When we looked into the detailed costs of raising young children, our research showed parents are spending an average of £6,990 a year on their under-fives. But apart from the obvious (like a cot and milk), what are the tried-and-tested, can’t-live-without things a new baby actually needs? Here’s our rundown of the essentials we think no new parent can do without.
Until you have a baby, you will have no idea how useful these squares of thin cloth may be. They absorb a multitude of unpleasant fluids, stop your baby sticking to changing mats, make great impromptu sunshades, and (if you’re really stuck) can be an emergency nappy. They can be boiled, they dry quickly, and fold up small. You will honestly wonder how anyone manages without them.
A good travel system
Leaving the house when you have a baby can turn into a military operation. So many things to carry, so few hands. That’s where the travel system comes in handy: it’s a carrycot, car seat, pram, pushchair and packhorse all in one. You can transfer your newborn from house to car and back again without waking them up (if you’re very careful). As they grow you’ll need a bigger car seat, but the travel system will adapt to suit them.
It might seem obvious that your little one needs some clothes, but what’s best? For the first 6 months or so they’ll probably live in their babygros. Easy to get on and off, cosy and cute, they’re an essential. The kind which cover their feet are a godsend – socks won’t stay on for long once they find the end of their legs! A few vests too, they’re great when little one is just lounging around the house – quick changes are easy. In summer a cardigan will keep them plenty warm enough, in winter they’ll need a coat when going outside.
You might think nappies come under the ‘obvious’ list, but we think many first-time mums may under-estimate how many are needed. A newborn could use 8 to 12 nappies in 24 hours, and keep up that rate to 6 weeks old – that’s 500 nappies. The cost won’t be astronomical (if you buy supermarket own-brand it could be around £40) but it’s a lot of nappies in the bin. Cloth nappies are the eco answer. They need washing and are more expensive to start with, but can be better for the environment too.
Okay, so this one isn’t directly for your baby. But if something terrible did happen to either parent, then the payment from a life insurance policy could help keep baby warm, dry, and fed. No one wants to think about it, but what if something happened to you, how would your family cope? Life insurance can give them something to fall back on if the worst happens.
You can find out more about what people are spending their money on, in the first few years of their children’s’ lives, if you read our research on ‘the cost of having children today’.