Our Tesco Baby Club mums and dads have been-there-spent-that, and are on hand to help you plan your baby budget
Ask any parent what the costs of having a baby are, and they can probably reel off a list as long as their arm – nappies, wipes, nursery kit. But a more helpful question might be, “What costs didn’t you see coming?” In our recent survey about the costs of having a baby, we asked Tesco Baby Club mums and dads to tell us about those surprising costs. Take note, parents-to-be!
1. “I’d have liked to go back to work full time, but we didn’t have enough money to pay for childcare,” says Club dad Karl.
Like Karl, childcare is the number one cost for a lot of parents. It may seem like something you can leave and deal with after maternity leave, but when the time comes to enrol your little one in a nursery, it can be a shock to the system – and budget – at how much it’ll set you back each week. Costs can vary from region to region, but the average cost of full-time childcare is £212 a week – that’s more than £800 a month. Try to factor childcare into your savings plan from the get-go to keep the expense manageable. It can feel like having a second mortgage to pay!
2. “How can baby shoes lasting six to eight weeks cost more than £30?!” says Club mum Lucy.
Your baby’s not even walking yet, so who’d have thought those cute baby booties would be so expensive? As Lucy says, their feet grow so quickly, it can feel like they always need a new pair. When you budget for clothes, don’t forget to set aside money for little shoes, too.
3. “I wish I knew how awful it is going from full pay to maternity pay. Being a parent for the first time is tough and the reduced wages are an added pressure,” says Club mum Claire.
Parental leave can whizz by in a haze of love, nappies and sleep deprivation, and a reduced salary can take a big chunk out of your monthly budget, especially with the extra expense of keeping a little one clean and fed. To help feel prepared, read more about your entitlements and maternity pay.
4. “When I had my baby, I didn’t have time to make meals from scratch, so I spent more on convenient-but-expensive food for me,” says Club mum Aimee.
You may have budgeted for feeding your baby, but have you thought about your own needs? All that time devoted to your little one can lead you down a pricey path of convenience food and takeaways. Instead, batch-freeze meals like lasagne before having your baby, so you can zap it in the microwave on those time-pushed days.
5. “Baby classes like language, dance, sensory and gym can be an unexpected cost, as you often have to buy them in blocks and not as individual classes,” says Club mum Morven.
Once your baby’s arrived, you’ll want to show them off and introduce them to the big wide world. But all those activities, coffees and car trips can add up. Bear in mind these might not be small spends and factor them into your monthly budget – especially if you need to block-book in advance. If they seem out of your budget, there are often locally run playgroups that are inexpensive, if not free. Research or ask other parents in the area for recommendations.
6. “One of our most surprising costs was having to replace items like the car seat and travel cot as our daughter grew so quickly,” says Club mum Emily.
You might have completely kitted out your little one for their arrival, but within months they’ll have grown out of everything – although adaptable products such as a Milestone car seat can help. Try not to buy too many newborn toys – they won’t stay age-appropriate for long – and friends and well-wishers will buy these for you anyway.
7. “I wish I knew how much our general bills would increase,” says Club mum Lynsey.
You’re at home most days, up most nights, and the washing machine and dishwasher are getting more of a workout than usual – which unfortunately means your utility bills will be higher. Sites such as Go Compare and Money Saving Expert can help you get the best deals.
8. “Nappies and other weekly essentials add roughly £30 a week extra to our shopping bill,” estimates Club mum Lisa.
Like Lisa, you should prepare for your weekly shop spend to go up significantly. You’ll have to add nappies, wipes and baby toiletries to your basket, and don’t be surprised if you get through more household essentials, like washing powder and stain remover (thanks, exploding nappy).
9. “We found that everything can be expensive when you have a child,” says Club mum Emily. “It’s worth every penny though!”
Ultimately, while expanding your family may be costly, it will definitely be worth it. The best things in life really are free – it’s just a shame nappies aren’t!