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We’ve planned. We’ve birthed. We’ve learned. The consensus: Don’t stress over the perfect stroller or carrier. You’re amazing, so you’ll make anything work. And there are plenty of ways to cut down on costs, such as these 10 tips from the parenting blog Famlee of Four +1.
So consider our recommendations simple suggestions from seven tired moms trying to excel at this parenting thing together.
Our baby registry must-haves:
Let me paint you a picture. It’s 5 a.m. Your newborn is waking up for milk for the third time since you laid your head down to sleep, and now you have to go all the way downstairs to get the bottle you saved for her in the fridge. Don’t do it, girl. Get a mini-fridge for upstairs, and live the good life. It’s all of $40.
Philips Avent Super Soothie pacifiers
My heroes are tiny, but I love them the same. They quiet baby’s endless refrain. A couple of sucks and less sleep I am missing. How my house goes to hell when my pacifiers go missing. Get a pacifier clip too for easy travel, and that’s where my poetry career ends.
I decided I didn’t need bottles because the lady leading the breastfeeding instructional said they can cause nipple confusion. When the baby was born, I decided to ignore her because we obviously need bottles. Honeycomb mom Jessica Hawkins recommended the Life Factory glass bottles. Although, they’re about $17 a pop for 9-ounce bottles, the lids can be changed to convert the bottles to sippy cups later. You could also go the cheaper route and convert mason jars to glass bottles for less than $5 a pop.
If you go to any playgroup, children’s museum or library story time, you will definitely see the Munchkin Miracle 360 sippy cup and for good reason. The brand boasts a shape that aids in dental development and an automatic sealing system that eliminates spills. If you have a toddler that likes to throw cups, a splash of liquid might still escape the cups, but a splash is definitely better than 8 to 10 ounces of milk. Skip the smaller cups, and add the 10-ounce and 14-ounce versions to your registry. They don’t disappoint.
I’ll admit I bought a $120 wooden Eddie Bauer high chair completely based on design aesthetic, but Honeycomb mom Sydnea Rutland and Honeycomb mom Jerusha Washington recommend getting something that also practically fits your lifestyle. If you need to be able to drag your baby around the house with you, Sydnea recommends a high chair with wheels like this $120 Kid Cafe option. It leans, so your baby can drink a bottle while you pull the chair behind you and clean. If you’re on the go a lot, try the Easy Seat, which allows you to make a makeshift high chair of any chair. If you want something that works more like a booster seat, try this hybrid booster seat/high chair, which is easily tucked away out of sight.
I planned to use cloth diapers, make baby food from scratch and breastfeed exclusively when I was pregnant with my first son. The only thing I’ve been able to stick to is making his food, and that is solely because of the BEABA Babycook. I don’t have to think about it. I just put water and vegetables in their proper places in the Babycook, steam the foods and blend them. Done and done. It all happens in the same device.
Items such as a car charger to pump on the go and breast milk storage bags didn’t rev up much division in the ranks of Honeycomb moms, so do get those. But I’m the only one who used Freemie cups before the tried and true Medela pumping bras. I lost an essential piece to one of the cups, and made the switch to a bra to save money. I have to say using the cups was easier than changing my bra multiple times a day. Just follow the first-use instructions, stick them in your bra and enjoy. Sydnea and Honeycomb mom Sacandice Burnett, however, live by the bras. Sydnea has more than one pumping bra, so she wears hers all day. That’s a major key. Also, it may be worth a call to your insurer to see if your company will cover a hands-free, cord-free pump like this $480 one. This seems like a dream. But if you can’t afford to make the dream a reality, these Motif pumps are suitable alternatives and covered by many insurers.
Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Sling N Seat baby bath
The Blooming bath is a popular sink insert, but ringing out those thick petals can get old, and using it on Donovan as a newborn would have taken one person to hold him and one to wash his 7-pound body. There are few two-person jobs in my house, so my mom got this Fisher-Price tub. The infant net allowed me to bathe him by myself. You can attach the whole tub to the sink divider or put it in the bathroom tub, and it’s only about $35.
Clothes, cloths and bibs
Everyone’s baby is different, but I’m willing to bet that they all grow and they all spit up. So be sure to ask for clothes for ages 10 months and up, and request a ridiculous number of spit-up cloths and waterproof bibs in solid colors. Get plain white onesies too in short and long-sleeve options. With all the fashionable prints and accessories others will buy your baby, having neutral onesies in the mix will make throwing together a cute outfit that much easier. Don’t forget the Dreft, detergent, to wash it all in.
A good pair of hard-bottom walking shoes can run you $40. If you must spend that, go with a tried and true brand like Stride Rite. But if you said out with the nonsense like I did, you can spend about half the price. There’s a little company that goes by the name of Robeez, and let me tell you. They make the most adorable soft-bottom shoes, and they run great sales on Amazon. They’ve become staples in our house because the shoes fit like socks and my son doesn’t snatch them off. They’re also super easy to get on in a pinch, but you will want some hard-bottom shoes in the mix too when your little one is walking on wet or concrete surfaces.
Swing and rocker
Four Honeycomb babies used and loved the $50 Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper. It’s perfect in the kitchen while cooking, has a great line of vision, and you can rock it with your foot if they get fussy, Jerusha said. If you want an even more self-sufficient product, look no further than the Fisher-Price swing. It’s worth every dollar of its $127 price-tag. It calms our baby’s crying and distracts him with a spinning mobile until he falls asleep.
For most of the moms I’ve talked to, bouncing on an exercise ball while holding babies is sleeping gold. I’m blessed because my son never really needed much to fall asleep anyway other than food. Still, an exercise ball is definitely a must-have for versatility alone. I use mine as a footrest for my nursery rocking chair. Hold your judgment. And now that Donovan is crawling, he can appreciate it more as a giant toy that makes interesting sounds when he kicks it.
Popular baby carriers
In mommy blog world, Moby, Boba and Ergobaby are by far the most popular brands of baby carriers, but the Honeycomb moms don’t think brands matter much here. What you want to look for is something that has an added strap or tying option that runs horizontally across the back for support. All three of the popular brands meet that barometer, so if you want to go with one of those here are some other comparison points to consider: Ergobaby carriers are easy to use and flexible but upward of $100 and in some cases, closer to $200. Although less than $40, Boba and Moby wraps can be intimidating and hot in the summer. The only obvious difference between the wraps is that the Boba has spandex, lending for more stretch but sagging if not tied tightly enough. To opt out of the intimidation factor with wraps and still get the look of a wrap, you may also want to try a Baby K’tan at $50 a pop. I took my first plane ride with baby using this wrap. And although our airport experience was disastrous, the wrap gave great support.
Baby-safe lotions, powder and soaps
I like Shea Moisture’s head-to-toe baby body wash, Burt’s Bees Baby wash, Burt’s Bees talc-free powder and Vaseline. Although I wouldn’t use knockoff petroleum jelly, my mom has my husband and I rub Vaseline on our baby’s bottom every changing, and he’s never gotten diaper rash. We’re at 1 year and counting. Vaseline has healed everything from chafing discoloration to mild eczema flare-ups. Natural oils also impress. Extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil have helped multiple Honeycomb moms heal flaky baby scalps, and scented castor oil is my hair oil of choice for the dry winter season.
Baby monitors to consider
Car seat and stroller travel system
As the mother of a hefty baby boy, I wish I would have opted for a convertible car seat, skipped the traditional stroller and went straight for an airport-friendly travel stroller for older babies. But a travel system, which combines an infant car seat and stroller, was by far the most popular option with the other Honeycomb moms. Whether you opt for the $302 Graco Aire3 system, which Sydnea recommends, or the $320 Britax B-Agile 3/B-Safe 35 system, which Judea Dee-Steele loves, you can’t go wrong in terms of convenience and ease of use. Both car seats have max weights of 35 pounds. The Graco stroller has a weight limit of 55 pounds, and the Britax option gets you 5 extra pounds. Regardless of your pick, get an extra base if you have two cars in rotation. Installing the base is a headache you’ll only want to endure once or twice.
Car seat and stroller picks for multiples
If you’re a mom of twins, save a few bucks and try an option that allows you to convert their car seats into strollers. I met two moms of twins over the past two days, and both used snap-and-go options like this $80 Baby Trend stroller. Jerusha said she had visibility issues with her $200 Graco Ready2Grow stroller when her twins were younger. But now that they are 1 years old, she loves it.
Changing table needs
Do get a second-hand changing table or convert a dresser top with a pad and topper. Also, don’t forget baby wipes, a baby wipe warmer and diapers. We did a whole post about how to save money on diapers, and Leslie Hayes, of Mama Wonder, even lists out the best baby wipes to buy.
You may be able to get away with a lidded trashcan when your baby’s a newborn, but you’ll definitely want an actual diaper pail by the time she starts eating solid foods, Sydnea said. I use the Dekor pail, which is just under $40, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I haven’t been able to find off-brand disposable bags to use with it. We switched to the cloth Dekor bags when we ran out of the disposables, and we’ve had a stinky nursery ever since. Meanwhile, Jerusha said she loves her Diaper Genie, also just under $40.
“We use the off-brand, and cat liter bags,” Jerusha said. “Apparently there’s a Genie for cats. They all fit and are cheaper.”
Crib, sheets and boppies
Crib selection was mainly aesthetic for me. Just be sure to get a convertible crib, so you can use it over time. Don’t forget a waterproof mattress, at least four fitted crib sheets and a boppy and cover for each level of your house. Don’t I repeat, do not put the boppies in the crib. When I was a breaking news reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, I did an awful story about a baby dying that way, and the parents were charged with murder.
Grocery delivery service
There are tons of meal delivery services available. Many of them are either out of my ideal price range or intended for people who want to routinely try new recipes. Cooking is more of a necessary evil for me, so I prefer Instacart. I can get my necessities delivered from CVS, Publix, ALDI and BJ’s stores. Even though the annual fee is $149 and you still have to meet a $35 minimum to get free delivery, I don’t have a problem with either because I can get necessities like diapers delivered. If you sign up, use promo code LFOREMAN294182.