Cost of having a baby

Sleepless nights go with the territory when you’re a new parent. But don’t let money worries be the thing that’s keeping you awake!

Work out how much it’s all going to cost, how much you can afford, and start planning ahead. 

The more you know, the better you can prepare for the expected – or unexpected! 


Plan ahead

Planning is the key, but whether the baby is planned or not, you’ll still have a few months to prepare, mentally and financially. As soon as you find out, take a look at your budget and see where you might need to make changes – see Budgeting.

did you know?

Some new parents spend as much as £10,000 (including childcare) in their baby's first year.

Most new parents admit to spending too much on their baby – buying lots of things that are used only a few times or not at all. Ask other parents what they needed and what could wait.  Use the Money Advice Service's Baby costs calculator to see what you'll need and how much things could cost you.

Find out what the 10 least useful baby items are on the Which? website.

Check out these top tips for saving money and spending wisely.

Top Tip 1 Think before you buy

Before you spend lots of money on something you think you need for your new baby really think carefully about whether you really need it and how you would use it. Read product reviews – Which? usually has some reviews about baby equipment such as pushchairs and cots. Ask people you know that may have bought a similar thing, this will give you an idea of whether other people felt it was worth the money.

be a savvy parent

It’s also possible to spend as little as £1600 or possibly even less if you have nearly-news and gifts.

Top Tip 2 Buy secondhand

Don’t be too proud to buy things second hand. You can save yourself a lot of money doing this. Check out at your local HIVE or your Unit Welfare Office, where other Service Personnel may be selling things.

Take care!  If using a used mattress - carefully check that it's clean, dry and free from cracks or tears beforehand. Check it conforms to safety requirements: mattresses should carry the BSI number BS 1877-10:1997.

There are also various websites where you can find baby items that are near perfect condition for a fraction of the price, and this brings us to Top Tip number 3…Shop Around!

Top Tip 3 Shop around

There is rarely any need to buy anything full price these days. Shop around for sales or different places that may sell the same product but for less money. Don’t think you always have to go to high street shops, you can get a lot of stuff in supermarkets, charity shops and online. See the Which? website for where to buy second-hand and the Citizen's Advice Different ways of buying section on how to protect yourself. 

Top Tip 4 Borrow stuff

Money fitness tip

Be sure not to buy a second-hand car seat unless you’re sure it has never been in a road traffic accident.

Don't be afraid to ask family and friends if they’ve got any spare baby things that you can borrow.  You can always return it if they need it and you will probably find that most people are happy to see it being used again. Check at your local HIVE or put up a card on the noticeboard – furniture is available free on loan from Service sources and it’s usually new or in very good condition.  

Top Tip 5 Don’t stockpile

Don’t immediately go out and buy loads of nappies or creams or wipes and so on! Buy a few and wait until you know what brands you like. It’s better to put that money towards something else in the early stages.

Top Tip 6 Make the most of freebies

Join all the baby clubs you can - the supermarkets all have them and the baby food and nappy companies too.  You can get free samples and vouchers from them.

Top Tip 7 Don’t go baby clothes shopping

Don’t go out and buy lots of baby clothes, many people will give you these as gifts but also they grow out of them so quickly it is only worth buying the essentials for a newborn.

Top Tip 8 Re-sell anything you don’t need

If you're buying baby equipment, hang on to the boxes if you've got the space. Also, don't take the labels off new baby clothes until you use them (you'll be surprised how many tiny outfits don't get worn). These will mean you can get a better price when you sell them on. But make sure you really won't need them again. You don't want to buy it all again if you have another baby.


Last reviewed: 28/11/2017