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What Does It Cost to Raise a Child?

Posted by Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services in Initiatives Food and Nutrition
Feb 21, 2017
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s  (USDA) annual report on the Expenditures on Children by Families has found that a middle-income family with a child born in 2012 can expect to spend about $241,080 for food, shelter, and other necessities associated with child rearing expenses over the next 17 years.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) annual report on the Expenditures on Children by Families has found that a middle-income family with a child born in 2012 can expect to spend about $241,080 for food, shelter, and other necessities associated with child rearing expenses over the next 17 years.

How much will that little bundle of joy cost? According to USDA’s Cost of Raising a Child report, the answer for a child born in 2012 is $241,080 for food, shelter and other necessities over the next 17 years, which translates to about $301,970 when adjusted for inflation!

Speaking as a father and a grandfather, I know how much we as parents want to give our children the tools they need to excel at anything they set their minds to—from the essentials, like a roof over their heads and a quality education, to the fun stuff, like a brand new soccer ball, piano lessons or a trip to summer camp. We work hard to ensure our children’s future happiness and success each and every day.

But this next generation faces a unique challenge that threatens their future health and well being: a growing health crisis, in the form of diet- and obesity-related diseases. And despite encouraging recent reports on declining rates of early childhood obesity, nearly a third of our nation's young people are at risk for preventable diseases like type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Preventable diseases have serious consequences – which is why health experts tell us that our current generation of children may well have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

In light of this, perhaps the most important leg up we can give to our children is a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and other nutrients they need to grow up healthy and strong.

We at USDA have been doing our part by making it a top priority to improve child nutrition and provide science-based nutrition information and advice so that the healthy choice is the easy choice for American parents and children. Thirty two million American students now have healthier and more nutritious school breakfasts, lunches and snacks due to improved nutrition standards implemented as a result of the historic Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. And parents and teachers can use the resources at ChooseMyPlate.gov to access quick, easy reference tools to facilitate healthy eating on a budget for parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and communities.

For new parents or people thinking of expanding their families, our Cost of Raising a Child calculator allows you to tailor your results based on household size, income, and geographic region to get a more accurate estimate of your expected costs. The full Cost of Raising a Child report, titled Expenditures on Children by Families (2012) and calculator are available on the web at www.cnpp.usda.gov.