The real cost of a baby

Before you get down to the business of baby-making, we have a question. Have you done your sums? We're not being alarmist but the numbers can make for quite scary reading.

The real cost of a baby

The number-crunchers estimate that it costs £180,000 to raise a child from birth to the age of 21, in fact parents typically spend over £1,000 on their baby - before it's even born!

Average spend on baby item essentials...

Bedding £80

Baby carrier £30

Bottle feeding equipment £20

Pushchair £200

High chair £50

Baby bath £18

Cot £160

Baby monitor £30

Disposable nappies (2,555) £500

Total = £1,088

Control your costs

Careful planning and working out the difference between essential and luxury items is the key to curbing costs. Speak to friends and families who have children and ask what equipment was useful and what wasn't. Also ask to borrow things or buy second hand, after all there’s no point spending a fortune when you'll only need something for a few months.

The NCT (National Childbirth Trust) runs nearly-new sales where you can pick up the essentials for a fraction of the price. Also keep an eye on ebay and local papers for bargains. Only some items are essential to buy brand new for safety implications - e.g. car seats.

Extra money-saving tips

Don't buy clothes for newborns - you'll get plenty as gifts. And if you don't, just roll the sleeves up on your bigger sizes. They'll fit into them properly in just a few weeks!

Hem old bedding and use for cot and pram sheets. A cot sheet is half the size of a single bed sheet and a pram sheet is quarter the size.

A changing station isn't essential - you can use a towel on the floor or table. Supermarket baby clubs usually offer samples and money off vouchers. Your local supermarket is also a good place to purchase inexpensive but quality child clothing.

Breastfeed if you can - it costs nothing unlike formula which is expensive.

Figures from Mothercare.com