Wondering how much it costs to have a baby in 2024? You’ve come to the right place. We asked Clare Seal, financial coach, author and mum of two to take over our blog to explain all.

Kids ain’t cheap – that’s what they say, right? But now, in 2024, having a baby has never been more expensive. And with so many things to consider, it’s easy to feel intimidated by horror stories about the cost of starting a family. But there are ways to make having a baby more affordable. Especially if you plan ahead so you’re aware of the costs and potential financial entitlements.

Remember that having a baby means both losing income and increased outgoings. To prepare for your new arrival, you should consider both factors.

Maternity leave and pay

The first financial hit of having a baby is usually felt when you start maternity leave and experience a reduction in your pay. Though the impact that you feel will depend on your company’s maternity pay policy. If you’re lucky, you may continue to get paid some or all of your usual salary for a defined period of your leave. But many new and expectant mothers will find themselves on Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). This is 90% of your average weekly pay for the first 6 weeks, and £172.48 (£184.03 from April 2024) or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks.

Depending on your salary, this could constitute a large drop in income. So if you plan to start a family in the future, factor in negotiating improved parental pay alongside other perks like your pension when taking on a new job. If you’re already pregnant, remember that you can use your holiday allowance to add extra time to your leave with full pay. You’ll also continue to accrue holiday while on leave. Plus you can use keeping in touch (KIT) days to increase your income.

If you’re self-employed, maternity leave can be a little trickier. It may help to have some savings built up so that you can afford to take time off with your baby. You may also be eligible for maternity allowance. You could get between £27 to £172.48 (£184.03 from April 2024) a week for up to 39 weeks. 

All the kit and caboodle

So we've covered your potential decreased income due to having a baby. Now onto the expenses associated with preparing yourself and your home. There are innumerable baby products available. So there’s no cap on the amount that you can spend, but it may help to have a list of essentials and go from there. You’ll need:

  • A place for the baby to sleep e.g. cot and/or moses basket or bedside crib
  • The correct equipment to transport them from one place to another e.g. a car seat, pram and/or baby carrier
  • Bottles and milk if you’re formula feeding and a pump if you’re expressing
  • Some clothes for the baby to wear
  • Nappies and baby wipes (disposable or reusable)
  • Maternity and nursing clothes for yourself or your partner
  • Any other items that might aid you in preparing for the birth/recovery afterwards

Childcare and the transition back to work

The high cost of childcare in the UK is a hot topic in 2024. There are new government plans to gradually introduce 30 hours of free childcare per week for children from 9 months old. This is being met with a mixture of desperate enthusiasm and concerned criticism. Even if the government's plans proceed to make childcare more affordable for many, it's wise to plan ahead for childcare. Research childcare providers in your areas and plan out the costs. Make sure to remember that most providers will require payment of fees in advance, plus a deposit. This will be payable before you start receiving your salary again.

Don’t forget other costs associated with returning to work, such as commuting costs, and perhaps some new clothes. If you’re returning to work part-time, you may need to review your budget to reflect your new income.

The cost of raising a child in the long term

While babies are undeniably expensive, raising children long-term also comes with a financial cost. It’s a good idea to research the different costs associated with each new phase of your child’s life ahead of time. And make sure that you do what you can to prepare for them. Here are just a few expenses to consider:

It can be helpful to have a specific fund to dip into if you suddenly need to finance something unexpected for your child.

There may be times when your expenses are lower, such as when your child starts school and your childcare bill reduces. And there will be times of increased expense, such as when and if they start university. But planning ahead should allow you to smooth out the peaks and troughs, and prevent financial worries later on. It’s undeniably tough to afford a family in 2024, but you will manage.

We hope you’ve found these tips useful. For more tips on managing your money, head over to Clare’s website or find her on Instagram or Twitter.

Looking for the best children’s savings accounts? The team at Be Clever With Your Cash have listed the highest paying easy-access and regular children’s savings accounts and Junior ISAs here.