Saturday, December 27, 2008

Baby Budgeting

So, I know this isn't even remotely holiday-ish. In fact, I don't even really feel like it is a "me" thing to write about, but it is something I've been thinking about recently with Baby #2 on the way.

As a first-time mom last time around, I often found myself confused and overwhelmed thinking about how we could afford all the stuff that seems necessary for meeting a baby's needs. This time I feel much more confident and would like to share a few tips and ideas that I've gathered over the last year and a half.

My top tips are to think creatively, out of the box, and to resist your urge to buy those highly marketed and overpriced but oh-so-adorable products if you don't need them. Here are a few categorized tips.

Baby furniture:
~Check used furniture, but don't assume that it is the best price. It seems like used baby furniture is often overpriced. Also, if you are buying used, make sure all the parts are there. We got Little Man's second-hand crib for free, and though it has a few issues and isn't quite the beautiful piece of furniture I had envisioned, we saved a ton of money and it works nicely.
~Try to use what you already have. For example, we used the dresser that I used in high school for Little Man's clothes. The top, padded with a thick blanket, can double as a changing table.
~Try doing without. We don't have a changing table, and I find that the top of the dresser or the floor (depending on the height of your dresser and squirminess of your baby) works well. Another example is do you need a bassinet and a crib.
~Consider a booster-seat type high chair that straps on to a kitchen chair or a portable high chair that clips onto a table or counter. They tend to be less expensive and take up less floor space than standard high chairs.

Baby Clothes:
~Accept hand-me-downs! Save the one that are too big: they will be grown into.
~Buy second-hand. You can get so many cute nearly new (or new) brand name baby clothes at thrift stores and yard sales for a fraction of the original price.
~Stock up ahead of time: if you see it, it's a great deal, and you have the money, buy it, even if it's too big. Try to keep in mind the upcoming seasons, though, and estimate what size your child will be when they change.
~Shop clearance racks (keep in mind, though, that you have to have good sales resistance to avoid giving in to those cute non-clearance items!). I was recently able to get polo shirts for $1 and $0.50 respectively for Little Man at J. C. Penny.
~When your child grows into a new size, try working with what you have stocked up from gifts, hand-me-downs and thrift stores for a week or so, then go and buy clothes to fill in the gaps that you've discovered, if necessary.
~If you don't need baby clothes, don't wander aimlessly though the baby clothes section. ; )

~Consider cloth diapers. Even though they are more expensive to get started with, they save a lot of money in the long run. We like to use cloth diapers and home and switch to disposables when we are out and about.
~Try store brand diapers. The name brand ones are super nice when Baby is tiny, but once the baby is a little bigger, the store brand ones can work nicely.
~Store brand wipes are a good option. If you feel that you need to use more eco-friendly wipes, research making your own. There are several techniques and ingredient lists out there.

~Make your own baby food! It's easy. Simply cook the desired food, puree it in your blender or food processor (adding water if necessary), then freeze it into cubes in an ice cube tray. Once the food is frozen, pop the cubes out and store them in freezer bags.
~Consider investing in a baby food mill. They are handy for pureeing small quantities of food.
~Once the baby is past the puree stage, feed them small, soft pieces of what you eat.
~Avoid buying expensive small packages of specialized baby snacks. Small containers of goldfish crackers (or cheerios, or saltines, or graham crackers) work just as well.

~Don't feel like you need to wash all of your baby's clothes separately using a special baby detergent. Unless your baby reacts to your normal detergent, use it on the baby's clothes.
~Don't feel like you have to have the most elaborate, high powered swing or the baby bath tub with the most bells and whistles. The smaller, simpler versions often work as well as the larger, elaborate ones.
~Don't buy every toy marketed as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Invest in a few carefully chosen, durable toys that you would like to have for all your children.
~Try making your baby's blankets. Fleece blankets are super-easy to make, and the fleece goes on sale frequently. Flannel quilts are so nice too.
~Brand name baby toiletries (shampoo, etc.) aren't necessarily better. For example, Little Man had a reaction to Johnson and Johnson shampoo, but he does fine with the store brand.
~You can use a large purse, a tote bag, or a back pack as a diaper bag.
~Consider investing in a car seat that converts from a rear-facing infant seat to a forward-facing toddler seat. There are some cons, but you only have to buy one car seat instead of two.

So there are some ideas that have worked for us. I hope that they help someone. So, did I leave anything out? Please share your handy baby-related tips. I'd love to hear them; maybe they'll help me with Sprinkle (I think that's going to be Baby's pre-ultrasound name). ; )


Tammie said...

excellent ideas!

Laura Railing said...

Yahoo Freecycle (you'll have to search for the group nearest you & join it) and craigslist are amazing money savers if there are locations in your area. I have to remember to only window shop still with these as it can be tempting to over-spend on deals!

We ended up using formula with Andrew, and found that the store brands are just the same as the big name brands at a fraction of the cost (Target's brand is the same as Enfamil's and Walmart's the same as Similac.) Target's brand price on soy formula: $13.69 for the large can. Target's Enfamil price: $25.00 Big money saver if you do need to switch to formula.

Those other tips are great too!

Laura Railing said...

when we were looking for a crib, one i saw at a thrift store was $190. Definitely not a good deal especially since you can get them new for that price. But way too much money in the first place all around! Andrew had the same thing happen with johnson and johnson shampoo. The store brands often work just find. I love targets brand of wipes. It is nice there are lots of options for products to buy.