The cost of raising a child from birth to age 21 has risen above £200,000 for the first time, a survey shows.
A study by investment group LV= says steeper university costs are largely to blame for pushing the cost up to £201,000, up 4% on last year's survey and 43% since the survey began in 2003.
Childcare and education remain the biggest expenditures, costing parents £54,696 and £52,881 respectively over their child's lifetime.
The increase comes as the weak economic and credit environment squeezes household budgets.
"Every parent will know how expensive it can be to raise a little one, and as parents, we know we don't begrudge a single penny of it," says LV= chief executive Mike Rogers.
"But I suspect many new and prospective mums and dads will be a little shocked to see the potential financial burden ahead of them," he adds.
The biggest increase in expense in 2009 was the cost of holidays, which rose to £13,207 in December last year, up from £11,920 a year before. Clothing costs also rose, up about £700 to £14,035.
These areas were hardest hit by cash-strapped parents, a separate survey shows.
Of almost 4,000 adults interviewed by Opinium Research between 26 January and 1 February this year, almost half said they had to reduce spending on holidays and fun days out. About the same number of participants said they'd cut spending on new clothes.
Savings have also been a victim of increased pressures on family finances.
Just over one in three say they have had to reduce the amount they save on a regular basis (35%).
A further 19% have had to cancel or review their insurance products and income protection cover to help with family budgeting.
This is down from 23% who said the same at the start of 2009, but Rogers says it is still "alarming" due to the long-term implications this could have should there be a dramatic change in the family's circumstances.
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