Bring in a new human being into the world and need to do some budgeting.

Southern California, suburb of a major city.

One income household with both parents.

Don't know who will be watching the child, depends on budget and if the other parent needs to work..

In the United State, living in a upper middle class society, what is the average cost of raising an infant, at each year (for the first 5 years before schooling starts)?

For example:

Average cost at age 1:
Average cost at age 2:
Average cost at age 3:
Average cost at age 4:
Average cost at age 5:

  • 1
    This is not a parenting question. It's about money and finances.
    – Dariusz
    Jan 29, 2015 at 9:48
  • 4
    @Dariusz I disagree. It certainly is related to parenting, and the financial aspect of parenting is on topic for this site. While this also might be on topic at Personal Finance & Money, StackExchange philosophy allows for this possibility, and there is nothing wrong with the question being on this site.
    – Joe
    Jan 29, 2015 at 15:42
  • 2
    @KRT While I think this is an answerable question, you would get a better response and be less likely to be closed if you included more text in the question. Particularly, why are you asking it? Are you asking because you want to know for a research paper - that's basically what it looks like now (and is probably not a good reason to ask on this site). Are you asking because you want to have a child, or want to not have a child, and want the information to inform that decision? Or some other reason?
    – Joe
    Jan 29, 2015 at 15:54
  • 1
    @Erica I know, I was generalizing to combine that comment into one with Chrys' (who did). And I agree motivation is important to getting good answers. But I also think that it's not too broad, on its face; it's a very easily answerable question as asked (albeit the answer may or may not be exactly what the asker wants).
    – Joe
    Jan 29, 2015 at 15:55
  • 1
    @Joe in any case, your later comment is better phrased than my original(s) :) Nice responses.
    – Acire
    Jan 29, 2015 at 15:57

1 Answer 1


According to the USDA's Expenditures on Children by Families annual study (2013 is the latest I found):

Table 10. Estimated annual expenditures* on a child born in 2013 by income group,
overall United States
Income group
Year Age Lowest Middle Highest
2013 <1 $9,480  $12,940 $21,430
2014 1   9,710   13,250  21,940
2015 2   9,940   13,570  22,470
2016 3   10,220  13,930  23,020
2017 4   10,470  14,260  23,570
2018 5   10,720  14,600  24,140

They don't provide a single value, but you could determine that by going to the Consumer Expenditure Survey and duplicating the USDA's methodology, which is included in their annual report.

They do explain that this varies significantly by income, single/double parent household, region, and other factors; many of these are broken out in the report.

  • 3
    I'd also note that a big factor in Middle -> Highest is childcare: Middle and Lowest are likely either single-income households, not working at all, or have family or friends watching the child; at minimum, they might be using an at-home daycare center, but even then it's hard to imagine $12000 being enough in an urban environment in particular - I spend close to $12000 on one child alone at an at-home daycare (in an urban environment). Highest are very likely using daycare centers which can be upwards of $15k per child.
    – Joe
    Jan 29, 2015 at 15:59
  • 1
    Another relevant note: they specifically state that housing expenses are usually a significant portion if not the largest, particularly in the lower incomes; that's likely because they count most of the housing expense as due to the child - without a child people tend to have much smaller houses (or just live in an apartment) and choose less nice areas to live (particularly with lower property taxes and thus worse schools).
    – Joe
    Jan 29, 2015 at 18:29
  • thanks for your wealth of information, I appreciate you help. Are you saying the day care alone was 12k a year for your child?
    – KRT
    Jan 29, 2015 at 18:35
  • 2
    Daycare costs are highly variable. You could write a book on the subject. But at minimum, consider that as an infant you need a 4:1 ratio (in my state, around that in general) of infants to caregivers. So for a minimal $12 an hour labor cost ($8+taxes and benefits), each is responsible for $3. Say 50 hours a week, the minimum cost would be $150 per week or $7800 a year. Add in the costs for facilities, foods, etc., and $12k is pretty reasonable.
    – Joe
    Jan 29, 2015 at 18:50
  • 1
    Our first child was in a nicer daycare center before we moved to the suburbs; the annual cost there was about $18k. That was for the infant room, which had 5 teachers to 12 kids (so better than 3 to 1 rate), fairly educated staff, its own building and playground, etc.
    – Joe
    Jan 29, 2015 at 18:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .