Budgeting for a baby

OK, budgeting isn’t everyone’s idea of fun – but it’s a great way to take control.  It’s easy to do and it’s definitely worthwhile.  And once you’ve created a budget, sticking to it is a sensible way to manage your family’s finances.


Discussing your money

Work out your spending patterns.  What do you use your money for?  Start a spending diary and write down everything you buy over a four-week period.  Also, go through your bank statements and make a note of all your direct debits and standing orders.  As well as your mortgage or rent and household bills, remember to include all the little things such as travel to and from work, lunch at work, snacks and magazines.  You might be surprised how it all adds up.

When you finish work and go on maternity leave, your spending patterns might change.  You could find you can save money simply because you’re no longer going to work, and therefore spending less on travel, coffee in the morning and lunches out.

Buying all the gear

Of course you’ll have to consider buying equipment, clothes and nappies for your baby.  But, if you have friends and family with slightly older children, they might pass on some of the things they no longer use.  And you can find some great bargains online, or even consider buying second hand through auction sites and at mums’ group sales.

Remember, you don’t need everything before your baby arrives.  As long as you have the basics, you can take some time to see how this new little person fits into your home.  Then you can work out what extra gear and gadgets will make your family’s lives easier.

Here’s a list of some essentials you might need:

Moses basket or cot  A cot bed with removable sides, which turns into a toddler bed at age 3-4.  This can be a great longer-term option.
Bedding including sheets and blankets  Or a sleeping bag. Babies wriggle a lot, so sleeping bags can help them keep cosy all night.
A baby bath  Save space and money with a baby sponge or a baby bath sling to use in your own bath.
 A high chair  You won't need this straight away, so you could wait and shop around - or ask for gift vouchers towards it when your baby’s born.
 Pram or buggy You can get a buggy that fully reclines, which will be suitable straight from birth.
 Car seat Complete travel systems have an integrated car seat that fits straight into the car. Ideal for moving sleeping babies.
 Cosy toes or buggy blanket  For getting out and about in all weather.
Changing/nappy bag Any bag will do, as long as it's big enough for nappies, wipes, bottles (if needed) and spare clothes.
Nappies A newborn may need their nappy changing up to 10 times a day.
Baby wipes and muslin squares You'll probably need more than you think - there's a lot of dribbling going on!
Nappy rash cream You're very likely to need this, as they’re in a nappy all day
Changing mat Handy for those on-the-run changes. Not all public toilets are properly equipped, so you’ll need a mat.
Baby grows You'll be surprised at how many you can get through in a day so double up.
Tops, bottoms and jumpers They’ll grow quickly in the first year, and could be in a new size every three months. So don’t buy too many at once.
Warm clothes: hats, socks and blankets Babies can't regulate their own heat, so layers are important.
Bottle feeding
Bottles, bottle brush, steriliser or tablets Sterilising tablets are a great way to sterilise bottles if you're away on holiday or for the weekend.  Dissolve them using any plastic container.
Breast feeding
Maternity bra Much more comfortable and great for discreet feeding on the go.
Thermometer Essential to keep an eye on their health, as babies and toddlers get lots of coughs and colds.
Baby monitor Peace of mind when they're asleep, so you can grab some important 'me' time.
Toys (including for the buggy and bathing) Don't buy too many, you may get lots as presents.

Start your own budget with our calculator

If you want to start planning your budgets for both before and after your baby is born, you’ll find our baby budgeting calculator simple to use.  And when you’ve completed your budgets, you can email them to yourself and keep them handy.  Start budgeting now »

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Talking Finance content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions.