The cost of raising a child is not top of the list of exciting mama matters — but it’s important to think about.
Here are our top financial tips from real mums who have been there.
The cost of raising a child is a weird topic.
How on earth do you assign a pound value to your baby?
Unfortunately, these babies do cost money, so let’s put feelings aside for a minute and talk about what that cost might be.
Look, we hate to break this to you, but your baby is going to be a bit of a freeloader — living in your house, rent-free, demanding not only the basics but also some top luxury items like education and toilet paper.
The only repayment you can expect to be getting in return is serious cuteness and a relationship like no other.
Okay, okay, fair trade-off — but you still have to budget.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
The cost of raising a child depends on so many factors — where you live, what your lifestyle is like, and how much support you have.
So when we say the “average cost of raising a child”, we speak in broad terms.
That being said, we’ll give the ballparks for you to use to work things out for yourself. Here goes.
In this article: 📝
- How much does it cost to raise a child UK?
- How much does a child cost per year?
- What age are kids most expensive?
- What age are kids the cheapest?
- Breaking down the costs of raising a child
- Tips on saving money on the cost of raising a child
How much does it cost to raise a child UK?
Well, in the UK, the average cost to raise a child to 18 is about:
- £166,000 for a couple raising a baby
- £220,000 for a single parent
This is based on a 2023 figure from the Child Poverty Action Group.
Um, yes, that does sound totally daunting.
But hold on.
This lump sum may not be the most useful way to see it because, luckily, we’re not asked to pay the whole big whopping chunk upfront.
How much does a child cost per year?
So when you take that lump sum of £166,000 for couples and break it down into the 18(ish) years, you have to budget for, you get the following:
£9,220 per year.
And around £768 a month.
For a single parent at a cost of £220,000 over 18 years, the cost per year would be around £12,220.
This works out at around £1,020 a month.
But, again, this is just an average figure, and won’t take into account individual family circumstances.
What age are kids most expensive?
Typically, as kids get older, they get more expensive.
While buying the initial baby essentials you need can seem like a series of expensive purchases, it’s pretty much a one-off expense.
But when kids get to pre-teen and teen ages, that’s when things get even more expensive.
Think about how much more food a teenager eats (hey, they’ve got a lot of growing to do!) and other expenses that once seemed like luxuries but are now considered staples, like smartphones, TVs, and computers.
What age are kids the cheapest?
Breaking down the costs of raising a child
This is where your money will be going:
- A place for them to live. Accommodation is estimated at 29% of the cost of having a child.
- Meals for them to eat. For something that just comes out the other end, it seems a little unfair that food is 18% of the budget—but there you have it.
- Getting them from A to B. And then you have to transport them to places like they’re little celebrities. That’s about 15% of your budget right there.
- Keeping them healthy. Healthcare is about 9%—and will go up and down depending on where you live in the world.
- Clothing them. 6% of the budget. Yup—high fashion at a low age.
- Educating and caring for them. That’s 16% of the total—and again, very dependent on the support you have available and where you live in the world.
- And then all that other stuff. And then life throws a bunch of other stuff at you that falls into the general miscellaneous area.
An important thing to consider is that the cost of having a child tends to increase with their age.
They eat more, wear more, do more, and move around more as they get older.
All of this costs money.
So as you put your budget together, this is something worth taking into account.
Here’s a handy (free) calculator that can help you assess where you’re at and budget accordingly.
Tips on saving money on the cost of raising a child
We know, it can get pretty daunting seeing all these large figures when you’re preparing for your little one to arrive, or even if you’re planning to start trying to conceive.
So we asked our Peanut mums for their top tips on how to minimise the cost of raising a child:
- “Check out what the child tax credit situation is in your country. This should help you lower your tax bill quite a bit.” ‒ Stacey
- “Take advantage of deals for kids. Eating out, museums, parks—being small often comes with a smaller fee.” ‒ Jalissa
- “Having the latest, state-of-the-art, trending item is not what makes you a good mama. Companies love to market to mamas. You don’t have to buy all that they’re selling.” ‒ Akasha
- “Shop off-season. Not a bad money-saving tip for everyone, and definitely a good idea for parents.” ‒ Kate
- “Opt for free activities. Particularly when your children are small, there’s so much you can do for so little. Build forts at home, sing songs together, play I Spy. Just sitting outside in the park is magical.” ‒ Clare
- “Having a mama community really helps. Share resources—childcare, clothing, prams… Children outgrow everything. And sometimes at a rather alarming rate. Hand-me-downs make financial and environmental sense.” ‒ Maya
- “Plan meals ahead. Yeah, it’s tough sometimes, but it can really help lower the cost. Buying stuff on the fly is pricey.” ‒ Rachel
- “Rent their clothes. Did you know that in babies’ first 2 years, they outgrow 7 clothing sizes? Baby clothing rental subscriptions, like Bundlee can save you an average of £1,000 in baby’s first year alone.” ‒ Bree
- “Double check ‘nanny shares’ options too. I’ve heard a few mums doing that to help cut costs. It’s basically 2-3 mums that hire a nanny/babysitter and they split the cost. Think a co-op but for children” ‒ Danielle
- “If you’re a couple, work opposite hours (if you can) to cut childcare costs.” ‒ Brittany
- “While we are both still full-time (as I’m currently pregnant) I have been stocking up on all of our household essentials such as laundry liquid bin bags washing up liquid etc, before I go off so it will reduce our weekly shopping bill next year.” ‒ Emily
- “I really recommend getting things secondhand where you can. Charity shops, Facebook marketplace, and shops like eBay or Vinted are amazing!” ‒ Caroline
- “Stock up as much as possible before maternity pay starts. Nappies, wipes, household items, even the freezer with prepped meals.” ‒ Natalie
- “We’ve accepted offers of baby clothes from family and friends, my friends and work colleagues have passed on so much from their own children and grandchildren.” ‒ Holly
- “Buy nappies in bulk!” ‒ Gabrielle
- “Although you want all those cute little inessential things for your baby you don’t need them. You can hold your own baby instead of getting a baby bathtub just place a towel there is no need for a baby mat it just looks cute.” ‒ D’Serrah
- “Turn off all the switches in your home when not in use.” ‒ Amy
- “Sign up for as many free baby or child things as you can. I found this group on Peanut really helpful.” ‒ Bethany
Key takeaway? It’s hard to talk about averages in the same breath as the cost of raising a child.
There are just too many variables when it comes to the unique situations of different families.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to parenting.
You do you.
Having your own personal budget in place as you go along can be a game-changer.
So budget, yes.
But do it your way with your needs, your income, and your support structure in mind.