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


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. …