Where I Could’ve Saved My Money
I hesitate writing this because it could cause me a lot of grief with my husband (he is the budget person in our house).
Oh, and this isn’t a sponsored post – just my honest reflections.
When we were buying things for our first child, we identified three things we thought were most important to spend money on – the cot, the pram and the car seat. We felt these were the three things that our children would spend most of their time in, so we would’t ‘scrimp’ on these items. For the pram and the car seat, I would say it was money well spent… For the cot, I’m not so sure.
Six years ago, when my best friend had her little girl, I fell in love with her Boori cot. She bought the sleigh cot for her daughter. While I adored that cot, I felt it was too big for what we wanted. So I bought the Boori Newport. And seriously, I think the cot is gorgeous. I wish they made it in queen size. The dark timber is beautiful and it is so well made. I think the cot really made our daughter’s room look wonderful. However, it is an area where I could’ve saved money. We paid approximately $700 for our Boori cot. In hindsight, I should’ve bought an Ikea cot for $150-$200 and painted or stained it. As gorgeous and well made as the Boori cot is, this is where I could’ve saved money. I am glad that we spent money on a good mattress though. That I wouldn’t scrimp on.
Specialty Food Storage Containers
Ok, so I got a little excited when it came to making and freezing food for my first child. I went and invested in a whole range of storage containers, from Brother Max’s ones with little plastic push buttons to tiny Decor tubs to Tupperware Ice Cube trays. Now the Tupperware ice cube trays will obviously have other uses and I really like how they have a lid. I can use them to freeze things such as my herbs, lemon juice as well as ice (obviously). So I don’t consider that wasted money… The others I could’ve saved money on. If you’re a mum that likes to bake, you probably have silicone muffin or cupcake moulds. Use them. They work a treat. The muffin size ones are meals size for most things. They only need single food tastings for such a short period. Really you want them onto ‘real food’ pureed as soon as possible. (i.e. pureeing the meal you made for your own dinner). Who has time to be cooking multiple meals? Once your child has had their initial flavour introductions and you’ve sussed out those potential food allergies, you should just be blitzing your own meals. When we got to the stage that my bubs could eat our food, I’d make double and blend the leftovers to make meals for bubs. That way, on nights when we were eating things that weren’t appropriate for bub, I could give one of those meals. Roasts are the best – I just added more vegetables before blending bub’s meal. If you don’t have silicone muffin or cupcake moulds, buy them instead of fancy food storage containers. You are much more likely to use cupcake moulds again, over tiny storage containers. Even if you only ever use packet mix. Silicone cupcake moulds have a purpose post baby. Silly little containers don’t have much use afterwards. They are just too small to be practical and a lot of the food put in them stains them – so they don’t look so pretty afterwards either.
I actually didn’t buy a lot of these – but boy oh boy was I given them. My goodness! It seems like these were the things to give. Unfortunately, both my children were escape artists. I double wrapped them but they still didn’t last long in wraps. I ended up buying wraps that were purpose made with velcro to keep them in. The muslin wraps I’ve since used in cooking. The flannelette wraps I used to line the bassinet with. That way when they threw up, I could just change the wrap rather than all the bedding. I have soo many of these things. Not sure what I’ll do with them all…
Breastfeeding didn’t work out with my daughter, so it was a total waste there. At eleven months, my son is still being breastfed. Usually I just use my normal pillow. By six months he was such a wiggler, he’d come off the skinny breastfeeding pillow. They also get to a stage that everything distracts them, so you want to feed them privately just so they actually feed. I usually do that in our bedroom – hence the easy access to my pillow (which is a nice firm latex one). If you have pillows and cushions, use them. Save your money.
Books That Attach To Prams
They look cute, you look like a good parent encouraging your child to read at every possible opportunity… But in reality they quickly turn into a soggy teething chew toy. Just buy them a small toy, the ones that wiggle/wobble when pulled usually hold their attention the longest. You can wash them. You can’t wash books.
Baby Bjorn Carrier
When our daughter was born, I thought I knew a lot about baby wearing. Oh how wrong I was. My advice, as soon as you fall pregnant, when your tummy is still flat enough to wear a baby carrier, go to a baby wearing meet in your area and try out different carriers. By the time my daughter was nearly three months, I couldn’t carry her in the Bjorn anymore. Put simply, it killed my back. I’ve since found out why the Bjorn is a less than ideal carrier. I then went and bought the Ergo Carrier. This suited me so much better. I carried my daughter until she around fifteen months in this without any problems at all. I might of been able to carry her longer but I was heavily pregnant with my son by then. Now I use it regularly with him. However, given the reflux issues my son has, he likes to be carried more than my daughter did – so I wear him with a woven wrap as I can customise how I wear him so much better. For carrying over long periods – I have found woven wraps much better. But as I said before – join a baby wearing group in your area. Most can be found on Facebook. The mums are a wealth of knowledge and are more than happy for you to try their different types of carriers.
Apart from being a good feeding chair until they can sit in a high chair, I didn’t find much use for it. Far better was the swing we bought from Fisher Price. That didn’t need me to rock it – it moves by itself. Both my children would even sleep in it. It also kept them up off the floor. The other better place to spend money would be some kind of activity centre where they have toys that are within easy reach. This is superb when making dinner. You can stick them in the middle of the kitchen, they have toys to play with but can still see you. This saved my sanity with our reflux son, who needed to be kept upright after feeds. No longer did I need to hold him, and he was much happier playing with his toys. Sitting on my lap gets seriously boring when you’re doing it several times a day.
What I’m Glad I Spent Money On or Where I’m Glad I Saved It
Professional Baby Photos
The first few months are a blur. You are so sleep deprived. When you aren’t trying to catch up on sleep, you are in this three-four hourly cycle of feeding, nappy changing and putting baby back to sleep. The time flies. So while you’re in hospital, living in an alternate reality where meals are brought to you and all you have to worry about is yourself and baby – get some photos of your baby (at least) done. Most hospitals are linked with a photographer. The turnaround on the photos is generally quick and most will give you the digital copies so you can use them for birth announcements and thank you cards. Not to mention, your baby will look so different as a newborn, to what they do when they are a month or two old. My husband thought we could do our own photos. But seriously, babies look all peaceful in photos – but it can be unbelievably tricky to get the right shot. The photographer we had was fantastic. She knew exactly how to pose both our babies (we used the same photographer for both children), propping them up under blankets so they didn’t roll, gently turning them into position. She was also really, really quick. This is fantastic as babies can get grumpy really quickly. They are professionals for a reason. They do a really great job with minimal fuss. Please do not underrate their skill.
Neutral Pyjamas & Other Essentials
This is a really easy area to save money on. However, when I’d see photos on Facebook of my friend’s children looking so cute in their gender specific PJs, Grobags, winter coats, etc, I almost felt bad for my daughter. Almost. Her PJs were predominately white. Her swaddles and Grobags were all gender neutral. I always knew we would have more than one child, so I didn’t want to spend copious amounts of money on items she wouldn’t wear out and that she was most likely going to grow out of in the blink of an eye. Hence she scored lots of Bonds pyjamas in white. Lucky for me I had a son next, so the stocking up of ‘boring’ things in gender neutral colours paid off.
I bought one, good quality jacket in each size. I also bought them in gender neutral colours – navy, red, grey, green. Actually, when I think about it, I bought boy’s jackets. For two reasons, the boys jackets were the most gender neutral, and they really didn’t seem to make proper cold weather jackets for baby girls. The girls jacket’s looked really pretty, but they weren’t warm. Between our two children we have got the wear out of them. Also, because I bought quality jackets, they don’t even look worn so I’m going to sell them on Ebay. As they are ‘labels’ they should fetch an ok price. It is also nice to look at all the photos we have taken when we’re out and see them in the jackets. They look cute in their little double-breasted pea coats or fluffy, quilted down jackets. Sometimes I added a decorative pin or ribbon for my daughter, most times I just accessorised with a cute hat. However, now my daughter is two and we have moved to a cold climate region – she gets the cute jackets with fur trims and ribbons, etc. I know she will get the wear out of it and they seem to have clued into making warm jackets for girls when they reach this size.
A Handful of Really Cute Outfits
It doesn’t matter where you buy them or how much they cost, but buy some really adorable looking outfits in each size. That way when you go out and take photos – they just look so cute. I know it’s shallow, but they look seriously cute. It won’t be long until they are an age where you will struggle to have any influence over what they wear. So soak it up. Buy a rocker chick look, the tutu, buy a pretty, floral dress with too many ruffles and ribbons… If you have a boy, buy the suspenders and the grandpa hat – they just look so very cute! Etsy is great for finding especially cute outfits. But hold yourself back and only buy a couple. Babies grow very fast. You want to get the use out of them or it can get very expensive very quick!
We live in Australia. You need a sun hat. You need a sun hat every time you’re outside. So I splurged and bought at least one really cute sun hat for each size. I love the brand Toshi. Make sure you buy the hats with the toggle as most children don’t stand still long enough for you to tie them up. My kids look gorgeous in their photos. When their hats are cute, with ruffles or buttons or animals – it is also easier to convince them to wear them. Of course it helps if you have good sun sense and wear a hat too. My children wear their hats more than they wear any other item of clothing, so I see spending a little more on their hats, money well spent. I have bought cheaper hats at times – but they usually didn’t have anything to secure the hat on with (if the wind doesn’t whisk them away, you’re child will probably pull it off), they didn’t wash well and began to look worn really quickly, and in many cases the brim was too small to protect them from the sun. Seriously, go check out Toshi’s range of totally adorable hats.
Video Baby Monitor
I was completely freaked out at being a parent. So I insisted on buying a video monitor so I could see our baby as well as hear them. I think this is half the reason our daughter slept so well. Because I could see her, when I heard her cry out or stir, I could look at her in the monitor. If she wasn’t waving her arms about, sitting up, truly waking up – I wouldn’t go to her. Most times, she settled herself. I didn’t let her cry necessarily, but I would watch her before deciding if she needed me. I learnt so much from watching her. I knew that if she turned her head a certain way, she was going to self-settle, but if she turned her head another way – there was no hope in hell she would self-settle. When my mum took care of my daughter when I returned to work, I taught her those same cues and it worked a treat. If I had gone into the room to check on her, you know it would’ve ended in me picking her up. I don’t get up to my children unless they really mean it. Honestly, if they can’t be bothered to really wake up, why should I? I’m not getting out of my nice, warm, cosy bed unless they really, REALLY need me.
We bought a Bugaboo Chameleon for our daughter. It was because we loved that so much, we bought the Donkey when I fell pregnant with our son. Now I’m a big fan of baby wearing, but when you’re out all day, prams are a must. Stocking a nappy bag, food bags, jackets, hats, gum boots – you need a pram with serious carrying capacity. We are a family who likes to be out. We like to know that we can be at the beach in the morning and a fancy restaurant for lunch. We needed a pram that would suit our lifestyle. I’m also short. My husband is on the tall side of average. This posed problems with prams that didn’t allow you to adjust the handle. When we were looking for a double, so many people tried to talk us out of the Donkey and into a collapsable prams, or other side-by-sides such as the Mountain Buggy range. They are great prams but they didn’t suit us. I wasn’t tall enough to get enough ‘pull’ to collapse them. I felt ridiculous trying to hoist a pram that was so heavy above my head to collapse it. I also found trying to lift them up and into the boot nearly impossible. I realise the Donkey’s total weight is more than most pram, but the Donkey pulls apart into three separate pieces – I can easily lift them. Good tip there – when you go pram shopping, take your pram of choice out to your car and practice getting it in and out. You will be doing that a lot – so buy a pram you can get into your car or you will be cursing yourself until you give in and buy another one. I also didn’t like how most side-by-sides only allow you to put a sun-shade over both of them at the same time, or neither of them. With our children being different ages, I knew their nap times would be different. As I’ve said, we like to be out, so I knew their naps would often be done in the pram. So I needed to be able to ‘turn the lights out’ for one and not the other. Perhaps the main reason why I liked the Donkey, was that it could be a single or a double. Not all places cater for double prams. Cafes are particularly difficult, so are some ferries. It has been great to be able to go out sometimes with just one pram, especially when we aren’t sure if a double will fit. Also nice when you go out with just one child. Apart from the Donkey being expensive, the only other negative I can find is that it takes longer to put in the car as you need to pull it apart. Technically you can collapse it, but seriously, I want my boot space for other things!