UK parents spend £28 billion on nation's under-fives each year

Article date: 25 May 2015

  • UK parents spend around £35,000 on their children by their fifth birthday
  • London mums and dads spend 53% more than UK average
  • Research supports Aviva’s re-launch of free parent life cover 
  • A third of parents know mums and dads who boast about how much they spend

UK parents spend around £35,000 on their children by the time they reach their fifth birthday, according to research released today by Aviva. This adds up to a total of more than £28 billion* spent on the nation’s 4 million under-fives each year. The research has been carried out to support Aviva’s re-launch of its ‘free parent life cover’ which offers £15,000 of life insurance to mums and dads, and is now available to parents who register up to their children’s fourth birthday.

A study of more than 2,000 parents with children aged 0-5, has discovered that parents typically spend £7,026 a year - or £586 a month - on essentials and indulgences for their youngsters. This includes the cost of everything from basics such as nappies and milk formula, to extras such as toys and baby ballet classes. While expenses vary from family to family, average costs** are as follows: 

  Average monthly costs   Average annual costs
 Toys and games  £53.30  £639.60
 Clothes  £58  £696
 Essential baby / child equipment  £62.30  £747.60
 Leisure / family trips out  £56.20  £674.40
 Entertainment e.g. DVDs, books, tablets etc  £37.30  £447.60
 Classes for children e.g. soccer tots, baby ballet  £38.80  £465.60
 Special foods for children / formula  £41.90  £502.80
 Childcare / baby-sitting  £95  £1,140
 Nappies  £47.70  £572.40
 Extra holiday costs (additional costs for children)  £55.90  £670.80
 Equipment for school / pre-school e.g. uniforms  £39.10  £469.20
TOTAL   £585.50  £7,026

The cost of raising children to age five also differs widely across the country, with parents in London paying more than double the amount paid by parents in Wales and the North West.

Those in the capital say that they pay an average of £894 per month – or £10,731 per year. This is in comparison to a more modest £408 a month (or £4,901 annually) in Wales.

Regional variations**** are revealed as:

Region: Monthly costs: Annual costs:
London £894.30 £10,731.60
West Midlands £683.50 £8,202
North East £645.30 £7,743.60
East Midlands £609.80 £7,317.60
Yorkshire £584.70 £7,016.40
Scotland £543.30 £6,519.60
South East £509.50 £6,114
East £494.70 £5,936.40
Northern Ireland £491.10 £5,893.20
South West £461.70 £5,540.40
North West £431.90 £5,182.80
Wales £408.40 £4,900.80

The research also revealed that parents feel under considerable pressure to spend on their youngsters. One in five (18%) say they feel compelled to spend in order to keep up with other parents. This is perhaps fuelled by the fact that more than a third (36%) of parents questioned say they know other parents who boast about how much they spend on their children. However only a modest one in seven (14%) admit to giving in to their children’s demands and buying things they don’t really need.

There is good news in that many of these parents with youngsters under six have made financial plans for their children’s futures, with more than half (52%) having opened a savings account in their children’s names, while 37% have opened a junior ISA or a Child Trust Fund. A forward-thinking 8% have started saving for a house deposit for their children and the same have started a university fund for them.

Four out of 10 (42%) parents of 0-5s have planned for the unexpected by taking out life insurance, while one in five (20%) have made a will. 

Louise Colley, protection director for Aviva says: “As every parent knows having children can be an expensive business, but it’s incredible to see how this stacks up over the years! This is why it’s so important for parents to consider how they might cover the cost of raising a child if they were to unexpectedly lose an income through illness or even worse, bereavement."

“It’s reassuring to see that four out of 10 parents with under fives have taken out life insurance, but we’d encourage the remaining six in 10 to consider the ‘what ifs’ and take steps to protect their loved ones’ futures. Aviva is offering a year of free life cover worth £15,000 per child, per parent*** for parents who register before their child’s fourth birthday, so this is a fantastic simple way to get some peace of mind, knowing that some cover is in place.”

- Ends -

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact: Sarah Poulter: Aviva Press Office:01904 452828 : 07800 691569 :

Notes to editors:

*Research carried out by ICM, surveying 2,002 parents with children aged 0-5 in November 2014. Figure compiled by multiplying the number of children aged under five in the UK, according to ONS mid 2013 data (4,013,861) by the average annual cost spent by parents on under fives annually (£7,026).

** Costs are based on mean averages across all respondents, although some parents will pay considerably more for certain expenses (such as childcare) while others will pay less.

***Aviva is offering a year of free life cover worth £15,000 to parents of children aged under five. Cover is available to both parents for each child registered before their fourth birthday. £15,000 of cover is available for both parents for each child. The policy lasts for 12 months and pays out £15,000 if a covered parent dies during this time.

  • Parents can take out the plan once their child has been born and before they are four years old.
  • No payment is needed and Aviva won't request bank account or credit card details
  • £15,000 worth of cover is available for both parents for each child. This could mean a total of £30,000 worth of protection for each child if both parents apply.
  • Cover will expire after one year.

****Further regional information: 

  Scotl’d North East North West Yorks East Mids West Mids Wales East London South East South West N. Ireland
Toys and games 53.30 56.60 41.20 53 55.80 67.80 34.30 53.10 75.10 43.90 40.20 54.20
Clothes 58.70 70 42.90 63 69.30 70.70 38.80 49.80 82.10 46.30 41 55.90
Essential baby / child equipment e.g. car seat 54.40 51.10 51.80 60.60 72.80 72.60 58.40 53.10 94 48.20 55.90 39.90
Leisure / family trips 48.90 57.50 44.30 62 56.50 69.60 38.10 50.50 79.30 48.60 50.70 33
Classes e.g. baby ballet / soccer tots 39.90 48.80 26.90 29.80 33.30 41.80 19.60 33.70 62.50 34 36.80 44.80

Entertainment e.g. DVDs, books, tablets

37.40 52.60 27.40 30.30 35.20 43.90 23.20 36.20 56.40 31.70 31.20 24.70
Special child foods / formula 36.60 55.40 25.90 37.20 48.10 48 32.30 35.10 70.10 34.20 31 28.80
Childcare / babysitting 73.90 98.90 79.90 87.70 71.70 96.40 77.60 77.80 145.40 107.40 69.90 93.40
Nappies 46.40 53 31.80 48.40 65.80 48.80 31.80 35.90 75.20 41.50 34 32.30
Extra holiday costs 65.70 58.60 31.30 64.30 59 75 33.40 43.50 93.80 40.90 40.20 30.20
Equipment for school / pre-school e.g. uniform 28.10 42.80 28.50 48.40 42.30 48.90 20.90 26 60.40 32.80 30.80 55.90
TOTAL 543.30 645.30 431.90 584.70 609.80 683.50 408.40 494.70 894.30 509.50 461.70 493.10

About Aviva:

Notes to editors:

  • Aviva provides life insurance, general insurance, health insurance and asset management to 34* million customers, across 16 markets worldwide
  • In the UK we are the leading insurer serving one in every four households and have strong businesses in selected markets in Europe, Asia and Canada. Our shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and we are a member of the FTSE100 index. 
  • Aviva’s asset management business, Aviva Investors, provides asset management services to both Aviva and external clients, and currently manages over £245 billion in assets.
  • Aviva helps people save for the future and manage the risks of everyday life; we paid out £24.6 billion in benefits and claims in 2014.
  • By serving our customers well, we are building a business which is strong and sustainable, which our people are proud to work for, and which makes a positive contribution to society. 
  • The Aviva media centre at includes company information, images, and a news release archive. 
  • For an introduction to what we do and how we do it, please click here
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* Before the deduction of overlapping customers.

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