|Baby Costs-The Frugal Way|
- By Teresa Higginbotham
I can remember when I was a first time mother, waiting for that little
bundle of joy to arrive. I would walk into the nursery and run my hand over
the new baby quilt, look at the baby clothes hung up on the itty-bitty
hangers and even smell the baby powder and the wipes. Nothing smells good
like baby stuff that hasn't been used yet. It did surprise me though,
starting with maternity clothes, that the prices seemed to be going up all
around me. Everything seemed to cost more. The sale of baby items can be a
racquet if you're not careful. It can be an emotional issue for parents.
Retailers would make you think getting the best for your baby always mean
spending the most.|
Now that I have had three children, I've learned a few things. Mainly, I
don't have to follow the cookie cutter supply list that all the stores put
out for expectant parents. I don't have to use their products and most
importantly, I don't have to pay their prices! Here are a few suggestions
for baby items the frugal way.
Use cloth. It saves money and the landfill. I can also be less
convenient. I have a special needs child, so we're still in diapers at six.
Now, you think I'm going to change a poopy cloth diaper on a 44 pound baby?
Wrong! Which brings me to the next point--if you buy disposables, use
coupons. Have your relatives and friends save coupons out of the paper. If
you have a relative who lives out of state, but would like to help out with
the baby somehow, cutting coupons is a great way for that person to be
there for you.
While working at a mothers-day-out program I found a way to make a poor
man's Diaper Genie. If you've never seen the product, Diaper Genie, it
works on the sausage maker principle. You put the diaper in a plastic bag
which twists with each new diaper. By the time you take out the trash, you
have a long line of diaper sausages. The purpose of doing this is to cut
down on odors from the diapers. What I discovered the teachers at the
mothers-day-out program doing was taking a plastic grocery sack and
throwing the diaper in and then knotting the top. They would then throw the
diapers in the plastic bag lining the diaper pail. I use this simple system
now, and it has cut down on the smell from the diapers significantly. It's
also a way to recycle those plastic bags from the store.
I know there are a lot of baby wipes recipes out there now, but
when this one was given to me, it was from a neighbor who had secretly
taken it from some ladies at her church. To us it was a big deal. It was
like "psst..Over here...want to make your OWN wipes?" It was unheard of to
make something like wipes--a convenient disposable item. Here's the recipe
(pssst...pass it on)
1 roll of Bounty Rinse and Reuse cut in half 2 1/2 cups hot water 2-3
tablespoons of baby bath Resealable container big enough to hold half a
paper towel roll.
Mix water and baby bath in resealable container. Add in paper towels. Do
not take out cardboard insert until the water has saturated the entire roll
of paper towels. The insert will then easily peel out. Seal container.
Breast feed if you can. If you can't, then use the powdered formula
(if you're baby will have it) or the concentrate. Don't pay extra money for
the water they add in the "Ready to Feed".
I started out buying all of those little jars of baby food for my babies.
The first one ate the same brand for almost a year. By my third child, I
had learned that I could take what we were eating and toss it into the
blender to make baby food. If you start doing this, do it with only very
basic foods like green beans or carrots. You have to make sure your baby
has been "introduced" to a food. If you have a dish with a lot of different
ingredients in it, you may hit upon a food allergy and not know what caused
it. Look at the baby food jars. If your baby is eating mashed potatoes in a
jar, why can't she eat it from what you made for dinner?
If this is your first baby, you might want to put all the pretty
new stuff on your little one. Go ahead, splurge a little, but for things
like sleepers, t-shirts and sweats thinking about buying or "inheriting"
used clothing. If you have someone in your family who has a child older
than yours, see about having clothing passed down. Some groups have
official "clothing exchanges" where like a prayer chain, one gives to
another and that other gives to another and so on. Another resource can be
found through the internet at Ebay.com where you can often get a box of
gently worn baby clothing for $30-$60. There are also many used clothing
outlets and thrift shops on line, now. Once your baby is here you'll see
that while he is cute as the dickens in that litle velvet suit, the spit-up
looks the same as it did on that little t-shirt. When you buy socks--those
tiny little things that are the victims of washers and dryers
everywhere--buy all white. That way, if one gets lost, you can rematch the
socks that remain.
Baby Room Accessories
If you sew you can save money in this area. Even if
you barely sew, you can sew the binding on a prestamped quilt from the
fabric store. I was amazed when looking at a baby quilt, dust ruffle,
bumper pads and curtains at a baby store that the final price for all of it
would be $150-$200. I went home and made it all for under $40 instead.
An easy way to save your car upholstery is to put a plastic
table cloth under the car seat. My kids drank bottles while I drove around
and it was a good way to keep them happy. Unfortunately, they sometimes
dropped the bottle onto the seat. The tablecloth will minimize staining.
Watch for the sales at the stores. Pre-Christmas, pre-Easter,
pre-summer are all times when the sale flyers go out. Then you have your
post-Christmas, post-Easter, and end-of-summer/back-to-school sales where
they get rid of the stuff you didn't buy before but now it's much less.
Watch for yard sales. I have bought everything from Barbies to bunkbeds for
my kids. Books are an especially good bargain at a yard sale. Go to a book
store and pay $4.95 to $20.00 for a book. Go to a yard sale and pay .10 to
$1.00 for a book.
Raising a child can be very expensive. When you do get the impulse to go
out and buy that Super Duper Baby Layette/Nursery/Lifetime Toy Set think
about how your mother and grandmother did it. There wasn't as much
merchandise out there for them to buy and they did just fine--didn't they?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Teresa Higginbotham lives in Texas with her husband and three children. She
writes "Tightwad Tess" articles about frugal living, homemaking,
homeschooling, parenting and family humor. Her website "Tightwad Tess" is
at http://www.tightwadtess.com and her homeschooling website "The Frugal
Homeschooler" is at http://www.pages.ivillage.com/ps/frugalhomeschooler.