According to The Money Advice Service, the cost to raise a baby in the first year could amount to a whopping £7200!
From an experienced and thrifty Mum, this number seems a little high for me!
Yes raising a child costs money, and there is no way around that. However, there are many ways to provide for your child that don’t cost the earth.
Using alternative ways to purchase your baby products can save you a ton of money.
What equipment will my baby need in their first year?
Grab a pen and paper. Based on my list of baby essentials, write down exactly what equipment you will need for the baby.
It’s important to do your own research on each item, but here is a quick summary based on my own experience:
Prams and strollers are probably the most expensive item that you will have to purchase for your child. A lot of the big brands in department stores cost upwards of £1000. (ouch!)
I selected a relatively cheaper iCandy – around £500 from new. It was a durable travel system, meaning the seats and frame could be interchanged to adjust with the needs of your growing child.
We used the pram more than once for our second child, and the it can be used with different seating adjustments and extras to even turn it into a double pram for siblings born close together.
The buggy lasted us in total around 4 years, and I managed to sell it on to another mama so it could be used again.
It’s a hefty sum, but I would allocate at least £500 for a travel system. Less if you can buy one second hand.
Car seats are another of the larger expenses. I found this to be a complete minefield, but there a few different factors to consider here:
- Compatibility with your car
- Age / eight / height of child – suitability
- European safety tests
For more information on car seats, click here for Kiddies-Kingdom’s guide to car seat sizes.
Car seats can vary greatly in price, and this is one thing I would never recommend buying second hand. You never know if a seat has been involved in an accident, restricting its future safety for your baby in case you are ever in the same situation.
Globally, all car seats go through extensive accident simulations and must pass rigorous safety testing. According to https://www.childcarseats.org.uk/,
They must “Conform to the United Nations standard, ECE Regulation 44.04 (or R 44.03) or to the new i-size regulation, R129. Look for the ‘E’ mark label on the seat.”
All car seats must comply to the same safety standards, so essentially it might mean that it doesn’t matter if you spend £100 or £400 on a seat that meets the same safety regulations.
Allocate around £100 for a good car seat.
Baby will obviously need somewhere to sleep. When they are first born, a smaller crib is the most suitable option until they outgrow it or can sit up.
When pregnant with my daughter, I was seduced by a special crib that attached to your bedside. It was very expensive and very unnecessary. I was given a moses basket after I found the crib to be actually quite rickety and seemingly uncomfortable.
Moses baskets are quite inexpensive and don’t need to be fancy or cost the earth.
The next stage is a cot, but I recommend buying a cot bed.
This is essentially a traditional cot that can be altered to transform into a toddler bed, so will last you for a longer period of time.
Oh, and don’t forget the mattress!
Apart from a chest of drawers or wardrobe, you really don’t need much else in baby’s room that is essential. If you needed extra furniture, check out second hand selling sites like Gumtree and eBay. Remember to ensure the furniture is in good repair, and the ability to baby proof for when your little one is on the move.
Allocate around £150 total for cot bed and mattress.
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It is recommended that you use limited bedding for your baby in and around the cot.
The use of loose blankets and traditional cot bumpers is discouraged due to the contribution towards SIDS.
Based on this, there were two bedding products, that I couldn’t live without:
These are great for keeping little ones warm during the night without the worry of them kicking their blankets off or getting tangled up in loose covers. It gave me real peace of mind at night.
- Mesh Breathable Wraps
These breathable air wrap mesh ensure little legs and arms do not get stuck within the bars of baby’s cot. The mesh allows air to regulate and keep your baby from overheating. They velcro fasten around the bars to make it difficult for baby to remove. Much safer than the traditional cot bumpers which restrict temperature regulation and contribute to SIDS.
Allocate around £40 for both of these items.
Of course if you are breastfeeding, you may need very minimal equipment during your baby’s first year.
If you are bottle feeding, this can be quite a different story.
When bottle feeding, it is essential that you use a steriliser to kill all bacteria that can build up in teats and in the bottle itself. These are relatively inexpensive, and you can choose from electric sterilisers or microwavable versions.
Bottles and different stages of teats will need to be purchased throughout the year.
Allow around £50 for bottle feeding equipment.
The most essential piece of equipment when baby hits the weaning stage at around six months is a highchair.
Choosing a modern and minimal deign that could be transformed into a toddler chair for future use would be a wise decision.
Look also for features like padding, seat adjustments, and easiness to clean and store.
I would allocate around £30 for a highchair.
A simple hand blender will be sufficient to puree your baby’s first foods. You do not need a specific baby blender costing £50+ to do something a £5-10 stick blender can do.
Allocate around £10 for a blender.
Baby baths don’t have to be an expensive piece of equipment. The first time I was pregnant, I did buy a second hand baby bath for about £2 from a Carboot sale. Nothing fancy, a simple (but pink!) shallow bath.
When pregnant with my son the second time around, I was seduced by a Schnuggle baby bath. This was more bucket shaped that sloped slightly to accommodate newborn babies up to around one year.
It was fantastic to use in the larger bath so I could bathe both children at the same time. The cost was around £20 but was one of the best products I have ever bought.
Allocate around £10-20 to buy a new baby bath, or less if you can find a great condition one second-hand.
That’s essential baby equipment for under £1000!
Or approximately £900 to be specific!
This total cost could be even lower if you follow some of my other tips below, perfect to save on the cost to raise a baby in the first year!
Ways to save money
There are some really easy ways to save money when planning for the first year of raising your baby.
Buy Second Hand Items
This is a really easy way to save a ton of money. Some of the items I have personally bought second hand include:
- Baby Baths
Check out local online selling communities on websites like Facebook. Also Gumtree and eBay are a fantastic place to find near new items at a fraction of the retail price.
Buying pre-loved items is a good way to be more sustainable and take responsibility for your action on the planet.
Be cautious when shopping for pre-loved goodies. There are some products that I would never buy second hand due to safety and hygiene reasons.
Make your own Baby Food and Snacks
It always astounds me how many people still will only buy jars or pouches of baby food.
Yes they are convenient, but listen up: it is so much easier to make your own pureed food when weaning. The web is full of amazing baby snack recipes.
Anything from Cheese Straws to these amazing DIY Melty Puff Snacks can be made. It is far cheaper and you know exactly what is going into them.
You don’t need to be an experienced chef or baker to make simple, on the go snacks for your baby.
Buying cloth diapers would save you a heap of cash in the first year and beyond, as well as being significantly kinder to the environment.
According to the BBC, it’s estimated that every year in the UK alone, over three BILLION nappies are sent to landfill.
That is terifying.
Read this guide to cloth nappies if you want to help reduce that waste and save yourself thousands.
Using natural skincare products instead of chemical filled toiletries for babies like coconut oil will save you heaps of money.
Using a natural product is also way better for your little ones skin and is something you can even use yourself.
Repurpose old clothing into bibs, hand cloths etc.
There may be some other expenses that you have to account for in the first year raising your baby:
Here in the UK, we are so lucky to have the NHS. We don’t have to pay any money for our healthcare costs.
It’s something I think we really take for granted and until you fall ill or have a baby, you don’t realise how much we need abuse? it.
If you live elsewhere in the world, like in the U.S, hospital bills might be a real worry if you are about to have a baby. I’m not 100% sure how insurance policies cover this, so make sure you know what the exact costs will be to try and save toward those during your pregnancy.
Childcare might be a real issue if you are planning to return to work within the first year after childbirth.
It’s a hefty part of any working family’s budget, with the potential to cost parents thousands just so they can go out to work. Childcare providers are expensive, but there may be some ways of working around the cost.
- Do you have family or friends that could help with covering childcare?
- Could you work from home and to a slightly different schedule to accommodate your family’s needs?
- Does your employer offer help with childcare costs?
Planning for the milestone of returning to work early can give you piece of mind when the date quickly (yes it does go quickly) rolls around.
Savings accounts for your child
I made it a necessity to plan on starting a savings account for both of my children. I don’t contribute much, but I know over time it can really provide a boost when they are old enough and planning to study or travel.
Shop around and look at the best bank accounts for child savings.
ISA’s allow you to save without paying tax on a certain percentage of your total savings per year. Look at MSE’s guide to all thing Money for children.
The cost to raise a baby in the first year is substantial, but there are many ways you can save cash by being frugal, and sensible!
Do you have any tips on how to save costs? I’d love to read your comments below!