One charity worker says parents are eating less to give their children food.
The charity Barnardos says children are wearing hand-me-down, oversized shoes and pyjamas in the daytime as parents cut costs to make ends meet.
While some parents are resorting to using Child Benefit payments, which would normally go on clothes and shoes for the children, to pay for electricity and heat.
Esther Pugh is manager of the Barnardos Centre at Loughlinstown in Dublin.
She told The Hard Shoulder parents are sharing their worries with staff.
"We are seeing very worried parents trying to make ends meet, worried about how they are going to pay for their children's clothes, worried about how they are going to pay for their heat and their light.
"Going back to school in September, winter bills, Christmas.
"In terms of the children, we see parents really trying to safeguard their children and not pass their worries on to their children".
She says more children are in ill-fitting and old clothes.
"We're seeing children wearing clothes that are too small for them - they're clean and they're washed, but we're seeing trousers up the legs, and jumpers that no longer go down all the way to the wrist.
"We're seeing children in hand-me-down clothes, shoes that are too big - not good quality shoes.
"Parents are so good and so thoughtful for their children here.
"When they receive their Child Benefit, every month we would have seen, year on year, how parents would have bought new clothes and invested the Child Benefit in their child.
"Now we are seeing that they're not doing that: they're investing the Child Benefit in the running of their household."
Clothes 'nearly an afterthought'
Esther says parents are going without food for their children.
"The biggest worry for parents is putting food on the table and paying their bills.
"Their children's clothes are nearly an afterthought in terms of how they are presenting them into the services.
"We have parents not buying meat for themselves - we have parents whose maybe weekly shopping budget... for a family of four is €60.
"They're buying in discount stores, they're buying a lot of frozen, quick-cook foods.
"Parents will go without to give their children food - we are told that".
Esther says parents are not even thinking ahead to big holidays like Christmas.
"Parents are very worried - often you'd hear parents talking about Christmas at this time of the year, where they're planning ahead and putting money aside to buy Christmas presents.
"They're not talking about that; they're talking about meeting their bills now.
"We have had parents who would come to us on a Tuesday, they may not be going to receive payment until Thursday.
"They may be onto their reserve on their Pay as They Go electricity - down to maybe under €5 - and that is all the electricity they have until they're paid on Thursday morning".
And she says it has not been this bad in a long time.
"I'm long in the tooth, I'm approaching retirement age, and I've been around for a long time.
"I can honestly say I have not seen deprivation like this since I was first working and early on in my career."