Updated on 01.05.07

Money and the One Year Old Child

Trent Hamm

I’ve had several discussions with readers on the costs of having a child. We’ve all heard quotes of thousands of dollars in hospital costs for the delivery and numbers like a quarter of a million dollars from conception to graduation. However, the big question that many parents-to-be have is how expensive is it on a daily basis to have a child?

I thought I would address this question by looking at the daily costs of my fourteen month old son. I’m going to ignore the startup costs that are usually paid off by this point (cribs, changing tables, and so forth) and focus on the things he uses on a daily basis. Let’s see if I can calculate exactly how much money I spend on a daily basis on the upkeep of my son.

Clothing Let’s start with clothing. Most children’s clothing is relatively inexpensive; unfortunately, they outgrow their clothes every few months at this age. I would estimate that he has about twenty total outfits at an average price of $5 each, along with probably seven footie pajamas at the same price. I average that cost based on the fact that we bought about half of his clothes from yard sale situations, and probably another third still come from gifts from aunts and grandparents who seem to enjoy buying baby clothes. Thus, if we have $150 invested in baby clothes that he outgrows every three months, that’s about $2 per day for clothing costs.

Food At this age, my son has outgrown baby formula and baby foods and thus basically shares our meals with us. The dent he makes in the food is so little right now that we basically prepare the same portions as before. We do purchase whole milk for him to drink, along with fruit juices and various age-appropriate snacks. On average, I would estimate his food costs as $1.50 a day.

Child care This is the truly painful cost. We spend about $24 a day on child care on average. This is averaged for all days, not just the days where we use child care. Obviously, if you are able to avoid the cost of daycare, it will save you a tremendous amount of money on a daily basis.

Hygiene He uses such a tiny amount of material for hygenic purposes and it takes so many of his clothes for a load of laundry that his hygiene costs are minimal. However, there is one major cost: diapers. Disposable diapers add up to about $2 a day and his wipes likely add up to about $0.30 a day, thus I am likely estimating high when I total the hygenic spending at $3 a day.

Entertainment & education Our primary expense for our son’s entertainment is books. He loves to be read to and it is educationally fulfilling to him at this age. Most of his toys are either gifts from others or are homemade and thus have minimal cost. I would estimate that the average daily cost in this category on the child would be $1 a day.

Health care We pay for his health insurance and also a minor co-pay for each doctor’s appointment and medication. This totals up to an average of $5 a day.

His future It’s hard to say which assets we will use for his future, but I can definitively say that we save an average of $4 a day that is earmarked entirely or almost entirely for his future.

Totaling up all of the costs, a fair estimate of our daily cost for our one year old child is $40 a day. Obviously, we could make many additional choices that could reduce these costs, but breaking it down makes it clear which areas you could reduce for your own child.

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  1. Kat says:

    Wow, $24 a day for child care is CHEAP. When I was a nanny, I was making $9/hour. I was taking care of 2 kids, so even if you divide that in half, $4.50/hour for 8 hours a day is still $36. (Yes, I know you said you averaged it for all days.) Of course, since daycare can cost even more than that…

  2. christina says:

    It’s amazing, isn’t it? I think I’ve estimated my three year old’s costs at just over $15,500 a year… your calculations didn’t take into account the cost of housing your one year old! The USDA has a study with all the bells and whistles… I wrote about it on my site: How much does it cost to raise a child? and the link to the USDA numbers is in there.

    Good luck!

  3. Laurie says:

    Yes, my little one goes through a lot of baby clothes. They outgrow them so fast. Thank goodness for grandparents, Sales and garage sales!

  4. Schwamie says:


    Did you calculate in the end of year tax savings (credits) that you get for your child? Depending on income, you are able to file the cost of daycare as well as the addtional exemption for him as well as the child tax credit. I do not know how the state taxes work in Iowa, so I cannot comment on what you might get back on that end. If you take all these into consideration, you daily cost should go down considerably.

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