Average Cost of Raising a Child 2024 [Complete Cost Breakdown]

Updated On: 08/30/2023
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You've felt the joy of holding your newborn for the first time and prepared for sleepless nights, diaper changes, first steps, and many more milestones, but have you considered the financial implications of parenthood?

It's no secret that raising a child can be expensive, yet you might be surprised at the actual numbers. This article highlights the average cost of raising a child in America today.

Understanding where your money will likely go isn’t just about preparing for sticker shock; it’s about planning and making informed decisions.

With expenses spanning from housing and food to medical care and education, families must take a practical look at what they should expect financially throughout their child's upbringing. Let this guide you as we delve deeper into the predominant costs of raising a child in the US.

Average Cost of Raising a Child

According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report, the average cost of raising a child in the United States from birth to age 18 is approximately $233,610. This figure includes housing, food, transportation, healthcare, education, child care, and other miscellaneous expenses.

However, this cost can vary widely depending on location and family income. It's also important to note that this figure does not include pregnancy or college education costs.

Costs Of Raising A Child: Cost Breakdown

Costs Of Raising A Child: Cost Breakdown

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), raising a child can range from $15,000 to $18,000 annually. Below is a more detailed breakdown of these expenses if parents were to spend $18,000 per year:

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Housing (28% of the total costs, $5,040)

Housing is typically the most significant expense when raising a child. The cost includes your child's physical space, utilities, and necessary home maintenance.

As parents, you must consider whether your current living space can accommodate a child or if it's time to upgrade.

This could mean moving from an apartment to a house with more bedrooms and a yard for them to play in. Remember that you may have additional expenses for furnishings and kid-specific safety fixtures.

Food (15% of the total cost, $2,700)

Regarding food costs, it's no surprise that as your child grows, so does their appetite, from baby food and formula in the early years to more substantial meals as they age. It also includes occasional treats, school lunches, or dining-out expenses.

This cost can be managed with intelligent grocery shopping and meal planning but will continuously form part of your budgeting as children often eat at high frequencies.

Childcare and Education (13% of the total cost, $2,340)

The costs for childcare and education start from early childhood until they're at least 18 years old. It ranges from daycare fees when they're young, followed by school supply costs like books and uniforms once they start school.

In today's competitive world, extracurricular activities are almost considered necessities, thus adding to this budget constraint, too!

Don't forget about field trips or class events that often come from your pocket. Investing in your child’s education is one expenditure that pays off generously in the future.

Transportation (8% of the total cost, $1,440)

Your car suddenly has new responsibilities as a baby shuttle. You'll find yourself planning trips around feeding and nap times. That means more mileage, thus more money spent on maintenance, insurance, and fuel expenses.

If you live in cities where public transit or walking is not an option, you may need to consider upgrading your vehicle to accommodate car seats and all the "on-the-go" necessities that kids require. From grocery store runs to pediatrician appointments and school engagements - it all adds up!

Healthcare (6% of the total cost, $1,080)

The joy of seeing your child grow comes with regular health check-ups and necessary vaccinations, which impact your spending. Even with health insurance coverage, out-of-pocket costs can increase quickly due to co-pays, medications, or treatments not fully covered.

Health expenses tend to peak during infancy and adolescent years, but remember- a stitch in time saves nine! Preventive care plays a significant role in mitigating high future costs concerning your child’s health!

Clothing (5% of the total cost, $900)

When it comes to clothing costs for kids, you're not just dealing with growing bodies that seem to need a new wardrobe every few months.

You're also grappling with changing seasons necessitating your suitable attire, and don't forget about footwear.

If you’ve got an active kid who loves making a mess or simply being outdoors roughing it out, be prepared as laundry loads increase along with your water bill. Purchasing high-quality essentials that are durable can be more economical over time.

Extracurricular Activities (17% of the total cost, $30,600)

Extracurricular activities are more than just a method for your child to burn off energy—they're crucial for personal growth and social development.

This can cover various activities, from sports leagues and music lessons to summer camps and academic clubs.

Keep in mind that the cost doesn’t only include enrolment fees. You may also need to purchase gear (like uniforms or musical instruments), pay for travel to matches or performances, and even contribute as part of fundraising events.

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Entertainment (3.5% of the total cost, approx $630)

Entertainment spending includes watching a movie, attending a concert, or visiting an amusement park.

These costs can add up over time but also provide a valuable break from everyday stresses for you and your child.

Having outings as a family is beneficial—it provides an opportunity for bonding and broadening your child's life experiences.

Toys and Games (3.5% of the total cost, approx $630)

Toys and games are integral to every child’s developmental stages as they contribute substantially towards cognitive growth and entertainment.

They are fundamental tools in developing motor skills, creativity, problem-solving abilities, and social skills in children.

From stuffed toys in infancy to games that help them with various learning stages—the costs over time can stagger.

It's crucial not to be guided by societal pressures or marketing ploys in purchasing excessive toys—remember, quality over quantity is key here.

Insurance (health, life, etc.) (3.5% of the total cost, approx $630)

Having a child means additional responsibilities that require adequate planning and preparation.

This is where insurance comes into play. Health insurance for your child covers routine check-ups, vaccines, and emergency medical expenses.

Life insurance ensures your family is financially secure in case of a parent's untimely death. It may seem unnecessary now, but consider it an investment in securing your child’s future.

Birthday and Holiday Gifts (3.5% of the total cost, approx $630)

Birthdays and holidays are special times that children look forward to each year. The joy of giving your child gifts on these occasions is indescribable, but it adds to the annual cost of raising them.

These costs can vary greatly depending on family traditions and peer pressure from society to celebrate these events with grand gestures and expensive gifts. As parents, you should take into account this potential expenditure while budgeting.

Personal Care Items (3.5% of the total cost, approx $630)

Personal care items include everything from infant diapers to unique hygiene products as they age, such as toothpaste, shampoo, or sanitary products for girls.

As kids grow and develop their personality, so will their care needs expand too! With early developmental stages also comes an increase in skin care products or style-related purchases like hair gel or lip gloss. The expense might seem trivial initially, but trust us when we say it adds up over time.

Miscellaneous Expenses (3.5% of the total cost, approx $630)

Miscellaneous expenses encompass those costs that don't fit neatly into the other categories but are integral to raising a child.

They can include personal care items like toothbrushes and shampoos, birthday parties and holidays costs, or unexpected costs like replacing worn-out shoes or repairing a broken toy.

These often-overlooked details help to make life enjoyable for your child while keeping them well-groomed and socially engaged.

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How Will Costs Change in the Future?

How Will Costs Change in the Future?

The future costs of raising a child can be anticipated to rise due to inflation and increased healthcare and education expenses.

According to CNBC, childcare prices soared nearly 50% since the start of the pandemic. Similarly, Federal Reserve Economic Data indicates a steady upward trend in college tuition and fees over the past two decades. Additionally, unexpected economic events can cause drastic fluctuations in costs.

As such, parents should consider future financial planning, including inflation-adjusted savings plans, to prepare for these potential surges in child-rearing prices.

FAQs About the average cost of raising a child

What is the largest expense in raising a child?

Housing typically represents the most significant expense, consuming approximately 28% of the total cost.

How does the cost of raising a child differ based on location?

The cost can vary significantly based on location due to differences in cost of living, housing, and childcare costs.

Is raising a child today more expensive than previous generations?

Yes, primarily due to factors such as inflation and increased costs of childcare and education.

Are there tax benefits available for parents?

Yes, several tax benefits are available for parents, including tax credits for childcare expenses and education.

What are some strategies for managing the cost of raising a child?

Smart budgeting, planning for future expenses like college education, taking advantage of tax credits and benefits can all help manage these costs.


The average cost of raising a child comes with significant financial responsibilities. Every facet of your child's life, from housing and food to education and healthcare, represents an investment. While daunting, understanding these expenses allows for prudent financial planning.

Remember that every dollar spent is an investment in their growth and future. While each family's cost might vary based on individual circumstances like income, location, or lifestyle choices, awareness of these potential expenses is essential for every parent.

Informed financial planning can make the journey smoother without compromising on providing the best for your child.

Michael Restiano

I support product content strategy for Salt Money. Additionally, I’m helping develop content strategy and processes to deliver quality work for our readers.

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