Bringing up baby can cost at least £20,000

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The Independent Online

Children cost their parents at least £20,000 and sometimes as much as £40,000 in their first five years of life, a study published today suggests.

Children cost their parents at least £20,000 and sometimes as much as £40,000 in their first five years of life, a study published today suggests.

Parents on a shoestring budget can raise a child from birth to the age of five on £20,315 if they buy only the bare necessities, the research for Pregnancy and Birth magazine says.

But the bill can easily rise to £36,956 if parents indulge in a few luxuries such as organic food, a private hospital birth and a cleaner for the first six months of the baby's life.

Neither figure includes the cost of child care, which can range from £3,000 to £7,000 a year, lost earnings, the expense of moving to a larger home, buying a bigger car or savings for the child's later years.

The estimates come before tomorrow's Budget when Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, is expected to make parents with young children a priority.

New mothers are expected to receive increased maternity pay and the right to take six months off work. Mr Brown is also likely to announce a "baby bonus" to help parents of new-born children with the costs of the infant's first year.

Child welfare groups have campaigned for extra financial help in the first years of parenthood. Researchers counted up the cost of items ranging from the first pregnancy testing kit and maternity bra to buggies, car seats, nappies, clothes, toys, heating and food.

Extra fruit and vegetables during pregnancy are estimated to cost £11.50 a week andnappies for the first 30 months will add up to £536 or more.

While breast-feeding is free, baby milk will cost £285 in the first six months, £127 for the second six months and £129 a year for fresh milk after that.

Valerie McConnell, editor of the magazine, said: "Babies change your life financially in a way nothing else ever will."

The study put the average cost of bringing up a child from the age of six to 16 at £53,414.

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