Sunday, 24 March 2013

The Cost of Raising a Baby - Really?!

Ten & a half grand?!  I'll call you back!
I hope you're sitting down for this one!  Apparently it costs £222,458 to raise a child to age 18, and £10,526 of that is for baby's first year.  I just can't get my head round that at all, what are people buying?!  Naturally, like all averages, many will be spending significantly more than that, others significantly less.  Not sure how many will have spent as little as us though!!

Before we headed down the Attachment Parenting route, when we were first pregnant with Lara, we did what every newly pregnant couple does - headed out to all the major stores and picked up their catalogues full of apparently essential baby products.  We made a long, long list full of cots, sleeping bags, changing necessities, clothes basics, and goodness knows what else.  We even listed bottles, sterilisers and the like because we too had believed the negative messages that I might not be able to feed my own baby properly!

How we look back and laugh now at that enormous list and its even more enormous cost!!  The only things we really needed in the early days were the basic clothes, which a couple of friends kindly lent us anyway; a changing mat (a gift); a stack of cloth nappies (bought secondhand but unused) and some cotton wool for bottom changes; and lots and lots of muslins.
Total cost: just over £100!  What a contrast to that huge list!!

There are also big expenses like car seats and buggies, if that's your thing, although we lucked out there too with good old Freecycle, and the only big expense we then had was a sling each for carrying Lara in.  That brings us to about £250 and covered us for Lara's first six months.

Of course, like every new parent, we were given lots and lots of beautiful clothes both before and after the birth, and simple toys and cloth books which were quickly needed, so for us the first six months were pretty easy cost-wise.  Since then, the ever-changing needs of a growing baby and then toddler add random things to the shopping list each month.  Not just new clothes sizes, although our tiddlers are still way 'behind' their apparent clothes age/size, but random things like breast pads, then plastic bowls and cutlery, car seat toys, and yet more muslins!

Yes, there are costs each and every month, one way or another, but almost all of the other stuff is in the want category really, everything from baby gyms to Duplo, cute leather shoes to myriad cuddly toys.  Of course, we can't expect our babies/toddlers to exist with nothing, especially no toys, but toy libraries are great if you're on a strict budget, and there are more vital things to spend your pennies on!  I still can't imagine how that £10K+ figure is reached in one year.  I'm not sure we've even reached that figure now with two children, 3 years on!

But our children are certainly not cost-free, and more is added to the bill each month.  The latest cost for us has been a bed guard and a baby monitor.  Not things we thought we would necessarily need, but now we have two small people who can move in bed, someone's bound to fall out and, although we didn't need the baby monitor when Lara was a baby, it is really useful now when we go to my mum's.  Lara tends to take herself off to bed at about 9pm, and after a cuddle and a feed, drops off to sleep.  At home the bedroom is only next door to the sitting room, so we're fine, but at Mum's it is very difficult to hear her when we're downstairs with the baby and my mum's required volume on the television set!!!

We still haven't bought 90% of the things on our baby shopping list all those years ago, but even looking back to our ridiculous list, I still don't understand where the figure of £10,526 to raise a baby in its first year could possibly come from.  I would be surprised if Lara cost us £1000 in her first year, and Sophia significantly less because we had everything already.  As I say, we inevitably find our needs changing over time, but our costs remain low in comparison to that £10,526, what about you?

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