How to raise a toddler on a budget

kids' clothes and shoes

raising a toddler on a budgetAs you leave the nappy-burdened baby months behind you, a whole new world of expenditure opens up around having a toddler! It can be expensive… So here’s how to buy what you need without breaking the piggy bank.


Toddlers go through toys rapidly, and they’re ridiculously expensive. Swapping with friends is great, but soon they’ve all been shared.

A brilliant solution is the toy library. Ask your library or children’s centre for your nearest, or check out toy rental services.

At toy libraries, you generally borrow three toys per child every fortnight, for under 50p a toy. Toys are clean and well-maintained, from board games to see-saws. For once you can say, “Have anything you want!”

They’ll enjoy learning activities without your house filling with plastic items – as toddlers get bored with toys fast!

Clothes & equipment

Toddlers don’t care or notice if something is new. eBay’s great for bundles of clothes, or local NCT Sales for nearly new items. Swap your dribbled-on baby buggy for a newer model, plus a proper bed for that out-grown cot.

Shoes are one thing to not scrimp on. For Clarks, visit a Clarks Village. You’ll get genuine Clarks with trained staff to measure their feet, at discounted prices. ShoesForKids have Start-rite, Clarks and many others. Just get feet properly measured in-store before you order.


Kids’ activities can be extortionate, but needn’t be.

Parks and library story times are free and loved by toddlers as much as expensive activities. For indoor fun, Soft-Play is perfect for burning toddler energy without breaking the bank.

Toddler groups usually charge very little and offer loads to play with. They’re great for meeting other mums while your little one gets social interaction too!

Trial sessions at places like Gymboree and MonkeyMusic are often free or reduced, so check your local magazines and Family Information Service.

Lastly, swimming is a brilliant toddler activity. Find pools running toddler sessions with floats, toys, and other mums. Many have shallow or beached sections for little legs. It’ll make swimming lessons and beach holidays easy, as water confidence is 50% of the hurdle.


Camping is excellent for the budget. Find sites with play areas and maybe a pool, and you’ll all have fun. Your little one can run around freely outdoors making a mess without anything to clear up. Then after bedtime, you and your partner can share a glass of wine under the stars for some much-missed couple time!

Self-catering is less stressful than hotels, and again means evenings together after toddler’s gone to the land of nod. The NCT runs a house swap if you’re wanting a mutual freebie. Go near the seaside and your days will be filled with fun and comparative relaxation!

Visiting family works well – provided you get on well with your hosts! It also doesn’t touch the bank. Select relatives who love kids, and you’ll have the rest you’ve longed for while your toddler gets spoilt rotten!


Presents from you needn’t be expensive or new. Toddlers don’t know what comes in packaging, so don’t feel bad about giving toys from local jumble sales and school fairs.

If your family ask for present ideas and you’re loathe to accumulate more toys, suggest an activity. Whether it’s a trip to a local farm park or the nearest zoo, it’s a gift that means quality time as a family. Now to a toddler that really is priceless.