How Much Does it Cost to Raise a Child from Birth to Adult?

One of the most rewarding experiences in life is raising a child. It is filled with unforgettable moments like your child’s first steps, first words, first day of school, and so much more. However, raising a child is not cheap. From diapers and clothes to education and extracurricular activities, many costs must be considered. So how much does it cost to raise a child from birth to adulthood?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average cost to raise a child from birth to age 18 is $233,610. This figure accounts for the average cost of housing, food, transportation, clothing, healthcare, education, childcare, and miscellaneous expenses. However, the cost of raising a child can vary depending on a number of factors, such as location, income, and family size. [1] 


Pink table

One of the biggest expenses when raising a child is childcare. The cost of daycare or a nanny can vary greatly depending on the location and the type of service. In some metropolitan areas, the cost of childcare can exceed $20,000 per year. This can be a major expense for working parents. For many families, it can be the deciding factor when determining whether to have a second child. Having a young kid can be extremely costly, considering that the daycare expense may even exceed that of attending college. [1] 

However, the majority of families claim to spend nothing on child care. They could put their children in the care of relatives or decide to enroll them in a local public school once they reach the appropriate age. This indicates that families that employ nannies, send their children to private schools, and pay for a variety of summer camps and special activities are likely to spend far more than the amount that is indicated as the average amount spent.


Children eating

The average family will spend more money on food as their children age, regardless of how much money they bring in. 

Mark Lino, an economist at the Agriculture Department’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion and the principal author of the USDA research, stated that “Teenagers are the most expensive,” referring to the cost of feeding and caring for this age group. They consume more food. [2] 

According to the data, families spend around 18 percent of their child-care spending on food, which is a category that includes groceries, school lunches, and meals eaten out at restaurants. All of these have been severely impacted by inflation.


Red hoodie

Education is another major expense, particularly when it comes to higher education. According to College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2019-2020 academic year was $10,440 for in-state students at public colleges and $36,880 for private colleges. [2] This does not include the cost of books, room and board, and other expenses. While scholarships and financial aid can help to offset the cost, many families still struggle to pay for their child’s education. 

In addition to childcare, food, and education, many other costs are associated with raising a child. These include healthcare, extracurricular activities, transportation, and housing. While some expenses may decrease over time, such as the cost of diapers and formula, others may increase, such as clothing and school supplies.



Housing costs make up the majority of child-related spending—up to one-third of it. But measuring it is challenging. If you have children, moving to a home with additional bedrooms, larger kitchens, and larger living areas may be necessary. Moving to the suburbs is another option, where expenditures are often cheaper than in urban areas.

According to research conducted by the USDA, housing a kid costs households with lower incomes around 8.7 percent of their total income. The rate is 4.5 percent for families with a middle income. And the figure drops to 2.9 percent for households with a higher income overall and spend a lesser portion of that money on housing overall. [2] 


Red shirt

When children are between 15 and 17, mobility costs, including auto payments, gasoline, insurance, plane fares, and public transit, reach their highest point. Naturally, this is the age at which most adolescents get their driver’s licenses. This reflects an increased engagement in activities that take place away from home.



The cost of medical care accounts for around 9 percent of all money spent on children, although families with higher incomes often spend substantially more on this expense. In addition to higher insurance premiums, these expenditures include medical, dental, and mental health services, as well as prescription drugs not covered by insurance.


Red backpack

Approximately six percent of the money spent on children goes toward clothing. This includes everything from diapers to Dr. Martens to Garanimals to graduation robes. As a result of Americans’ increasing reliance on low-cost apparel made in other countries over the past half-century, this figure has decreased, in contrast to the majority of other prices. Also uncommon is the fact that the clothing price has a habit of changing from year to year depending on the most recent fashion trends.



This broad category covers not just the essentials, such as toothbrushes and haircuts, but also the extras, such as piano lessons, sporting goods, video games, and so on. These expenses account for around seven percent of a family’s total spending on matters pertaining to their children, on average.


The cost of raising a child from birth to adulthood can be significant. While the average cost is $233,610, the expense can vary depending on some factors. However, despite the cost, many families find that the rewards of raising a child far outweigh the financial burden.

While raising a child can be expensive, it is important to remember that every family’s situation is unique. Some families may be able to afford more than others. Many resources are available to help families with financial assistance, such as government programs, grants, and scholarships.