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As you know if you follow my blog, I’m HUGE on saving money. I want to talk a little bit today about how to save money when you have kids- and also when you shouldn’t cut corners.
My understanding is that around 4, the spine is better developed to withstand a car crash if forward faced, but that if you can continue to rear face then it’s still beneficial. It appears that if we could all rear face, even adults, we’d be better off in accidents- except the driver, haha. Don’t rear face if you’re the driver!
Used Car Seats? Don’t buy used… you don’t know where that car seat has been or what has happened to it. If the car seat has been in a car accident, it should NEVER be used again. If you get in an accident, definitely look into whether the insurance company will cover the cost of replacing your car seat. They’re expensive. Car seats also have expiration dates… the Diono Radian RXT Convertible Car Seat, Shadow that I’m looking at though expires after 10 years. Most have a much shorter expiration.
Save money by buying the right car seat from the beginning. If you want to save money, you can often forego the infant car seat, which they will outgrow at some point. If you do that though, you won’t be able to carry your sleeping infant around in the car seat. This is the seat we’re planning to get. It allows for tethering if rear faced, 10 year lifespan, super slim to fit 3 across in a midsized vehicle, and it goes up to 45 lbs rear facing.
Breast Pump: I am embarrassed to say I bought a used pump for $100. Got home, read the manual, and it says very clearly not to share systems. Why? Because in open systems (ie. Medela pump in style, etc.) the milk particles can get into the pump, including the mechanics. Share the system and you open yourself and your baby up to disease. Not worth the risk… There’s enough obstacles and possible health problems (ie. thrush) you can get while breast feeding… Don’t mess around and make it MORE likely. Here’s a link to La Leche League’s recommendations to not buy used pumps and here is the link for the FDA’s recommendation. I did end up purchasing a closed system, the Ameda Purely Yours, because I thought it might be possible to resell, but when I opened the packaging it also said not to share the pump. The hospital grade pumps seem to be the only ones TRULY approved for sharing and even then there’s a ton of supplies you need to get to make it sharable. That being said, is the price really too much for an item I’m going to use for an ENTIRE YEAR (or more) for EACH child? If I have two children then I’m using this product for 24 months roughly or longer.
Some options for saving money on this pricey item? First of all, they’re tax deductible now. Second, many- if not all- insurance plans are supposed to provide a breast pump for free. I’m not sure how this works, but I think some companies are allowed to opt out. I’d check and double check that my insurance company wasn’t supposed to provide one before buying one myself though. Gosh I wish I hadn’t missed this opportunity.
If you have to purchase one yourself (even if you’re getting a tax deduction), you can save money by buying just the system by itself. Here’s the price difference between the “whole package” and the pump by itself. I bought the pump by itself, then carried it in the free bag I got from the hospital. For my breast milk, I used the free freezer bags that matched the free bag. It worked out really well for me.
It may be smart to wait to purchase one until your baby is here and your breast feeding journey is going well (or keep your receipt and don’t open the packaging, making sure your baby will be born within the return policy cut off). Some women who have supply issues really need to use a hospital grade machine and end up having to rent. Also, you don’t need to pump until 4-8 weeks after baby is born because you need to be JUST nursing in order to work on regulating your supply. It’s better if baby doesn’t receive a bottle or pacifier earlier than 4 weeks or it can effect latch.
If you buy “used,” you should see if you can find one that never had the factory seal broken and that perhaps the woman wasn’t able to return. That’d be a great way to get a pump cheap. Just make sure that seal hasn’t been broken. “Barely used” isn’t the same thing as “not used.”
Cloth Diapers vs. Disposables
You’ve heard me talk about cloth diapers before- I love them and they save lots of money. They can be reused many many times, often surviving through multiple children, and they are much better for the environment. They also double as swim diapers if you pull the inserts out. Check out my blog post about Exploring Cloth Diapering or learn about the first diapers I ever sewed. I love my one size pocket diapers, but a bunch of prefolds with covers are a REALLY affordable way to go.
To save even more money, some people purchase cloth diapers used. The benefits to this is that you get a bit of a discount and you can often find people who barely used them. I actually resold most of my purchased cloth diapers after I made my own… I got quite a bit back for them as they were in good condition. Of course, you want to run the diapers through a few washes before you put them on your baby- partially to make sure they’re clean, but especially to make sure any odd chemicals are out of them. Sometimes people really kill their cloth diaper’s absorbency by using the wrong detergents or diaper creams. It’s fixable, but a pain.
Cloth wipes are easy and a big savings too. I like using them with my cloth diapers, plus they make great wipes to wipe noses and such, once wet down. The wipes are made of flannel and seem to get beat up more than the diapers so- they’re so cheap that they’re worth buying new (also they’re very easy to sew if you want a beginner’s project).
Oh yeah- and I also make my own laundry detergent which saves a lot of money. Not sure how a baby would fare with this recipe as I started making it when Baby G was a bit older, but haven’t had any issues.
Just don’t buy it. Baby G is 18 mo old and he’s still getting enough clothes from family to fully dress him. If you do buy stuff, used is the way to go. Why? Because everyone seems to end up with tons of baby clothes, lots of which never gets worn. Especially for the 0-24 mo range… there’s a lot of people giving away or selling perfectly good BAGS of clothing. And a lot of it has never been worn. People frequently give away bags on Freecycle. When you do buy new, wait for the sales… clothing is pretty costly off sale, but I found $2 rompers at Sears at one point and bought about 20 of them… haha. Good deal!
Buy new; its better to get a new mattress for new babies. But you don’t need to spend a lot- they eventually outgrow it. I don’t know if there’s enough research to support it at this point, but I was reading about the mattress eventually breaking down to possibly release chemicals that could be tied to SIDs. All your baby needs is a firm mattress. I found a bunch that were $50 and under.
Buy two sheet sets and two mattress covers. No bumper (it isn’t safe- it can cause suffocation earlier, and they use it to help climb out of the crib later), no comforter, no valences, etc. The comforter can’t be used (and by the time it can be, you’ll want to change baby’s room around), and they seem to never give enough/right size valence. Might as well find coordinating valence(s) or curtains when they are on sale.
One fun tip: Put on your mattress cover, then the bed sheet, then the 2nd mattress cover, then the 2nd bed sheet. When baby wets through, you remove the top two layers to throw in the wash tomorrow and you don’t have to make up a bed. Best trick I’ve learned as a parent. It saves a ton of time when your baby wets through in the middle of the night.
I think furniture- dressers, cribs, etc.- are great items to buy used IF you make sure they haven’t been recalled. That’s an important factor. Also, we bought a convertible crib. We’re now not going to convert it because we’re going to use it for Baby #2. Not sure if it’ll ever end up converted or if we’ll just move the kids on to twin size beds. We already got Baby G a twin size bed and skipped the toddler bed. He hasn’t transitioned for night yet, but we nap there. It’s nice to be able to cuddle up with him on the twin bed too.
Disposable vs. Reusable Nursing Pads and/or Menstrual Pads
They exist. I highly recommend both. You can buy some manufactured, but you’re likely to get a higher quality product if you buy them from a private person on Etsy. I bought a bunch of reusable nursing pads that were manufactured and I like the ones I made myself better. I feel like the plastic from both nursing and menstrual pads just gives me the itches. Nursing pads are especially easy to wash. Obviously, menstrual pads aren’t quite as awesome, but I don’t find they’re a huge problem.
You COULD spend a lot of money on maternity clothes… you could. If you had three kids, for example, in three different seasons, you’d end up dropping a bunch of money in the long run. I highly highly recommend buying maternity clothes used. I found some people selling bags of clothes on Craigslist and picked them up during my first pregnancy. I will do the same for next pregnancy. They looked great and I saved a lot of money.
Not only is it awesome, gives you lots of bonding time with baby, and has tons of health benefits, but it will save you a FORTUNE on formula. Oh yeah… and healthcare. Everything from reducing your chances of cancer to reducing the chances of SIDS to reducing post partum depression to… everything. The list of benefits is ridiculous.
Summary: Breastfeeding is amazing. Do it and spend whatever time, energy, and money you need to in order to ensure you have a successful time doing it. Lactation consults are worth the money (and some will be covered by health insurance- we have two LC’s at our pediatrician’s office)
- La Leche League: Health Benefits to Breastfeeding
- Baby Center: How Breastfeeeding Benefits You and Your Baby
Make it and/or do Baby Led Weaning. It’s really simple. The only thing we bought was pureed meat because I didn’t want to puree it. It’s gross enough in the jar. Also, it’s really fun and cool to feed your baby solids for the first time… but don’t rush it. The AAP recommends waiting to start solids until at LEAST 6 months old. Here’s a press release by the AAP about it from this year (2013).
I used my judgement for items, but I buy a lot of toys used… especially items that don’t have lots of parts (ie. I don’t like buying board games used because they may be missing pieces). Stuff that’s easy to wipe down is great. I usually evaluate whether it’s cheaper to buy new or used by comparing prices and keeping my eye out via Craigslist. Sometimes it’s cheaper to just do new, such as with our water table. The ones I saw for sale used often weren’t the sturdier brands and they were often priced only $10-15 less than the cost new. Given that most items are harder to transport once out of the box, I usually go with new stuff if it’s not a huge savings. I found two art desks for Baby G used though- one was $10 at the thrift store and it cleaned up awesome.