Guess How Much It Costs To Raise a Child Today? Sit Down Before You Read This

Many parents today are worried about how they're going to send their kids to college given the high cost of higher education. But maybe they should be more concerned about the 17 years before the little darlings hit the road.

Food, clothing, and health care are just a few items that can add up into tons of expenses before adulthood. How much? $234,900 for a child born in 2011 to a middle-income family.

That's according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual report, "Expenditures on Children by Families," released Thursday, which came up with the total by calculating the cost of a host of necessities parents pay for in the 17 years before adulthood.

If you think parents today are spending more than their parents did, you're right. In 1960, the first year the report was produced, a middle-income family would have expected to spend about $25,000 over the course of 17 years, or $191,720 adjusted for today's dollars.

The cost of raising a child differs sharply depending on the resources available to the parents. According to the USDA's calculations:

--For households with annual income less than $59,410, annual expenses per child range from $8,760 to $9,970 on average, depending on age of the child.

--For households with income of up to $102,870, the annual cost is about $12,290 to $14,320.

--For households with income over $102,870, the cost per child averages out at $20,420 to $24,510.

Since 1960, food expenditures have actually declined to 16 percent of income from 24 percent, while the cost of child care and education has soared to 18 percent of income from 2 percent.

And despite the high cost of fancy sneakers today, moms and dads are shelling out less to dress up the little tikes, at 6 percent of income, down from 11 percent in 1960.

Read more from Life Inc. on TODAY:

Family, work balancing act? Dads have to do it too

Another summer and broke families plan staycations

Dads' household duties worth less than moms'

Lawmakers battle to end 'rental car roulette'

Video: Combining finances in a second marriage

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