Monday, October 15, 2012

Baby on a Budget

Doodle Bug's 1st picture
This week marks the 2 years since Doodle Bug has entered our lives. Weeks post conception my husband and I began to skimp, save, and pinch pennies knowing we wanted to make sure we had everything we needed for our little bug. We were thrifty-- bought big ticket items little bits at a time, shopped the sales, and knew that 2nd hand could be just as nice (especially on the wallet) as full retail items. We had a trip in the works for the summer of 2011-- IRELAND! Due to the nature of this European adventure, we had already set aside enough money to pay for our flights. We later joked that we should have named our little girl Ireland-- once we confirmed the positive pregnancy test with an ultrasound and heart beat, our Ireland fund was instantly transformed into baby O fund.

Being first time parents, we had NO clue what we were getting ourselves into. We were not sure what baby items were "necessities" and which items were "excessive." Not only were we first time parents, but we were also the first of our friends to take the plunge into the icy, uncharted waters of parenting. We had a bad case of need vs. want. What will baby need? What will baby want? What we soon realized in the weeks/ months post birth was that there are very few items that a baby NEEDS. Its needs are met through love and attachment to mom and dad. I wish I had known more then, but I guess that's what parenting is- just a giant learning curve... and just when you think you have the hang of it, you are thrown a curve ball!

Many of my friends are starting families soon, or at least thinking of starting families soon, and many asked me which items I would recommend. I figured I'd make a list of baby things that I felt were necessary vs baby items our family left completely neglected-- still unused 15 months later.

We take a very natural "organic" approach to parenting, and have been pleasantly surprised with the results. I guess if I had to label our parenting "style" we would fall under the umbrella of Attachment Parenting. We did what felt natural to us... and it wasn't until later that I realized we followed many of the principles of attachment parenting. The 7 Baby B's of Attachment Parenting (outlined by Dr. Sears) encourages: Birth bonding, breastfeeding, babywearing, bedding close to baby (co-sleeping), be-wearing of "baby trainers", and balance in your personal, and family life. I will write a post soon about which of the 7 B's we embrace-- and how this works for our family.

The beauty of parenting is that you get to pick and choose what works for you, your baby, and your family unit. Many of the baby "items" on my list/ not on my list have to do with our parenting choices (not to be confused with the idea of-- what we do is right, and what you do is wrong!) We do what is "right" based on the current needs of our family, ie what works for us.

With that disclaimer of sorts, let me just state that that it's amazing when I reflect on how many items and baby accessories our modern American society convinces us that our babies "need" in order to develop healthily and happily. Many products I deemed to be synonymous with the term "baby" are not even used by doodle bug (now or ever). We are not perfect as parents (who can be??), and we are always evolving and changing. The philosophy that has done us well is to take each day as it comes, laugh often, and love fully.

List of top 15 items that I'm glad I bought on the cheap/ registered for:
  1. A quality breast pump and pump accessories. I used that baby til it DIED! I pumped on my plannings everyday from November 1st- June 1st.
  2. Nursing tank tops-- I kept putting off buying them, but by 6-8 months I had one in just about every color. Convenient, alternative to nursing bras, modest with nursing in public... really just an all around winner.
  3. Sleepy Wrap (now called Boba Wrap) This was a gift from a co-worker who had 7 children--- you read that right SEVEN! She said it was a life saver, and she was right! Doodle Bug LOVED to be worn... and I loved to snuggle her close. 
  4. BabyHawk Mei Tai Carrier Awesome gift given to me by my aunt and uncle :) Used all the time during her first 12 months.
  5. Pack-N-Play. We actually regisitered for two and were lucky enough to get both as gifts. Doodle Bug still uses them 15 months later-- on a daily basis. We keep them at multiple houses to ensure that she has a place to sleep no matter where we are... we are a family on the go-go-go, and she has adapted seamlessly to our busy lifestyle. 
  6. Craigslist changing table. Seriously-- this was a no-brainer. We use this all the time and were happy to find the $40 steal online. 
  7. Fisher Price Newborn/Infant Rock 'n Play Sleeper Doodle Bug slept in this for the first six months of life. It snuggles them in and is great for first time parents because you can take it with you all over the house. Also, I was so paranoid when she was a newborn (rocked some serious PPA) that I wanted her to sleep right next to me. I was afraid to co-sleep with her when she was a newborn, and for some reason I didn't like her bassinet. I liked her sleeping at an angle. Anyway-- for all these reasons I was stoked when my awesome in-laws showed up on my doorstep with this amazing contraption less than 30 minutes after I mentioned wanting one. It easily folds up and made many road trips with us in those first six months. 
  8. Diapers, Diapers, and more Diapers. Calling all diapers, butt creams, and wipes --- diapers of all kinds. We registered for all different brands- cheap, expensive, Eco friendly, not so Eco friendly. We registered and bought some cloth diapers as well for when I stayed home the first four months. Doing cloth diapers while at home on maternity leave with no pay did help to save money. Cloth diapers aren't as awful as it seems- especially with a breastfed baby (poops are water soluble-- and smell more like old popcorn than grown ass man poo).  I found some great deals on amazon and cloth diaper swap groups. GASP-- yes, we did buy lightly used cloth diapers. We didn't cloth diaper for long. Mostly because when I went back to work I didn't have the time or the energy. We seriously didn't have to spend a dime on diapers for the first 6 months of her life-- thank you registry!
  9. Jar of Coconut Oil. Used for many reasons-- a few of which for babies includes, but is not limited to: natural treatment for diaper rash and cradle cap. Oh, and cracked/sore nipples in the beginning.
  10. Umbrella Stroller- small, affordable, and easy to travel with. They are inexpensive, so you can buy one for each car!
  11. Car seats my mom was smart enough to encourage me to resister for more than just the infant seat, but the toddler seat as well. It was an awesome surprise to get BOTH as gifts from friends.
  12. Bath Insert I'm not referring to the large infant plastic tub thing. I'm talking about a little mesh seat that can be used in the kitchen sink. The large plastic tub that was given to us is in the attic-- never have been used.
  13. Boppy I used this multiple times every day for bug's first 12 months. I still  use it on occasion to feed her. When she was little I used it for feeding, tummy time, something to prop her up, and when I was exhausted and with out sleep-- a pillow.
  14. Playtex drop in bottles and liners when I went back to work I tried more bottles than I care to remember with little bug. Playtex dropins were finally the only ones she would take. 
  15. Newborn bouncer/ vibrating seat this was given to us as a hand me down, but if it hadn't been given to us I would have shelled out the money for it! Great place for baby to nap!
What I wish I hadn't registered for/ paid for/ items barely used or not used at all: 
What did I used to think of when I heard "baby"? Crib, pacifier, bib, bottle, formula, jars of baby food, cereal, etc. Not so much anymore ;)
  1. Crib- and all cribish accessories. This is the first thing I thought of buying-- when I thought "baby," I instantly associated "crib." This item we have found to be completely unnecessary. She has taken a total of two naps in her crib. I can at least take solace in the fact that I bought the crib second hand and only spent $100. 15 months later we are finally using the mattress-- we set up a Montessori style toddler room for her to play and nap in. I will devote a different post on how we did this and why. All in all, it has been awesome :)
  2. Pacifiers she was never interested, and I didn't overly encourage it. We had some latch issues in the first few weeks of her life, so I didn't want to introduce the pacifier because I was afraid she would have nipple confusion. 
  3. Big newborn bath tub this item is in the attic never having NEVER been used
  4. Bibs never once needed one
 Baby junk you are convinced you need, but really just completely worthless (to us at least):
  1. wipe warmer
  2. fancy stroller
  3. expensive glider/rocker
  4. outfits for every occasion- our bug was born in July- she wore onesies for the first few months of life.
  5. nail clippers- your teeth and a nail file work just fine (this is what bug's doctor told me)
  6. swaddling blankets (take the newborn ones from the hospital)-- these are free and you can take as many as you want.
  7. newborn shoes (really?? They aren't going anywhere fast)
  8. formula-- milk straight from the tap is better for baby and completely FREE! Plus it means no warming and preparing bottles in the middle of the night.
  9. Jars of baby food-- seriously! This is SO easy to make yourself- it saves money and is healthier! Baby Led Weaning is the way to go! I did very little purees, but when I did I made my own for 1/2 the cost and for much healthier. 
  10. really nice burp cloths- just buy a pack of cloth prefold diapers! I used the cloth diapers for burp cloths and spit up rags for the first 6 months or so.
Learned many a great lessons this first time around, and now I have to ask myself... What will I buy/ invest in next time that I didn't with doodle Bug?
  1. The only item I wish I had this time is an Ergo Baby Carrier. I borrowed one from a friend when we went to California this past summer-- it was so easy to use and comfy that I will just have to break down and buy one next time!
  2. I will spend some serious $$ on some birthing classes to try to prevent another c section. I'm thinking Bradley classes and possibly Hypnobabies as well.
  3. I will also shell out some money to see a Lactation Consultant directly post birth next ime to try to address latch issues before it becomes overly painful.
  4. Probably invest in a Doula and PP support as well. Those PP horomones are NO JOKE!
Snug as a bug in her Sleepy Wrap- best gift ever! This is the gift I now give to expecting moms :)

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