As a new mom, I found the number of baby products more than a little overwhelming. The list of things I “needed” seemed endless. But, as a mother of four, I have found that there are fewer things I “need” than I originally thought. Here are ten ideas for saving money and frustration with overwhelming amounts of stuff.
- Instead of a changing table, get a nice basket and put diapers, wipes and a changing pad in it. Use your bed, the couch, the floor or the bathroom counter as a changing station. I have one of these in the living room, our bedroom and the bathroom. That way, I can change the baby wherever we happen to be at the moment.
- Instead of a crib, get a pack-n-play or co-sleeper. Both are nice because if you need to go somewhere, you just fold it up and take it with you. Then, the child gets to sleep in his or her bed no matter where you go. Plus, the pack-n-play will grow with them until it is time for a toddler bed. Then, just fold the pack-n-play up, put it in its bag and put it in storage for the next baby!
- Instead of buying baby food, make your own. You can even ask your friends to save their baby food jars to use as containers. When you make a vegetable, make a little more than you need and run it through the food mill or blender, put it into a baby food jar and put it into the freezer or refrigerator. Got leftovers? This is a perfect way to use leftovers. Blend them up, put them in a container and freeze for later use.
- Instead of buying a fancy diaper bag, buy a nice backpack. The variety of available backpacks is stunning. You can get them with inside pockets, outside pockets, water bottle pockets, key clips, etc. Check consignment stores and thrift stores. Find one you like? Take it home, run it through the washer (but not the dryer) and you are set.
- Instead of expensive nursing shirts, buy nursing camisoles and wear regular shirts. The camisole will keep your midriff covered while you nurse and you can keep wearing your favorite shirts.
- Skip the infant DVDs. Most studies show that young children do not benefit from TV. In fact, most researchers think it may be doing more harm than good. Instead, read books to your baby or have your older kids read to them, even if they (or you) are just making up stories to go with the pictures.
- Instead of fancy baby towels and washcloths, just use your regular stuff. There is nothing extra special about smaller towels and washcloths. They just cost more and give you more stuff to deal with. If you really want to delineate between your stuff and the baby’s, get a multipack of washcloths in a different color than your own.
- On a similar note, you can use washcloths instead of baby wipes while you are home. Purchase 10-25 washcloths in a color different than the ones you use normally. (Mine are dark purple.) Designate these at “baby wipes”. Establish your changing station in the bathroom (on the bathroom counter, if possible). Then, when you need to clean off the baby, use warm water on the washcloth instead of baby wipes. Both of you will find this much more pleasant. Rinse the washcloth out and put it in a small pail to be taken to the laundry later or put it directly in the washer. If you are using cloth diapers, just add it to the diaper pail.
- Instead of a baby bathtub, wash your baby in the kitchen or bathroom sink. You can use a folded towel placed in the water to help lift them up out of the water, give them a place to lay AND keep them from being so slippery. I also love doing this in the shower while I am showering. In a pinch, I have also used a small-ish Rubbermaid storage container as a bathtub. I put a towel in the bottom, filled it with warm water and voila…baby bathtub!
- Instead of fancy bathtub toys, use what you already have in the kitchen. I have found that colorful cups, spoons, measuring cups & spoons, funnels, mixing spoons, etc. make terrific bathtub toys, can be run through the dishwasher and don’t collect mold! Read more about that here.
If you have more ideas, I would love to hear them. It is amazing what you can do without AND what you can use that you already have!