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Pregnancy and Parenting Features

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.

Diapers
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.

Baby Wipes
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.

Feeding
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?

Clothing
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.

Baby Travel
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.

Toys
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.



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