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Personal Finance

Watch Out for These 5 Unexpected Costs of Raising a Child

Baby costs concepts

Soon-to-be parents suspect what parents already know—kids are expensive. From diapers to childcare, the big and little expenses add up. But there are a number of other, unexpected expenses that can take new parents by surprise.

"A middle class family
with a child born in 2015
can expect to pay $233,610
($284,570 adjusted for projected
inflation) for food, housing,
childcare and other
child-rearing expenses between
the child's birth and when
she turns 18."

It's an oft-cited statistic: A middle class family with a child born in 2015 can expect to pay $233,610 ($284,570 adjusted for projected inflation) for food, housing, childcare and other child-rearing expenses between the child's birth and when she turns 18, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And that doesn't include the cost of college.

That number is sobering for many new and expectant parents, and understandably so. To make it more manageable, it's a good idea for all new and expectant parents to make a budget or spending plan for their growing family. But even the best budget can be destroyed by unexpected or "hidden" extras.

Related: Baby Proof Your Finances With These Five Tips For New Parents

Here's a look at five unexpected costs of raising a child so you can make sure your family is as prepared as possible for the unexpected.

Utility Bills

One of the biggest monthly shockers for new parents may be the difference in their utility bills. It is not uncommon for new parents to see their bills soar. Why? First, with a new baby at home, you'll likely need to reprogram your thermostat. With someone home all day, you'll want it set at a comfortable temperature all day long, and a baby's sleep and moods can change quickly if temps are too high or too low. That may mean keeping it cooler during the summer or warmer in the winter than you would otherwise.

And don't forget about the extra loads of laundry and dishwasher cycles. While babies are small, they produce a surprising amount of laundry! And all those bottles and dropped spoons will likely keep your dishwasher full.

Home Expenses

Beyond your utility bills, the cost of housing itself may experience a growth spurt. New parents may find housing costs creeping up if they decide to move to a bigger space, or to remodel to make the most out of an existing space, after baby's arrival. Out of that $233,610 that the USDA says it will cost to raise a child born in 2015, the largest chunk—29 percent—goes towards housing.

This is one area where new parents should remain vigilant. Aim to keep total housing costs to 30 percent or less of your monthly income. Any more and you will be what the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development considers to be "cost burdened."

Unplanned Doctor's Visits

Many parents plan carefully for the cost of delivering their child, but many forget to factor in the cost of doctor's visits after their child is born. No matter how good your insurance is, a $20 copay here or $30 copay there adds up.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends seven checkups in a child's first year of birth. And that's for perfectly healthy children. Add in doctor's visits for ear infections, a mysterious rash or the common cold, and watch those medical bills to multiply.

The Convenience Factor

The first months of a baby's life can be exhausting for new parents. And that often leads new parents to choose the easiest or quickest, rather than the cheapest, option when it comes to all sorts of daily needs. That might mean ordering takeout when the thought of preparing dinner at home seems too exhausting, or ordering diapers online for next-day delivery when you are running low.

Do your best to plan ahead with some easy-prep pantry staples and a monthly subscription for diapers and other baby needs to stay out of this parent trap. And be sure to comparison-shop on prices.

Transitional Clothes

Everyone knows babies grow quickly, so parents might plan to shell out for new clothes every few months (or weeks!) for their little one. But they often forget about the cost of transitional clothes for the expecting and new mom. As a new mother turns in her maternity styles for post-baby gear, she will have to set aside some financial resources to make sure she has clothing that fits as she embraces her new role. For the breastfeeding mother, there is also the cost of nursing bras and additional attire that makes nursing at home or in public easier.

For moms who have to return to work quickly, this can be a particularly costly proposition, as pre-baby work clothing may not fit right away.

Every family's situation is unique, so there will always be unexpected expenses new parents may face. That's why all parents (and non-parents!) should be sure to have an emergency fund. Experts recommend setting aside the equivalent of three to six months of living expenses to be tapped only in the event that you find yourself facing a major unexpected expense or, worse, become unemployed or fall ill.