Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My take on a frugal mom's advice

Go Cloth!
By going with cloth, a family can save thousands of dollars over the un-potty trained year(sss). There's an investment upfront, and you have get into the groove of cleaning diapers regularly (before the new human poop turns into real human poop with the introduction of not-breast milk foods) but it pays off! Also, nice to the environment.

Ross's take: "Screw the environment." Or maybe it was "The environment can wait." Yeah, that was it.
My take: I have been both practical and self-indulgent about the whole diaper deal. I have been obsessed. I have emailed and texted friends (well, mostly Kate) about what kind if cloth insert diapers they are using, I have bought newish and used diapers from new mama friends and strangers on craigslist. Truly, diapering deserves it's own post (there are entire web communities dedicated to cloth diapers, or so I'm told). I'll try to keep this brief

Week 1 to 2: We used Pampers Swaddlers. I thought I'd have a tiny baby, I had heard these were tiny, virtually leak proof. I bought some. I ended up with twice the amount I thought I would because Ginger arrived at hospital and I ransacked the room's contents (I figured I'd be charged for everything in the room, so why not? And I was: board for one night = about $6,000!)

Starting week 2 and now occasionally: Nature's Babycare. They are damn near 100% biodegradable, no icky plastics on Ginger's skin, they are good stuff, really! etc. They only leak after Ginger has pooped for about an hour (really, she does this at 6 am, daily. It's noisy and cute. I'm sure it will be gross someday, but not yet.) Of course, I was informed by well-meaning moms that although they are mostly biodegradable, I am not yet paying for the service that takes them away and decomposes them for me (and I doubt I ever will). Ross prefers them over our other options: it's remove, wipe, drop in our borrowed Diaper Genie and occasionally take out the trash!

But Nature's Babycare diapers are not cheap: $11.99 for 30 to 40, depending on the size -- and that's ordering from Diapers.com which is much cheaper than buying them at a fancy, organic super market.

G-diapers suck, I think. OK, that's not fair. But they didn't work for me.

And now I'm using a mix of Bum Genius, FuzziBunz and pre-folds -- one's that friggin' snap closed. (There are way too many cloth options for me to be an expert. Check out this site for a sense of what is out there.) I need to do diaper-related laundry every three days. But considering that everything Ginger wears and much of what I wear need cleaning immediately, well, yes, I hardly notice the extra load.

And I experience a strange sense of pride every darn time I Velcro or snap Ginger into a cloth or cloth insert diaper. Yup, I do.

Do your own wipes!
Buy some shop rags or used diapers. Again, the savings adds up, and you won't notice the extra laundry.
Awesome idea.

Ross prefers paper towels, wet under the faucet. Biggest problem with this (to me) is that as the weather gets colder, the faucet runs longer. I can't handle the guilt of washing diapers AND running water 'til it's hot.

I prefer a make-my-own wipe recipe, but mostly I use cut-up towels and old washcloths. I don't run the water nearly as long as Ross does. I want Ginger, and her tush, to be tough!

Buy used baby and kid clothes
Leave the fancy new duds to family and friends. Your newbie will grow out of things faster than you can use them. So it makes sense that even already-worn stuff at kids boutiques will be very gentle used.
I have to admit that I did infact buy one pair of new brown pants. But everything else (and there is a lot, plus two large bins of stuff that is too big for Ginger) was gifted or thrifted.

Dress up your lil' one for fancy occasions -- but not for everyday life!
Babies and kids can be grungy and comfortable at home. Clothing can be worn multiple times in a week. But if you and yours are heading out to brunch or want to otherwise show off, break out the fancy party dress/pants that Auntie X FedExed.
So far, we could dress Ginger in two or three adorable onsies a day and not run out. I don't put her in the frilly dresses and such unless we're gonna be surrounded by at least a handful of ladies who can properly "oh" and "aw" about it.

Get a car seat she can grow into
Don't fall for the gimmick of needing a new car seat every time the kid grows. There are safe and legal seats that last for more than a few months. Do your research ahead of time and save money.
We scored a free infant car seat. Yes, it was used. No, I wasn't worried that a friend of a friend had given an unsafe car seat to a new-mom friend. Frankly, I think a lot of the "oh, no, you need this new! To be safe!" campaigns are put out into the new parent ethers to ensure maximum consumption of new items.

Of course, because it was a car seat for a tiny new person, and Ginger is by far not a tiny person, although relatively new, it's already time to move up to another (hand-me-down) car seat.

Be practical when it comes to your stroller
You don't need three different strollers. You need one.
We have four.

I'm not sure how this happened.

We started off with what was a fancy, light weight stroller four years ago (thanks Tracy and Goran!). My mom gave us a simple umbrella style stroller (it's what we four Loys grew up in). Nicole left her umbrella stroller here (that I should sell or donate) and now we get to absorb Nicole and Piper's buggy!

I have a feeling we'll have two strollers again soon. Umbrella for simplicity and buggy for long walks to the Farmer's Market!

OK. Then. What are your frugal new parent tips???


  1. Very cool post - we do most of the same things to save $$. For wipes we use a hospital-grade paper towel thing (called quickables) that I cut up to make smaller. We use a hot pot next to the changing table to keep warm water in. We just refill or top off with hot water every few days. All the best to you! Beth, Catie, Sam & Sarah

  2. Hey, give yourself credit for the great money saver called BREASTFEEDING, yay! :) leila