How to save on childcare costs

How to save on childcare costs

By Babysits
7 min read

Having kids is NOT cheap.. Learn more about the costs associated with raising a child and check out some of the best ways to save money when it comes to childcare here.

Cost associated with kids

There are a lot of costs to keep in mind when it comes to having and caring for kids.

The USDA researched the costs of raising a child in the US and found the average cost was upwards of $13,000 per year per child.

Meaning a family raising a child born in 2015 could pay upwards of $233,000 raising this child to adulthood.

Some of the most common categories of costs to consider are:

  • Nutrition
  • Medical
  • Housing
  • Education/Entertainment
  • Clothing/Goods
  • Childcare

Cost of childraising

Depending on the age of the child, the costs associated with each category will vary! For example, older children may need less oversight, resulting in cheaper childcare costs, however, they’ll likely be involved in more entertainment or extracurricular activities (meaning more costs in this area).

Nutritional Costs Child Raising

Of course, nutritional costs and considerations when raising a child primarily involve putting food on the table. The more mouths to feed, the more money to spend on groceries. According to the USDA, nutritional expenses were the second highest of any child related expenses.

However, the average cost per child tends to decrease as more children are involved. This is likely because food can be bought for relatively cheaper in more bulk quantities.

Food costs of childraising

Housing Costs Child Raising

Shelter, next to food, is one of the main necessities to consider when looking into childcare costs. Of course, housing costs - like nutritional costs - are preexisting (i.e. whether or not you have a child, housing costs exist). But, they may increase with children in the picture, for example, due to necessities such as more space or extra bedrooms for kids.

In the USDA study, housing costs were the highest share of child related expenses paid by families.

housing costs of childraising

Clothing Costs Child Raising

When raising a child, clothing them is a necessity. This, of course, is generally not free (barring luck with hand me downs from family and friends).

You may have to consider the costs of clothing for different seasons (warmer coats, gloves, and clothing for the winter), different weather (raincoats to stay dry, sunglasses to protect kids’ eyes), or different occasions (formal wear, sport attire, and pajamas, for example).

clothing costs of childraising

And of course, kids grow.. Fast! So, families have to spend more on new clothes as kids outgrow them.

Medical Costs Child Raising

Medical expenses are inevitable when it comes to kids. The amount of medical costs will vary per child and situation - similar to many other costs.

However, you can consider things such as:

  • Vaccinations
  • Check ups/physicals
  • Dental visits
  • Buying medicines/prescriptions

medical costs of childraising

Education and entertainment Costs Child Raising

Depending on the age of the child, education can also be a major factor to consider when it comes to expenses.

This can involve costs for the school itself, such as tuition (which can be quite high in the case of private schools), school supplies, and other extra curriculars (such as sports and related equipment, music, clubs or other after school programs.)

education costs of childraising

Entertainment costs can be things such as extracurriculars above, or simply toys, games, outings and more.

Childcare Costs Child Raising

Of course, childcare costs will also vary depending on the age of the child and the situation. Older children are more self-sufficient and may need less specialized care, relative to younger children or babies.

Sometimes, other costs, such as educational or extracurricular, can absorb some of the childcare costs (i.e. a child going to piano lessons after school having less need for a babysitter to watch them, as they’d receive supervision from the piano teacher).

Otherwise, childcare costs can involve things such as, daycares, playgroups, or hiring a childcare provider such as a nanny or babysitter.

For specifics check out our article about the hourly rate of a babysitter or nanny.

How to reduce costs associated with childcare

Based on a Treasury Department report, the New York Times reported that the average cost of childcare per year is around $10,000 per child (as of the end of 2021).

That is a huge financial burden to any family. Some costs are unavoidable, but there are ways you can try to limit the costs of childcare (by being creative).

Some ideas and tips for reducing childcare costs:

  • Getting family/friends involved

Whenever possible, having a friend, family member, or neighbor act as an ad-hoc babysitter or childcare provider can be a beneficial lifeline - as well as a cost effective option. For example, this could be a grandparent or family friend looking after the children on occasion.

Of course, this isn’t an option for everyone (when there isn’t family or friends that live close enough or that are available and capable of providing care) - and sometimes it’s not feasible to assume friends or family members will do this entirely pro bono (i.e. you may have to pay something, but likely less than what you’d pay a stranger).

  • Explore employee childcare benefits

Many companies offer employee benefits, some of which include benefits to support working parents (such as childcare benefits).

At Babysits, we partner with companies to provide free access to our platform for their employees as part of our Babysits for Work program. As of December 2021, we support over 50,000 employees, so there’s a chance your company may use Babysits for Work.

In any case, it can be helpful to explore these employee benefits options further, and see if your employer can help cover some of the costs of childcare.

  • Parenting Coops and Babysitter/Nanny shares

Sharing the burden of care, or sharing a babysitter or nanny with other parents is another way to lessen the costs associated with childcare.

There are a couple ways to do this.

In some cases, when parents have flexible schedules, you can trade off watching other parents/families’ children. For example, as part of a parenting cooperative. In this case, you may watch the your own children and that of other families on your day off, and other parents watch the children on other days, while you are busy.

On Babysits, you can look for parents who are open or interested in this kind of childcare arrangement by searching via our Parents help Parents feature.

Another option is to hire one nanny or babysitter, which you share with another family. Meaning, the nanny or babysitter looks after both children, either together or on alternating days.

In either case, sharing the childcare burden like this can also lead to a sharing or trading of costs, cutting down on your family’s expenses.

  • Government Childcare Subsidy

Often, governments understand the extra burden that families experience, and have programs to help support them.

It can be beneficial to look into local and national government bodies, and the subsidies and benefits that may exist at each level to help subsidize families’ childcare costs.

This could be, for example, free community childcare options, grants or subsidies, or tax rebates based on childcare cost declarations.

For families in the US, childcare.gov is a good place to start when researching government childcare assistance!


We hope this article has provided you a better overview of the costs associated with raising a child and how you can save on childcare costs.

We do our best to make Babysits an affordable childcare option for parents - so if you’re looking for a babysitter, nanny, parenting coop, or employee childcare benefits be sure to check out our resources below: