Friday, September 23, 2011

To Do it All Over? My Tips for Preparing for Baby #SeventhGeneration

My "babies" are getting older, one has entered those notoriously terrible two's, and the other is a little boy now starting to be so grown up. All around me friends have little babies, and oh, I don't envy them the planning, preparation and decisions that go into planning the perfect nursery and getting ready for that new arrival!

Thank goodness pregnancy lasts for 9 months. I had a lot of time to plan before my first was born. I have to admit that I over thought and over spent on most of it. So, I would love to share some tips to get ready and save some money along the way.

1. Decide between cloth, disposable, or a combination as early as you can. This question alone can seem overwhelming! But, don't worry...  Check at local boutiques that sell cloth for their advice, talk to friends and family also. Think about if you have a local daycare that will cloth diaper your baby, or if you will be staying home to do it. New cloth diapers need to be washed several times before their first use, so it helps to get that out of the way early. I did a combination of cloth diapers, but we found traveling was easiest with disposables. If you decide to cloth diaper it can affect the size of clothing you buy (think of those fluffy tushies!) as well as other items you will use.

2. Borrow or buy used clothing. Okay, I was a total clothes horse with my first baby. The truth is I could have saved a lot of money by finding one or two cute sets and either borrowing from friends or buying used items. Newborns grow fast and are pooping, spit-up machines! Outfits quickly discolor or are only worn for a short period before they need to be changed. And where exactly would your newborn wear that jeans mini? It quickly became apparent that comfort was key to a happy baby and mommy. I stocked up on footed jumpers for my second.

3. Talk to everyone and glean good advice. Everyone will have their two or twenty cents to throw in on your new baby and what you need. The truth is, in all that well meaning advice, there are pearls of wisdom. I tell new parents to skip the baby bath. Ours was used 3 times, my son hated it and it was the first piece of baby gear to go. I always see them in resale stores. For friends that insist on them, I say get one from a friend or disinfect a used model. This is my favorite tip, take it or leave it. I am sure all parents have some gem similar to this.  Everyone has their own experiences and your parenting style will be your own, but you don't have to make the same mistakes.

4. Stock the pantry for yourself. All your friends and family will be bringing food and treats when they first see the baby, but with so much to do and learn, in between casseroles it is nice to not worry about food. Either ask family and friends as a registry item to provide a meal or two, or start putting things away yourself. I had soups, frozen home made meals and easy crock pot ideas ready to go. 2 months is a great amount of time to prepare for. This will allow you to focus on your baby and your own health. While you stock the pantry, don't forget about easy to grab breastfeeding snacks. I had fresh fruit, milk, low-fat cheese, nuts and dried fruit to snack on while I nursed. Be prepared to cut down on those last minute, late night food runs!

5. Get Cleaning. A great way to use some of that nesting energy is to do a good cleaning of the house. Don't worry about going overboard, but it will be nice to come home to a clean place with the new baby. The last thing you want to worry about is picking up the house while the baby is fussing. If you can swing it, try to find a temporary cleaning service to help once a week or so. Other ideas are to enlist the help of friends and family, with a promise to reciprocate... or ask help from your partner. If they are not used to doing house hold chores, you might want to clue them in on a few things before the baby arrives. Have all your cleaners marked and ready to go. My husband was a champ at pitching in, and I couldn't have done it without his help.

6. Never to Early to Baby Proof. We started baby proofing early and I didn't regret it. Covering outlets, looking for falling or climbing hazards and getting rid of poisoness plants can start right away. You will discover more hazards in your house after the baby comes home, but that little bundle will be mobile before you know it.

7. Look at Sprays, Wipes and Cleaners. Having a baby will cause you to look at things differently. I became more aware of what was sprayed in the air or wiped on a surface. Babies will put anything they grab into their mouths. We chose to get rid of toxic cleaners and safely store questionable items.  I do like things clean, but I also wanted them to be safe for my baby. Thank goodness there are many safe products on the market. We chose to go dye and perfume free ourselves, but of course that is a personal choice.

8. Get the Car seat Checked. Local Fire stations will check, or watch for car seat safety clinics in your community. The greatest part is these services are free, take little time and can protect your baby. Enough said, right?

9. Have an Emergency Kit Handy. I kept all my medical necessities in one place for my new babies. My kit contained baby nail clippers, a nail file for baby, gauze, a Temporal thermometer & regular thermometer, extra pair of socks, diaper rash cream and infant drops. My biggest problem came from small cuts self-inflicted by tiny nails. I liked to keep an extra pair of socks hand to put on tiny hands, but being able to clip a jagged nail was also important. I swear by two thermometers because the temporal style is so quick and easy to use. If that shows a high temperature then I would also use the standard style either under the arm, or in the bottom.

10. Don't forget to arrange for that maternity or paternity leave. I love that dads can take time also! What a fabulous chance to bond with the new family member. Now pulling off maternity leave can be tricky. Babies are not inexpensive, but planning ahead and setting aside funds can make the time home more enjoyable. Look at how much you need to live on, see if you can pare your budget down and start saving. A small sacrifice can give you an amazing opportunity to enjoy being a parent. Take advantage of it.

Okay, even if you don't agree with all 10 of my tips, I hope it gave you something to think about. It can seem overwhelming going into new baby territory, but many people have gone before you ... and did fine!  Enjoy your baby and know that you can never be fully prepared for everything, just remain flexible and it will all work out.

A big thanks to Seventh Generation for sponsoring this topic : More info on Seventh Generation: http://www.seventhgeneration.com/

*Disclaimer - I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Seventh Generation blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.
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