How To Save Money With a Baby – Part 1

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Having a baby in your world is life-changing. For some of us, it’s the most important event of our lives, it’s the very existence we have and are… and logically there should be nothing we would spare to make our baby/ babies thrive and make happy. We would bring the sun and moon for them!

But is it always good to give everything? If money is the question – shouldn’t we save some for later as well? If money is not an issue – is it correct to have and give everything the eye sees and the mind desires?

Everyone should have ways to economize, it’s good for our wallets and it’s good for the Earth we hope to give to our children (please no Whitney Houston song here, if it gets stuck in your head, I cannot be held responsible… enough that after typing this, it’s already whizzing through MY head). There are many ways to save money when you have a baby, some are surprisingly easy and simple! The following list is by no means complete and I will return to some points later again,  otherwise this post would go forever, saving you no time;)

1) Buy less

This seems like DUH!, but tell me honestly, aren’t you sometimes really, really tempted to buy that cute dress or that toy on sale even though we have a similar one already?
There are many things we are led to believe we will seriously need by toy makers and big baby stores. Sometimes you just need one of each (hey, that’s not the same as one of everything ;).
Here you have to think about your own setting and situations you will likely find yourself with a baby in. For example if you travel a lot, you might consider buying a travel basinet, but don’t buy a travel bed. They are bulky even when folded and who wants to pay extra luggage fees? You could use a folding bed in your parents’ house, if you plan to visit a lot – it will be out of the way when you’re not there.
Another example are books. I fully support little readers and personally think that teaching your child to love books is one of the greatest gifts you can give them, BUT… does your kid need 15 different lift-the-flap books? Or 5 bathtub books? Or “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” in 3 sizes board book, 2 paper AND a bathtub version? See where I’m going? Some books will be useful only for a short time (i.e. black & white infant books), why don’t you spend your money on children’s classics you will read before bedtime? And make a good use of that library card!
An easy way to save on baby clothes: don’t create a little fashionista! Don’t pretend like your 8 months old won’t wear anything yellow or grey, your child will wear what you put them in… (hello, celebrity moms!). Your child doesn’t need a new dress every Sunday either.

2) Be old-fashioned

Every generation of children has more and more toys, books and hi-tech gadgets. Sometimes it’s worth asking your parents or grandparents what they owned and how they played. Or you can just walk down the memory lane and remind yourself that you were happy with much less as well!
Buy things that are lasting and will become a heirloom, get multitasking toys and learn activities that encourage open-ended play. Teach your children how not to be bored. And get out often!

3) Buy on sale

There are days on American calendar that are supposed to celebrate important events, but lately became an epitome of shopping sprees. While I don’t support shopping till you drop in lieu of giving an appropriate respect (i.e. recent Veterans Day), but at the same time I believe that if you can buy something 50% off after New Year, why would you buy it full price.
There are lots of websites that offer discounted baby and children stuff all year round: zulily.com, babysteals.com, kidsteals.com, babyhalfoff.com just to name a few.

4) Use memberships and monthly delivery services

Many websites with baby products have member-only services to (lure you in) and to save money. It’s worth discovering sites like Amazon.com (their Amazon Mom program offers 20% diaper subscription and free 2-day shipping, plus other perks like 15% off baby registry items), Diapers.com (subscribe & save programs and frequent sales), Honest.com (the Bundles, like Diapers & Wipes Bundle, save you a lot every month plus the products are absolutely safe and Earth-friendly).

5) Breastfeed

Our whole species survived because mothers did what was natural – breastfeeding. I will never blame a mother who didn’t breastfeed because of a medical issue, but that’s for a different post. Here I am writing about saving money and boy, breastfeeding is actually the most natural way to save while doing the most natural thing for your baby! Have you ever looked at baby food prices? Yes, your baby will become a toddler in a few months and before you know it he or she will be eaten by an omnivorous beast pretending to be that same baby and set on to break your bank in the grocery department. But before all that, you can save a few hundred by not using formula.

6) Reuse and recycle

Some ways to reuse are: using cloth diapers or going completely diaper-free (aka Elimination Communication), using washable breast pads and cloth wipes.
Scour garage sales, bookmark Craiglist on your computer, ask friends with bigger kids if they’re downsizing. Thrift stores have sometimes amazing things and once you’re done with them, you can donate or resell them again. Keep the cycle going. Halloween was a great example in the days just passed by – parents spend high sums for readymade costumes while one trip to a thrift shop could have yielded similar results (no offense, but some ready-made costumes looked like they came out of trash bin already…).
Make your own toys and activities. Make them with kids! Pinterest is an amazing resource; you had no idea what all you can make out of cardboard boxes, fabric scraps or empty water bottles (well, buying bottled water won’t exactly save you money either, get a water filter;). Have you heard of the saying that if you want your child to play, give them the box their toy came in?

7) Support local and handmade

Handmade doesn’t always come cheap, but with a few key items you are getting furniture/ toys/ decor that will last longer then flimsy cheaply made pieces. You’re exchanging quantity for quality and you might be able to resell your pieces well. Or keep reusing with more children. Some one-of-a-kind items can be also of collectors’ interest.
Create a relationship with a local farmer – we keep going to the same stand at a farmers market and the lad selling there already knows us. After exchanging family stories from the past week, we hand him $15 and a bag and he fills it with whatever is in season. We used to pay at least twice that much at the beginning… Making the “I know a guy” work for you!

8) Get one – give one

Babies grow and develop so fast, it’s inevitable that your closet will be soon full, storage boxes overflowing and cleaning after playtime will take longer. You need to clear some space! Get one – give one is just what it says, for every new thing get rid of an old one. Donate or sell old clothes and toys (or keep them nicely organized and stored for your next child). Get rid of broken toys, destroyed clothing and items your child is not using. Donate to a family in need.

9) Take a clue from other countries

In many countries people live with much less. Yet their children are happy, they still become scientists and lawyers and teachers and they find love and have families. Material stuff doesn’t make them happier or more content. Some of the local traditions and habits actually do. Bed sharing, room sharing and eating from one plate are to name just a few.

10) Give what’s always for free

Your baby needs you, your time, your love and affection, your loving touch, your voice, your guidance. All these are already free!

 

Some of the categories definitely blend together and have some points in common. They all could be a version of “Buy Less”! And while trying to live with less, make sure that your family and good friends are on the same boat with you – who wants to fight over presents on a baby’s birthday?

What are your tips for saving some dough with baby?

 

Save money with baby2

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The Easiest DIY Toys for Babies EVER

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I wish I could sew, I wish I could knit, I wish I had a workshop in my garage to saw and bang and hammer toys for my little one! But I don’t need any of that to make these really easy toys for him. No sewing or sawing required.

Give baby a wooden stick or a scarf and they will think of ways to play all day long. And babies this small (Aditya is 6 months old) are fascinated by everything! I don’t know if I can call the toys I made for him toys, but I know that YOU can make them too. And all materials are right at your home!

I was inspired by Montessori mobiles to buy a large jingle bell – one of their sensory mobiles is a jingle on a string or a ribbon. See, here goes the first toy! And the idea for the second one was conceived simply because the jingle bells came in a pack of two:) So I was thinking what to do with the second one and noticed, how Aditya loves his fabric ball with a jingle inside. I took a wash cloth (because of the texture, but you can take a piece of flannel or cotton fabric, or any other, for that matter) and this particular one had a frog face on it, and I thought it would be fun if I positioned the face so that it looks like frog’s head.

I put the jingle inside the cloth, tied with a ribbon and tadaa! This is a great tip for traveling too, if your baby gets tired of the old toys (or you forget to take any with you). The cloth is good enough as a makeshift doll without the bell inside.

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There are many ways to play with these toys, but please be very careful, especially with the jingle on a string, as it may pose a strangling risk. Always make sure that the end is tied in a way your baby can’t get the string around his or her neck and supervise their discovery time with the toy!

I like using the jingle bell on this IKEA wooden gym – I just strip the hanging toys it comes with and tie the jingle for a change. It seems very simple, but Aditya just loves to bat, bat, bat at it!

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This is what it looks like:

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What simple toys do you make for your kids? Do you prefer making at least some toys or other items for your child to just buying everything?

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DIY Baby Mobile – Butterflies

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Here is a fairly simple baby mobile to make. All you need is:

  • cutout shapes (in my case butterflies)
  • thread
  • skewers/ chop sticks
  • hole punch

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I found these butterflies at Michael’s in the scrapbooking section – the package had 12 butterflies made of thin plywood, but if you are making yours from scratch, stock paper with any shapes will do. There are all sorts of paper punches to make your job easier.

Pinterest has the most adorable ideas for mobile designs – hot air balloons, airplanes, birds, bubbles…

Here is how I made this mobile:
Make a hole in each butterfly with a hole punch. String one butterfly at the end of a thread and secure with a knot. Add another butterfly and make a loop or a knot to secure the second butterfly. Repeat for all butterflies until they are strung on threads in twos.

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Make a mobile base using 3 skewers. You can tie them together in a triangle shape with the same thread like I did or you can use a wire or, if you’re a big fan of the hot-glue gun, you can “gun” them together. Hang the threads with butterflies in varying lengths, add a hook and hang at a desired place. Watch the delight in those little eyes:)

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DIY Infant Stimulation Mobile

This post contains an affiliate link to Brillkids.com.

When I was pregnant, I was thinking “I will make so many things for the baby! Toys, blanket, clothes! I was always good with crafts, I can do this!”
Dear momma-to-be. It’s not that easy. If you still have time, work on your crafts before your baby arrives! I mean it. Once your little monkey makes her way to this world, your mind will be set on a million things, but baby DIYs. I still have a crochet half-blanket somewhere, I don’t think I will finish it unless I decide to make it for someone else’s baby in the future:)

But there IS light (at the end of the tunnel? Eh, I’d say more like a skylight on the way:). Aditya is really enjoying his tummy time and spends more time in his baby gym without me having to hand him toys or dangle play-stuff above his head, so I decided to make him a few mobiles while he was at (baby)work. Yes, not just one mobile. This baby gets bored so easily, so I thought if I’m able to finish a few of them, I can rotate them throughout the house to keep him entertained. So there will be more DIY mobiles on the way:)))

This one is for the smallest babies and I wish I made it when he was really tiny. He enjoys it anyway, but I recommend this as one of the very first mobiles for a baby. The mobile is Montessori inspired and covers the principles of many early education methods. There are lots of ways you can modify and customize your mobile. I didn’t use anybody else’s instructions, so I had to figure out some things and kinks along the way, but I hope my half-baked instructions will help you or at least inspire you!

Here are the things I used:

  • black and white printouts (I used Infant Stimulation cards from BrillKids)
  • construction paper (you won’t see it in the picture though, I couldn’t find any in the house, but I found 5 non-winning lottery tickets… don’t ask… and used them instead)
  • glue
  • scissors
  • thin ribbon
  • wooden sticks (I used skewers)
  • steel wire (not pictured)

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There was a small change along the way: the wooden skewers didn’t work very well, so I changed them for a WIRE.

First I cut out the shapes I selected and glued them onto the cardstock (non-winning tickets, I mean;))) and then made a hole in the middle to pull a piece of ribbon through. I made a little loop at the end – this is how you will hang the pictures. You can tie them directly to your mobile base, but I wanted to make them interchangeable and use different pictures after a week.

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The I made a base with wire – from the top: a large hook (to hang it wherever you fancy), one wire arm – looks like an arch with a loop in the middle and on each end), loop to hang both arms above each other and the second arm – same arch with a loop in the middle and on each end.

You will want the two arms to form a cross, so the mobile’s pictures are spread out evenly.

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Make hooks to add at each arm’s end and one in the middle:

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Hang your pictures and voila!

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I will be delighted if you share your mobile ideas with me! And as promised, when I have time, I will post other mobiles.

This post contains an affiliate link to Brillkids.com.

 

Supercute Baby Shower Idea – DIY Onesies

On my baby shower I decided to put my guests to work 🙂

I bought 10 white onesies (5 for 3-6 months and 5 for 0-3 months size) and a pack of colourful Sharpies. Then I printed some funny T-shirt quotes as an inspiration and gave it all to the friend who was organizing my baby shower.

Here are my one-of-a-kind onesies (sorry, some of them are already worn, I didn’t take a picture when they were all shiny brand new):

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For good success, if you wish to try this at your baby shower, I suggest:

  • Take into account the number of guests attending and buy about half that many onesies or shirts (not everyone is into crafts and couples sometimes collaborate) – but if buy too many, it’s OK, you have white onesies to give to someone else, use them plain or decorate them yourself in those long evenings when you’re out of work and enjoying your last days before the joyous arrival!
  • Depending on the number of guests see if you need more than one set of Sharpies/ markers, so that nobody cries they can’t find the colour they need (yes, adults turn into babies during times like these:)))
  • Let your guests know there is no do-over. If they make a mistake, it will stay.
  • Make sure you collaborate with your host, so they have an adequate space ready – a work table with a cover or something similar. You wouldn’t want your guests to leave marker stains on a friend’s fancy couch!

Alternatives:

  • Strictly black & white version is very cute too. Or choose another marker colour and use only that.
  • Do this on your kid’s birthday – small kiddo = adults do the crafting. Older kiddo = his/ her friends make t-shirts for him!
  • Dyed shirts with bleach (the design will be white on coloured shirt) >>> careful, this one would be messy!