The Real Cost of Having a Baby During COVID-19
- The Real Cost of Having a Baby During COVID-19
- Financial Positives of Having a Baby During COVID-19
- The Lowdown
You always knew babies were expensive, but the actual costs of having a baby during COVID-19 may surprise you.
From higher daycare costs to increased food prices, the pandemic has affected the real cost of having a baby in multiple ways. Families are struggling to make ends meet, and although I had my sons pre-pandemic, I relate.
When pregnant with my first son, I didn’t fully anticipate the unexpected costs of having a baby.
Sure, I knew diapers and food would add up, but I paid little attention to our family’s raising utility bills, unforeseen medical expenses, and nonexistent college fund.
I was a teacher at the time, and my husband was unemployed, so we were a paycheck to paycheck type of family in those early days.
Now, with a worldwide pandemic thrown into the mix, the cost of having a baby during COVID-19 adds even more financial variables and stress for new and expecting parents.
According to Pew Research, around half of U.S.non-retired adults said COVID-19 would make it difficult to achieve financial goals.
The point: Budgeting for your baby during COVID-19 is more crucial than ever, and perhaps, more complicated.
To help you on your journey, we’ve compiled a list of factors that influence the real cost of having a baby during COVID-19 while adding a few financial tips along the way.
On our list, you’ll see typical childcare costs like prenatal classes, diapers, and insurance, but with a spin on how Covid affects the financial aspects of having a baby. We checked in with a few moms who had a baby during the pandemic, too.
The real cost of having a baby during COVID-19
Before the pandemic, families already faced tight budgets. In fact, a 2019 report on economic well-being found that over ⅓ of Americans couldn’t afford a $400 hospital or home repair bill WITHOUT going into debt.
Now, a solid year+ into the pandemic, unemployment, daycare shutdowns, and higher food costs are the norm, and families find themselves in an even more unprecedented situation than before.
Here are some costs of having a baby during COVID-19 we’ll explore:
- Prenatal classes
- Maternity and paternity leave
- Health insurance
- Higher utility costs
- Unexpected quarantine costs
- Life Insurance
- Online therapy
Preparing for your child’s birth is still as important as ever, but due to Covid, the usual crowded in-person classes have shifted online.
Although some of these still come with a cost, like Tiny Hoods Baby 101 class that sells for 160 bucks a pop, expecting parents can also find online opportunities for free.
No matter the route you choose, factor in your prenatal class costs into your baby budget.
Here are a few online prenatal class options to explore:
Maternity and paternity leave
A UNICEF Family leave policy report shows the U.S., offering 0-12 paid leave weeks, lags far behind countries like Estonia (85 weeks) and Sweden (36).
Sure, the Family Leave and Medical Act requires some U.S. companies to provide 12 paid weeks of leave, but this doesn’t extend to private companies with less than 50 employees.
I get it.
Working in a private school with roughly 30 employees, I was fortunate to receive any maternity leave. And when I had my first son, my employer gave me six weeks of paid leave (that they weren’t even required by law).
I used a week of my sick time to extend it to 7 weeks; then, it was back to work.
When budgeting for a new baby, calculate any extra costs of staying home with your newborn – with or without paid maternity/paternity leave.
To relieve the burden, families may choose to open a savings account to have the funds to extend their maternity/paternity leave or to make one possible (if you’re self-employed or not eligible for paid leave).
After giving birth to my first son, I received a scary $30,000 bill in the mail for his birth. The good news, I was insured, and this was a clerical error. And although it took me hours to fix, my insurance covered the majority.
But could you imagine paying such an amount out of pocket?
Unfortunately, according to a CommonWealth Fund study, as of June 2020, up to 7.7 million workers lost jobs with employee state insurance. And since many of these workers had dependents, a startling 14.6 million individuals were affected.
Fortunately, having a baby qualifies as a life event, so getting your nugget on an insurance plan isn’t terribly complicated, but it does add an extra cost.
How much? Well, according to a KFF 2018 report, around $1,634 for family coverage, and in 2021 the average premium increases are around 1 percent.
The point: for many families, health insurance takes out a massive chunk of your budget.
When it comes to having a baby, diapers are a necessary cost, but throw in the pandemic, and families could find increased diaper prices.
Take Vermont resident Nicole Reilly. She and her husband, Steve, gave birth to a beautiful daughter during the pandemic.
As she explained, “For the first four months of our daughter’s life, we used cloth diapers (for budgetary and environmental reasons), but working from home full time without daycare started to wear us down. Switching to disposable diapers meant less time and energy doing laundry.”
She continued, “Purchasing disposable diapers was not something we had planned to do or budgeted for but has been the best decision for us at this time.”
For families like the Reillys that budgeted for reusable diapers and switched to disposables out of necessity during the pandemic, the real cost of having a baby during COVID-19 is much more than expected.
Higher utility costs
Higher utilities are an unexpected cost when having a baby during COVID-19.
- Increased time at home means more electrical costs: think lights, TVs, ovens, and even better internet services (due to remote work).
- I know the feeling, and since the pandemic, I traded surfing on a Starbucks wifi to constructing an outdoor office equipped with full-speed internet.
- And don’t forget the water. Increased hand washing, especially after changing dirty diapers, and increasing sanitation measures, put a bigger dent in your water bill.
In 2018, I budgeted $45 a month for baby clothes. Fast forward to the pandemic, and clothing costs have increased for some families.
As Reilly observed, “Our little one grew out of her clothes much faster than we anticipated. We had planned on visiting local thrift stores but didn’t feel safe doing so with Covid, so ended up shopping online.”
Hearing her story made me think of when I had my second son in 2018. Ninety-five percent of the time we shopped used, but if I had a baby during the pandemic, I too would have opted for online.
When scouring Amazon, a onesie cost around 5-10 bucks a pop, a steep increase compared to my 50 cent onesies I bought in bulk from a used baby store three years ago.
The real cost of having a baby during COVID-19 may involve budgeting more on baby clothes than you previously thought necessary.
Some food prices have also increased during COVID-19. For starters, the pandemic has more than doubled food delivery app business, resulting in higher fast-food costs.
And oh my gosh, the meat! In April onward of the pandemic, a U.S. shortage of meat resulted in a 16 percent rise in imported meat prices.
The real cost of having a baby during COVID-19 involves preparing for higher food prices.
Unexpected quarantine costs
In February 2021, my 5-year-old son came down with a fever and stuffy nose. After calling our pediatrician, I had to pull him out of school immediately.
From there, our entire family had to quarantine until he received a negative Covid test or went 14 days symptom-free.
Little did I know that his results would take a full five days!
Long story short, my family had to quarantine. And even though I have the fortune of working from home, my husband had to use a boatload of sick days.
We were lucky that my husband’s sick days covered his leave, and I was able to readjust my work schedule, but still, this unexpected quarantine wreaked financial havoc on our already chaotic lives.
While quarantined, we paid more money for food (delivery saved us, but was expensive) and more money for sanitation supplies and masks, plus I declined two work projects, resulting in a chunk of lost income.
The good news: my son was negative, but the emotional toll of keeping two young siblings apart, the extra sanitizing, and disruption to our routine was no joke.
But in many ways, we were lucky. Some families facing an unexpected quarantine may not have the luxury of even one partner having paid sick time and could find themselves scrambling.
So, putting together a quarantine plan in case one of your family members gets sick, and if possible, stashing some cash in savings, is a wise financial decision when having a baby during COVID-19.
A 2019 report showed that parents paid an average of $11,000 a year to send a newborn to daycare.
In 2020/21, the pandemic caused numerous daycare shutdowns, and many to operate under decreased enrollment and staff.
Sure, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Congress passed in March 2020, provided states with $3.5 billion that aided child care access.
But this amount is nowhere near enough to fund the child care dilemma in our country.
Covid has also affected families’ college planning. As CNBC states, 16% of parents paused contributing to their college 529 plans due to financial struggles due to COVID-19.
The point: Start budgeting applicable education expenses based on the needs of your family. Options to consider include daycare, private schools, and college.
A Life Happens survey conducted in May and June 2020 found that 30% of participants said life insurance had been one of the top topics for dinner table discussion.
Although I prefer “Pass The Peas,”life insurance prices have started to rise, and new parents are snagging plans.
It’s a dark thought, but in the age of Coronavirus, you should consider factoring a life insurance plan into your family budget.
The pandemic hasn’t only affected us physically, it’s affected our mental health as well. Postpartum depression rose during the pandemic, and so has online therapy.
An American Psychiatric Association survey found that only 2.1% of participants reported using tele-psych 76-100% of the time before the pandemic. That figure changed to a whopping 84.7 percent during the pandemic.
Factors that increase parents need for therapy:
- Postpartum depression
- Lack of support (closed down daycares, missing grandparents, etc.
- The increased workload at work and home
Unfortunately, the pandemic has exacerbated all of these, leading to 2 in 5 Americans struggling with mental or behavioral health issues associated with the pandemic,
As a new mother, Kayla Phillips Clark, who also had her son during the pandemic, confided, “A big cost of having a baby during the pandemic was the emotional stress.”
She pointed out that her husband couldn’t attend prenatal appointments and how difficult it was to be pregnant and unable to see her parents due to her father’s preexisting liver condition.
The pandemic’s stressful factors could result in excessive anxiety and depression, so new parents should factor in mental health costs into their budget when having a baby during COVID-19.
Financial positives of having a baby during Covid-19
It’s not all bad news, the pandemic has also resulted in some areas of decreased spending.
Here are few financial positives of having a baby during Covid-19
Less spending on gas: With fewer people on the road, gas prices have decreased (in regards to the family budget).
Cheaper baby showers: Both Nicole and Kayla didn’t fork up the considerable expense for a big baby shower and settled on virtual and small gatherings instead.
Less money spent on entertainment: Although my sons have missed trips to Chucky Cheese and the bounce house, we’ve also saved an estimated $80 a month on entertainment by staying close to home and venturing to free outdoor parks instead.
Some food prices actually dropped: For various reasons, the prices for corn, nuts, and beverages decreased during the pandemic.
Families are receiving stimulus checks that pay based on household size. (Our family of four just received $5,600 for the third one).
The real cost of having a baby during Covid-19 may be higher than you think. Talking about these extra costs related to the pandemic could be in your family’s best interest and save some headaches down the road.
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