Learn To Live Frugally

Once the medical experts have had their say, it's time for another kind of expert -- a real mom. Abbi Perets is a journalist and the mother of two -- and she's exclusively here on Pregnancy & Baby to tell you her advice about pregnancy, birth, parenting and more.
Abbi Perets

Rich advice for frugal spending
Ever since that little stick came up with two lines, you've been making shopping lists, planning your nursery d?cor, mentally preparing your layette and just generally discovering new and innovative ways to spend money on your precious baby.

This is perfectly acceptable behavior, and we actually quite encourage it. But at the same time, we want you to have someplace to live and food to eat, so we think that budgeting might be a good thing to talk about.

Let's remember that babies are new here, and they haven't yet spent any time in Paris (unless, of course, you live there, in which case, excusez-nous), and so they're really not all that familiar with designer brands. They are just as happy to wear cheap knockoffs until they turn about six or so.

Also, we do not really have much recollection of most things that happened before our third birthday. You may be different, but we are betting that you are not. So instead of spending hundreds of dollars on the color-coordinated wallpaper and curtain bedroom set, might we suggest that you spend $20 on stencil supplies? Before you panic at the thought of doing something remotely related to arts and crafts, allow us to share: We had never stenciled before we got pregnant with our first daughter. We are not particularly handy. In fact, we are rather unhandy, and we still managed to stencil a room that was, if we may say so, stunning.

We will leave the whole cloth versus disposable diapers up to you. We frankly prefer the convenience of disposables. Our pediatrician recently recommended using wet tissues instead of wipes on our baby's bottom, but we think maybe he has been hit in the head a few too many times by overeager three-year-olds. We like wipes.

One decision we will make for you is the decision to breastfeed your baby. We think you should do it, because it is free food for at least six months, it is very good for your baby and it is very good for you. We care about you, and we want to reduce your risk of breast and ovarian cancers, increase your bone density and give you an excuse to get off your feet for at least 20 minutes several times a day. We do not want to hear your excuses for not nursing. We feel very strongly about it, and once you start, you will, too.

Personally, we are not big stroller fans. Then again, we have very tiny babies who are easy to carry in slings. If you give birth to orangutan-sized children, you may feel differently. You can save money if you buy a secondhand stroller, and most stroller companies will send you replacement parts for free forever, if you can believe it. We were amazed when we were able to get two replacement wheels for the double stroller our friend gave us, but we still have the stroller, and we even use it once in a great while.

Don't buy toys right away
We do not recommend buying toys for your baby. You will get lots of presents, and little babies really love to play Let's Lie Here and Stare at the Ceiling or Mommy's Face more than anything, so you're fine for several weeks. Once the gifts stop trickling in and your baby is capable staying awake for more than 20 minutes at a time, you can figure out if there are any toys you still really need to buy.

Baby soap is not expensive, especially if you buy it in bulk and pour it out into smaller bottles. You can buy a $20 baby tub or just take the baby into the tub with you. We feel thermometers are an unnecessary expense -- test the water with your elbow. We did not bathe our newborns every single night -- how dirty do they get? Every other night (or even every third night) is plenty until baby starts crawling around and eating dirt.

Buy top-rated items for safety
We suggest you splurge on a top-rated car seat. Our dad reads Consumer Reports regularly, and we put him in charge of determining the best infant car seat. It cost under $100, but we would have paid five times that to keep our precious cookies safe. We recommend you do the same.

A crib is another "I don't care how much it costs" item -- if you plan to use a crib. We bought one for our first baby, but we loved her so much that we could not bear to be away from her for even a moment, so she never slept in it. We didn't bother to keep it for our second baby. We ignored the people (mostly our mother) who said we would never get our babies out of our bed. We are happy to report that both our babies sleep in toddler beds now, and they are 16 months and three years, so there.

At any rate, we want you to know that a crib must meet specific safety standards, and new is better than used.

Yes, we understand the temptation to run out and buy one of everything you see in every baby store, but we don't advocate that practice. If you follow our advice, you'll save enough money to cover your child's future allowance, which is really all the little dears care about.PregnancyAndBaby.com

Tags: finance fruga

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