On average parents spend a whopping £27,615 on children before their third birthday

On average parents spend a whopping £27,615 on children before their third birthday

A new study of more than 3,000 new mothers in the UK reveals that babies are costing more than ever before with parents spending a staggering £27,615 by the time they reach their third birthday, accounting for a whopping £19.3 billion annual GDP!

The Baby Budget 2009 was commissioned by Gurgle.com to provide a comprehensive overview of the typical cost of having and raising a child up until the age of three in 2009. The research looked at all possible outgoings including baby and maternity wear, toys and entertainment, childcare, furniture, and food.

Parents-to-be spend an average of £311 on trying to conceive, with the most popular items including pregnancy tester kits (56%), a weekend away (17%) and treatments such as acupuncture (13%). Parents spent an additional £5.06 per week on healthy food, vitamins and supplements while they were trying to get pregnant, while 28% paid for fertility treatment including IVF.

The costs continue to mount during pregnancy, with parents spending in excess of £4,000, including £91.45 on clothes and £71.79 on toys for the baby they have yet to meet. Swimming is the most popular exercise for pregnant mums (62%), followed by special antenatal classes (60%), yoga (47%) and pilates (44%), with 46% also paying for gym membership. Mums-to-be spend an average of £91.11 on maternity wear, including underwear.

Before their baby is born or in the first year, parents spend £3,383 on decorating and furnishing the nursery and a further £605 on prams, buggies and car seats.

Parents spend an average of £13,696 in baby’s first year of which they spend £2,128.24 on childcare, including babysitting (3.3 times per month on average). In year one, Mums estimate that they drop their income by an average of £6,667.65 in order to stay at home to care for their new baby.

The vast majority of parents (94%) bought their child a Christmas and/or birthday present in the first year, spending an average of £68.83, despite admitting that their baby was far too young to understand or remember.

As their babies grow, so the costs continue to mount up with parents spending an average of £4,305 and £4,998 in the second and third years respectively.  Top expenditure items include childcare (£2555.71), feeding (£596.92) and clothes (£547.18).

Parents spend an average of £2,600 on classes and education during their child’s first three years of life, with over half of those aged under one attending a variety of courses such as baby massage (56%), swimming lessons (55%) and music classes (51%). In the first three years of their child’s life parents will spend £1,496 on feeding their child, £1,142 on clothes and £1,289 on books and toys.

Many parents admit to buying duplicate items such as dummies (52%), baby clothes (48%) and bottles (36%) when they have been caught short while out and about. Two fifths of parents (41%) revealed that they have bought two or more buggies for their child with a smaller percentage (30%) admitting that they discarded a perfectly useable buggy because they wanted one in a different colour or style.

Two fifths of parents (40%) reveal that the current economic climate has had a direct impact on their decision to have more children with a further fifth (20%) saying they are unsure about whether they will have more children. Half of the parents surveyed (50%) said that because of the recession they are actively trying to cut costs where they can by implementing a host of cost saving measures.

Families across the country revealed that they are; accepting hand-me-downs from friends and family (48%), making homemade baby food instead of buying packaged food (40%), buying second hand clothes, toys and furniture items (39%), using re-usable nappies (25%), making their baby’s clothes themselves (20%) and starting their child at nursery later than they had originally planned (15%). A smaller number of respondents are even trying to potty train their children earlier in order to save money on nappies.

Savvy parents are also saving hard for their children's futures, putting aside an average of £41.38 per month for their children to put towards education or their first home when they are older. A generous 9% are squirreling away at least £100 per month.

The research shows that parents stump up for the majority of their baby outgoings, however other family members and friends also contribute to make up the deficit. Most popular items bought by others include clothes (57%), buggy or pram (32%) and cot (26%). A third (31%) had received a cash injection from friends or family to help them with those all-important baby purchases.

Parents in the North West are spending the most, splurging £27,393 in baby’s first year alone, compared with canny parents in the North East who spend just £12,873.  Parents in the North West report that the recession has impacted upon their style of parenting with 64% actively trying to reduce their costs and 57% revealing that the credit crunch has affected their decision to have more children.  However, parents in Scotland are the most likely to be taking active steps to save money with 51% making homemade food for their baby, 45% buying second hand and 28% making their own baby clothes.

Pregnant women in Northern Ireland spend the most on maternity wear (£127.54), compared with women in the North East who spend just £74.75. Generous parents in Wales spent £80.92 on birthday and Christmas presents in their baby’s first year, compared with parents in London who spend just £61.96.

Parents in the North West spend the most on childcare in the first year, an average of £3,681.11 in the first year followed by £4,183.95 in the next two years, followed by parents in London who spend who spend £2,356.41 in the first year and £2,577.83 thereafter. Mothers in the South West estimate that they reduce their income by £8,887.79 in the first year followed by London Mums who drop £7,474.65.

Nifa McLaughlin, Gurgle.com site editor, says: "The results of the Gurgle.com Baby Budget lift the lid on just how expensive it is to be a new parent in the UK.  But, while having a baby is not cheap, there are lots of ways to keep the costs down, from accepting hand-me-downs to making your own baby clothes to knowing where to go for free activities and social events with your child."

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