I just saw a post from Dr. Sears on “How To Save a Bundle” that kind of irked me. Mostly because it left out two of the big things that Dr. Sears (Sr.) has always stood for, cloth diapering and co-sleeping. Yesterday I saw a link to a post on “Toddler Foods” that made me think “huh? There is food specific to toddlers?” I have a toddler and have never thought about it like that. Raising a kid is hard enough, why does society make it harder?
There are a few things that I think most people can do that makes raising a baby way cheaper and way more easy, convenient, and practical. And if you know me you know I’m all about practical.
1. Breastfeeding. Almost all women can breastfeed and should try. Each day you succeed will not only save you money in formula but also in healthcare bills. It has been shown over and over and over that the longer a child is breastfed the healthier they are. Breastfeeding is the normal way for a baby to eat, and its the only food a baby should have for 6 months and should continue to make up most of their diet for the first year.
2. Babywearing. Probably won’t save you money as carriers aren’t cheep. An ergo is about $120. But, it will save your sanity. You and your baby will be happier and it helps support breastfeeding on demand. I wore or held Mark almost constantly his first 12 weeks of life and still wear him (now on my back since hes 25 lbs) regularly.
Baby wearing can save you money if you skip the “Travel System” infant car seats are such a waste of money, once your child is 19lbs (more for some models) you need to switch to a convertible car seat anyway! Convertible car seats typically can fit a baby from birth to age 4 or 5!!! Also, if you are baby wearing you don’t need an expensive stroller! So 120 dollars for a good carrier CAN save you money if you skip the whole “Travel System” thing.
3. Co-Sleeping. You don’t need a crib. Yes, we have one, and so does most of the United States, but most of the World does not. We set up our crib in a side-car arrangement for a long time, in fact I can’t remember when we moved it… I think when Mark could stand and we had to lower the mattress and it became unsafe. He would start in the crib and then when he woke I’d just slide him next to me and he’d either fall right back asleep or nurse and then fall asleep. If he rolled “off the bed” it would be into the crib, the mattresses were sung so it was very safe. We slept with only one thin blanket and one pillow. Most people think co-sleeping isn’t safe, but if you take basic pre-cautions (not getting drunk, not using a water bed…) it is very safe and has been shown to reduce SIDS.
4. Baby Led Weaning. Honestly I don’t even like the name baby led weaning. It should just be called “eating” because that’s what it is. But the way we feed babies today is really weird. We buy smashed up processed food that’s packed full of sugar and salt and stick it in their mouths with a spoon… 0.o this has ALWAYS confused me. Even before I had a kid. I have never understood this practice. Breastmilk or formula is better for them anyway… why make a huge mess forcing a baby to eat something yucky? When Mark was almost 6 months he had already been sitting up on his own for a long time and was always reaching for our food. So we figured he was ready to try some. We baked a sweet potato (leaving it just a little firm) and cut it in to strips and gave it too him. From then on I would prepare one easy to eat food each morning for him and let him try them; bananas, carrots, potatoes… etc. We started with fruits and veggies then added meats, and then grains. Eventually and gradually he was eating everything we were (with a few exceptions like nuts) and was eating at every meal. It has actually helped us to change our diet as its hard enough to prepare one meal, no way am I making two, so all our meals are healthy enough that I don’t feel bad feeding them to my kid. He eats what we eat 90% of the time. We do use applesauce pouches and other fruit purees when out and about because they are healthy and convent and this kid NEVER STOPS EATING. But in a pinch I’ll eat them too!
I went from eating almost all prepared food and fast food, to eating almost entirely healthy homemade foods!! And it wasn’t that hard!
3. Cloth Diapers/ EC. – This more falls under “practical” than “simple.” But if you want to save a BOATLOAD of money get cloth diapers. After trying several kinds of cloth diapers I’m really sold on some of the cheapest ones, pre-folds. They come in several different sizes, thicknesses, and vary in quality. But really good ones cost about $2 each. Covers can range from about $5-20 each and you absolutely need two covers but its better to have 5-6. You can easily diaper a baby from birth to toddler hood with about 2 dozen pre-folds, but if you have a little extra money, its nice to buy small pre-folds for the first few months.
Side note, prefolds are called prefolds becuase you don’t have to fold them like you need to fold flats. Flat diapers are even cheeper and are a big huge peice of cotton fabric that you need to fold many many times to get it down to a size that will fit on a baby. Prefolds are about the size of a sheet of paper, but are already many layers thick) and you generally make 2 folds with them to get them to fit on your baby, but there are lots of differant ways to put them on your baby. Cloth diapering is not as hard as people make it out to be. We’ve been doing it since Mark was 3 days old full time.
E.C. stands for elimination communication. Basically its watching for signs that your baby needs to eliminate (poop or pee) and then allowing them to do so somewhere other than a diaper (a baby potty, straight in the toilet, a bowl…) you can add a cue sound or word to it to help your baby know when is a good time for them to go. Search elimination communication on-line and you will find a lot more information. Every time a baby goes right in the potty its one less diaper!! We started EC around 3 weeks (when I was finally feeling up to it) and it was slow going, we peaked around 6 or 7 months catching almost every poop and many pees. Then we got to a make or break it point.. and just didn’t keep up… so we currently are not really doing EC. But in the time we did we had a lot less dirty diapers!! I’ve heard most EC babies are 100% diaper free with almost no accidents by 15-18 months!!!! That’s half the time in diapers as most kids!
In conclusion, babies don’t really need all this stuff…. they need us. They need us to pay close attention to them, to feed them, hold them, change them, and love them. When a newborn cries there’s pretty much two basic things to do, nurse him, and change him. Babywearing + Breastfeeding is winning combination in my book. If I ever have more children there is very little I would do differently. Actually I would have LESS stuff!!!