Bringing up baby is a costly proposition

Raising a child is a full-time challenge. It requires love, patience, guidance and, according the the latest annual government report, more than $245,000.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its yearly Expenditures on Children and Families report. According to this latest report, a middle-income family with a child born last year can expect to spend about $245,340 -- or $304,480, if you toss in a projected average inflation rate of 2.4 percent per year -- on housing, food, education, childcare and other expenses by the time that child reaches 18 years of age.

Those numbers, which do not include the costs of higher education, reportedly represent a 1.8 percent rise from 2012.

There are some geographic differences. As in earlier studies, it still costs less to raise a child in urban areas of the South.($230,610) and in rural parts of the country ($193,590). The most expensive part of the United States in which to raise a kid is the urban Northeast, coming in at $282,480.

"Variations by geographic region are marked when we look at housing," study author and economist Mark Lino said in a press statement.

"The average cost of housing for a child up to age 18 is $87,840 for a middle-income family in the urban West, compared to $66,240 in the urban South, and $70,200 in the urban Midwest," he added. "It's interesting to note that other studies are showing that families are increasingly moving to these areas of the country with lower housing cost."

The annual report, developed by the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), was first issued in 1960 -- and at that time, it cost a middle-income family $25,230 (or $198,560 in 2013 dollars) to raise a child until the age of 18.

CNPP officials note that food remains one of the top three expenses in child-rearing. According to the study, healthcare expenses for children have doubled since 1960, as a percentage of total child-raising expenses.

Per-child expenses decrease as a family has more children. According to the report, families with three or more kids spend 22 percent less per child, compared to families with two children.

That decrease is attributed to siblings sharing bedrooms and families purchasing food in larger and more cost-efficient amounts. And, as any middle or younger child can tell you, clothing, books and toys all get handed down from the older kids -- another money-saving factor -- while some schools and daycare centers also offer discounts for enrolling sisters and brothers.

  • Bruce Kennedy

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