There are 300,000 babies born in Australia every year (roughly one baby every two minutes), but the cost of having children isn’t something we often talk about. While parental love helps get you through sleepless nights with a new bub, it doesn’t cover the cost of nappies, formula and daycare.
Keep in mind that each person has a different experience of pregnancy and parenthood, which can make it difficult to put an exact figure on the cost of a baby. But, generally speaking, it’s estimated that the first child will cost anywhere between AUD$3,000 and AUD$13,000 in the first year alone.
Plus, there are a bunch of one-off costs to consider during pregnancy and birth that can quickly add up.
Without a plan (a.k.a budget) in place, it can be difficult to come up with the funds to cover these expenses, particularly if you’re taking time off work to raise your baby.
But, like with any big expense, there are practical steps you can take (even before you start trying to conceive!) to get your finances in order before your new arrival comes along.
The sooner you get your head around how much it costs to raise a child, the better equipped you’ll be to navigate these costs when they come around.
Pregnancy and birth costs
This varies greatly depending on whether you choose to go through the public or private hospital system.
- Public hospitals: As most of your costs (such as visits to midwives or obstetricians as well as the actual birth) are covered by Medicare, you’ll typically only expect up to $1,500 of out-of-pocket expenses.
- Private hospitals: Everything from obstetrician visits to specialist fees, gap payments for hospital stays, anaesthetist fees and even scan during pregnancy may incur out-of-pocket costs, which can cost anywhere from $2,500 to over $20,000 (depending on where you live, what hospital you visit and which doctors you see).
If you’re planning to give birth in a private hospital, you’ll need to take out private health insurance. There are different levels of cover (covering the cost of things like a private room during your stay in the hospital, operating theatres, intensive care and more) and each health fund will offer different rates.
Research by Canstar in 2016 revealed that you’d expect to pay between AUD$3,000 and AUD$4,5000 on insurance premiums for a Hospital and Extras package per year.
Remember that your premiums won’t cover everything, and there will still be gap (out-of-pocket) payments you need to make along the way. These can be unexpected costs for many parents, which is why it’s important to factor in some extra room in your budget to account for this.
During each trimester of pregnancy, you’ll be expected to complete a routine ultrasound to check on the baby’s development. In most cases, a portion of these routine ultrasound costs is subsidised by Medicare.
Generally speaking, an ultrasound can cost anywhere from $240 to $340, and Medicare will usually rebate between $50 and $85 of this cost.
The cost of routine blood tests and some immunisations (such as vaccines against whooping cough and influenza) is usually supported by Medicare.
Birthing (antenatal) classes
These can help you to prepare for labour, learn different birthing positions and understand the basics of early parenting.
The cost of these classes varies greatly, with some hospitals proving these classes free of charge, while others can cost up to $500 (particularly for private classes). Your private health insurer may offer a rebate for some of this cost so be sure to check your insurance.
Common items that mums-to-be may purchase during pregnancy include maternity jeans ($40 to $350) and maternity bras ($45 to $75) as well as maternity leggings, and comfortable loungewear or dresses.
A prenatal vitamin is often recommended to support a healthy pregnancy for mum and bub. As a reference, The Prenatal by Kin costs $110 for three months.
Prenatal vitamins are essential and you should begin taking these three months before you start trying for a baby and stop taking them after you’ve given birth (in which time you can swap to a postnatal vitamin that caters to your changing needs).
Kin’s Prenatal is formulated with 12 highly bioavailable essential ingredients that your body can easily absorb and use.
This prenatal vitamin is built to benefit both you and your baby so you can be sure you’re both reaping the rewards.
The formula helps with your energy production, supports your immune system and thyroid health and won’t make you feel nauseous or cause constipation, which is common with many prenatal vitamin formulas.
As for your bub, Kin’s Prenatal supports healthy brain development and strong bone growth thanks to the inclusion of omega 3, vitamin B12 and vitamin K.
Using methylfolate, rather than folic acid, in the formula also means your baby can better absorb the goodness, as can you.
After birth, there is a stack of things that can support recovery and make a huge difference to how you feel in the days and weeks after birth. Kin’s Postpartum Recovery Kit ($119) is a great place to start as it includes a four-step recovery regime that helps heal your vagina and relieve discomfort after birth.
This kit includes The Peri Bottle, to delicately clean your vagina without painful pressure as well as The Mesh Panties, to provide comfort and hold you in the right amount.
There’s also The Soothing Padsicles, which combines instant cold therapy to your vulnerable bits while also providing absorption for your postpartum bleeding, and The Healing Foam, which reduces swelling while providing relief for pain, itching and tearing.
The luxurious belly butter blend of the Nourishing Cream prevents and reduces the appearance of stretch marks, and the Postnatal Vitamin addresses symptoms of postpartum depletion including hair loss, fatigue, and brain fog.
The Sitz Bath is also a must-have for the postpartum period. This includes The Sitz Tub and the soothing Sitz Salts, which work to relieve tender and sensitive skin during pregnancy and postpartum. The Sitz Tub hugs your toilet and turns it into a mini spa for your sensitive bits, while the Sitz Salts help to relieve itchy stretched skins, haemorrhoids or a torn perineum.
For those who have delivered via C-section, you can’t go past The C-Section Recovery Kit ($115). This includes The Mesh Panties and The Nourishing Cream, which is formulated to promote wound healing and reduce scarring.
It also features The Belly Band, which provides targeted compression where you need it most — around your incision and separated abdominal muscles.
The Belly Band helps to reduce post-operation swelling and supports loose tummy muscles while you regain strength in your core. It’s also great for those who delivered vaginally.
Costs once the baby comes home
There’s a stack of costs you’ll likely incur when setting up a nursery as well as when feeding, cleaning, dressing, and transporting your new bub.
Some of the most common expenses can include:
- Breast pumps
- Baby formula
- Baby carriers
- Changing tables
- Car seats
- High chairs
Generally speaking, the costs you’d expect to pay (on average) for these items during your first year as a new parent include:
- Baby furniture = $441
- Baby clothing = $649
- Nappies = $1,227
- Toys = $252
Plus, as your bub grows, they’ll be more costs to consider including:
- Childcare and babysitting
- Education and extracurricular activities (such as sport, dance class, and learning an instrument)
- School supplies
- Moving to a bigger home — whether that means taking out a new mortgage or paying higher rent for a larger property.
It’s worth noting that Red Nose Australia recommends that your baby sleeps in a cot next to your bed for the first six to 12 months of life to reduce the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) — which is now the term for sudden and unexpected death in infancy and includes deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Therefore, you won’t necessarily need to upgrade to a bigger home immediately for more space (but it could be a cost to factor into your budget over the medium to long term).
While this is a lot of financial information to take in, don’t let it stress you out. With a budget in place, you can spread these costs over an extended period and you also have options like layby or pay later services at your disposal, so do use these when needed.