Baby Budget Blues
by Angie Lencewicz
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"We are having a baby!" Those words can elicit wonder and excitement in expectant parents. Shortly thereafter, the elation gives way to the realization that babies are an expensive proposition. When my husband and I had our two daughters, we quickly learned what items were a must-have for a healthy, happy baby and what things we could definitely do without. Here are some of the tips we would like to share to prevent the baby broke blues!
- Although we did buy a crib and a bassinet, we did not buy a changing table. We took an old desk, painted it a pretty sunshine yellow, added on a few baby decals and voila! We converted it into a change table by storing diapers and accessories in the drawers and laying a rubber quilted pad on the top. We also found it handy to just change the baby on the bed or on a carpet on the floor.
- We did not purchase a baby swing. We carried the girls in a snuggly or we would sit with them in a rocking chair we purchased second hand for a moderate cost.
- We inherited a "toddler" bed and found it to generally be a wasted piece of furniture. Our first daughter basically went from her crib right to a twin-size bed with a guardrail quite comfortably.
- When it came to diapers, we discovered that the best bet for your dollar is to go for the more expensive brands. The cheaper brands of diapers are not as absorbent and don't fit as well, so you end up using more diapers or having to do more laundry due to the accidents from leaks.
- We did manage to cut down on the costs of diapers by our second child by asking friends and family to give gifts of diapers at the baby's birth. We also would let the baby lie in the buff on a towel or blanket for several hours a day. It helped to reduce instances of diaper rash and we saved on a few diapers a day.
- We did not use baby wipes except when traveling or on outings. Instead we used baby facecloths soaked in warm water and mild baby soap to clean the baby's bottom.
- Breast-feeding eliminates a huge cost for feeding. We invested in an electric breast pump. Although we did have to purchase bottles, we still saved a small fortune not having to buy baby formula.
- Baby food can be quite expensive. When we first started trying out different vegetables and fruits, I prepared some food at home rather than buying jars of baby food. It was simple and inexpensive to do. I steamed sweet or white potatoes or carrots, mashed them, filled ice cube trays, froze them, then stored them in resealable bags.
- Babies are very easy to please and enjoy simple, safe toys. My oldest daughter ignored most of the toys we had received from family and friends. She loved playing with little stacking cups and pots and pans for hours on end. She also liked some plastic rings I picked up at a garage sale. As a toddler, she would sit in her high chair and play with a stack of measuring cups and pour water from one cup into another.
- Baby toys and toddler toys can usually be purchased in abundance at second hand stores and garage sales. Most baby toys are only gently used as the infants go through developmental changes so quickly.
- We would advise to not bother buying baby shoes. Some babies don't even begin to walk before twelve months and most don't like the feel of shoes, let alone socks, on their feet. We found both of our daughters seemed more comfortable when they were learning to walk to go barefoot (in the house) or to wear socks with a ribbed bottom to prevent slipping.
- Save some money on clothes by stocking up on a few sleepers for the first few months (with the exception of a couple of cute outfits for visitors or photo ops). Babies do a lot of sleeping, feeding and eliminating in the first few months and are very comfortable in their sleepers.
Debt is preventing me from taking a vacation this year or the vacation I'd like to take this year! Tell us: Yes, debt is affecting my vacation plans! or No, we're going exactly where we want to go but we'd love to learn make our trip as inexpensive as possible!
Angie Lencewicz is the mother of two girls. For four years, she was a stay-at-home mother and she and her husband shared one income and many ideas for beating the "baby budget blues."
Take the Next Step:
- Expecting soon? There are so many adorable things out there for your baby, but knowing what is a must-have and what is not really necessary will keep you from the baby budget blues. Read over the above tips and then reassess your list of must-haves. Is there anything you can eliminate or find a more affordable alternative for?
- Discuss "Minimal Baby Needs" with other Dollar Stretchers in The Dollar Stretcher Community
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