Having a baby when experiencing lower income is a wonderful experience plagued with frustration. When I had my children, I was trying hard to improve my finances and still struggling to get something as simple as diapers. On average, it costs $70-$80 a month to provide disposable diapers for one baby. That can be a hefty expense for a lower income family. Fortunately, there are ways to make things simpler for yourself and ease your finances a little bit. Here are a few ways low-income families can get free diapers.
As a new parent, you’ll likely feel pressured to buy many things. After all, loving parents want the best for their children and should be willing to pay for that, right? While there are areas where you won’t want to go the cheapest route, there are other areas where you can save money. One area where you don’t need to spend the most money is when buying car seats. Buying expensive car seats isn’t necessary for your child’s safety, but there are other standards you’ll want to consider.
What to Consider Instead of Buying Expensive Car Seats
Rather than just looking at the price of the car seat when deciding which one to buy, you should instead consider several other factors.
The most important factor in protecting your child in case of a crash is installing the car seat properly. Yet, many, many parents unknowingly install the car seat improperly.
If you live in the United States, you can go to any local fire station, and the fire fighter will check to make sure the car seat is properly installed. If it’s not, the fire fighter can help you install it properly.
Before making your purchase, consider the safety record of the car seat you want to buy. An excellent place to look is Consumer Report’s Car Seat ratings. You’ll find that buying an expensive car seat isn’t necessary. There are many cheaper car seats that offer your child all the safety he needs.
Length of Use
Some of the cheapest car seats have lower weight and height restrictions, which means you’ll need to buy the next size up more quickly. Sometimes, buying a mid-price range car seat is actually more affordable than the cheapest brand because you’ll be able to use it longer.
What to Avoid When Buying Car Seats
Even if money is tight, please avoid buying used car seats. Some people don’t know this, but car seats actually have an expiration date. That date is typically six to ten years after the seats are manufactured. Why an expiration on car seats? The general idea is that the plastic and seat belts can degrade after years of exposure to the sun and heat. Also, safety standards are constantly changing, so new car seats may offer your child more protection than used seats you buy from someone else.
In addition, if you buy a used car seat, you have no way to know if that car seat survived a car crash. If it did survive a crash, there may be small cracks in the plastic that you do not know about, which can make the seat less safe for your child should you be involved in an accident.
Car seats are necessary, but can be pricey. However, don’t feel pressured into buying expensive car seats. Instead, consider the car seat’s safety record and make sure to install the seat properly. Finally, choosing seats that have higher weight and height limits may save you the most money over the time your child will need car seats.
Baby showers. Some love them, some hate them. While I love buying things for little people, I dislike attending baby showers. Nothing against the expecting family, I really just hate everything about traditional baby shower games. I’m at the age where there is a stark increase in the amount of showers I get invited to, though.
Between the number of showers I’ve attended, and the ones I’ve been on the receiving end of, I feel like a bit of a baby shower expert, and I’m here to give you my opinion on the best, and wors,t baby shower gifts.
Best Baby Shower Gifts
There are some baby gifts that are more useful than others. These are the ones that almost every new parent will appreciate.
Large, Expensive Gifts
First time parents will likely welcome large, expensive gifts that they have on their registry such as a stroller, crib, playpen, and rocking chair. These gifts are usually too expensive for one person to buy on their own, so feel free to chip in with other people and give a group gift.
When we were expecting our first, my co-workers went together and bought our stroller/car seat combo. I was so glad that we didn’t have to buy this ourselves because our money was tight then.
Some babies are only consoled when their parents hold them. This can lead to both tired arms and frustration. Getting anything done around the house is difficult when the baby fusses as soon as she’s put down. A baby carrier can be a fabulous gift because it gives parents the opportunity to keep the baby close AND get things done around the house.
Restaurant Gift Certificate
No matter what kind of birth you have, the perfect natural drug free delivery or complicated c-section, no new mom, experienced or not, feels like cooking in those early days. Life is chaotic and having a gift certificate or two to fall back on is a huge help!
Clothes the Kid Can Grow Into
Too many people will show up with exclusively newborn clothes. Sure, they’re cute, but they’re also impractical. All three of my babies were nine to ten pounds at birth. They never fit in newborn clothes, and they only stayed in size 0-3 month clothes for about the first four weeks. Had I gotten many outfits in those sizes, they would have been wasted.
Having a few outfits/PJ’s in larger sizes the kid can grow into is always appreciated. Kids grow fast, so they’ll get into that cute outfit sooner than you think! They’ll likely stay in the larger size outfits longer, too.
Newborns make an insane amount of mess. They vomit and spit up everywhere, all of which requires being cleaned up. No mom can have enough burp pads/wipes/bibs for kids since they will go through about 25,721 per day. They also get stained beyond recognition and eventually tossed, so don’t spend too much money on them.
Kids need diapers in many sizes. Find out if the parents plan on using disposable or cloth before buying, though. Even if they get a lot of diapers, it is a gift always well appreciated.
Worst Shower Gift Ideas
And then there are the gifts that well meaning friends and family give you that are, honestly, worthless.
Unless you’re in the change room with the new mom, there is no way you’ll get this right. If you think it’s a gift mom would like and want though, get a gift certificate instead.
Expensive or Impractical Baby Clothes
Babies, especially newborns, are messy. They do not need fancy, expensive and fussy clothes! You are literally wasting money when you buy these clothes, no matter how cute. Same goes for newborn shoes. Unless the kid is walking (usually past 1 year), they don’t need shoes with proper soles. Even in the winter, small children don’t need them; most baby snowsuits will take care of foot coverage.
Likewise, avoid impractical baby clothes. When I was expecting my first baby, a co-worker bought me a towel and a baby bathrobe. Sure, the set was cute as can be, but how practical is struggling with a baby to put on a bathrobe only to dry the baby off and put on his clothes? I returned that gift before I even had the baby.
Non-seasonal baby clothes
Find out when the kid (should) be born before buying seasonal clothes. If the child is born in December there’s a good chance they won’t still be in newborn size swimwear come July. Pay attention to sizes when buying such items.
A Word about Baby Registries
If the parents did create a registry, look it up. Chances are they spent time to figure out what would work and what they need for their family. Sometimes, showers aren’t the best time to be reinventing the wheel, so-to-speak. If they took the time to research a monitor they liked, for example, don’t bother buying a different one because you liked it more; there’s a good chance it will end up getting exchanged.
One More Thought on Gifts
It’s not to say new moms think of everything, though. As a mom myself, there were things I received from experienced friends and family that I never would have thought of and was so appreciative of. If you go this route, just make sure to include a gift receipt so they can return the item if it turns out not to be something they would want.
If you are invited to a baby shower, keep in mind some of the best baby shower gifts to give. I still remember which of my friends and family gave me the gifts I most appreciate and found most useful. Now, when I attend a baby shower, I try to do the same for new moms.
What is your favorite gift to give for a baby shower?
Having a baby can be expensive, especially when it comes to all of the diapers you need to buy. In the first few months after baby comes home, you might change the baby’s diapers 10 to 12 times a day! All of those diaper changes mean you’ll likely go through at least 2,000 diapers in the first year! Some people try to help offset that cost for new parents by giving diapers at the baby shower. One fun way to do that is to also make the diapers decorative. If you’re hosting a baby shower and want a fun but practical centerpiece, here’s how to make a diaper bouquet.
Making the bouquet is not that expensive. Plus, it’s practical and will be much appreciated by the mom to be.
Supplies for the Diaper Bouquet
To make the bouquet, you’ll need the following supplies:
- 12 Disposable Diapers,
- 12 Skewers,
- Rubber Bands
- A Glass Vase
- Ribbon for a Bow
You may also want the following additional supplies:
- Tissue Paper,
- Fabric such as a Receiving Blanket,
- Small Baby Supplies like Pacifiers, Rattles, Baby Mitts, etc.
How to Make a Diaper Bouquet
There are a few simple steps to make the bouquet:
Step One – Make the Diaper Flower
Take the diaper and roll it into a tube.
Step Two – Add the Diaper Stem
While still holding the diaper roll in your hand, gently insert a skewer in the center. Then, wrap a rubber band snuggly around the diaper roll, about one inch from the bottom where the skewer is inserted. Repeat the process until all diapers are on a skewer.
Step Three – Fill the Vase
Decide what you want at the bottom of the vase. Some people cover the outside of the vase with fabric (ideally a receiving blanket so the mom will also have that to reuse with baby) and a bow. Then they don’t have to fill the inside of the vase with anything since it isn’t visible.
Other people fill the inside of the vase with tulle.
Still others fill the inside of the vase with baby items the new mom will need like pacifiers, rattles, etc.
Another idea would be to use clean, small rocks, especially if the diaper bouquet will be used in a baby shower as the centerpiece and you want it to be stable. If you’re not sure which way you want to go, Etsy has plenty of sample bouquets you can get ideas from.
Step Four – Arrange the Diaper Flowers in the Vase
Put all of the skewered flowers carefully into the vase.
Step Five – Fill Out the Bouquet
Next, decide what you want to finish filling out the diaper flower bouquet. Some people buy fake flowers in either pink or blue, depending on the sex of the baby, to arrange among the diaper flowers. Some people also use fake greenery to add a pop of color.
Other people use tulle the color of the baby’s sex and weave it in and out of the diaper flowers to enlarge the diaper bouquet. The choice is yours.
Diaper bouquets are the perfect center piece for the tables at a baby shower. Not only are they adorable, but they’re also practical. The mom-to-be will love to have the pretty decorations as well as a stash of diapers when the new baby arrives.
Summer means warm weather and extra skin exposed. Even for the babies in our lives. Taking care of your child’s skin is important all year long, but summer can be a dangerous time. Baby’s skin is more delicate than our own, so they are prone to sunburns and rashes more often. Here are four best products for taking care of your little one.
When it comes to feeding our babies, we want to make sure they are getting the best nutrition possible. At around 4-6 months of age, babies are often ready to have cereal added to their diet. It should not be fed to them by a bottle, a spoon is best. However, you should check with your pediatrician if you feel like you should start cereal sooner or if your baby struggles with spoon feedings. Since we are more informed about diets and ingredients, shopping for cereals can be a bit scary. I have compiled a list of the best cereals that my friends and I have fed our children and were pleased with. Knowing exactly what you think will be best for the baby is very helpful before heading down that grocery aisle.
Walkers have improved quite a bit over the last decade. While some have hung on to the traditional appearance, all of them are styled to be safer and engaging for your baby. They are a fantastic tool to free you up to do what you need and teaches your infant how to be more independent and entertain themselves. Of course, it also helps them become more mobile and strengthen their legs. If you are considering buying a walker for your child, take a moment and look at these reviews before you spend your money.
Bringing home your baby from the hospital is a joyous occasion, but it’s also scary, especially for first-time parents. You may be even more scared if your child has health issues. For this reason, many parents turn to baby monitors for help. The Owlet Smart Sock 2 is the most unique type of baby monitor on the market. Created by Kurt Workman, Zack Bomsta, and Jordan Monroe, the Smart Sock is getting rave reviews after just a few years on the market. Is the Owlet worth it? Here’s what you should know.
Children of the 70s and 80s rode in the front seat of the car with their parents and sometimes in the back of a truck unrestrained. Nowadays, we know it’s safer to make sure our children are properly restrained. From the time a child is born until the child is between eight and ten, parents need to have a car seat.
I once saw a hilarious depiction of the five types of moms you meet: The PTA mom, Parenting Expert, Crunchy Mom, Hipster Mom, and (my favorite) Hot Mess Mom (see the video below). Despite my best efforts, I identify with the Hot Mess Mom racing to the meeting with stains on her shirt and yesterday’s hairdo going in every direction – which is why you need to know these homemade baby food hacks I’m going to share AREN’T just for the uber-crunchy, hipster, always-put-together moms.
You and me, on our worst days, can pull these DIY hacks off, mama. I guarantee it.
5 Homemade Baby Food Hacks
When my daughter was born in 2013, we were
slightly broke. We let go of my full-time income and benefits after my transition to a part-time position, and our health insurance plan went through the roof.
My husband supported us while I supplemented our income doing childcare, consignment sales, and eventually, launched a career from home as a freelance writer. Throughout that journey, frugal living became a mandate in our home. When I began researching ways to cut costs with an infant, I realized even a “Hot Mess Mom” like me (which, I’m convinced we’re all a hot mess on any given day – which makes us fabulous) could start doing DIY hacks in my home.
Baby food was a huge win. Besides breastfeeding for a full year, making homemade baby food was probably the largest money saver we unearthed (cloth diapers are also a great way to save money – but we rented our home and didn’t want to ruin the landlord’s washing machine…).
Here are five ways you can hack your way into the homemade baby food scene:
1. Don’t rush.
I’m no pediatrician, so please don’t assume this will be the case for you, but when the doctor says to start feeding your child solids when she’s six months old, you may do well to wait. Babies have their own timeline, and as long as they’re receiving full meals via breast milk or formula, they have the nutrients they need before their first birthday. “Food before one is just for fun,” as they say.
You could save tons of money by simply following your baby’s lead instead of forcing her to eat solids too early. When my son spit out every morsel of baby food I offered at six months, I got the hint to chill out. He was in the 98th percentile for height and weight entirely from consuming breast milk and refused solids until he was 11 months old.
The doctor’s only concern after I explained my son’s lack of interest was that he continue learning his motor movements with a spoon or fork. So I gave him plastic ware to tinker with in his high chair during our meals, and he loved it.
Every baby is different, though. When my daughter turned six months old, she watched my plate of food like a shark. I introduced her to solids shortly after that and she devoured them, happily.
Don’t feel the pressure to force your baby to eat solids if he’s not digging it, yet.
2. Start with an easy “superfood.”
Making homemade baby food feels like a huge undertaking at first with cooking, pureeing, freezing, and labeling everything. It can, however, begin more simply.
Try some superfoods that are basically ready to eat, like a banana, avocado, or peach. You don’t have to start with peeling, gutting, and broiling a gigantic butternut squash (although, once you’ve gotten your feet wet, it’s extremely healthy for your baby and not as harrowing as it sounds!).
3. Introduce one new food at a time.
To avoid the risk of allergies, it’s wisest to only introduce your baby to one new food at a time. You may think Tiger needs more variety and that you aren’t being kind by feeding him any other solids except softened carrots, but he’s doing fine.
Babies’ taste buds are developing and each new flavor, no matter how bland, is a vibrant experience to them.
4. You don’t have to use the fancy, expensive equipment.
Sure, companies have produced the perfect gizmos for homemade baby food hacks, but you don’t have to have them. Go ahead and register for a brand new Ninja or Magic Bullet, as well as baby food freezer trays that come with a lid.
If, however, you don’t receive them or don’t have the money to buy them right now, your existing blender, some ice cube trays, tin foil and a Sharpie did the trick for me.
5. DIY when it makes sense.
I started to get pretty good at making all sorts of baby food, but I finally reached my limit when it came to snack pouches. If you browse your grocery store’s baby food aisle, you’ll find a huge selection of pouches that are often organic with two to four healthy ingredients in puree form. The pouch is designed to be mess-free, can be stored anywhere before it’s opened, and exposes children to healthy foods they might not otherwise eat. All for $1 to $2 each. With coupons, I can easily get each pouch for less
The pouch is designed to be mess-free, can be stored anywhere before it’s opened, and exposes children to healthy foods they might not otherwise eat. All for $1 to $2 each. With coupons, I can easily get each pouch for less then $1.50.
The thing is, you can do all of that from home if you want. You can buy reusable pouches that look extremely challenging to clean, as well as those unique ingredients like organic purple carrot or amaranth.
Then, you can cook and puree each one individually and fill your snack pouches with any combination you want.
I need a nap just from typing all of that. For a $1, it’s worth it for me to simply buy the snack pouch (sorry, environment).
Do the DIY thing when it makes sense. Don’t beat yourself up if your friend serves her family home-grown, organic rutabaga, kale and goat cheese for every meal. Start where you can and remember: Fed is best. Simple as that.
What are some homemade baby food hacks you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments below!
Image Credit: thesuccess (MorgueFile)