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Make Way For Baby

© Igor Stepovik | Dreamstime.com

Stock up: Save money by looking for deals at consignment stores and yard sales, and let friends and relatives know you’re in the market for gently used baby clothes and gear.

The word on the street—you’ll hear it from family, friends and neighbors—is babies are expensive. Glossy parents magazines advertise the latest gear to outfit your nursery until it begins to look like a space station. But baby’s requirements are simple: to be nourished, to be kept comfortable and to feel loved.

Nature gives parents-to-be nine months to prepare for the arrival of their baby. Use that time to ready your home, learn ways to cut costs, provide the most natural solutions, outfit yourself with essential gear, and accept others’ help.

Clear Out, Clean Up
The ancient Chinese art of feng shui advises practitioners to clear clutter, get rid of unused items, and keep spaces lightly furnished to allow free-flowing positive energy. Anticipating baby’s arrival is a great time to re-evaluate things in your home that do little to help you and areas that could use a simplifying touch.

Walk through your home, noticing areas where clutter tends to build, and envision ways to keep things organized and tidy. Give away things that are rarely used but take up space, and pass along never-finished projects to community organizations or friends. You might even consider having a yard sale to lighten the load and put some weight into your wallet.

While you’re fanatical about clearing space, don’t obsess about cleanliness. A baby’s first line of defense against a lifetime of germs is to develop a healthy immune system. Avoid antibacterial-anything and choose plain old soap and water for simple cleanups and use chlorine bleach for laundry, diaper pails and areas that need occasional disinfecting.

Reconsider Pricey Purchases
The two most expensive baby needs are also two areas where parents have less-costly alternatives. Take infant formula: With the cost of buying cases of artificially prepared nutrition and specially designed bottles, not to mention the time involved in cleaning and prepping for the next feeding, nourishing your newborn can really add up! Breastfeeding is free, requires no mixing, warming or cleanup, and provides loving interaction between mother and child.

Is there a downside? Sometimes, but working through obstacles during the first several weeks can be worth it. Margaret Wehrer of Hamilton, who recently had her third child, acknowledges the difficulties associated with getting things flowing.

“It is a frustrating process at the start, and many women have a hard time getting over the hurdles,” Wehrer says. “But if you hang in there, after the first month it is the simplest way to feed your baby.” Wehrer, a professor of anthropology, says she even received a free breast pump from the hospital where she gave birth to encourage the process.

The second most-expensive item? Why, diapers, of course! Cloth diapers are back in fashion with practical and environmentally concerned parents. Just like with breastfeeding, a little preparation, sticking with it through the introduction period and establishing a reliable process will save thousands of dollars and tons at the landfill. Don’t worry about old-school diaper pins because snap-on or fabric-fastener diapers are form-fitted for snug bottoms. The priceless upside is that your baby’s skin is spared from harsh absorbency chemicals, traces of carcinogenic dioxin and artificial fragrances.

Go Natural
Few things are as precious and pure as a newborn baby. Maybe it is time to re-evaluate your little one’s surroundings and replace toxic cleaning products with more natural ones, either store-bought or homemade. Did you know that you can make your own diaper wipes for a fraction of the cost of pre-made wipes? (Go to www.familytimes.biz for instructions.)

Stock Up in Advance

Before you head to the store to empty your wallet on the latest baby equipment, start scouting yard sales and classifieds (online or in print), and ask relatives, friends and neighbors. You might save hundreds just on a stroller/infant seat combo. Most baby clothing, especially newborn sizes, are hardly used before they are outgrown. A good washing with a bit of chlorine bleach will have the onesies and T-shirts looking and smelling fresh.

Third-time mother Pam Southworth of Phoenix wishes she had known about baby wearing—using a draped fabric sling—with her first child. “I have loved using a sling rather than other types of carriers,” Southworth says. “It keeps my baby belly-to-belly with me, providing comfort for both of us, and my hands are free to help my older children make a sandwich or just hold their hand.”

Get Help
Having a newborn around the house is a sure path to exhaustion. Accept offers of assistance, whether it’s a casserole from a friend, or a neighbor who takes older kids out for the afternoon. There are plenty of opportunities to be Supermom or Superdad down the line; you don’t have to start right away. Be brave enough to ask for help. It is OK to not do it all yourself—the result will be a more rested, patient parent, which is also great for baby. Friends with older kids will relish the opportunity to hold or care for baby while Mom takes a much-appreciated shower or an afternoon nap.

Keeping things simple and as natural as possible, and focusing on providing loving care gives your new baby everything he or she needs for a brilliant start, while establishing healthy habits that last a lifetime.

Make-Your-Own Diaper Wipes
Container with tight-fitting lid
½ roll of paper towels (cut roll in half and remove cardboard core)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons natural baby oil (with almond, wheat germ or jojoba oils)
2 tablespoons natural liquid baby soap

Mix liquid ingredients and pour over paper towel roll, pulling first towel up.
Allow about an hour for all liquid to absorb.
Don’t shake, or the liquid gets foamy!

© Family Times: The Parenting Guide of Central New York