Top 3 Expenses of a Toddler

Scott McEachern |

As a relatively new dad, I speak from experience when I say that having a child is one of most life-changing events I’ve faced in my life to date. All parents know this. All parents also know that raising a child isn’t cheap these days. Most studies estimate the total cost of raising a child from birth to age at 18 for parents will be $250,000 (and that’s not including post-secondary education). Where does this number come from? Tally up housing, clothing, child care, transportation, sports, diapers, health costs, and food over 18 years and you can see that number may not be as wild as you think it is.

I use a spending tracker to help us track and categorize our expenses, and I can tell you that our 15-month old son, Elliott, has expenses that are related solely to him costing us about $2,500. This number is relatively low for a few reasons:

  • We received cloth diapers as shower gifts
  • Steph breast fed as long as possible
  • We never had to buy formula
  • Steph took 1 full year of maternity leave (lowered daycare costs)
  • We bought used products as much as possible

But typically what are the biggest expenses you can expect with a toddler? I’ll break down the big 3 right now.


Every newborn needs diapers. There are 3 ways you can approach diapers. You can take the most expensive route and use disposables or look at the new trending route of re-useable diapers. If the thought of cleaning re-useable diapers grosses you out, there are now companies like The GreenBum Company that do the cleaning for you and deliver fresh diapers to your door each week.


This expense hits most parents like brick to head. It’s a big expense and hurts the budget! The cost can range from $30-$60 per day, per child. At this price, it’s no wonder some new moms decide to stay home to raise their children rather than returning to the workforce right away. Simply put, daycare costs us more than our monthly repayment of student loans did.


Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) are very popular with new parents. Who doesn’t want to support their child, ensure they get a good education, and try to help them avoid massive student debt? As a couple, we decided to save $100/month while on parental leave, and we can decide later to increase that amount once back at work if we choose to do so.


There’s no doubt that having a child is expensive, but don’t fret, these expenses are spread over 18 years, they’re not all an upfront expenses. The best course of action is to have lots of conversations with your spouse and decide how to approach each of the major expenses: disposable or re-useable diapers?  Daycare or private nanny? Save for RESPs or not? Having these discussions and planning ahead as far as possible will surely make the ride smoother! Enjoy every moment!