One of your first thoughts after celebrating a positive pregnancy test is probably going to be what will this cost?
The financial burden of having a baby is one of the key reasons why many women now leave it until their 30s to start having a family.
It’s a combination of costs, including the upfront money you need to spend on items for the baby along with the hit your salary will take when you take maternity leave to be with your little one.
There’s also the hurdle of getting onto the property ladder. Many people like to have the stability of owning their own home before they take the leap to starting a family.
In the UK, our jobs are protected for up to one year of maternity leave (you can read more about your rights on Citizens Advice). However, we are not paid in full for that entire year.
Maternity pay schemes vary dramatically from company to company and while some mothers may be paid for several months of their leave, others face nearly a full year without their full-time salary.
Of course parents in the UK now have the option of shared parental leave, so that they can split leave with the baby and share the burden of taking a salary hit and a career break.
These days the mother is likely to be at least a 50/50 contributor to the household costs, if not the primary contributor depending on circumstances.
So taking a full year away from that salary can feel scary to say the least.
In this article we’re going to look at the actual cost of having a baby in the UK for the first year. This is going to include how much you need to budget to spend upfront on the items your baby will need plus the monthly costs of having a baby.
The cost really depends on how much you choose to spend on certain items needed for your baby. For example, you could spend less than £15 on a high chair or you could spend several hundred pounds.
Taking a look at all of these costs, having a baby in the UK is likely to cost new parents around £2,354 in the first year.
This assumes you do not need childcare in the first year, but you can see what that may set you back later in this article. It also does not take into account the hit your salary will take if you take a full year off.
Of course this depends on a variety of factors including how much you earn, how long parents choose to take parental leave for, and what contractual maternity pay your employer offers above statutory pay.
Read to the end of the post to download your free baby savings tracker! A handy grid to keep track of your savings while pregnant.
Don’t forget to check out my ebook, The Mummy Bubble: How to Survive Your Baby’s First Year.
This post contains affiliate links. This means I receive a small commission for purchases made via these links but it does not cost you a penny more.
Cost of preparing for a baby
Babies are tiny but wow they seem to need a whole bunch of stuff. While you can look to cut costs, when you’re expecting a baby you’re going to need to spend some money to get your home and car baby-ready!
It’s important to note that while there are certain things you definitely need, the list of stuff that’s actually vital for your newborn baby is much smaller than you think.
The baby industry is a big one – making £7.3bn in baby clothing alone in the UK a year. And parents love to buy for their babies! It’s an exciting time and of course, when you love your baby you want to treat, spoil and care for them in the absolute best way you can.
And as is just our nature, we spend money and lavish that kind of financial attention on the areas of our life that we cherish.
So before we get to the list of items, we just need to emphasise that there are many brands producing baby products. They charge very different prices and so it’s well worth doing your research on each item before you go down the route of spending a large amount of money on something that either can be bought cheaper elsewhere or that you won’t use much, if at all.
The good news is that unless you choose to go private, giving birth to your baby will not cost you anything in terms of healthcare. The NHS provides free healthcare for expectant mothers and delivery, as well as aftercare. The cost would set you back around £2,000, depending on how complex care you required in labour.
Baby essentials you need to buy before baby is born
For the purposes of this baby budget, I have stuck to the lower end of the scale in terms of costs. You could of course spend a whole lot more on big ticket items such as a pushchair for your baby.
There’s a full baby registry list over on this post featuring tips for buying the best products.
Pushchair – £340
In a survey last year, consumer website Which found that the average parent spent £340 on a pushchair. Of course you can spend a lot more, with the cost of the ultra-trendy Bugaboo coming in at £750 to £1,000+.
Car seat – £144
That same Which survey discovered parents spend about £144 on a baby car seat. Certain car seats such as the Maxi Cosi Pebble Plus require an ISOFIX base to attach the seat safely to the car and needs to be purchased separately which is an additional cost of around £100. The car seat is another item where you can spend great deal more than £144, although this could prove to be a good investment if you get a car seat that will last your child from birth to 4years. This type of car seat is known as a Group 0+ and 1 car seat. Examples include the Cybex Sirona S i-Size which costs £269 at Amazon.
Cot bed – £125
Purchasing a cot bed is a smart investment. They are bigger than normal newborn cots, but will convert to a toddler bed. Ours lasted the first five years with our eldest and our youngest is three years in and still using hers. Retailers such as Argos offer cot beds with the mattress as a package deal at around £150. You can spend £1,000 and more on branded cot beds. Shop around to see if you can get a decent package deal.
Cot bed mattress – £30
It’s essential you look for a mattress that complies with British safety standards – this doesn’t mean spend more money, retailers such as John Lewis sell compliant cot bed mattresses for just £30. The NCT has lots of tips for choosing a safe bed and mattress for your baby.
Fitted sheets – £6
Blankets – £15
You need a few spares for blankets in case of an explosive nappy. Layering light blankets is best to avoid overheating, so having three to four including two cellular blankets is a good idea. Purchasing them from places like ASDA for just a few pounds.
Sleeping bag – £20
Once your baby is a few weeks old you can start to use baby sleeping bags which are really handy as your little one cannot kick off the covers in the night! These vary in price from as much as £50 for a two-pack to as little as £20 for a two-pack from retailers such as ASDA and Amazon.
Clothes – £50
Baby clothes are an area where it’s possible to really blow the budget. With so many cute outfits and accessories such as shoes, you could spend hundreds of pounds on newborn clothes. We’re sticking to just the basics here, and you can read more about how many newborn clothes you actually need over on this post. This figure assumes buying a few items in both newborn size and 0-3 months so that you are all set for a few months at least after baby is born.
Muslin cloths and bibs – £20
Baby monitor – £40
You can spend hundreds of pounds on baby monitors that feature body monitoring tech that actually attaches to your baby and keeps an eye on their vitals for you. A simple sound or sound and camera monitor is not too pricey and often they are just as effective at doing their job as the super expensive gadgets featuring lots of extra features. Which has a great feature on monitors here.
Changing table – £20
Spending on this item depends on how you want to set up your nursery. You can add a cot top changer to your baby’s bed for less money than buying a full changing unit. You could also adapt the top of a chest of drawers to be a changing unit. Some parents choose just to buy a cheap changing mat that is kept under the bed or sofa for when it’s needed. For the purposes of this, we will stick with the cheapest option, which is a changing wedge like this from John Lewis.
Night light – £22
Many parents find products like the GroEgg useful as they combine having a night light with a room thermometer.
Changing bag – £50
A changing bag can set you back well over £100 if you choose to purchase one of the designer products from makers such as Storksak or Jem + Bea. However there are plenty of perfectly good bags on the market for less than £50.
Bottles – £15
Many of the big baby bottle makers have a starter kit that gives you a few bottles plus essentials like a bottle cleaning brush. The Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature kit is a good example of this and costs just £15. You could spend much more on other brands, such as Dr Brown’s which has a starter kit for £59, although it does also include a steriliser.
Breast pump – £100
The cost of this depends on whether you need to express a lot of milk. If you do, then an electric pump is essential. However many mothers find a manual pump like a Haakaa helps them to collect just enough milk for an occasional expressed bottle of milk.
Nursing bras and breast pads – £50
Sterilising equipment £15
Nail clippers and hairbrush £10
Thermometer – £15
Try to choose a thermometer that takes baby’s temperature easily, for example by simply holding it to the forehead. Some need to be held inside the ear for quite some length of time and your baby will get fidgety after a few seconds.
Baby towel – £15
Wash essentials such as bubble bath and moisturiser – £5
For a newborn baby you will want to stock up on both newborn and Size 1 nappies before your baby arrives, as it’s quite shocking how quickly they grow out of the smallest size! The cost of nappies varies massively depending on what brand you choose. A pack of 72 Pampers size 1 costs £7, or 10p per nappy, while a pack of Tesco’s own brand Fred & Flo costs £1.80 for 50, or 4p per nappy. It’s worth noting as well that nappies often go into buy one get one free or at a discount offers in supermarkets, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for offers.
Wipes – £10
Wipes also vary massively in price and supermarkets have their own brand versions which are a lot cheaper than the big name brands. Take a look at the price per wipe before buying as this can shock you! Bulk buying them works out a lot cheaper, whichever brand you purchase and it’s worth stocking up as unlike nappies your baby won’t grow out of wipes!
Toys – £60
Included in this figure is a baby playmat or bouncy chair and a few soft toys and rattles.
High chair – £12
The best-selling IKEA Antilop high chair is a bargain!
Weaning utensils, bibs and bowls – £15
Total cost – £1,214
Baby stuff you don’t really need
- Moses basket plus fitted sheet. I’ve put the cot bed on the essentials list as baby does need somewhere to sleep of course. Many parents buy a Moses basket or a side sleeper for their newborn to sleep in. This is easier to fit in the parents’ bedroom, however you use it for such a short space of time that its something you can save money on if you can make room for the cot bed in your bedroom, or sleep in your baby’s nursery with them. A moses basket costs between £50 and £100 including bedding.
- Side sleeper. Co-sleepers can be really useful if you are breastfeeding. They attach to the side of your bed as a little extension so that your baby sleeps right next to you. They are not an essential baby item, but they’re not necessarily a frivolous one either. They cost from £50 to several hundred pounds, so do shop around for one that will give you the most value for money if you do decide to get one.
- Sleepyhead. A Sleepyhead costs around £100. It’s like a big nest for your baby that some parents find really helps with baby’s sleep in the first year. However some also find it makes no difference. If you really want to try one, you could look for second-hand ones in Facebook marketplace groups or on eBay. It may also make a nice gift suggestion.
- Baby bath. You most definitely do not need a baby bath. They cost about £10 to £30 and you will use it for roughly six weeks.
- Shoes. Your baby may take their first steps at around their first birthday. Most take them just after. For this reason you should try not resist buying baby shoes!
How much does a baby cost per month?
After the initial cost of buying the stuff your baby needs, you will have ongoing costs of things such as nappies, formula if you are bottle-feeding and possibly even childcare depending on when you go back to work.
You can of course cut back on these monthly costs by taking certain steps such as investing in reusable nappies, which have an expensive upfront cost but may save you money in the long-term. You can also breastfeed which results in a significant saving in the first year.
Let’s break down some of the key monthly costs that you may face for your baby in the first year. One cost I haven’t taken into account here is baby food at six months when you will begin weaning.
You could buy jars and packs of food specifically for weaning babies. But you may find it useful to instead mash and puree your own meals to offer to your baby. In the early weeks of weaning babies only really need small tastes of foods such as mashed banana, potato, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, swede and squash.
As they progress you can then puree small portions of your own meals such as spaghetti bolognaise or offer them homemade chicken nuggets as they progress to finger foods. If you meal plan then you don’t need to add any additional cost to your grocery bill.
Nappies – £15
Your baby is likely to go through eight to 12 nappies a day in their first year. This translates to roughly 300 nappies per month. If you purchase cheap supermarket brand nappies, the cost of this can be brought right down. While supermarkets have deals, you can also use the Amazon subscribe and save to wipe five per cent off cost of nappies.
Wipes – £12
You may use three to four wipes in just one nappy change, depending on how messy it is! It’s likely you will go through 10 to 15 packs of wipes per month.
New clothes – £20
Your baby will grow out of all those tiny newborn clothes pretty quickly. You shouldn’t have to purchase new clothes every month, as your baby’s clothes will have a little growing room in them. But for the purposes of budgeting, I’ve spread the cost out over the year to provide a monthly figure. This is assuming a no-frills approach to buying baby clothes.
Formula – £50
There are many different brands of formula on the market. Your baby needs the stage 1 first infant milk for the first year. There is no need to purchase follow-on milk, as your baby can start drinking milk from the fridge at one year. If you feed your baby with ready made formula from bottles, the cost of this can soon add up to a LOT as this comparison of infant milks shows. As a general rule, an 800g tub of infant milk powder would last me around one week when my babies were a few months old. This costs around £10 to £15 depending on what brand you choose.
Savings for baby’s future – £10
Many parents start a savings account for their baby to prepare for days of driving lessons, university tuition and weddings.
It seems a long way off into the future, but if you start saving early you will be much more prepared to face those big milestone costs.
Money Saving Expert has a good summary on the options for a children’s savings account.
The type of account you choose really depends on whether you are comfortable with having your child have access to this money at age 18. Will they do what is right with the money or will they spend it on stuff that you didn’t intend it for?
Whatever account you choose, start saving as soon as you can. You can start small in the first year, even just £10 a month will make a difference. Money Saving Expert says £10 a month for 18 years with two per cent interest per year will mean you reach £2,500. This could make all the difference for helping you and your child to pay for important things at this stage in their life.
You may take the entire year off, or share the entire year with your partner using shared parental leave opportunities.
But if you both do return to work before your baby is one, then there will be childcare costs involved. That is assuming you don’t have grandparents or other relatives close by who will step in to do it for free for you!
The cost of childcare varies massively depending on what option you choose.
The average cost of a day nursery is £127 for 25 hours per week, according to the Money Advice Service.
However, the cost of childcare varies a lot depending on where you live. Nurseries and childminders charge a lot more in the south of England and London than the north. Costs can also vary dramatically between providers, depending on what facilities they have and how good their Ofsted rating is.
There are tips for settling your baby into childcare over on this post.
- Monthly total with childcare £1,595
Because all mothers are required to take two weeks off minimum after having a baby, we will subtract one month of childcare from this as a total for the year. Of course this total may vary depending on how long you take as leave.
Total for the year £17,545
- Monthly total without childcare £95
Total for the year £1,140
Lost earnings during maternity leave
One thing I haven’t added to this calculation is your lost earnings during maternity leave.
However generous your employer’s maternity pay scheme is, it’s doubtful they will pay you 100 per cent of your salary for the entire year.
Your maternity pay starts on the same day as your maternity leave, regardless of when the baby is born.
New mums are entitled to statutory maternity pay, which lasts up to 39 weeks and for the first six weeks is made up of 90 per cent of your average weekly pay before tax.
After this it’s either £151.20 a week or 90 per cent of your average weekly pay before tax, whichever works out less. See the Citizens Advice website for more on this.
To be eligible you must have worked for your business for at least 26 weeks, ending with the 15th week before the baby is due.
However some employer’s have additional pay as part of their contractual agreement with employees. It’s well worth checking with your employer what they can offer you.
My company offered a generous package that paid me 100 per cent of my salary for 39 weeks and then a reduced amount up until nine months. This meant I only had three months of leave where I was not paid.
During maternity leave you generally will also accrue holiday, so you can take a month’s paid holiday during your year off, ending your maternity leave early, so that you get some additional money.
It really all depends on what your contract is with your employer, so check what you are eligible for as soon as you possibly can so you can factor lost earnings into your budget.
The gov website has a handy maternity pay calculator here.
I’m having a baby and have no money!
Do not panic! There are many ways you can cut the costs of having a baby. With a bit of creativity, you can get pretty much everything you need for free.
Babies do cost money, but how much money they cost you is really down to how extravagant you get when kitting them out with clothes, furniture and toys. Your baby can have everything they need, without you needing to blow your budget.
Look to friends and family for hand-me-downs, start saving now, avoid unnecessary baby products, and most importantly of all, cut back on all of your unnecessary household spending right now.
Do you need to have those little extra beauty treatments every single month? Can you colour your hair at home instead of at the hair salon? Can you swap electricity or gas suppliers to save on your annual bill?
Easy ways to save money on having a baby
So with all of this in mind, you may be feeling a little bit worried about budgeting for your baby.
Do not panic! There are plenty of ways to take the sting out of the cost of having a baby so that you can afford to start a family.
The earlier you start to plan, save and budget for having your baby, the better off you will be.
Take second-hand donations from friends
If you have friends and family who already have kids, chances are they have a loft full of baby stuff they are dying to get rid of!
The great thing about second-hand baby clothes is it often has been worn just a handful of times as babies grow out of clothes so quickly!
Your friends and family may also have toys and equipment such as high chairs. So if you are offered hand-me-downs, do not turn your nose up at the offer!
Buy what you need, not what you want
Because the baby industry is such big business, there is an abundance of stuff out there for us to buy.
The trouble is not all of it is stuff that you actually need. When buying any baby item, ask yourself is it something you actually need for the baby or something you want.
For example a pair of newborn baby shoes is definitely not something you need.
You can make it easier to resist buying excess items by getting a good checklist for baby essentials started. Include only the items you will really need. If you then find yourself considering anything beyond that list, really read into whether this will actually prove to be useful to you.
Take a few days to think over every purchase
Stop and give yourself a week before committing to buying anything.
You will often find that a week gives you time to reassess whether you actually need something.
This method also cuts out impulse purchasing, which can be really deadly to your budget as you can rack up a lot of expense before you’ve had time to stop and analyse whether you can afford to do it.
Remember to tell your loved ones what you need
Your family and friends may want to throw you a baby shower. And if they do, you could tick quite a few items off of your essentials checklist for baby!
Having a checklist means you can easily tell loved ones who ask you for gift ideas what you need.
People particularly like to buy clothes, toys and blankets for new babies – these were the gifts I got most of when I had my baby shower!
Buy up a size in baby clothes
Avoid buying too many clothes in newborn baby size, and instead focus first on buying clothes in 0-3 months size.
Tiny babies aren’t moving that much, so it will doesn’t matter if their trouser legs have to rolled up an inch or two.
Try to do the same as your baby grows, so that the baby clothes will last you that little bit longer.
Find more tips for saving money on baby while you’re still pregnant here plus tips on saving money on baby clothes here.
Download your baby savings tracker
Now that you have seen what your baby may cost you, why not download the baby savings tracker.
The savings tracker is great because it can motivate you to see just how much you have been able to save and push you to keep going.
Simply set your target and then divide it by 100. Each square represents one per cent of your target! Colour in a square every time you save one per cent of your target and watch the grid fill up with colour!
Download as a PDF by clicking the link below!
Get the pregnancy planner!
Check out the pregnancy planner, full of printable checklists, journal pages and helpful pages to guide you through your pregnancy!
Find out more about the Pregnancy Planner here.