Baby on board? Here's how new parents can cut their costs

There’s no escaping it: having a child is an expensive business, with surveys suggesting it costs the average couple £75,000 to raise someone to the age of 18.

But there is a world of freebies and discounts available to help parents cut the costs and here we’ve rounded up 10 of the best.

1. First-class train upgrades

If you have a weekly, monthly, or annual season train ticket it might be possible to get a free first-class upgrade for your journey.

Most train companies will offer a “mums-to-be” pass which lets pregnant women sit in first class if there are no seats available in standard class.

Each provider has its own rules, but you’ll usually need to show your MATB1 form – the government certificate proving your entitlement to maternity pay and benefits – and be at least 20 weeks pregnant in order to get a pass. The passes are available in ticket offices, or to download online.

If you aren’t able to get a seat, or you don’t have a season ticket, speak to a member of staff (either on the platform before you board or on the train itself) and they should be able to find you one.

Virgin, for example, says: “You might even get bumped up to first class if there’s nothing available in standard. We can also help get you onboard at a quiet spot if you’re travelling on a very busy train. Just chat to our station team beforehand.”

2. Reusable nappies from councils

Depending on where you live in the UK, you may be able to get a voucher or cashback from your council to put towards reusable nappies.

For this you’ll usually need to show a birth certificate to your local council. The amount available varies – Wokingham council, for example, gives £30 vouchers, while in Carlisle and Cumbria it’s £45. For a full list see the Fill Your Pants website. Fill Your Pants website .

With babies using about 4,000 nappies until the age of two and a half, at an average cost of £1,475 according to the Money Advice Service, a reusable nappy can make a significant saving.

3. Baby sleeping box and newborn baby essentials

All parents in Scotland get a free baby sleeping box, filled with essentials for newborns. Those in England can apply to the Baby Box Co for a free sleeping box and other items in exchange for watching a series of educational videos and filling out a quiz.

4. Parenting classes and workshops

Signing up to your local NCT group can set you back by £400 but most hospitals run their own free classes and workshops to expectant parents. Mothercare also has a series of free workshops at its stores across the country for parents-to-be and those with young babies.

5. Apps for meeting other parents

Whether it’s baby yoga or sensory classes for new parents, activities are a good way to meet other people in the same situation but they can be expensive. The free app Mush connects new parents and encourages them to arrange free or low cost get-togethers.

“The beauty of Mush is that it saves you loads of money on paid activities you would be tempted to fill your day with during the long quiet days of maternity leave,” says Katie Massie-Taylor, founder of Mush.

“I remember spending a fortune on a class a day when my first daughter was born, just to have somewhere to go and something to do. That has all changed with Mush.”

6. Dental appointments and NHS prescriptions

Pregnant women are entitled to free NHS dental appointments and prescriptions until one year after their child is born. In order to apply you’ll need a MATB1 form or an NHS exemption certificate, both of which are available from your midwife or local GP surgery.

7. Child benefit of £20.70 per week

Child benefit is available to anyone with a child until they turn 16 and it pays out £20.70 a week, for the oldest child, and £13.70 per week, for other children. You can claim as soon as you’ve registered the birth of your child, but don’t count on getting the money immediately – the government warns that it can take up to 12 weeks to process a new claim, although it will be backdated.

8. Parenting clubs and rewards for spending

A number of shops including Boots, Tesco, Mothercare, Mamas & Papas, and the Early Learning Centre have new parent clubs offering discounts and freebies. At Boots, for example, you’ll get 10 advantage points for every £1 spent on baby items instead of the normal four.

9. Life insurance for loved ones

Having a child is often a trigger for parents to take out life insurance, to cover outgoing payments such as for your mortgage, if a parent were to die. Some insurers, including Aviva, offer a year’s free life cover to new parents. While this is an attractive offer, life insurance is a long-term product so make sure the policy you choose meets your needs before you buy.

10. Flights for babies until their second birthday

Babies travel free until they reach the age of two on most airlines and they’ll need to sit on a parent’s lap during the flight. Children up to the age of five travel free on the UK rail network, while on the London underground the discounts last longer.


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