With all the babies being born in our family as of late people have been asking me: What did you find useful? What is the one thing you can’t live without on a daily basis? Here is list of the top items we used the most in the first few months.
The Nap Nanny
The NapNanny was a gift from DH’s cousin, his wife, and their twins. They swore by the NapNanny. When I first found out about it, I was skeptical. I thought, “My kid has a bassinet; he has a crib, a boppy, AND us, what else could he need?” Little did I know this would be the most used item in our home the first three months lil’ man was here. We used it for naps, and we used it to interact him when we didn’t want to have him laying flat on the ground or in our arms. If used as directed, and supervised, I can’t see how you couldn’t love this thing! It is covered in a super soft minky fabric. You can buy an additional cover in case you have to wash the one it comes with. It was also fantastic to have on hand because lil’ man had a few weeks with reflux, and having him sleep on an incline was easy in the NapNanny. Love it, I honestly suggest it to everyone I know.
I got a lot of funny looks from some well seasoned moms when I registered for a video monitor. I got it anyway and I love it! You can add cameras, it has a secure transmission, and its works well in the dark. The image is in color in a lit up room. I like this because in the first few days of my baby not sleeping in our room (he’s right on the other side of the wall now, and I probably don’t even need a monitor) it put my mind at ease to see him happy and sleeping. In addition, I like it because I can see him playing in his crib, see if he’s really awake, or see if he’s dreaming and I don’t need to get up to get him. Our lil’ guy is quite the sleep talker! I anticipate it will be nice to have once he’s in a bed and I can see what he’s doing during his toddler years.
You can NEVER have enough swaddle blankets. We were lucky enough to be given hand me downs from my grandmother so our swaddle stash is quite large! My grandmother used them with my mother, my mother used them with me and my sister, and now I’m using them with my son. They just don’t make them like they used too! SwaddleDesigns has some great quality blankets that come close to the old ones. We used them for everything; from their intended purpose to swaddle the lil’ guy, to a burp cloth, puke rag, poo catcher, you name it. We use swaddle blankets like there is no tomorrow! They are also great to put on the carpet during tummy time. It’s nice to have less stuff to think about, use this for that, that for this, etc., we just grab one and move on. Look for over sized swaddles, they make for a much tighter wrap and your lil’ one won’t ‘bust’ out of it as easily!
I used the Medela Pump N Style to help establish my supply and now use it five days a week because I’ve returned to work. It was nice to get comfortable with the pump before going to work; it made the transition smoother. I was also able to pump and leave a few bottles if I wanted to go out for a few hours after the first month. (The grocery store never seemed like such an exciting place, it’s now 45 minutes of me time, I even leave my phone in the car!) I also use the tote and cooler to transport anything I pump at ork home. I like how it is discreet. So far I’ve been able to keep lil’ man mainly on breast milk; which was important to me during the first year. I would also suggest getting a few good nursing bras. I like the medla hands free style. It doesn’t give me ‘saggyness’ it fits like a regular bra. Our hospital actually offered someone to come and fit you the day you go home. This was nice because I was able to get a really good fit. I suggest it if you can!
Cloth Diapers (One size and New Born)
I wish we would have cloth diapered from the start. It isn’t that much more work, just a load of laundry every other day (and the smell of the EcoSprout soap is amazing). You will be doing more laundry than you have ever done with a newborn; one extra load, every other day is nothing! Cloth diapers have been better for my son. He hasn’t had rashes or major ‘pooslopsions’ since we switched to cloth, saving us from changing his clothes so often. In disposibles we were constantly dealing with ‘poosplosions’. There are a variety of cloth diaper brands out there and even many made by SAHMs, so your choices aren’t limited. While I haven’t had a chance to ry new-born sizes out, I would assume they are as good of quality as the regular sized diapers that the reputable companies have to offer. Check out GroVia‘s new-born size, and Rump-A-Rooz is supposed to have a fantastic newborn diaper with a snap down for the umbilical cord. Cloth diapers will last longer than just the first few weeks in terms of weight. Cloth diapers can also be used on more than one child and eventually sold as gently used. A good investment. Check out the Cloth Diaper Geek (see button to the left) for great info on all things cloth. (*Pictured Rump-A-Rooz lil’ Joey)
See a second post next week with five more things we couldn’t or wouldn’t want to do without!
The cost of having a child can seem daunting to some, but in reality, kids don’t have to cost that much. Sure the cute baby stuff, and toys, and what-not can cost your right arm, big toe and a knee cap or two, but if you’re smart, cost conscious and lead a modest life, they in reality, don’t cost that much.
I’ve realized that a baby needs five basic things; a roof over their head, food, clothes, an education when they get older, and most importantly LOVE. With love, anything is possible (cliché, yes, not true, no).
We’re very blessed as a family. We have generous friends who share used baby things (<3 hand me downs), grandparents who are able to ‘spoil’ our child, and we’re both employed.
We save, and try to think before we buy (most of the time!). We still try to lead a modest life (I bring my lunch to work), we save our money, and put it where we think we will benefit most (be it family vacations, a need for a new car, or just plain old savings).
We paid off our debts (minus school loans, and our mortgage, but this is KEY), and cut back on things we don’t have time for like cable (who has time for TV with a 4 month old AND a job). This makes time for the LOVE portion of baby needs. We spend time playing and chatting as a family. Most importantly, in the journey, we keep on learning. You can’t put a price on that.
While trying to be economically efficient, we found we have become slightly greener.
When we bought our house we knew we would have to remodel the majority of our home, we “thought green to save green”. We have installed new windows, insulation (our home had none on the exterior walls), new doors, and energy efficient lights. We’re looking into getting a tank-less water heater (to save on space and money, and energy). All of this is money up front, but we had to do it, and spend it, so we wanted to get as much savings in the end out as possible.
We managed to lower our gas bill $200 in the course of the year, and electric was cut by $100. With that we’ve had extra money to save/spend on baby things we need. I always make sure to look at what we have, what we ‘NEED’ and compare it to what we want.
We’ve also started to go green with baby things.
I got tired of buying diapers, throwing away diapers, buying bags for the diaper genie, etc. ect.) Lil’ man is a pee machine (as of late a poop machine too). We were spending $35 on a box of diapers that would last 2 weeks maybe. That was after cost comparing stores, signing up for coupons at Pampers.com, and printing out coupons from Target. So we switched to cloth. See previous post “Enter Cloth Diapers…switching over”. I’m happy to say I haven’t spent more than $10 on diapers in 2 months.
We still use Pampers Sensitive wipes (which I use a coupon for and buy in bulk), and collect the Gifts to Grow points to get our photos printed. I’m tempted to switch to cloth wipes, however ‘baby steps.’ I still need to have time after my 12 hour work day to be with my family, and not doing wash!
Switching to cloth was more money up front, but will be more cost effective in 2 months. We will have broken even, at that point. Then it’s savings from there to potty training. In addition, if I wanted to save even more money, I could have used old school flats.
Side NOTE: Right now there is the flats challenge going on (#FlatsChallenge). You can read in detail about it here on the Cloth Diaper Blog. Basically, people who cloth diaper are being challenged to use flats and hand wash them.
Side NOTE2: So because I work in community development, I’m often hearing about impoverished areas that are looking to develop and change. These areas often do not have easy access to healthy food, grocery stores, etc. etc. Daycares don’t accept cloth diapers, which would save parents money. I was reading this article, No Butt Left Behind and thought you might enjoy.
Back to the point here:
We clip coupons. I recall being a child and making fun of my mom for doing this, but it works. I’m not a crazy coupon’er like you can see on TLC’s Extreme Couponing, but I do look through the Sunday paper for the coupons. I only clip the things we use. I watch for them to go on sale, and use the coupons. Yes it takes some time to figure out a system to make this work for you, but once you get started you can build on it and save.
This coupon idea goes for baby things as well. We have target, buybuyBaby, and BabiesRUs at our disposal. buybuyBaby and BabiesRUs accept competitors coupons if they are for a percentage off. Target lets you use manufactures’’ coupons, and Target coupons, and then if you bring your own bag you get $.05 of, and as of late they have been offering in-store credit for certain purchases, so we save on our next visit as well.
We also are blessed and are able to use our family nearby for day care so we can work. There are advantages to living close to your in-laws!
Over all we’re saving money on the things we need and use.
As for lil’ man we find the only things we must have are clothes (side snap under shirts, and rompers, the rest he only wears once in a while if we go out, but he’s so little, footed and non-footed sleepers are easiest). We will probably start formula soon. Diapers are taken care of, and then baby needs a safe place to sleep which could be a variety of things (we have a crib, but a pack and play would work just fine). The rest is optional. So there you go, for just a little, you can afford a kid.
I believe there is never a right time to have a baby financially. We live in a society where we always “NEED” more, and could put off baby for a long time, but if you think you’re close to being ready, I say you probably are, just take a leap, not all great things can be planned!