Baby costs pounds 20,000 by age of five

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The Independent Online

Having a baby could cost pounds 20,000 by the time he or she reaches the age of five, according to a new report which warns it "could be the most expensive decision of your life".

The report looked at the costs from conception to the age of five - including pregnancy, equipment, food, clothing, household expenses, education and entertainment - and concluded that for wealthier parents the cost could rise to as much as pounds 50,000.

Mothers-to-be spend an average of pounds 373 from "conception to contractions", and pounds 50 more on food, pregnancy books and magazines, and maternity wear.

Equipment for the baby can run into hundreds of pounds and if top-of- the-range push-chairs, car seats, baby monitors and cots are bought, the cost could run to more than pounds 1,800. Birthdays and Christmases add to the expense; cuddly toys, games, baby bouncers and walkers mean an outlay of pounds 450 for the average family; and in the first two years mothers will also spend up to pounds 631 on nappies.

Even items like film and video tapes, to record the fledgling years, can add up to several hundred pounds.

As toddlers grow older, food and clothes begin to take a larger chunk out of the household budget. Boys become more expensive to feed than girls, a four-year-old girl costing about pounds 10.70 a week to feed and a boy around pounds 11.15. A typical food bill for a child's first five years is estimated at just over pounds 2,000, the report commissioned by Asda says. As the baby grows up, clothes take over from nappies as a regular drain - with pounds 503 being spent by fashion conscious parents, and up to pounds 943 by designer label devotees.

The single biggest cost is the cost of a growing family - moving house. A move from a semi-detached house to a three- bedroomed detached house will cost, in mortgage payments and moving costs, just under pounds 10,000 and from a three to four-bedroomed house about pounds 16,000.

"This report isn't designed to put people off having children. It is offered in a spirit of curiosity for parents who just don't know where all their money goes," says Jan Walsh, author of the report.