Health

The Best & Worst States To Have A Baby In 2017

What was the cost of having a baby where you live?

No one really knows what to expect when expecting a child for the first time, but some things are a given. Less sleep, endless diapers and feedings — you get the idea. And while everyone knows having a baby isn’t cheap, when it all adds up, it’s not hard to spend more money than you, well, expected.

Of course, having a child can be an amazing life experience, but it can also be one the most expensive. According to a report by the Department of Agriculture, in 2015, a middle-income, married couple with two children were estimated to spend $233,610 to raise a child until age 17. That’s somewhere between $12,350 and nearly $14,000 per year. And that number doesn’t even include college expenses or things not deemed necessities, like school dances, braces and iPads.

One important expense to keep in mind is medical and hospital bills right off the bat. According to the International Federation of Health Plans, Americans pay the highest birthing costs in the world, with a normal delivery averaging $10,808. Giving birth via C-section increases the cost another $5,298. Plus, a price tag can differ from one pregnancy to another if there were complications that bumped up the cost. And that’s all before you even bring your new bundle of joy home!

birth photo
Getty Images | Christopher Furlong

Best Vs. Worst States To Have A Baby

To determine the ideal places in the U.S. to have a baby, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 20 measures of cost, health care accessibility and baby- and family-friendliness. The dataset ranges from hospital conventional-delivery charges to annual average infant-care costs to pediatricians per capita.

Starting with the state where it’d be best not to have a baby, Mississippi ranks last on the list for overall score, with 21.88 out of 100. While the state does have the lowest annual cost for childcare and rank number one for the costs of raising a child, it is last when it comes to health care rank and 43 and 50 in the infant-friendly and family-friendly categories, respectively. Mississippi is also on the list for the highest infant mortality rate.

WalletHub

Coming in second on the costs ranking is Alabama, with a healthcare ranking of 48. The state is last for baby-friendliness, however, and number 42 for family-friendliness. Like Mississippi, Alabama also on the list for highest infant mortality rate.

WalletHub

The best state to have a baby? Vermont. With a total score of 71.77, it is ranked number one for health care, four for baby-friendliness and three for family-friendliness. Vermont is high on the list when it comes to costs, though, so while it is ranked number one, expect to pay for that ranking.

Taking all factors into account, the 10 best and worst states to have a baby are:

Best:                                                                                                                Worst:

Vermont                                                                                                Arkansas
Minnesota                                                                                             New Mexico
New Hampshire                                                                                   Georgia
Connecticut                                                                                           Florida
North Dakota                                                                                        South Carolina
Massachusetts                                                                                      Alabama
Maine                                                                                                     West Virginia
Utah                                                                                                        Nevada
Iowa                                                                                                        Louisiana
Nebraska                                                                                               Mississippi

How To Be Financially Prepared Before Baby Arrives

WalletHub asked a panel of experts for tips on being financially prepared for your new arrival.

“Most parents-to-be are surprised by the costs of regular expenses, like diapers and daycare,” said Diane M. Harnek Hall, an associate professor in the department of family studies and community development at Towson University. “Parents should try to plan a budget for the first three years of life, to research expenses and determine options they have to choose from, for things like daycare and essentials.”

Germany Has Europe's Lowest Birth Rate
Getty Images | Sean Gallup

The cost of having a child is the main reason the U.S. birth rate is currently the lowest it’s ever been, according to the New York Times. It’s not that women don’t want to have a child, research shows — they just want to be more financially stable if they do.

If you fall into the latter category, NerdWallet has created a list of 15 financial must-dos once you find out you’re expecting. From anticipating costs to starting an emergency fund, being prepared should help make the arrival of a baby more joyous and less stressful.