The Worst U.S. States To Have And Raise A Baby

Healthcare in the United States is notoriously expensive, especially for childcare. According to The Economist, the average baby delivery costs $10,000, which is more than Britain’s last royal baby. Believe it or not, some states charge even more for delivery, infant care, and C-sections. Others are bad because of their lack of resources and laws supporting new parents. Here are the worst states to have and raise a child.

Parents Pay Too Much In New York

A pregnant woman poses for photos before the Manhattan city skyline at sunset.
ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images
ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images

New York is notorious for having a high cost of living, and childcare is no exception. According to the 2020 study, New York has the highest delivery charges and annual infant-care costs.

Earlier research by the Economic Policy Institute found that New York is the sixth most expensive state for childcare. The average family of four needs at least $98,722 to get by annually. For a single infant, families pay $15,394 every year in New York, which is around $1,200 per month. That’s 4.7% higher than most U.S. states.

Florida Is One Of The Worst Childcare States, Period

While ranking U.S. states for child expenses, healthcare, baby-friendliness, and family-friendliness, WalletHub put Florida in the bottom half for all four categories. If someone delivers a child in Florida, costs will add up.

Although most states charge between $5,000 and $10,000 for a natural delivery, Florida charges $22,000. If you live outside of a city, you might pay $13,000. That said, the overall cost of childcare in Florida is far higher than most other states, so residents cannot escape the expenses.

California Has The Best And Worst Places For Babies

A pregnant woman poses for a photo along a beach near the Golden Gate Bridge.
Marji Lang/LightRocket via Getty Images
Marji Lang/LightRocket via Getty Images

In March 2020, a study from Diversity Data Kids reported contradictory information about California. The state has some of the best places to raise kids, but also some of the worst. The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan area was the second-best place in the nation, while Fresno, Bakersfield, Stockton, and Riverside were some of the lowest.

In terms of cost, California has the third-highest delivery charges in the nation, and the fourth-highest for C-sections. However, this state also has one of the lowest infant mortality rates. So it seems that residents get a lot of bang for their buck.

In Colorado, Childcare Is More Expensive Than College

A mother holds her infant daughter close to her face.
John Moore/Getty Images
John Moore/Getty Images

In 2019, the Economic Policy Institute found that childcare in Colorado is more expensive than any other state. In many cases, it costs more than college! Every year, families pay $15,325 for one infant, which is $1,277 per month. Meanwhile, the annual cost for an in-state college is around $9,540.

WalletHub also found that Colorado has the highest C-section cost of any state. For low-income families, this is a real struggle, says senior economist Elise Gould. Residents might as well go out-of-state to deliver.

Massachusetts Is Great…Without The Cost

pregnancy
mart-production/Pexels
mart-production/Pexels

Massachusetts is one of the expensive states for child-rearing. According to Move, childcare is around $8,652 annually and daycare is $17,062, resulting in a $25,714 annual cost for first-time mothers. And that is excluding the delivery charge of $14,063!

Despite this, Massachusetts offers fantastic family services. WalletHub says that it has some of the best hospitals, parental leave, and public school quality in America. But not all parents can afford these, as Massachusetts has the third most expensive infant care costs in the U.S.

South Carolina’s Terrible Child Healthcare System

A mother holds her infant child.
Hollie Santos/Unsplash
Hollie Santos/Unsplash

According to a 2018 study, South Carolina has one of the worst child healthcare systems in the nation. Specifically, it ranked 48th when it came to pregnant mothers and newborns. Delivery is expensive–around $17,684 on average–and the state has few services for new parents.

In 2020, WalletHub discovered that South Carolina has the second-lowest number of midwives and OB-GYNs in America. Perhaps because of this, it has an alarmingly high infant mortality rate, ranking 48th in the nation. In short, South Carolina has few services for new mothers, and the ones it does have are expensive.

New Mexico Is Consistently One Of The Worst

A father pushes his daughter on a bike in a New Mexico parking lot.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

For years, New Mexico has been one of the lowest-ranked states to have children. In 2017, WalletHub called it the worst place to raise children. By 2020, some of its costs (including delivery and healthcare) improved, but it was still the worst in child-friendliness.

Reasons range from the high poverty and crime rate to the unusually high divorce rate. Many families in New Mexico live below the poverty line. In 2018, 24/7 Wall Street named Farmington, New Mexico as the worst American city for raising a child.

Childcare Costs Have Skyrocketed In Arkansas

A couple plays with their infant in bed.
Marvin Joseph /The Washington Post via Getty Images
Marvin Joseph /The Washington Post via Getty Images

In the past few years, Arkansas’s childcare has been getting worse. In 2018, it was the eighth-worst baby-raising state in the country; by 2021, it became the sixth-worst. Although the cost of delivery is right around the national average, its childcare costs have skyrocketed.

According to WalletHub, Arkansas has one of the highest unemployment rates in families with young children. This stems from several issues, such as house affordability and divorce rate. While delivering a baby is cheap, raising a baby is much more expensive.

In Oklahoma, Cost Isn’t The Problem

A family with a young child walks next to the river in Oklahoma City.
Nick Oxford for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Nick Oxford for The Washington Post via Getty Images

On the surface, Oklahoma seems like a good place for child-rearing. From childbirth expenses to infant daycare, new parents only spend around $13,650 per year. Why, then, is it the fifth-worst state to have a baby in 2020?

It’s because of the many things that the state does not provide. Oklahoma offers few midwives, pediatricians, and family doctors. The state also has no laws on maternity leave, which can drain a couple’s bank account. According to 24/7 Wall Street, only 38% of Oklahoma children go to preschool, 10% lower than the national average.

Few Can Afford A Child In Washington D.C.

Few Can Afford A Child In Washington D.C.
David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Washington D.C. metro is one of the worst places to give birth. On the east side of the Anacostia river, there are no official maternity wards. Parts of the city with high poverty and teen pregnancy rates also have the lowest amount of childcare, insurance, midwives, and OB-GYN facilities.

On top of that, the District of Columbia is the most expensive area for new mothers. Every year, parents pay $29,355 for infant daycare and medical expenses. The Economic Policy Institute classifies D.C. as one of the most expensive places to raise a child in the U.S.

Alabama Is Cheap, But Not Baby-Friendly

A father on the Tensaw River Nature Boardwalk in Alabama carries a baby on his back.
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

When it comes to raising kids in Alabama, results are mixed. In 2021, a study found that Alabama is one of the cheapest states to raise an infant. During the baby’s first year–from birth to its birthday–families only spend $16,000. That’s really low!

But at the same time, the WalletHub study did not rate Alabama highly. It had the worst “baby-friendliness” of any state. In 2019, it was the second-worst state to have a baby in, just above Mississippi.

Parents Have A Lot To Pay In Indiana

A woman holds a baby as she walks home in Indiana.
John Moore/Getty Images
John Moore/Getty Images

In both 2019 and 2020, Indiana was ranked as one of the worst states for raising babies. Although the cost of childcare is low, parents have to pay for a lot more than that. Bills that allotted support for pregnant women and covering midwife/doula costs have all been cut.

Indiana also has no maternity leave laws, no family leave laws, and no state fund for pre-kindergarten schools. Families have to pay for all of these bills out-of-pocket, making Indiana’s total cost for raising children much more expensive than other states.

Babies Have A Hard Time In Nevada

A doctor holds a newborn baby in a hospital.
Jonathan Borba/Unsplash
Jonathan Borba/Unsplash

Many studies have pointed out how bad Nevada can be for families with babies. In 2020, researchers determined that Nevada has some of the highest delivery charges, highest C-section charges, lowest number of pediatricians, and fewest childcare centers. It was not at the bottom for any of these categories, but it was in the lowest five.

According to a 2019 study, Nevada babies also tend to be disadvantaged. A whopping 51% of infants came from low-income families who could not afford insurance, food security, or insurance. This does not bode well for families.

Oregon May Be Cheap, But Some Areas Are Not Child-Friendly

A man at the Pickethon music festival in Oregon holds up his baby.
Natalie Behring/Getty Images
Natalie Behring/Getty Images

In terms of cost, Oregon tends to be one of the cheapest states to have a baby. In 2020, ranked 11th on lowest cost and 8th on affordable healthcare. It also has the third-lowest infant mortality rate, according to WalletHub.

However, a 2018 survey by 24/7 Wall Street had bad news for Oregon. Two of the worst 25 cities to raise a child were in the state. Number 25 was Albany, and number three was Medford. Delivery charges are average in Oregon, but parents will want to be careful about where they live.

Especially In Recent Years, Louisiana Has Underperformed

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georgejrkamau/pexels
georgejrkamau/pexels

Louisiana has never been known for its childcare services. According to a 2020 study, the state has the fewest amount of OB-GYNs and midwives in the country. It also has a low amount of family physicians and a high infant mortality rate. The average price of delivery is high, too, around $16,272.

After the COVID pandemic, Louisiana’s childcare only declined. According to Save the Children, 25% of children in Louisiana did not have enough to eat, and 50% of families were struggling with household incomes. Its cost of living is too high and its resources are too few.

Exploring Georgia’s Lack Of Healthcare

A pregnant woman receives an ultrasound.
BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images
BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images

In a 2020 survey, Georgia was ranked the sixth-worst state in the nation for raising kids. Although its delivery price is not too bad–around $14,776 on average–its healthcare is lacking. According to Peach State, 1.5 million Georgia residents are not insured in children’s healthcare.

On top of this, Georgia laws do not require employers to offer maternity leave. Many families lose more money by having a baby in Georgia than in any other state. The worst part? Babies there tend to have a low birth weight and high infant mortality.

Despite Its Low Cost, Mississippi Has A Low Ranking

A father brings his infant daughter to a dock on a river.
Caleb Jones/Unsplash
Caleb Jones/Unsplash

Mississippi is one of the cheapest states for childcare, with parents spending an average of $3,192 annually. But even so, it was ranked as one of the worst states for raising kids in both 2019 and 2020. Much of it has to do with the lack of resources.

Mississippi has one of the lowest amount of midwives and OB-GYNs in the country and one of the highest infant mortality rates. Wengora Thompson, the director of Maternal and Child Health, says that most hospitals do not even offer obstetric services, which benefits both the baby and the mother.

Residents Argue Against West Virginia’s Status

A father kisses his baby boy on the cheek.
Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash
Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

In 2017, West Virginia was labeled the third-worst state to raise a family–“yet again,” said 5-WDTV. It has hardly budged since then. WalletHub claims West Virginia lacks in health and safety, as it has few pediatricians and family doctors.

Despite this, the state has one of the lowest delivery costs nationwide. New parents also spend less than other states, around $14,644 per year. Residents also argue against the study’s safety measurements, which leaves West Virginia’s status up in the air.

Pennsylvania Families Pay A Lot For Few Services

A four-year-old and one-year-old play on an iPad and iPhone.
Mark Makela/Corbis via Getty Images
Mark Makela/Corbis via Getty Images

In terms of child-rearing, Pennsylvania has always ranked low. In 2014, WalletHub called it the worst state to raise a baby. It had the fewest number of family doctors, pediatricians, midwives, and OB-GYNs. Although it has climbed up the rankings in 2020, it still has the lowest number of pediatricians.

And this is excluding the cost. Pennsylvania is incredibly expensive for new mothers, with the average delivery cost being $19,764, far above the national average. While caring for an infant, parents also have to pay $18,582 annually.

Because Of Alaska’s Location, It’s Expensive

A man runs with his daughter on his shoulders in Alaska.
Lance King/Getty Images
Lance King/Getty Images

In 2019, the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranked U.S. states based on children’s quality of life. Alaska was the fifth-worst. Despite having a low population, Alaska has more uninsured children than the national average. It also tends to be expensive.

On average, a family of three needs $88,193 annually to raise a family of three. But parents with an infant end up spending $22,686 per year, well above the national average. Due to its location, the cost of goods and services is more expensive, especially for children.