Have you ever read those reports on the cost of raising a child?
The last time I checked, I was told that it would cost the astronomical figure of $430,470 to raise my baby... and that didn't include college tuition!
The people who come up with these figures must not be very creative. Some of the best things you can do for your child are free or very cheap. Here are some examples:
1) The Most Frugal Baby Food: Breastmilk
You can save roughly $1,000 in formula costs alone in your baby's first year by breastfeeding. Check out this report: http://www.natural-moms.com/cost_of_baby_formula.html
This figure doesn't include the extra costs you would incur from Doctor visits and medications. Breastfed babies are less likely to need medical care and don't get sick as often as their formula fed peers.
Formula feeding increases a baby's risk of both acute and chronic health problems not only during childhood but well into adulthood. If you're a working and breastfeeding Mother, you're less likely to miss work than if you were formula feeding.
In addition, a breastfed baby can go straight from the breast to an open cup, thus eliminating pacifiers, bottles and sippy cups.
Even baby food is not necessary. The healthiest first foods for baby are fresh fork-mashed avocado, banana, sweet potato and the like. If you're breastfeeding, you may be able to delay the introduction of solids until as late as 8 or 9 months.
2) Frugal Baby Diapers- Use Cloth
All I am saying...is give cloth a chance. The modern cloth diapers are nothing like Grandma's. The nicer ones are made from high tech materials that wick moisture away from baby, and utilize snaps or velcro to close instead of pins.
They save you a lot of money especially if you save them and use them again for subsequent children. You can buy them cheaply at thrift stores, online auctions, and diaper services (check your phone book for listings). Or ask for cloth diapers as shower gifts.
3) Rethink your Needs
Think about what you REALLY need to raise your baby. A lot of the expensive items sold in baby stores are completely unnecessary and some are even harmful. Most of the people raising children on the planet today do so without cribs, walkers (which Pediatricians recommend against anyway!), playpens, changing tables, swings, "educational" toys, etc.
Many Moms have found that a soft cloth carrier or baby sling was the only gadget they really needed. Baby is happy, stimulated by your activities and entertained. And Mom can get stuff done!
The best toys are simple and classic and require imagination. These are often the cheapest too! And most kids do best with few toys that are rotated. Think back to your own childhood...what were your favorite toys? If you can even remember them, they were probably not loud, flashy electronic battery powered gadgets. Your best childhood memories probably come from activities...playing in Grandma's backyard, going places with Mom and Dad, the simple things.
For the baby stuff you really can't live without...
4) Buy or Obtain Frugally (aka Used)
Let friends know that you welcome hand-me-downs and you'll be blessed with all sorts of great stuff!
High quality clothing and baby equipment generally doesn't wear out from just one child's use. In contrast, even overpriced new stuff can be of cheap quality. How often have you bought something new that fell apart in the wash?
For safety, check to make sure items haven't been recalled and get the owner's manuals from the manufacturer's websites. (The one exception would be child safety seats. Always buy those new.)
Shop at thrift and consignment shops and online auctions. Some of the very best deals can be found at regional consignment sales. Check local parenting magazines and websites for the locations of these.
Personally, I prefer used clothing because much new clothing has been treated with flame retardants and other scary chemicals that can be absorbed into children's softer skin.
Being a frugal parent minimizes the impact on the environment, saves you money and models a healthy lifestyle to your kids. Teach your kids what really matters in life...people, not things!
Are you a Mom who likes doing things the natural way? Come visit http://www.natural-moms.com for articles, resources and products that complement your natural mothering style.