How Much Money Does It Cost To Raise American Kids? Bunches. Lots. Tons.

Data from the USDA suggests that Americans spend $15,000 per kid, per year (mainly for food and housing but, increasingly, for childcare) on top of the astronomical expenses of giving birth.

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Children get expensive before they get limbs. That first prenatal visit costs and it only gets worse from there. They need food to eat, supervision, a place to poop, car seats, and, one hopes, the occasional book. To put it extremely mildly, those costs add up.

But just how much do kids cost? Sadists at the United States Department of Agriculture crunched those numbers in 2017, so that you have all the data you need to mourn your savings account in style. They found that Americans spend about $15,000 per kid, per year—mainly for food and housing but, increasingly, for child care and education—on top of the astronomical expenses of giving birth in a hospital. By even the most conservative estimates, the average American family spends $300,000 to raise one child from birth to age 17. We’re not saying it isn’t worth it—just that it leaves a mark on the old wallet.

Here’s some data to keep you up at night.

Giving Birth Can Cost $10,000

Before your children start racking up expenses in diapers and extravagant playhouses that cost as much as a second mortgage, you have to give birth to them. Unfortunately, bringing them into this world costs about as much as keeping them here. The price of delivering your baby in a hospital varies by state, according to an analysis from the non-profit FAIR Health. C-section births aren’t cheap, and will run you between $7,000 and $14,000 depending on where you live. But even vaginal births, without complications, can cost a pretty penny. The most expensive place to deliver vaginally is Alaska, where the average vaginal birth costs patients $10,413. The least expensive state is Alabama, where you can escape the hospital after paying only $5,017.

After That, Expect To Shell Out At Least $15,000 Per Year

If $10,000 to bring your baby home sounds like a lot, keep in mind that labor and delivery is among the least expensive parts of parenting. The USDA estimates that families with incomes lower than $60,000 spend about $10,000 on each child per year until age 17. For the income bracket that falls between $60,000 and $100,000, that figure is closer to $15,000 per year. And if you’re making more than $107,400 per year, you’ll spend about $20,000 per kid, per year.

For reference, this means that raising three children will cost even the poorest Americans about half a million dollars over the course of 17 years—the same price as this luxury yacht.  

Education And Child Care Is Becoming More Expensive

Where does all that money go? Diapers are expensive, but they aren’t worth a yacht. The USDA reports that food, clothing, and transportation account for 60 to 70 percent of those expenses, and that this figure has remained relatively constant since 1960. But the past few decades have changed how the rest of the pie is sliced. Health care account for 4 percent of those expenses in 1960 but, as of 2015, accounted for 9 percent. And childcare and education, once a mere 2 percent of those expenses, now accounts for 16 percent (food, at 18 percent, accounts for only slightly more than that). One reason for the spike is that moms and dads are now both working outside the home in increasing numbers. “In 1960, child care costs were negligible, mainly consisting of in-the-home babysitting,” the USDA explains. “Since then, the labor force participation of women has greatly increased, leading to the need for more child care.”