Wondering whether you can afford to have a baby or how you’ll cope with the costs of supporting your newborn? Read our guide to making the most of the financial help on offer
There is no escaping it, having a child is an expensive business and from birth until the age of 18 it can set you back just over £4,000 a year – or £75,436 in total for a couple – according to Child Poverty Action Group.
However, there are many ways to cut the costs of having a baby. These range from finding the best deals on essential products and buying second hand to setting up the right protection and making sure you’re receiving the benefits you’re entitled to.
1 Sign up for freebies from new baby schemes
Retailers are desperate to draw in new parents and offer a range of freebies and promotions to do so. Here is a selection of the best around:
- In Scotland, parents receive a free baby box full of essentials, which you can apply for by speaking to your midwife. In England, there is a less generous scheme available through the Baby Box Company, which you can apply for online after watching a free parenting course and taking a quiz on baby and child health.
- Amazon offers freebies when you set up a ‘Baby Wish List’ – currently, it’s a free nappy tub worth £10.
- Mothercare’s ‘My Mothercare’ scheme includes 20% off maternity clothes and discount vouchers on a huge range of products.
- The Boots Parenting Club hands out extra Advantage points when you buy baby items.
- With Tesco’s Baby Club, you will be sent offers appropriate to your child’s age.
- Members of the Asda Baby & Toddler Club get alerted first about discount events in the supermarket.
2 Life insurance will protect your loved ones
No one wants to think about a parent dying, but it’s one of the most important financial factors when preparing for a new baby.
Life insurance pays out a lump sum if the holder dies and there are two options: level-term insurance, which pays out a set amount if they die between a fixed period of time, or mortgage life insurance, which specifically covers the cost of your mortgage.
“A life insurance payment could make all the difference in helping a partner and children cope financially if one parent passes away during the policy term,” Paul Dalgliesh, head of protection propositions at Aviva, explains.
“Having a baby can provide the prompt for new parents to consider taking out life insurance for the first time,” he adds.
Where you buy the policy can make a big difference to the cost, and it’s well worth checking a few different quotes before you buy to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
3 Meet other new parents and share money-saving tips
There are hundreds of apps available for new parents. One of these is Mush, a free app designed to help parents find free and cheap activities to do in the day time with their babies.
“Being a new parent means you suddenly have long chaotic days without any plans. It can be tempting to book in classes for your baby, but they are often extremely expensive,” says Katie Massie-Taylor, founder of Mush.
“Mums who meet on Mush often do babysitting tokens – they take it in turns to babysit their friend’s baby so they can have a bit of time to themselves. This can save between £8 to 12 an hour,” she adds.
You may get presents or hand-me-downs from friends
4 You might be eligible for child tax credits
Anyone with children might be able to get child tax credits. The exact amount you could receive depends on your income, but for a child born on or after 6 April 2017 parents may be able to claim up to £2,780 a year.
You may also be able to claim child benefit, which is available to anyone living in the UK who is responsible for a child up to the age of 16 (or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training). A sum of £20.70 is paid weekly for the first child and £13.70 is paid for subsequent children. If you can, putting this into an interest-paying savings account is a good way to start a mini savings pot for emergencies.
5 Until your baby arrives, only buy the essentials
It might be tempting to overbuy on new baby items, but you only really need the essentials at this time. The NHS has a checklist of things you’ll need including a cot, pram, basic babygrows, feeding equipment and nappies.
Anything else you can buy once the baby arrives, and by this time you’ll know what you actually need. You may also receive presents or hand-me-downs from friends with older children.
6 Free childcare hours are available for working parents
Although you can no longer apply for childcare vouchers after the scheme shut to new parents last year, working parents can still benefit from the government’s tax-free childcare scheme. For every £8 you pay in to your account, the government will top it up by £2, offering a maximum saving of £2,000 a year per child. Families where either partner earns more than £100,000 are not eligible.
You can pick up a nearly new pram online for £100
7 Claim your full maternity entitlement
If you’ve worked at a company for six months or longer, you will be entitled to the statutory maternity pay, which is £145.18 per week for up to 39 weeks.
However, most companies offer an enhanced maternity allowance for at least the first six weeks and this can be your full-time salary or 90% of it.
Before you go on maternity leave, find out exactly what is available and ask about ‘keeping in touch’ days, which are paid days when you can go back into the office.
If you are self-employed, to receive statutory pay, you will need to have made enough national insurance contributions, although you can top these up if not.
Don’t cut your company pension contributions before you go on maternity leave. Your employer will continue paying contributions at the same level, so in fact if you can increase your contributions you will get even more.
8 Don’t succumb to emotional spending
All parents want everything to be perfect for their newborn and this makes you an advertiser’s dream. Think carefully whether your baby really needs sheepskin liners in their car seat or baby-wipe warmers. After your baby is born, when you’re likely to be tired and emotional, be wary of splurging on products that promise to revolutionise your life. Just because Amazon reviewers claim a high-tech baby bouncer got their baby to sleep doesn’t always mean it will work for you.
9 Start building a nest egg
It is never too early to start saving for your new arrival. If you open a Junior Isa (Jisa), you can pay in £4,260 a year and all growth and income is tax-free. The money can’t be accessed until the child is 18, at which point the account becomes an adult Isa.
You can choose either a Cash or an Investment Jisa: 70% opened this year were cash products, but if you’re saving for the long term, an Investment Jisa may produce better returns.
10 Buy secondhand or try before you buy to save a fortune
There is a wealth of secondhand baby items available, whether it’s from a local Facebook group, eBay, Gumtree or an NCT sale.
Most of the items have a short usage span before the baby grows out of them and therefore are usually in an almost-new condition, at a fraction of the price. A brand-new pram, for example, could set you back £700, but online you could pick one up for nearer to £100 or less.
Also check out services such as toy or sling libraries to test-drive items before splashing out.
11 Register the birth on time or you’ll be fined
You need to register your baby’s birth at the local registry office within 42 days – if you miss this deadline, you might be fined £200. Once you register the birth, which takes around half an hour, you will receive your child’s a birth certificate.
“Baby brain is not a myth, so save time and money by shopping online”
Georgie Gilding, 34, lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband, Jack, and her 17-month-old daughter, Harriette (pictured left) and is expecting her second baby in March. Here, she explains her top tips for cutting down the cost with a new arrival.
“Baby brain is not a myth, so save time and money by online shopping as there’s nothing worse than driving to the shops and ending up buying 10 things you don’t need and forgetting what you initially wanted.
“Plan meals and bulk-cook – it will save you a fortune when your baby starts eating food.
“Services such as Amazon are a new parent’s dream as you can shop online at 4am when up with the baby, and it has a discount scheme for families.
“We used reusable wipes which are a fantastic way to say money and also be environmentally responsible – I highly recommend Cheekywipes, these are fantastic.
“If you can, make the most of asking friends and family for free childcare and if you have any big trips coming up, make sure you are strategic with when you book as children usually fly free under the age of two.”
Rebecca Goodman writes for websites and publications including This is Money, MailOnline,The Sun and LoveMONEY.com