BABY, YOU'VE COST A FORTUNE! from [Pounds Sterling]2,000 to an Amazing Half a Million - What These New Mothers Spent on Their Babies' First Year

Article excerpt

Byline: JENNY NISBET

BABIES may cost their parents countless hours in lost sleep, but how much more goes on childcare, lost earnings and disposable nappies? According to a new survey by American Express, the average couple now spend [pounds sterling]3,605 on nursery furniture, food, clothes, toys and a pram during a child's first year alone. JENNY NISBET asked five new mothers to tot up how much they spent.

[pounds sterling]2,862

DEBORAH BRIDGES, 32, a beauty therapist, lives with husband Jonathan, 32, a tax consultant, and son Carter, 15 months, in a three-bedroom semi in Stanstead Abbots, Herts. Deborah says:

LUCKILY I come from a small, tight-knit family and they really pulled together to help us with Carter. It was the only way we could bring down the cost. I'm convinced their generosity saved us thousands. I know people spend a fortune on designer baby clothes, but I think it's ridiculous when they're going to be worn for only a few weeks.

Some new mothers also spend a lot on their child's nursery, but we transformed the spare room ourselves by painting it pale blue and putting clouds on the ceiling.

I don't think children need the huge variety of expensive toys they get nowadays. When I'm in the kitchen, Carter plays with pots and pans and is perfectly happy.

I spend a lot on his food. He doesn't have tins or jars, it's all freshly made and organic because I worry about pesticides and additives.

But our biggest expense is Carter's place at nursery. It costs [pounds sterling]23 for half a day and he's been going there for three halfdays a week since he was ten months old. He also has swimming lessons, but I don't mind because at least we don't have any babysitting costs - my mum does it all.

I didn't lose any earnings as a result of having Carter because the law firm I worked for as a training officer agreed that I could come back part time and I was paid my full salary while on six months' maternity leave.

But in the end I retrained as a beautician.

Babies don't need to cost a vast amount. What's important is that both parents give them time and attention.

CARTER'S COSTS: Essentials: Cot and mattress, bedding, baby listeners, bouncers etc [pounds sterling]323; Clothes [pounds sterling]140; Nappies [pounds sterling]275; Toiletries [pounds sterling]155; Food [pounds sterling]700; Car seats [pounds sterling]180; Toys and Books [pounds sterling]100; Nursery [pounds sterling]317; Childcare [pounds sterling]552; Playtime: Creche, playgroups, swimming etc [pounds sterling]120; TOTAL [pounds sterling]2,862 [pounds sterling]9,213

EMMA CLARK, 31, a primary school teacher, lives with her partner Daniel Summerfield, 31, a policeman, and daughter Ella, 11 months, in a threebed detached house in Hertford. Emma says: I KNEW it was going to cost a lot to have a baby because I wanted the best of everything.

People kept offering me their old stuff with the best of intentions, but I wanted my first baby to have everything new.

I'm fashion conscious and Ella follows suit.

In her first year I've spent [pounds sterling]1,164 on Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Oilly and Osh Kosh outfits for her. At first Daniel was dubious when I came home with an [pounds sterling]80 snow suit, but now he's used to it.

Emma's nursery was expensive, but is incredibly cute with a Beatrix Potter theme. I spent [pounds sterling]640 on furniture, blinds, a sheepskin rug, cushions and cassette player with classical tapes. She enjoys her baby membership at my gym which costs [pounds sterling]7 a month and her educational toys cost around [pounds sterling]60.

Another unexpected expense was having to repay my previous school [pounds sterling]3,000 when I didn't return after maternity leave.

I've only felt ready to return to work in the past couple of months and now pay [pounds sterling]200 a month to a child minder. …