How much does a baby cost per month?
Whether your little one is here, you’re expecting, or simply planning for the future, it’s important you get a handle on the cost of raising a child.
From nappies to cribs to car seats, babies require a lot of equipment to keep them healthy and happy. Regardless of your situation, it’s time to budget for that bouncing bundle of joy. Here, we’ve taken a look at the cost of a baby per month and how this adds up.
The overall cost of raising a child
According to a recent Cost of a Child report from the Child Poverty Action Group, the estimated cost of a couple raising a child up to the age of 18 is £150,783 including childcare and housing costs. For single parents, the costs are higher because of the increased need for childcare: £183,335 over 18 years.
This sounds like a huge figure, but the report also notes that two parent families can expect to spend £153.84 each week, raising their first child, while lone parents will spend £212.13. While these are less daunting than the total costs, they are by no means cheap.
A single parent would need to earn £15,000 a year just to cover the weekly cost of looking after their child and keeping a roof over their family’s head, never mind what they need on top of that to take care of themselves.
How much does it cost to prepare for having a baby?
Before the baby arrives, you’ll need to make allowances for a few essential things in preparation for when you bring them home. These could include:
- Cot or moses basket – average cost is £129.50
- Car seat – average cost is between £100 – £150
- Pram – prices can vary from £100 to £2,000
- Baby monitor – the average is £49.61 for an audio baby monitor, expect to pay £70 for a video monitor
- Breast pump – If you are considering breastfeeding your baby, a breast pump could be considered an essential purchase, pre-birth. According to Which? a manual breast pump can be bought for around £15, while electric designs can cost anything from £60 to £250+
Research suggests that a baby’s first month is likely to cost you around £500 beyond your planned spending – that’s a lot of nappies, clothing and furniture that you hadn’t anticipated needing! On average, £23.52 will be spent on nappies, £243 on clothing, £53.51 will go towards feeding equipment and £183.51 may be spent on toys and furniture. So, the more you can buy ahead of time to take advantage of special offers and spread the cost, the less your baby’s arrival will catch you financially off guard.
On average, how much does a baby cost per month?
As you settle into a routine, the monthly cost of raising your child will lower to around £333, if we use the results from the Cost of a Child report. Here, we’ve broken down the most common monthly expenses.
- According to Natwest, the average cost of clothing for a child in the first 0-12 months adds up to £40 a month.
- Food for a baby in that first year averages out to £20 per week – amounting to £1,043.55 over the year.
- Nappies will be a significant expense at first, but reduce to around £20 a month – £260.89 over 12 months.
- Toys add up to £45 per month.
Childcare costs – where things get expensive
Childcare isn’t cheap, but it definitely isn’t somewhere to cut costs either. You want your little one to be cared for by a team who know what they’re doing and in a safe environment. On average, part-time childcare amounts to £122.46 per week, while the cost of full-time childcare sits at around £232.84 per week.
However, there are ways to save some money, without compromising on the nursery, and help is available. In England, if your child is between 3 – 4 years old, you can access 570 free hours of childcare each year. This equates to around 14 hours a week for 38 weeks, although you can use it how you like.
On top of that, some 3-4-year-olds are eligible for 30 hours a week free childcare. This is means tested and is based on your working situation and income. If you need or want to send your child to nursery before they turn 3, then this access to free or reduced cost childcare may not help in the early days, but it’s useful to know that you will get some relief from nursery fees for a year or two before they start school.
Lots of parents want their child to attend nursery to make friends and learn skills they wouldn’t pick up as quickly at home. But for many people, childcare ends up costing more than one parent’s income, so to benefit from both incomes it’s not feasible for them to send their child to nursery full-time.
If you have family or friends who can help, then having them look after your child some of the time may be a good way to get the best of all worlds – your child can still attend nursery a couple of days a week, gives grandparents and extended family much-wanted time to spend with your little one, and you’ll benefit from your income instead of it all going on nursery fees!
What must you buy brand new for your baby?
When you have a child, or are planning for a new arrival, it’s important to know that there are some items that, if you’re going to buy them, you must buy brand new. These include:
- Cot mattress – A brand new cot mattress needn’t be expensive, but it is important that it hasn’t been used before. A second-hand cot mattress may not offer a newborn baby the support it needs. In some rare cases, a second-hand cot mattress can lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- Car seat – It’s crucial that your baby’s car seat at least meets and hopefully exceeds all safety requirements. A second-hand car seat may have weakened over time, affecting how supportive it will be for your child. This means less vital protection should you be unfortunate enough to have an accident.
- Breast pump – Breast pumps can be very expensive, so it’s understandable that you might look for a second-hand one since it’s an item you may not be using for long. However, even with the best will in the world, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to completely sterilise a pre-used breast pump, so for both your own and your baby’s safety, buy a brand new one.
However there is still plenty of opportunity to save where you can, and at the end of the day, how much you spend is up to you. There are ways to save money and still give your little one the very best start in life. Here are a few to consider:
- Choose own brand – Sticking with own brands for consumables can cut costs significantly: at the time of writing*, you can grab 24 newborn nappies from Aldi for 85p compared to the same amount for £4.00 if you choose Pampers. That’s a saving of £3.15 if you go with Aldi.
- Accept hand-me-downs or buy second-hand – Being happy to take on hand-me-down clothes, toys and even furniture or a pram from friends and family with older children can be a great money-saver. If you don’t know anybody able to give you hand-me-downs, then checking out local buying and selling sites, charity shops and even eBay or Pre-loved, can be a useful way to find what you need at minimum cost. Babies grow so fast, they’ll only get a few wears out of each outfit before it’s too small, so you’ll likely find that the clothes you receive are virtually new. Then, when your baby has outgrown them too, you can pass them on or sell them to someone else.
- Shop around – Don’t just buy from the first shop you find something in. Shop around and compare prices online – the market for baby products is competitive so you may find somewhere else selling exactly the same thing for cheaper.
- Ask yourself if you really need something – A self-rocking cot is nice, but is it an essential? Buy the things you really need first, then carefully consider if the rest is worth spending money on.
- Consider alternatives to traditional types of nappy – Reusable nappies are proving popular with parents looking for a solution that is eco-friendly and cost-effective.Data from Nottinghamshire County Council suggests that you could save £200 a year by choosing reusable nappies. Some councils in the UK are now even giving away vouchers to parents to purchase a set of reusable nappies.
Small savings like these may not sound like much on their own, but combined and over time can be a huge help and allow you to cut the cost of caring for your child without compromising on the quality of care they get from you.
* All information correct at time of writing – October 2018
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