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The real price of raising a child for the first year

3 minutes

Every parent-to-be knows bringing up a baby is an expensive business – so we spoke to mummy bloggers and experts to work out what those costs could look like in real terms, and how to tackle them. 

  • Take advantage of second-hand saviours
  • Sure-fire saving tips and the benefits
  • What are the long-term costs and how can you cope?
 

Understanding the real cost of raising a child can help you prepare

Writing for LV= life insurance, mum and writer Shannon Kyle (@ShannonDotKyle) considers the costs over the first 12 months of parenthood and asks the experts about potential savings.


What baby stuff do you need to buy new?

Carefully consider what you need to buy new and what you can buy second hand is the advice from mum of three and personal finance blogger, Emma Bradley (@emmaand3) of mumssavvysavings.com.

‘There’s not much that needs to be new when you’re factoring in the costs of bringing up a child,’ explains Emma. ‘However, a car seat and cot mattress should be new – sharing a cot mattress increases the risks of sudden infant death syndrome.

‘Car seats should be bought new as you need to be 100% sure that they have not been comprised in an accident. Everything else can be bought second hand if needed.’

The average cost of a car seat starts at around £100, but they can cost as much as £400. Overall, NatWest’s child cost calculator estimates the national average cost of nursery furniture to be around £500, while their ‘other equipment’ estimation is around £300. 

The cost of nappies also creeps up quickly. Budget supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl now do cheaper packs, including Aldi’s well-reviewed Mamia range, which costs £2.89 for 48 at the time of writing, compared to £6 for a premium brand.

Or you could try reusable nappies via the Go Real usable nappies scheme. A few local authorities across the country have signed up to the scheme and even give vouchers or free samples to try. However, on average, parents still spend around £260 a year on nappies. 

Things you have to buy new:

Nursery furniture: £500

Equipment: £300

Nappies: £260 

Total: £1,060


Money-saving tips 

Holly Pither, mum of a baby girl and blogger at pitterpatterpither.com (@PitherPatter), recommends that new parents should be cautious about advertising aimed at them. 

‘Be careful what you believe as we’ve definitely fallen for some good advertising in the past,’ she urges. ‘There is no such thing as a miracle sleep cure or mess-free feeding equipment! If you really feel you need to buy something, ask your peers to see if anyone else has one and borrow it for a few days to see if it works.’

Holly also saved a fortune when her sister-in-law give her second-hand clothes. 

Mum of two Rachel Tompkins (@rachtompkins) agrees there’s no need to splurge on many baby items. 
 
‘We borrowed some of the larger baby items from friends – things like a baby gym and bouncer chair – because in reality they cost a lot of money for a short space of time and usually they can be washed in the washing machine,’ says Rachel. ‘It’s much more economical, not to mention kinder to the environment, to borrow things like that.’

The average new parent’s spend on clothes in a year is £480, while toys come in at £540, but Rachel agrees clothes and toys can be bought so much more cheaply second hand on sites such as eBay, or via parenting groups on Facebook.

‘I like good quality clothes, but they can cost a fortune so I often buy second-hand bits on eBay,’ Rachel says. ‘Often, they’re in perfect condition and once they’re washed you would never know any difference. Some people might think it’s stingy, but it leaves more money for all the extra costs children bring, such as swimming lessons, Rugbytots and the like.’
 

Emma says her best money-saving tip is to sign up to freebies and giveaways: ‘You can get rewarded with loyalty cards for Mothercare, Tesco and Boots. These all help beat the cost of raising a family. Also, read mummy blogs for parenting tips rather than buying magazines. Many of these blogs review products and host giveaways which can help you make sure you’re buying the right products for your needs.’

Clothes: £480

Toys: £540

Total: £1020

The long-term costs

The cost of childcare for parents with a one-year-old has risen four times faster than wages in England over the last decade. On average, for parents with a child under two, nursery costs are £116.25 for 25 hours, while childminder costs are about the same. The average cost of childcare for a whole year is at least £6,000, based on 25 hours per week.

This will, of course, depend on your parental leave. If at least one parent is off work for the majority of baby’s first year, childcare costs can be cut significantly – or even completely.

Under the Shared Parental Leave regulations, parents are able to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay between them. By maximising the amount of leave you take, you will reduce costs significantly.

There are a few key childcare benefits many parents are entitled to, some of which are advertised, while others are not as well known.


‘Make sure that you apply for child benefit as soon as you’re back at home,’ recommends Emma. ‘It can be backdated three months, but it is better to be receiving it sooner rather than later. Mums need to make sure that they are looking after themselves too, and all new mums are entitled to free prescription and dental care for up to a year after baby is born. Now is the time to get your teeth checked!’

Check the government website to see if you’re eligible for Tax-Free Childcare too. Many parents don’t know about this benefit, which could save up to 20% of the total child care costs. Also, remember that when your baby reaches two, childcare fees go down slightly (on average a few pounds per day), while by aged three they are eligible for up to 30 hours free childcare a week. 

Total: £6,000

The grand total for year one

In their calculator, NatWest estimate that, on average, parents will spend £9,364.85 on the first year of their child’s life.

Grand total: £9,364.85 for the first year

Of course, though, that depends enormously on what’s available to the parents and the choices they make.

Childcare costs are on the rise, but there are new ways that parents can save, including better connected networks for mums and dads, as well as different benefits and grants.