When I became pregnant with my first child, I had been babysitting for a wealthy family for quite some time. They had every gadget you could possibly imagine for a new baby. They also had every glossy magazine available, detailing every shiny new gadget I would "need" in order to have my baby. I was 20 years old and a little overwhelmed by the finery. How would I ever afford it all? I soon learned that yard sales were the best places to find all my baby needs. Between the sales and the baby shower, I was outfitted. I had every gadget a mother could possibly need to take care of her new baby. It wasn't until baby number two arrived a little over a year later that I realized that I needed very few of those gadgets, and I had a yard sale myself to rid myself of the clutter that was overtaking my apartment.
Save yourself the space and cash. Here is a list of 9 things you absolutely do not need in order to have a baby. There are many others, but this should get your started.
- Baby Lotion/Baby Cleanser - I've received a number of bottles of these items through the years and I must admit that they do smell pretty good. However, not only does your new baby not need to smell any better (they already smell really good), but also take a look at the list of what's in the bottle. No, it is not just baby goodness. Indeed, I can't pronounce 90 percent of what's in it. Buy a nice bar of natural soap from your local co-op if baby is really that dirty, but a little warm water will do just fine for baby's already very soft skin. Savings: $10 (plus refills)
- Diaper Genie - OK, well, you won't be using disposable diapers anyway, right? But if you did use disposables, this thing has got to be one of the most wasteful, ugly things on the planet. It produces what can only be described as a giant doody caterpillar when full and I have no idea what you do with it after that. Savings: $30 (plus refills)
- Changing Table - I had one of these for my oldest, but I soon learned that I changed 99 percent of his diapers on either the floor or the couch. Instead, make yourself up a little basket with the appropriate changing needs (diaper covers, diapers, washcloths, etc.) and keep it next to the sofa. Especially in those first weeks, you spend a lot of time on the couch as most of your time is spent nursing, changing diapers, and trying to catch a nap! Forget the table. Someday you'll just stand there looking at it, trying to think of something else to turn it into and then giving up and passing it along to someone else who really doesn't need it either. Savings: $100 (at least)
- Disposable Diapers - Do you have to ask? I swear it's not that hard! Savings $20-$30 a week ($1500 a year for at least two years)
- Baby Wipes - Buy two dozen super soft washcloths and either a small "Rubbermaid" style container or some resealable bags. Put six to ten well-rung out wet washcloths into the container. Close it. Voila! You have baby wipes. Just toss in the diaper pail when used. Bring a plastic grocery bag on trips with you for dirty cloth diapers and wipes. Savings: $5 a week. ($260 a year)
- Nursing Pillow - I swear that your favorite pillow from the couch works just as well. So does a rolled up towel or blanket in a pinch! Savings: $20-$50
- Nursing Bras - They're expensive and make you feel silly. The little clasps are a pain. Get sports bras or just plain jersey knit underwires from your favorite discount store. Saving: $20-$50 each
- A "Diaper" Bag - If you must have all the pockets and little goodies, go ahead. But if you have a tote bag in the closet (LL Bean boat totes work great! Of course, you'll want to find them at a yard sale.) from the library or anywhere else, then just use that. Want the changing pad? You can buy them separately or make one from one-inch foam cut to size from the fabric store and a quick pillow case cover if you hate to sew! Save the $40-$80 for your first night out alone!
- Hooded Towel - They're cute, but unnecessary. Need I say more? Your baby does not need animal ears on his towel to be cute. I swear, the kid will be cute enough. Just get a clean towel from the closet. He'll get dry either way. Savings: $10-$30
There you go. Nine things you absolutely don't need when you have a baby. I promise.
Michelle Kennedy Hogan is the mother of six and the editor of Organically Inclined, Her new book, 100 Ways to Save Money Right Now, is available in digital and print formats. She and her husband John homeschool their children, work from home and practice sustainable living on an organic farm in Vermont. Email her at editor @organicallyinclined.org.
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