The real cost of having children

This week all eyes are focused on the Chancellor, but what is the real cost of family life? A new survey tells all.

You know the feeling. You’ve gone out with the kids with a £20 note in your pocket and before you know it you’ve not only spent the £20 on all sorts of rubbish – emergency drinks, perhaps a children’s magazine, a video from the library – but you’ve signed them up for Tae-Kwondo at £30 a term. You’re already thinking of when they are going to start paying for themselves and they’re only 4.
Well, now comes proof that you are not alone. Apparently, according to’s baby budget, timed to coincide with the real budget, a baby costs on average £18,000 in their first year, rising to £27,500 by age three.
Based on a survey of over 3,000 new mums, it predicts that parents are going to limit the number of children they have as a result of the recession and rely more on hand-me-downs and homemade food and clothes. It may be no bad thing to judge by some of the things people are spending their money on.
Pre-pregnancy costs
The report shows that even pre-pregnancy parents-to-be spend an average of £311 on pregnancy tester kits, vitamins and supplements, weekends away and IVF.
Once pregnant, couples spend over £4,000 on clothes, toys, swimming [the most popular form of exercise for pregnant women], yoga and gym. They also spend £3,383 when the baby is born or before on decorating the nursery, prams, buggies and car seats.
It also shows that in the first year, quite a big chunk of the baby budget goes on childcare, including babysitting – the average couple go out 3.3 times a month after the birth of their first baby. Mums estimate their income drops by on average £6,667.65 in the first year if they stay home to look after their baby. Most parents spent around £68.83 on presents for the baby in the first year, despite admitting that the baby was probably unable to appreciate them.
In the Toddler Years, childcare takes up an ever growing portion of expenditure, rising to £2,555.71 a year, dwarfing the £600 or so cost of food and the £547 price of clothes.
Then there are baby massage classes, swimming lessons and music courses.
Many buy duplicate items, such as clothes and dummies, after being caught short while out and about. A third said they bought a new buggy even though their old one was fine because they wanted a new style or colour.


All this could change as the recession takes it toll. Forty per cent of parents said the economic situation had had a direct impact on their decision over whether to have more children and over half said they were trying to cut costs in various different ways. These include:
– accepting hand-me-downs from family and friends [48%]
– using reusable nappies [25%]
– starting children at nurseries later than they had originally planned [15%]
Some had even tried to potty train toddlers early to save on nappies.
But even amongst those trying hard to cut spendings, many parents were still managing to save money for their children’s futures with an average of £41.38 a month being saved.

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