available. 


Cost Birth Control (hormonal) $5-$50 per month

It is safer for a teen girl to be on birth control than for her to be pregnant. Hormonal birth control methods come in all shapes, sizes, and costs. Have youth talk with a doctor about the best option for them. Some birth control has to be taken every day; some have to be remembered once a week, once a month, once every three months or once every 5 years. 


As you can see, it is much more cost effective to practice abstinence; or if you are sexually active, protect yourself and your partner from pregnancy. Having a baby is expensive, not to mention, teen parents are less likely to complete high school. Without a high school education it is more difficult to find a job that pays enough to support a family. All of these things are why it is important to think twice before you have unprotected sex.