- Family and Parenting
Babies Can Cost Less Than You Think
How much does it cost to care for your baby?
Contrary to popular belief, if you don't count loss of income through not working, babies don't have to cost that much! You can cut the cost of looking after baby and save pots of cash for spending on really meaningful things.
If you have lots of cash and don't mind wasting it on posh baby stuff, then you won't be interested in this article. Only remember, when you have finished with all this gear, please pass it on to others who may not be so well off.
If you are trying to raise your baby on slender means, or don't want to contribute to that every rising mountain of 'stuff', mostly plastic stuff that seems to wash into our houses, read on. I'm not an expert - just a mum - but here are my thoughts on what to buy, how to buy the things you do need and that matter and what not to buy at all.
My mum used to say "waste not want not".
Save cash on baby clothes and baby equipment
What Do You Really Need? It is certainly true that if you want an easy life babies do need rather a lot of clothes and equipment. Here is a list off the top of my head, of the things we needed for our baby.
- Clothes: Lots and lots of baby-grows - those wonderful all-in-one suits with feet, hats, fleecy 'sweatshirts' or knitted jumpers and cardigans. Babies love to go swimming so invest in swimming things including water wings. In England coats and mittens. No shoes until the baby walks outside.
- Feeding equipment: If you breastfeed you don't need any feeding equipment initially (wonderful!), but you will need good nursing bras and these are well worth the investment. You might also like to buy pads so you don't leak. Later on you'll need a non-spill baby drinker, plastic bowl and spoon.
- Breast feeding is not only best for baby but also best for pocket. No expensive baby milk products, bottles, teats and sterilizers. Always on tap and to hand and always clean and hygenic.
- Food blender. When the baby starts on solids I made my own food and used a food blender to achieve the correct consistency for the age of the baby. Smooth at first, but not too smooth as they should get used to textured and lumpy food. As they grow, make the food less smooth.
- Bibs and cloths to wipe up and put on shoulder.
- Bathing and sleeping: Baby bath, safe sleeping place and bedding if the baby doesn't sleep with you. Later on you might decide to put your child into a cot and you'll probably want a high chair.
- Changing mat: A waterproof changing mat or cloth. I chose a cloth that doubled as a picnic and beach cloth when our son no longer needed it. It was also easy to fold up and take with me when I went out.
- Nappies: and lots of them.
- Toys and things to play with. The first thing was a baby gym. I'm not sure if babies really like soft toys, my son didn't. At six months they should be introduced to books (in my opinion!!) and bath books are great.
- Cleaning products: I don't think babies need any soap or shampoo. Bathing in warm water is great and you save a whole lot of anguish during the hair-washing torture. I gave in when my son was about 4 years old and didn't smell quite so sweet. This is not popular with many people so try it and hold out against all pressure to daube a whole lot of chemicals on your child - thus making huge profits for the soap and detergent merchants. You must start without all the chemicals so that the babies skin can regulate itself naturally. Don't use all these sterilising sprays and products for cleaning surfaces. Old-fashioned kitchen and home hygene is fine - these days germs are good for babies and help them build up a strong immune system.
- Transport: For a small baby I used a sling, then a back-pack. I only bought a buggy when my baby was too heavy to carry. This suited me as I lived in Hebden Bridge, a hill-town in the Pennine Hills in England. The shops all had steps, I had steep hills to climb and I gained access to my house, an under-dwelling, via a steep flight of steps. Your situation might be different, in which case, try to choose a buggy suitable for a small baby but that will adapt for a bigger one.
- Safety equipment: A car seat is essential. You'll also need an array of other safety equipment which I also think is essential: stair gates, covers for electric points, things to stop babies trapping their fingers in doors, plastic sheets to cover low-level glass, 'locks' for the fridge and cupboards. Remember to put all cleaning and decorating products well out of reach. Take a look around your house looking for hazards and have a look at products available in shops. You may be able to buy these from a dedicated recycling shop for babies, but always make sure they have a mark of safety - Kite mark in UK, NF in France. Find out what yours is. I liked to buy well-known and trusted brands, MotherCare for example. You hear so many horror stories about toys from China, or buggies that can catch and sever fingers. Always read all the instructions and use products accordingly.
Buy Only Safe Products
Ensure that the equipment such as cots and high chairs are safe and constructed according the regulations.
Buy (or borrow) a few good-value toys
I've chosen this because babies like to hold toys and love to listen to music. They appreciate music from the earliest age and I'm sure it does them a whole lot of good.
My little boy used to love these walking toys and this one is combined with push-buttons. These toys kept him occupied for hours.
A ball like this is great fun for games that you can play with your baby. It will also fascinate them when you have to leave them to their own devices.
A baby gym was another real winner! My son was kept busy and happy for ages playing, wacking and just plain watching. I'm convinced it helps a baby's development to have interesting things to watch and play with.
Baby gyms and baby bath books are great for babies
What you can do to reduce the cost of bringing up baby
Is This Going To Bankrupt Me? Yes, perhaps not bankrupt but it will cost a lot of money! Here's how to reduce that outlay.
Form a swapping circle; babies grow out of clothes within weeks so borrow from other mothers. When my son was born a friend lent me the whole kit and kaboodle. I used it for the first year and returned it to her ready for her second baby. If you don't know anyone that will lend you the equipment join or form a swapping circle. That way you'll have lots of clothes, (and believe me you need lots!) without the cost. Babies grow so fast that they will only use the first lot of clothes for a few weeks.
Buy Second Hand
Buy second hand from a nice shop or buy on-line. We were lucky enough to have a Designer Seconds shop in our town called The Merry-go-Round. Parents could take in good quality clothes and equipment in perfect condition and sell them through the shop. The shop owner ensured that the quality was high and all her stock safe and she took a percentage of the sales in commission. Anything you do buy, pass on to others.No such shop near you? Start one!
You could also buy second-hand on line. People often sell baby clothes in bundles.
Join a toy library
One fabulous advantage we had in Hebden Bridge was access to a toy library. It worked just like a book library and was free to join and to borrow. You chose your toy or toys and signed them out. After a set period of time you took them back and chose new ones. Excellent for new babies as they soon grow out of toys and all children like new ones.No toy library near you? Then start one. You could use a church hall and ask for donations. No outlay needed.
Disposable nappies are the main big cost. I tried the alternatives and they are dire. You have to be a really dedicated green to put up with the old-fashioned nappies or re-usable green alternative so save up for disposables. Then buy cheaper Supermarket brands which tend to be just as good as the more expensive brands or look on-line for good deals, but, like everything else to do with babies, always buy from sources you are sure of.
Get your baby toilet trained as soon as possible. The disposables are so good that there is a trend to leaving toddlers in them much too long. Don't be lazy - it isn't good for the purse, the planet or the baby.
Make your own baby food
I think making your own baby food is easy, cheap, requires little effort and is much, much better for your baby. Get a book on weaning your child so that you know what to give your baby, when to introduce foods and what not to give it, I used Annabel Karmel's books (see below). Based on that, I would cook the family food without salt and take a portion or suitable food and put it into the blender. Voila! Baby food. You can also blend larger quantities, put into jars that you have sterilised in the microwave, and then freeze for future use. Do read up a little about all this to avoid allergies and choking etc
Join a baby sitting circle
Get together with other parents and form a baby sitting circle so everyone can have a bit of time out with paying for carers.
I used this excellent baby recipe book - my son eats absolutely everything now.
Bring the baby on this family friendly budget holiday!
Take your family on fabulous budget holidays
With all the cash you've saved from not buying costly and wasteful baby clobber, why not treat your family to a restful, healthful and educational holiday? Take them somewhere clean and healthy where they can run wild and free. Where they can enjoy the countryside, real food, learn a bit of a new language and really get a new and exciting experience.
Limousin in South West France is all of this. I choose to come here when my son was five because it is so clean, quiet, traffic free and crime free. There are lovely walks, great lakes, masses of things to do for all the family and it needn't cost an arm and a leg.
For more information take a look at our site: www.lestroischenes.com or talk to me on the phone +33 (0)5 55 48 29 84. You can contact me by email on email@example.com
What are your ideas for cutting the cost of caring for baby??
These are just my observations. If you have any other ideas, please leave a comment below and perhaps we can help the next generation of young parents to save money for the really important things like good, organic, fresh food for the baby, and spend less on chemicals and imported plastic goods that choke land-fill sites and use scarce resources.
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What will you do with all the cash you've saved?
How would you prioritize your spending?
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