How much does it cost to have a baby? A helpful view of the upfront costs linked to having a baby and how smart shopping can save you time and money

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Have you ever wondered: Can I afford to have a baby? How much do I need to save in order to pay for what baby needs? What do I actually need to buy immediately and what can I defer?

If any of this sounds familiar, you‘ve come to the right page. It is based on the experience of the MonkeyandBearFit team (Jamain and Leanne) prior to baby Theo arriving. We had no clue about what we needed and kind of fell into the trap of overspending then giving things away. With the benefit of hindsight, we really wanted to help other parents by giving a decent view of what items we found essential and options to spend smart in order to make your first month or so of parenthood a bit smoother. 

So….in short, I (Jamain) did some maths and believe the cost to be around £1529.73. This is based on 36 items that are set-out below, that were essential for us and which we bought new. Like most people, we also got a bit excited and spent a bit on random items (including nice-to-haves) before Theo arrived, although this was probably less than £500. This puts the range to get through the first month at around £1500 – £2000 as a rough guide.

Let’s get into the detail…..how do you even start to figure out how much it costs to have a baby? I was tempted to base all timings on our experience (we got pregnant within about 4 months of Leanne coming off the pill, which I think was very lucky). According to the NHS, 84% of people take up to 1 year to conceive, so I’ve based any calculations on the assumption that conceiving takes 12 months without any complications during the pregnancy or birth. The approach below is based on an item-by-item breakdown and I’ve added a load of [affiliate] links to the best products we’ve used, in order to provide a helpful point of reference. Some key points to note that might be useful:

  • Amazon is the default store for us and used as the baseline for buying things new. As a parent I love Amazon and have switched most of my shopping to them because: Delivery speed (same or next day)
    • Genuine variety and comparable cost
    • ‘Popping out to the supermarket or grocery store’ was inconvenient and frankly took too much time

We have basically become Amazon-only shoppers (although we sometimes use John Lewis for items where they offer a better warranty). If you choose not to buy everything new, I suspect you could easily use Ebay as a proxy for secondhand market.

What do you need when trying to conceive and eventually fall pregnant?

To start off with things are relatively simple…

  • Pregnacare: It’s recommended that women take folic acid when trying to conceive. We bought Pregnacare Max as it seems to have absolutely everything that was recommended and we didn’t want to compromise by buying a lesser-known brand / a more basic Pregnacare product.
  • Hospital parking for scans and midwife appointments: The cost of parking adds up over various scans and routine midwife visits and is sometimes overlooked. We actually had a few worries during our pregnancy and this number was probably 2 or 3 times higher for us. We found all our visits (including wait times) were approx 1 – 2 hours.
  • Testosterone tablets: I took a testosterone booster as a bit of a ‘hope it helps’ measure. There was no obvious downside and I was generally happy to try things that had limited downside.
  • 3 Clear Blue Pregnancy tests: Pregnancy tests are clearly needed and always have more than one….I recommend 3. Every time we were ‘late’ we always used 2 tests to check if pregnant. When we finally got there, we definitely double-checked the result.

That really is about it. As Leanne got bigger, there were some really great nice-to-haves like maternity clothes, a big pregnancy pillow and comfy slip-on shoes. This is all down to your taste.

Total cost: £253.70

Item

Link

Single cost

Quantity

Total

Pregnacare https://amzn.to/2YHtENT £12.95 12 £155.40
Hospital parking for scans and midwife appointments Source £3.50 10 £35.00
Testosterone tablets https://amzn.to/2YCduFi £16.99 3 £50.97
3 Clear Blue Pregnancy tests https://amzn.to/2Xrl8Rn £12.33 1 £12.33

What does a baby need in order to leave the hospital and then later in the first month?

Once baby arrives you need clothes and a car seat to take baby home. Thereafter it’s all up to you. The truth is we found Theo’s needs were quite limited in month one…he slept, ate, used the toilet and repeated. However, he simply needed lots of things that we needed to buy as didn’t have them already:

  • Car seat: In the UK, the car seat needs to be presented at the hospital and checked before mum and baby can be discharged. We chose to buy 2 Silver Cross options: 1. A travel system that has seat, buggy, bassinet and frame; and 2. The stroller linked below that is suitable for newborns.
  • Car seat base: We opted for a Silver Cross Isofix base that makes fitting and adjusting very simple. This was not checked by the hospital. For tips on how to confidently fit an Isofix base, check-out this video.
  • Buggy / Stroller: A key requirement to get out and about. Some come as part of travel systems but they don’t have to be expensive. Silver Cross make excellent cheaper options.
  • Muslin cloths – pack of 12: Muslin cloths are a CRITICAL item for keeping you and baby clean. You simply cannot have too many and will be grateful for stockpiling them.
  • Baby vests (pack of 7): Babies core clothing always involves a vest. Their body temperatures typically need to be higher than ours…as a general guide they wear one more layer than an adult.
  • Babygros / Sleepsuits (pack of 3): Similar to vests, babygros are a staple item. Ideally buy with integrated feet, and scratch mittens. This is not only cheaper (as it saves buying socks and gloves separately) but it’s far more convenient, as gloves and socks are so fiddly and often fall off! We also prefer those with zips as it really makes it very easy to do-up when lacking sleep. We actually bought ours in the USA, but you can get lots of options in the UK. John Lewis, Sainsburys and Next all offer good options.
  • Cardigan: Have a cardigan rather than a coat when leaving the hospital, because coats can be too chunky to use in the car seat. A cardigan is hopefully OK. Below is an example but I’m sure you can find others.
  • Hats: Any basic hat is essential to protect baby’s head.
  • Baby blanket: Cellular baby blanket are breathable and safe for baby. Ensure you select the Moses basket size as crib blanket is too big.
  • Baby bag: These really are down to your individual taste and there are so many options!
  • Baby changing essentials: There are a number of baby changing essentials that are critical for babies comfort. We cover this in detail in this article and this video…the key items are:
    • Dettol Antibacterial Surface Cleaning Disinfectant Wipes, 252 Wipes, Pack of 3 x 84
    • Huggies Pure Baby Wipes, 18 Packs (1008 Wipes)
    • Cotton wool pads (tip: Buy large and use fewer)
    • Nappy bags
    • Nappies (tip: budget for 10 per day – 4 large packets hopefully covers at least 1 month)
    • Lanolin nipple cream
    • Sudocrem

These items were the foundation of our first month as you gradually get the key tools needed to care for baby.

Total cost: £687.81

Item

Link

Single cost

Quantity

Total

Car seat https://amzn.to/2Xxpo71 £139.99 1 £139.99
Car seat base https://amzn.to/2YCbjSj £119.00 1 £119.00
Buggy / Stroller https://amzn.to/2xAvEeS £140.00 1 £140.00
Muslin cloths – pack of 12 https://amzn.to/2XvV08b £16.00 1 £16.00
Baby vests (pack of 7) https://amzn.to/2YFfmgG £17.00 2 £34.00
Babygros / Sleepsuits (pack of 3) https://amzn.to/2YD604T £12.99 4 £51.96
Cardigan https://amzn.to/2LGmRAa £9.56 2 £19.12
Hats https://amzn.to/2FXUkT7 £5.06 1 £5.06
Baby blanket https://amzn.to/2Jjx5Fb £9.00 2 £18.00
Baby bag Source £50.00 1 £50.00
Dettol Antibacterial Surface Cleaning Disinfectant Wipes, 252 Wipes, Pack of 3 x 84 https://amzn.to/2YsxAlb £5.89 1 £5.89
Huggies Pure Baby Wipes, 18 Packs (1008 Wipes) https://amzn.to/2S3o5qu £13.99 1 £13.99
Cotton wool pads https://amzn.to/2XvzOEa £13.99 1 £13.99
Nappy bags https://amzn.to/2Jgyufu £6.50 1 £6.50
Nappies https://amzn.to/2LBwvEh £9.33 4 £37.32
Lanolin nipple cream https://amzn.to/2LLCTIS £8.00 1 £8.00
Sudocrem https://amzn.to/2Xq9jeo £8.99 1 £8.99

How much does it cost to prepare your home for baby?

Home-prep is arguably the biggest minefield….I remember walking into John Lewis and Mothercare and feeling entirely overwhelmed…as in I had to walk out because I couldn’t figure out what was required vs what was a sales pitch. The below is what we think was actually very important:

  • Baby bath: We have both a Shnuggle and an Angelcare. The Shnuggle is the best when baby is small and Angelcare when baby gets bigger.
  • Baby cosmetics: All basic cosmetics are needed for baby care. We prefer Aveeno, but have linked to the Johnsons set we use that is excellent.
  • Large towel: Buy a nice big, soft towel to wrap baby up after the bath. You likely have these already so can save money here.
  • Small towel: The small towel is perfect to dry baby’s hair whilst they stay wrapped in the big towel and stay warm. You likely have these already so can save money here.
  • Baby monitor: When we leave Theo to sleep in a separate room, a monitor with excellent picture and audio is essential for us. The BT video baby monitor is excellent and we have 2 of them.
  • First aid kit: A baby first aid kit is always useful and worth getting upfront, although you can defer this if needed.
  • Calpol: Calpol is needed for the fist vaccinations at 8 weeks. You can defer buying for a few weeks. However, I was so forgetful after 4 weeks that I’m glad we bought the Calpol early. For more information on vaccinations check-out this article and this video.
  • Crib: The key place baby sleeps in your bedroom. We only put Theo in the bedroom at night so he can understand that his crib means nighttime.
  • Moses basket: The key place baby can sleep away from your bedroom. Perfect for naps during the day.
  • Wipeable changing mat: To help with all the nappy changing
  • Baby bouncer: Great to put baby down and free you up to do other things. We are able to cook, shower and have dinner with ease when Theo is playing.
  • Bath and room thermometer: Multi use to help temperature regulation and ensure baby is comfortable.
  • Feeding set: Contains everything you need for feeding, including bottles, steriliser and travel accessories. Absolutely recommend as we are big advocates of combination feeding. You can see more here. 
  • Milk: Assuming you offer any formula milk, we found Aptamil to be excellent. A 12 pack with a small baby will last a very long time….the small bottles are perfect as baby doesn’t eat much.

These items will greatly help prepare your home for baby and will have ongoing use as baby develops.

Total cost: £588.22

Item

Link

Single cost

Quantity

Total

Baby bath https://amzn.to/2LGH2Oy £19.96 1 £19.96
Baby cosmetics https://amzn.to/2xwyPUJ £12.00 1 £12.00
Large towel £0.00 1 £0.00
Small towel £0.00 1 £0.00
Baby monitor https://amzn.to/2XtXhk9 £149.99 1 £149.99
First aid kit https://amzn.to/2XtThA7 £14.99 1 £14.99
Calpol https://amzn.to/2RY3eEV £3.49 2 £6.98
Crib https://amzn.to/2FXKjoL £178.99 1 £178.99
Moses basket https://amzn.to/2S1N5y5 £52.95 1 £52.95
Wipeable changing mat https://amzn.to/2XvnIuv £7.98 1 £7.98
Baby bouncer https://amzn.to/2XvVj7J £49.99 1 £49.99
Bath and room thermometer https://amzn.to/2LH8ls3 £14.40 1 £14.40
Feeding set https://amzn.to/2XsrMqv £64.99 1 £64.99
Milk https://amzn.to/2xxxv46 £15.00 1 £15.00

Conclusion

So when you step back and add it all up, the above comes up to £1529.73. Give or take a few hundred pounds, and assuming no medical issues, I think you can comfortably get through conception, pregnancy and birth for less than £2000. Many of the items above will also last well past the first year…in the case of car seats and strollers you get a lot of life from them.

One interesting observation….there are only 36 items here! I find this a bit surprising as at last check it felt like there were hundreds of options to navigate. If you’re like us at MonkeyandBearFit, we hope you appreciate this simplicity as a useful starting point. There are probably a lot of items you think should be on the list….please leave a comment or send an email with feedback. And, as ever, please share and like if you found this helpful.

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