The insurance provider LV has calculated that parents spend an average of £9,610 in the first year of their baby’s life. This cost seems astronomical, especially at a time when you may also be facing a cut in your salary.
In this article, we look at how first-time parents can make savings in this all-important first year. You’ll be able to read handy tips about:
- When to start saving for the baby’s expenditure
- What a baby really needs
- Ways to save on baby essentials
- Meeting the day-to-day care needs of the baby
When to start saving for your baby
Ideally, you should really start putting money by for the baby’s layette as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed. Saving gradually in these months will mean you’ll have some cash set aside, and won’t need to use expensive consumer credit facilities. Make sure that you also apply for all the state help that you’re entitled to.
What does a baby really need?
If the truth be known, a baby needs very little in its first few months. A place to sleep, some bedding and a few outfits are the only truly essential items after you come home from hospital. You can purchase other more costly pieces of equipment later. Let’s take the example of a bed. Although cribs and Moses Baskets look delightful, the baby will soon outgrow them so why not just buy a cot?
Whether to get a pram or buggy is another decision which troubles some first-time parents. It really depends on your life-style and how often you’ll be travelling with the baby. If you need something to fit in the boot of the car or for public transport, a collapsible stroller makes much better sense than a bulky pram.
As first-time parents, it can be difficult to know what is necessary and what isn’t. The best thing is to ask the advice of relatives and friends as they’ll be able to tell you what worked for them, and save you making expensive mistakes.
Ways to save on baby expenses and purchases
There are a number of ways to plan for a baby on a budget:
Borrowing from family and friends
If you have any relatives or friends that have recently had a baby, don’t feel shy about asking if you could borrow from them. Most people would be delighted to see their things being put to good use.
Buy clothes in gender-neutral colours. This will save you money in the long term when Baby number 2 makes its appearance.
The thing about babies is that they grow so quickly that there’s usually very little wear and tear on baby clothes and other equipment. Checking the small ads in the local press; attending boot fairs or jumble sales or checking free listing or auction sites are all ways to pick up expensive models and brands for a fraction of their retail price.
Specialist baby boutiques are the most expensive way to buy clothes for your baby. You’ll be able to pick up much cheaper baby-wear in High Street chain stores or supermarkets. You’ll probably find that the baby grows so fast that it’ll only wear an outfit twice before it becomes too small. As long as you choose clothes made from cotton, quality and durability aren’t an issue for baby clothes.
Also, buy clothes in gender-neutral colours. This will save you money in the long term when Baby number 2 makes its appearance.
Gifts for the newborn
Most relatives, especially doting grandparents and aunts/uncles, will probably be as excited as you are about the birth of your first child. All of them will want to buy a present for the new family member. Take advantage of this by telling them exactly what you need. If you don’t, they’ll still get a gift, but it won’t be what you want. The default present for babies tends to be a cuddly toy, and there’s only so many teddies a baby needs.
Meeting the day-to-day care needs of the baby
Apart from the question of baby’s first wardrobe and other equipment, a great deal of the expenses of the baby’s first year are for its day-to-day care such as nappies and toiletries. Let’s see how you can make savings on these.
Disposable vs. reusable nappies
A newborn needs an average of 7-10 nappy changes in a day. When you do the maths, you can see that this soon adds up in terms of how much it costs. Would you believe that it has been estimated disposable nappies cost parents a total of £600 until their child is potty-trained?
Reusable nappies are much more cost-effective, but you must have a washing machine and tumble dryer. Alternatively, you could sign up for nappy laundry services. Either way, you must be organised to make sure you never run out. Some parents solve the problem by using both types of nappies.
Breast-feeding vs. bottles
Apart from the convenience, breast-feeding is much better for the baby. However, if you can’t breast-feed, bottle-feeding is your only solution. This can set you back an average of £450 a year when you take into account all the equipment, baby formula and so on. There are still ways to make savings though. A bottle warmer isn’t absolutely necessary, for example.
Joining parenting clubs
Many retailers run parenting or baby clubs. This is a great opportunity to receive vouchers, free samples or be notified of special offers. You should therefore join as many of these clubs as you can. When you see special offers in the shops, try to buy in bulk. In that way, you’ll be able to make significant savings on everything from nappies to bath products.
Concluding words about saving money for your baby
Having a baby should be a time of joy. Taking responsibility for a newborn is daunting enough without suffering additional stress over paying for all the baby’s needs, and whether you can get by. With the advice in this guide, you’ll find that you’ll be spending a fraction of the figure quoted by LV insurance. Also, remember that many parents choose to have at least another child. Any money you spend now will be put to good use. Once your family is complete, you’ll be able to get some money back by re-selling the layette as long as it’s in good condition.