*Reprinted from WhatToExpect.com*
By the time reality sets in — you’re going to be parents! — the squeeze has already started. Pregnancy test: $12 a pop. Prenatal vitamins: $12 to $25 a month. Maternity clothes could be hundreds, depending on the brand. There’s no question that your little baby-to-be will be worth every penny (and then some), but having kids does come with a hefty price tag. The U.S. government estimates that middle-income parents of an infant born today will spend at least $245,340 to raise that child to age 18 — and that’s *before* you factor in college tuition (ouch!). Here’s a quick primer on what you can expect to spend on key baby items in the first year. Starting a budget plan now will give you extra time to save.
– **Nursery furniture.** For the bare-bones set-up — a crib and crib mattress — it’s possible to get away with spending as little as $130 total. If you’re dying for a chic, super deluxe nursery, you can fork over up to $4,000. Assuming you fall between those two extremes, figure $125 to $350 for a crib, $50 to $150 for a crib mattress, $100 to $200 for a changing table and $130 to $450 for a glider chair.
– **Car seat.** An absolute must, as hospitals won’t let you take baby home without one, an __[infant car seat](http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/ask-heidi/car-seat-safety.aspx)__ generally costs between $65 and $400. Don’t fret if you can’t afford one on the higher end of the range. All car seats sold in the United States have to meet the exact same safety standards. And keep in mind: This baby gear essential is something you’ll want to buy new. Secondhand car seats or those purchased a few years ago may have been built to outdated safety standards or may have too much wear and tear to be safe.
– **Stroller.** Infants need a sturdy, supportive __[stroller](http://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/baby-gear/strollers/travel-system.aspx)__ that fully reclines (a must for a newborn). These start around $100 and can go up to about $1,000 (yikes!). Once your baby gets a little older and can sit up on her own, you can opt for an inexpensive umbrella-style stroller ($25 to $100), which are smaller, lighter and easier to push around.
– **Diapers.** Ask a bleary-eyed new mom or dad about the cost of a baby and their reply often starts with “The diapers alone …” During your baby’s first year, you can expect to change 2,700 diapers at a cost of between $.14 and $.25 a pop for disposables, or about $378 to $675 total. Cloth diapers from a diaper service are comparable. If you buy and wash your own, you’ll save big, although your water and electric bills will go up, you’ll need to stock up on detergent and you’ll be taking on some extra housework.
– **Formula/food.** Breastfeeding has big health and cost-saving benefits, though you’ll want to invest in three or four nursing bras (about $25 each) and a pump (starting at about $25 for a manual pump up to $350 for some double electric models). For a year’s worth of formula, count on spending about $1,100 to $1,700, depending on the brand and whether it’s powder or ready-made (and some formulations for babies with specific dietary needs can cost quite a bit more). Bottles run $2 to $12 apiece; many parents stock up on at least 10 to 12 of them, since you might go through a few different models before finding one baby likes.
– **__[Child care](http://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/childcare-options.aspx)__.** A biggie. If both you and your partner will be working full-time, you’ll spend an average of $3,972 to $22,631 a year on infant day care (the cost drops a little as the baby gets older). The price varies widely based on your geographic location and whether the day care is center- or home-based. You’ll likely pay more for a nanny; according to a 2012 survey by the International Nanny Association (INA), a full-time nanny will cost an average of $705 a week, or $36,660 a year. Many families split time between a nanny and day care to save money.
– **Clothing and other accessories.** All those teeny-tiny, utterly adorable outfits add up. And then there’s __[baby gear](http://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/baby-gear.aspx)__ like a bouncy seat, swing and diaper pail to consider. The good news: Friends and family will most likely fill your nursery with those kinds of gifts. To encourage that trend (and ease your baby budget burden), take advantage of registries. Then fill in the gaps with garage sale and consignment store buys. Since babies grow so fast, it’s easy to find good quality, barely used items on the cheap.
First-year expenses can add up quickly. But with a little planning and saving, you’ll be prepared to tackle that new baby budget so you can focus more on your little one than on how much you’re spending on her!
*Reprinted from WhatToExpect.com*