Basic spawning costs?

Does anyone have favorite resources on figuring out how much to expect to spend around spawning and keeping young spawn alive and happy? Websites, books, podcasts? I probably won’t be able to do this for a couple of years, but it’s something Sweaty and I have always hoped for eventually, and something I’d prefer not to wait too too long to do for female biology reasons. Right now I’m working on saving some while aggressively climbing out of credit card debt. My health insurance is as low end as is legal, but we’ll probably get legally attached before doing this, which I believe would give me access to better insurance.

Even though this is something of a ways off, I’d like to start thinking about it now. How do you go about budgeting/saving to have a kid?

Of course I’m happy to open up this discussion more generally, but for particular details about me: I’m 33F in a monogamous relationship with Sweaty, 31M, and we live in a major US city. Both in good health. I make $30k+, really depends on the year as I have 3 jobs, Sweaty makes about $45k I think at one job. I have credit card debt I’m hoping to pay off in 2+ years, he has no significant debt. My employment situation would likely need to change somewhat in becoming a parent, but I don’t know what that would look like yet (ideally some kind of promotion at my full time job, which is possible but not guaranteed). I just don’t really know where to start in making sure we’re in a position to do this financially.


This is really long so my apologies in advance…

This really varies wildly. For me, there were a ton of “startup costs” fertility testing, supplements, scans, etc. all in the lead up to even getting pregnant. Thankfully I avoided IVF but that would have been another $17-$30k on top of the $7-$8k OOP I had spent on testing and all that. Then there was all the stuff my insurance didn’t cover (shit insurance) like a genetic screen that my fertility doctor strongly recommended ($450), and then they didn’t want to cover the full anatomy scan ($300 - this is considered basic prenatal care) because the tech couldn’t visualize all parts needed in the first scan and it required a second visit. We ended up paying for it and sucking it up because at that point my BP was an issue in pregnancy and dealing with the scan people and insurance people was not conducive to me being calm.

All my other prenatal care was “covered” but that’s in quotes because I had to fight for it even though it is supposed to be 100% covered by law. Bobbin was born in late November and we’d already come close to maxing out our OOP but we still had to pay a bit over $800 for the birth before we could leave the hospital. Aside from the induction (pitocin and a few catheters) I had an uncomplicated (though super long), non-pain medicated delivery so no extra costs for additional care. I did end up getting back maybe around $1500? But the math is foggy because I used an out of network midwife and paid her up front. She refunded me about $1100 once she got paid by my insurance, and then my insurance refunded a few hundred in random chunks with EOB’s that made no sense. With a newborn I didn’t have the spoons to figure it all out.

Lots of factors can influence your costs. I’d recommend keeping a close eye on your insurance coverage and reading the fine print. Mine for example, explicitly does not cover home birth (we planned a home birth but ended up induced at a hospital for pre-E) but the same midwife IS covered for my prenatal care. That meant all of my pregnancy appointments were covered and later reimbursed by my insurance. We knowingly paid more because we wanted a home birth so I was ok with that. The fine print that caused us the most trouble is that they basically said “prenatal care is 100% covered…at 80% per your plan rules.” The website has banners on every other page proclaiming that prenatal care is 100% covered, I’m not being hyperbolic. It was really stupid and I still think what they did was probably not legal but it’s over now.

Outside of the medical stuff, we got lots of hand me downs and gifts and really didn’t buy much for the baby. Until about 6 months, I think all but 1 pack each of onesies and pants (NB size since she was born early and was tiny) were gifted or hand me downs. I rarely buy her clothes even now because people love to gift cute tiny person clothes.

Off the top of my head here’s what we have bought to prep/over the first year:

Halo Bassinet (craigslist): $100
Newborn Size Cloth Diaper Rental: $350 (a portion of this was gifted to us and then we got back $300 in store credit and bought regular size cloth diapers with it)
Cloth Diaper supplies: $100 (this is my best guess. We bought 2 wet bags, 2 travel wet bags, 2 packs of cloth wipes to round out what was given to us, 2 spray bottles, 1 spray system for the toilet)
1 can of formula + bottles for a brief time of supplementing: $50ish
Crib + Dresser + Mattress + 2 sheet sets and mattress protector: $450
Baby seat for mealtimes + baby spoons: $50
Teething toys + Medicine: $50
Misc. Clothes & toys: $100

Total: $1250

Things that were gifted or handed down to us: Carseat, stroller, pack n play, nearly all her clothes & toys, playpen, blankets, swaddles, bath toys & towels, baby carriers, diaper bag, books (so many books!), borrowed a Mamaroo swing (lifesaver!!), I’m sure there’s more I’m probably forgetting.

Add to that the 2ish weeks that H took unpaid to stay home.

I should mention that we changed insurance plans for the year that began the January after Bobbin was born and that dramatically reduced costs and would have saved us even more if we’d had it to cover the pregnancy, but I didn’t know we’d be trying for a baby when we chose the first plan. Insurance is my biggest thing in terms of costs. The actual infant and various supplies for her has only cost as much as we’ve wanted to spend, so we could have spent more or less but we’re happy with our choices in general.

We tried to avoid buying things ahead of time because we thought we’d need them and instead bought things once we realized we needed them. Since we live in an area with lots of stores, 1 day delivery, a healthy Buy Nothing group, and a wealth of used things on FB marketplace and craigslist this was a great option. We still ended up buying some things we thought we needed in 2am panic, but I think doing it that way still saved a lot of money. Also breastfeeding and cloth diapering have saved us money with the caveat that they didn’t take away from our mental health to make them happen. They are not worth it if they are not that way for you. My insurance completely covered an amazing lactation consultant who helped me through the first 3 months (super hardest part of nursing for me) and now we’re still going strong at 13 months.

Resources I liked: Expecting Better & Cribsheet by Emily Oster - she’s an economist and talks about lots of different pregnancy/parenting choices and helps break down the elements in each decision which helps you determine what is “worth it” for your family. Not always in terms of costs but there are definitely things in there that helped me decide it wasn’t worth it to spend $$ on something. The other biggest resource was honestly the fertility and pregnancy thread on MMM. The collective of wonderful humans there helped me with everything and always have a broad range of experience on things.

My #1 thing for myself and my family was that I wanted to have choices. So I was glad we had several thousand saved and could afford the midwife I wanted, for H to stay home for a while (though I wish he had any parental leave at all, but that’s a different topic). Basically I was glad we had some level of F-U money to work things out, so I highly recommend that if you can swing it.


Mine hasn’t exited the womb, and the exit should be basically free (Canada). As far as I can tell they cost as much or as little as you have.

Being pregnant surprised me with its expenses
14 weeks of every two weeks refilling diclectin was 35 each time after my insurance
I can’t handle looking at my spreadsheet but I think about 8000 in missed revenue due to sick days and reduced hours (I made 43000 pre tax, so close to 20%)
Higher food costs thanks to exhaustion and morning sickness
90% of my maternity wardrobe was a gift from @smacky who bought it on FB marketplace. But things like 4 different size sets of bras, and a few extra work appropriate t shirts(Walmart large $7 or motherhood maternity $30) and 2 sizes of new swimsuits and a maternity winter coat and bigger underwear (bikini cut from Walmart up a size will cooperate)… It’s more than a normal year’s clothing spend. And another friend gave me some quite big maternity and nursing clothes that aren’t work appropriate.

With your 3 jobs you might find some don’t work with your pregnant body or you might be a superhero. Post baby hopefully they give enough flexibility to minimize child care costs.

The Babycentre forums have a couple of personal finance boards with case studies…I’ve learned that in the states you can get WIC helping with groceries even if you don’t normally qualify, and that Medicare is actually really awesome pregnant and you can get on it any time. That a lot of women are homeless or housing insecure for part of their pregnancy and still make it work and make awesome families. That other women wait until they can afford 24/7 night and day nannies and big houses and stuff and seem to struggle an equal amount.


This is what has me so confused about how to prepare financially. I know I’m in a position to save some to prepare, and probably to get on a better insurance plan well in advance of the attempt, but I know I won’t be where I’d ideally like to be financially until I’m in my mid forties maybe, so it’s hard to determine what a responsible compromise is. Both of your answers have been incredibly helpful though, and I have a lot to think about and resources to check out!


If it helps, H and I were on the track of “make lots of money and save it so that we can TTC by the time I’m 30” then on my 26th birthday I got an email that basically said “I know this wasn’t the issue you were looking into, but good luck having kids without IVF, and oh by the way you’ve got less than two years for even that to work” from my doctor. So we were at the very beginning of our accumulation phase but we knew we wanted kids and just had to go for it. All the testing and extras and everything drained our liquid savings and we’re building back from that now, but it’s doable. It was way less than ideal timing but it’s going to be fine. The fact that we had a handle on our finances to begin with was huge.

I firmly believe no one is ever ready or can even fully prepare for all the ways having kids changes things. So that just leaves doing your best and going with your gut.


I’m pinned under an almost 8 week old, so while my answer will be very current, it will also be pretty limited/unfocused I’m sure. US here.

My costs:
Making the baby. I was unfortunate enough to have ovarian reserve issues at 28, which we only found out after trying for a year. Ended up taking 2 years and about $36k out of pocket to make a baby happen for us.
Pregnancy is expensive. Especially because we had two insurance plans this year since H changed jobs in June and we hit both deductibles.
Pregnancy costs; I gained a lot of weight in spite of being very active. (Made sense later at delivery when I developed severe pre eclampsia… I sweated nearly 50 of the 60+ lbs off in the first 10 days post partum). But this meant I had to replace ALL clothes. Nothing old git. This even includes shoes! Foot size change is common. Even shopping g sales, FB marketplace, and buy nothing, I probably have spent $400-500 on clothes for pregnancy and post partum this year. And I’m just talking leggings and t shirts, I wasn’t working.
Related. I’m staying home at this point, and honestly not sure how I’d go back to work. Husband travels and works unpredictably; I’m a nurse who works long shifts. Without family to provide weird day and hours care, we’re high and dry without paying a ton, and I don’t make enough to make that plus a second car worthwhile most likely.
Scans are expensive. Pre-labor pregnancy medical costs are probably $2k. Labor is looking like it’s all coming out to $5.5k. This is all out of pocket; what we’ve actually paid/owe.
Baby gear cost way less than expected. Part of that is living in a city with lots of gear and clothes that are easy come and easy go through Buy Nothinf and h Th e like. Also very generous family at showers. If I had made cloth diapers work, we would have had virtually no diaper costs (lenders and hand me downs from a friend). Unfortunately, my baby is very wet sensitive so she hates cloth at this point. We’ll try again later, but for now we’re using disposables. Costco is our route here. I haven’t run the numbers, but I’d guess $80 per month for diapers and wipes?
We’re breastfeeding successfully, insurance gave us a free pump (thanks Obama!) and we got free bottles with Buy nothing and friends hand me downs, so no formula costs.

As for our planning. We got to the point of living on one income and saved $10k (a little more than one years OOP maximum on our insurance). Fertility costs were a whole other circus haha. Basically, we wanted to feel stable in jobs and relationship, and know how we would cover daycare/diapers/formula/medical. We did not wait for full debt pay-off. Which ended up being a very good idea with my fertility issues.

I’ll second the MMM baby and pregnancy chat journal. Although I’m biased, I was the one who started the whole thing :rofl: lol!


My kids are 13, 12, and 10 so slightly dated info perhaps but my wife’s company’s insurance has been fairly similar in coverage and costs over the past 14 years excepting the “cadillac” level plan so maybe not. We had one super complicated L+D (kid spent 2 weeks in NICU and my wife spent several extra days in hospital, both with sepsis) and two pretty normal ones. No issues with coverage denials that I can recall.

All 3 years if memory serves me right we hit our out of pocket max, and this seems to be pretty common in US so often the recommendation I’ve seen when evaluating insurance options for pregnancy is compare total premiums and out of pocket max for each plan. Often the cheapest plan wins out because the cheaper premiums more than pay for the higher OOP max. But YMMV.


This is my experience.


And further to Bracken joy and I both mentioning needing full new wardrobes… I made a decision a few years ago to stop working white/pink collar jobs that paid disproportionately to my clothing expenses for the job. So my job needs leggings and a t-shirt in decent condition, and my days off I can be less out together. Friends in corporate jobs have had to spend $$$$ on maternity clothes, but can wear dresses, which are more adjustable (and so friends in service Jobs have often gone with dresses, sweater dresses stretch forever until they are too short). Friends in retail or factories or at home do men’s second hand t shirts and sweatshirts, and that works too.

If your jobs are flexible on clothes it helps a lot


Such a good point. I didn’t think about that. I WFH so I only bought maybe $200 of stuff because this was one area where I couldn’t find used clothes to get me through. But only needing presentable jeans and tops for client meetings once the warm weather passed made it easy.


Yeah it’s worth mentioning I’m pretty tall, so hand me down maternity clothes were thin pickings for me. That plus the weight gain meant I had to out and out buy more.


I had nearly all hand me down maternity clothes (bought a few on deep clearance) and nearly all hand me down kid clothes up until this point (Pebbles is one year old). If you can cleverly time your child to be born 6 months after a few close friends in your circle, I highly recommend it.

But if you can’t…I’ve also been really successful at local consignment sales. Thrift stores are cool and FB marketplace is great but if you can find large scale consignment sales (in my area often advertised on FB), they are gold. They have literally every baby item imaginable and often you can volunteer a few hours on a weekend and get in early, or get a few bucks off your purchases.


If you want/ need to go the route of getting things second hand or hand-me-down during pregnancy and with a kid, please know that this is actually a skill and not a magic that just happens. I did not have the skill before getting pregnant and still am not good at it, so we buy a lot new. Also, people in our circles are either having kids exactly when we are OR aren’t there yet. If your friend group has some people slightly ahead in baby making, that works much better for getting hand me downs. Also, as @Bracken_Joy mentioned, being a standard size human helps when getting things from others.


I am at least lucky in being a standard sized (if short-ish) human, and I do work jobs where I can (and do!) wear workout clothes!


I’m terrible at buying second hand directly, but have been super lucky finding 2 good second hand kids stores that aren’t a rip off. I agree that buying second hand is a skill, and end up shopping new for me. That’s why having a friend source the mat clothes was such an incredible gift.

Also this pregnancy has taught me that people hold onto baby stuff up to 8 years. 8 years!


I think my only maternity clothes were one
pair of leggings and one dress that was a gift. I gained over 80 pounds :laughing: My wardrobe at the time was mostly knit dresses and they just got shorter until they became tunics!

That’s a really good point, @LadyDuck.


Utterly unrelated to costs, but I’m so happy that Alchemist and your kiddo came through sepsis okay. That had to have been scary.

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Thanks :slight_smile: Yeah it was pretty scary at points, and that was really about the tamest of possible reasons to have a newborn end up in the NICU.