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Monday, August 29, 2011

7 Tips to Raise Baby Green on a Budget

With a pregnancy comes the realization that babies are expensive.  But is that really true?

Since Adam and Eve, people have been having babies and it didn't seem to pinch their pocket books with families of 10, sometimes even 20 children.  In my opinion, even today, having a baby doesn't mean you have to kiss your money goodbye.  Green moms are way ahead of the curve when it comes to raising baby on the cheap.  The old saying applies to “stuff” we accumulate or think we need when raising children… “Use it Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without”.  There is no reason we need to fall victim to the marketing hype that declares we NEED all the latest baby gadgets, equipment, body and health care products, and toys. Here are my top 7 tips to raise baby green… and cheap!

Buy Used – Check out yards sales, thrift stores, consignment stores, and CraigsList.com to buy baby items like clothing, stroller/car seat, books, and toys.  While yes, organic clothing is certainly worth it, the benefit of used clothing is that it has been sufficiently washed so that pesticide residue is no longer an issue.  Buying used saves you money, but also energy resources used to make new clothing.  Babies don’t need expensive outfits -- they can’t read the label to know if it's name brand or not.  We were blessed to be given almost all of our baby items from friends at church and family.  Ask around, you never know what people are happy to give away.  And when you're done with your items, consider continuing the giving circle for a family in need or selling at a baby consignment store to keep the clutter out of your home.

Extended Breastfeeding
– Why buy expensive formula when you have milk on tap?  It's the healthiest food you could ever give your child and it is FREE!  And while you are at it, don’t rush solids.  There is no reason to start your 4 month old baby on solid baby food, as the mainstream "what to expect when…" books are advising.  I recommend waiting until at least 6 months.  We'll probably be waiting until around 9 months as baby's teeth will have come in by that time, signifying their digestive tract is mature enough to process solid foods.  Conventional medicine says that waiting to introduce solids can help prevent food allergies, too.  And feel proud to extend breastfeeding past the 1 year mark!  Two, three, even four years of breastfeeding will not only save you food money in the long run, but will supply your child with immune boosting milk every feed and aid in bonding with your child thru the toddler years.

Wear Your Baby - Investing in a good baby carrier or wrap can save money in the long run.  When you choose to wear your baby you can often forgo a bouncy seat, rocking swing, or other device meant to entertain your baby so you can be hands free.  You would be surprised how much you can get done while wearing a baby in a wrap!  And (notice the pattern) it helps you to bond with your child thru skin-to-skin contact.  Modern "stuff" does nothing to help you and your child form a deep attachment.  Slings and wraps have been used for thousands of years by many different cultures.

Cloth Diapers – Deciding to go cloth can mean a hefty initial investment in diapers, but it also means a large cost savings in the long run.  To keep costs low, use pre-fold diapers and diaper covers.  Another option is to buy used.  There is a HUGE market for used cloth diapers on Facebook and eBay.  Google cloth diaper forums.  They're out there!  Doing it this way enables you to try dozens of different diaper types to see what ones you like best.  Many moms are willing to trade, too, so you don't have to shell out any cash, just ship the items you are trading to each other.  And if you're worried about the laundry, believe me, it won't be that bad.  Baby is still on the way for us, but we've talked to dozens of moms about this and it just means an added 1-2 loads of dump and go laundry per week, which costs you just a dollar and cents per load.  I encourage you to make your own laundry soap, too, for added cost savings and to eliminate chemicals from your baby's laundry.

Make Your Own – You can save a lot by avoiding commercial mainstream versions of the products you need.  Puree your own baby food in a food processor or blender.  Simply set aside some of the food that the big people are eating and blend it for baby.  Make your own natural baby products.  We are making our own shampoo, body wash, wipes, lotion, diaper cream, etc, for baby.  (Recipes will be posting as I have the time to do so, but trust me, it's so easy!!!)  And go reusable whenever possible.  We're not only making our own wipes solution, but homemade flannel wipes as well.  Extend the DIY products to anything your baby uses -- dishwasher soap, liquid dish soap, laundry detergent, spray and floor cleaning solution...  You will not only save money, but more importantly prevent the exposure of thousands of chemicals to your baby.

Co-sleep – Who ever said you had to buy a crib or cradle for baby?  You already own a bed, so why buy another?  Co-sleeping is very safe and extremely convenient for breastfeeding moms.  You can co-sleep as long as you'd like.  I know some families who do it until their child is 6 or 7.  Whatever you are comfortable with.  Just doing it for the first year or two alone will save you hundreds (and in some cases thousands) on a bed, bedding, and decor.  An added bonus for co-sleeping parents is the deep bond you form with your children.

Forgo The Gadgets – Simplicity is key.  There is a huge market out there for baby gadgets.  Marketers are really good at making mom feel like she NEEDS something to make her life easier.  Think about it before you buy -- Do I really need this wipes warmer or stroller attachment?  Probably not.  Keep life simple.  It will keep you sane and save you money.

Any other tips out there from experienced moms on Raising Baby Green?

7 comments:

Johanna

Just an FYI: Homemade detergents are not recommended for most cloth diapers due to build up issues. :-) I've used cloth with Jack and LOVE it, but I would recommend something like Rockin' Green or one of the many other very safe/green detergents made specifically for diapers.

I totally resonate with the rest of this post for sure!

Katie

Co sleep is safe?! I disagree. I have three under three. Ocassionally, i will nurse my baby in bed and fall asleep, and wake up nearly on top of the tiny infant. If a crib is not in the budget, borrow one, or use a drawer. Also, a husband and wife need that space for their own relationship, whether that be for snuggling, or visiting... I do agree with your other ways to save though. Just remember, Moses slept in a basket. Once a co sleeper, it is hard to break the habit.

Healing Cuisine by Elise

Johanna -- watch for our homemade laundry soap recipe. Similar to Rockin' Green but way more cost effective and safe for cloth diapers! Going to run a few more test loads after baby arrives and then get it posted. ;)

Katie -- definitely do whatever you feel best for your family. Cosleeping is something that works for us, at least for the beginning. We'll be taking it one month at a time. :) Every family is different!

nora

I'm excited to hear your homemade laundry soap recipe. We do cloth diapers as well, but haven't found a homemade recipe that works with the cloth! Good luck with the birth! Nothing like a homebirth... I'd never go back to the hospital!

Healing Cuisine by Elise

Oh yeah, Nora, you will love the soap recipe. Will have to share with Loretta, too! I just want to test it on a few loads of actually dirty diapers to make sure there is truly no residue buildup. We are so excited for our homebirth. Any day, can't wait! And I'm right there with you on the hospital..

Anonymous

I really enjoy your webpage, recommendations and recipes. I have an 11 month old that I have been EBF and I'm going to be finished breastfeeding when he is a year old. What is your take on the different milks out there? I have been reading so many different things about coconut milk, goats milk, organic grass fed cows milk, and almond milk! I would like to hear your take on it or if you have any recommendations about what to read?

Thanks!

Shannon Brown

You nailed it with this list. It's just ridiculous how much stuff our commercial culture leads us to believe is necessary for a baby. We have taken the same approach with co-sleeping, breastfeeding, and cloth diapering. We also keep toys to a minimum for cost savings and our own sanity.

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