- Family and Parenting
My Money Saving Tips for Parents
Money and time saving tips for Parents of babies and toddlers
Need more money and or more time to bring up your bundles of joy?
Then check out my tips for getting more of each.
As a mostly stay at home Dad (and part time childcare worker) for the last 5 years I've built up a lot of ideas (and strong opinions) on how to have more time and spend less on your kids, whilst improving their experiences and learning.
Now that they are 4 and 6 years old, I have a bit more time to let everyone else know what I've gleaned from the last 7 years.
Money saving tips
I'll expand on most of these in their own section, but here is the basics..
Washable nappies / diapers - they are as easy as disposables, but work out much cheaper....
Expensive buggy? No way, a multi recline foldable buggy works from birth.....
Second hand clothes - babies and toddlers grow out of clothes before they are worn out, so reuse someone else's!
Bottles and steriliser - not if you can help it....
Lidded cups - why teach a child that they can run around with a drink because its got a lid on, and then have to retrain then to use a cup without a lid - just don't use lids from the start...
Baby food - ditch the mush and let your child learn to feed themselves 'baby led weaning' is the way to go...
Bed Wetting - don't mess about in the middle of the night, just be prepared by having 2 or more sets of sheets and waterproof sheets alternating on the bed so you can whip off the wet layer and have a ready remade bed underneath..ta da!
Cotbeds - what is the point in getting a whole new load of different sized sheets, mattress etc., just go from cot to full size bed.
I'm sure there's more, but that will do for today.
Links to other money saving tips
Here are other peoples money saving tips.
What do you really need to get then out and about?
Ok, so you've got to have a car seat,and you probably need some kind of push chair / buggy / pram.
What you don't need is an all in one system that costs hundreds of pounds / dollars /your currency of choice.
I've never found the kind of car seat that you can take out of the car with the baby in to be practical or worthwhile, and the majority of pushchairs are over designed (when are you ever going to require disc brakes? I mean, how fast do you walk...) plus where do you put all the bits you aren't currently using, the different seats / covers etc.?
So..what do we use
A basic fixed car seat, - Sure you can't take it out and carry the sleeping baby around the shops, but can you really do that with a carry seat anyway? No, they're heavy and really awkward to carry. So instead just get the baby used to being moved whilst asleep - you can still lug my 5 year old out of the car without waking him up, because he's always done it. The extra human contact this involves is no bad thing either, a hugs a hug whether you're asleep or not.
A basic buggy - the original Maclaren type, but with a fold flat seat, so you can use it from birth. It fold down neatly to fit in the boot of the car, or even along the back seats footwell, light to carry, easy to put up and down, inexpensive. The only downside we've had with this type of buggy is that we wear the wheels out quite quickly, so they only last about 12 - 18 months, but we walk a lot...
Nappies / Diapers
To throw your money away, or just wash it!
Washables, come on people its really not any more messy.
The only difference between using washables and disposables is the disposables fill up your bin / trash, and the washables have to be washed.
You will save a lot of money, sure it takes a little more time to wash and dry them, but not much.
I have another lense on nappies / diapers so for more info on my experiences of using washables see
Bottles, powder and sterilisers?
or home grown goodness?
Its basically accepted that "Breast is best" and it is certainly the cheapest source of baby milk. No sterilisers required, no bottles, so running out of formula.
I've heard some dads say "but I want to be involved in feeding the baby....." or "we want to share the loss of sleep" well you can.
The way we've always worked it, and the way my Dad told my girlfriend (now wife) the first time he met her....! goes like this...
The baby wakes up and cries in the night.
Dad gets out of bed and gets the baby whilst mum gets ready.
Dad hands over baby to Mum, in bed? on a chair? wherever she wants to be.
Mum gets on with the feed.
Dad puts the kettle on and makes a cup of tea, or gets a drink of some kind (its thirst work breastfeeding)
Mum finished the feed.
Dad puts baby back to bed.
Everyone goes back to sleep, having been minimally disturbed.
clothes and more clothes
Baby clothes hardly get worn, apart from the basic vests. When was the last time you saw a baby or toddler with a genuine hole in the knee of their trousers? Never, because they don't fit for long enough for them to wear out.
So how can you save oodles of cash?
Don't buy clothes... reuse them, Do you know anyone with slightly older kids? probably.
Then ask them if they will pass them on to you. Chances are they will be glad to make some space by giving them to you.
Otherwise head down to the charity shop and see what's there. This isn't worth doing for basics like vests, but tee shirts, trousers and dresses it certainly is.
Plus all your friends and relations are likely to buy the little tykes clothes anyway, so they can satisfy the desire to have some new stuff.
To mush and spoon or sit back and relax...
Sit back and relax...
Baby mush is pointless.
The best way to wean your children onto solids is by letting them get their hands on your food, that way they are learning to grip, to move their hands to their mouth (they want to put everything in there anyway, so it might as well be food) and manipulate solids in their mouth, slowly getting it to the back of their throat, where its safe to swallow.
The easiest way to choke a child is to shove food into their mouths for them.
Spoon feeding takes a lot of time, can be frustrating for the parents, and the child if they dont want to eat.
Finger food (baby led weaning) lets then eat at their pace, whilst you get on with eating yourself, or chatting, or whatever normal activity you would do at mealtimes. Sure you are watching and helping if needed, but forget the spoonfuls of mush....
I have another lense on baby led weaning so for much more info on baby led weaning and my experiences of it see
Baby led weaning books
If you need a book to reassure you about finger food,family feeding and baby led weaning, here it is.
Lidded cups, sippy cups, or just cups...
and what to put in them.
Doidy cups. Theyre like cups at a bit of an angle to make it so you dont have to tip it up so far.
Why teach a child to drink from a cup that they know they can run around with, or tip up and it wont spill, onlt to have to re-teach then to use one that they can't?
Just skip the lids and get them going with unlidded cups as soon as you can, about 6 months in our cases.
Things will be spilt. But if you only put water in them then it wont really matter.
Doidy cups from Amazon.com
Doidy cups, great teaching cups for weaning children.
Amazon.co.uk do them as well, but I'm afraid you'll have to do the search yourself.
some helpful childcare books.. well mostly helpful, as a quick reference. I wouldn't take them too seriously though.