Posts filed under ‘baby’
In the short time my son has been on this earth our home has been inundated with an overflowing number of toys. It is absolutely amazing how such a tiny little boy can attain so much. I’m a bit of a neat freak so I bought a storage unit to hold all of the toys in our living room, but that filled up quite quickly.
While it was cold outside I moved a bunch of items into our sun-room. It doesn’t have central heat so we rarely step foot in there in the wintertime. I began rotating his toys by moving a couple of things back onto the bookshelf and removing others so that he had new toys to play with every few days.
What I found is that my son’s interests change quickly. One week he is interested in blocks, the next he’d rather play with his toy kitchen or pretend to talk on the telephone. Some days he’ll pull out and complete all of the puzzles in the house and other days he won’t even look at them.
Even though he’s only eighteen months his interests are constantly changing. While I know children who play with the same toy day after day, my son becomes less interested the moment he masters one.
A few months after my son turned one I wrote about the financial lessons I learned from his first year. In that post I mentioned the importance of hand-me-downs. Six months later I now believe they are more valuable than ever. Ninety percent of the toys in our house were hand-me-downs, another 8% were gifts from friends and family and the remaining 2% were gifts from either my husband or myself.
I can’t imagine how much money we saved by accepting gently used items from friends and family. Many of the toys would’ve cost well over $20 to $25 new. It’s tough to buy a toy for that much money and than realize that your child will only play for it for a short period of time. At this age you never know what might interest a child. My son has played with toys for weeks that I never would have imagined he’d be interested in and ignored toys that I was sure he would love.
With hand-me-downs you don’t have to pay any money. (A win.) You don’t add any more trash to the landfill. (A win.) And if your child gets bored of a toy easily you simply pass it on to another child without feeling guilty. (A win.)
If you do have someone in your life willing to hand down toys make sure you profusely thank them for their generosity. Send pictures of your child playing with the toys and if they provide you with a lot of stuff make sure consider giving them a small gift to show your appreciation.
Of course, not everyone is fortunate enough to have friends and family members with toys to pass on. If this isn’t an option for you try visiting local consignment shops, online auctions and co-ops for good deals. Remember that at this age your child doesn’t know that a toy isn’t shiny and new.
If you have friends and family who want to buy your child gifts tell them to consider buying used too. Remind them that children outgrow toys quickly at this age and that you’d rather have them save the money. Of course, if you can convince them to avoid toys and provide a monetary gift towards your child’s education or savings all the better.
If they do want to buy a gift try to encourage them to buy something other than stuffed animals. Unlike plastic toys that can be wiped down and disinfected stuffed animals are often difficult to launder. Once your child outgrows these it is difficult to pass them on to another child. This doesn’t mean children shouldn’t have any stuffed animals, but rather that you might want to keep the amount to a reasonable number. Once my son filled a small box I began asking close friends and family members not to buy him anymore.
Lastly remember that kids don’t always need or want to play with toys. Children often make toys and games out of the items around them. There are lots of every day items that can amuse them. My son has just as much fun with real pots and pans, toilet paper rolls and cups filled with water then he does with the mechanical toys that eventually bore him.
Before my son was born I asked just about every parent I knew for advice. While I received a lot of great suggestions and recommendations I also learned quite a bit on my own in that first year. Here are my top ten lessons:
- Keep tags on toys and clothes and file receipts for everything you buy or receive . It’s amazing how quickly children outgrow toys and clothing. Keep tags on clothes until just before your child will need to wear them. You’ll feel driven to wash everything the minute you receive it, but don’t. You never know what size your child will be as he or she grows. My son was given a lot of clothes that he never wore or only wore once before outgrowing them. If you keep the tags and receipts you can return or exchange items for larger sizes. The same rule applies to toys. Children outgrow infant toys rather quickly. You probably won’t need a room full of teething rings and rattles so you might as well exchange them for more useful items.
- Speaking of toys… you may not need many of them. I am constantly amazed by the things my son chooses to play with on a daily basis. If I give him a box full of stuffed animals, he’ll often dump out of the toys and play with the box itself. He’ll lift it over his head, sit in it and flip it over and stand on top. He once spent over an hour and a half playing with a plastic bucket. He banged on it like a drum, yelled into it to hear his echo and dropped toys inside to listen to the noise they made when they hit the bottom. We can spend hours chasing each other around the house or playing peek-a-boo behind the furniture. When we was old enough to walk, (around 10 months), he learned to spend time just walking around the yard pointing out flowers and leaves. Avoid buying interesting gadgets and toys that promise to make your child a genius. Let your child invent his or her own enjoyment.
- Accept hand-me-downs from anyone willing to offer them and remember to thank them profusely. While you can save a ton of money on clothes and toys by purchasing them on sale or second hand, you’ll save even more if you have friends or family members who are willing to give them away for free. You would be amazed by the number of people who have boxes full of baby related items hiding in their basements. Most of these people are more than happy to grant their children’s toys and clothes a second life. If you receive hand-me-downs don’t forget to send thank you cards or even better yet email photos of your child playing with the toys or wearing the clothing you received. It shows the receiver you appreciated the gift and that your child is using it. (Sending them a small gift card to say thanks wouldn’t hurt either.)
- Accept the fact that you will unexpectedly order take out and delivery. I prepared all sorts of meals before my son was born. With a stocked freezer I was pretty certain that I wouldn’t have to order take out for a very long time, but the truth is when you are sleep deprived and hungry take-out and delivery often sound tastier than that frozen chicken pot pie waiting in the fridge. As my son got older I thought it would be easier to prepare meals at home. I remember saying, “I’ll cook during his naps or I’ll prepare a bunch of meals on the weekend.” Despite the best intentions that didn’t happen as often as I would have preferred. I quickly came to terms with the fact that we’d eat greasy take out more often than I did in my pre-baby days. On the plus side with an infant in tow you’ll probably go out to eat less often.
- Test drive a stroller before buying or registering for one. I scoured the Internet for the best stroller reviews before adding one to my registry. I tried a similar model in the store, but I only pushed it around for a minute or two. On the very first day I took my son for a walk I realized the stroller was much too short for me. I’m 6’1” so I need a stroller that is either tall or comes with an extended handle. After hunching over on walks with my son for over a year I finally decided to throw in the towel and ordered a new one. The stroller I currently have is not only too short, but it is also heavy and comes with an awkward open and close mechanism. When you test drive a stroller don’t just push it around, also lift it up as high as you would need to get into the trunk and try opening and closing it to make sure it’s easy to do so. Oh and also get your partner or spouse to test drive it with you.
- Do NOT stock up on diapers before your child’s arrival. Through a combination of sales and coupons I bought 15 packs of Huggies in varying sizes before my son arrived. I was pregnant, but feeling good, so driving around town in search of cheap bargains seemed to make sense at the time. Most of the diapers cost less than $3 a pack, which seemed like a really good bargain considering the retail price is typically over $10. The problem is my son leaked in every Huggies diaper we tried. No matter the age, size or type he wet through the diaper and ended up with soaked clothes. It’s not easy to change a wiggly infant and having to change his diaper and his clothes was definitely not fun. Lesson learned: next time try one brand of diapers at a time and only stock up once you know what brand works for your child.
- Despite the best intentions couponing is more difficult with children. Three drug stores and a grocery store are located within less than a mile from my home. Before my son was born I would often carve out time on Sunday morning to shop at each store. I carried my coupon binder to the stores and often popped in for no more than two or three items in each store. I’d pick up free toothpaste at my first stop and free deodorant at my second. I could shop at four different stores and unload all the items I bought within thirty to forty five minutes. These days it’s much more difficult to drag my son back and forth to a bunch of stores when I’m only buying a handful of items at each location. It simply doesn’t seem worth it to strap him in, drive a few blocks, pull him out and hold him on my hip while I walk through the store and wait in line to checkout. While I still stock up from time to time I certainly don’t hit the drug stores every weekend.
- Try to postpone late night, sleep deprived shopping. While some babies may sleep for ten hours a night my son was not one of them. For the first few months I slept for no more than two to three hours at a time and spent most of my days in a blurry haze. I breastfed exclusively and was forced to wake up every time my son was hungry. Every once in awhile I found myself searching the Internet in search of cute baby clothes and helpful gadgets. More often then not I regretted my new purchase and ended up returning it the minute the shipment reached my front door. I suggest locking up your credit card at night or avoiding online shopping sites when you are sleep deprived.
- It’s okay to spend money in ways you might not have expected. In the past year I have taken thousands of photos of my son. In the beginning I took pictures every other day, as he got older I moved to twice a week, then weekly and now at least three or four times a month. My husband bought a new SLR camera and an expensive video camera. Before my son arrived we used our iPhones to shoot video and used an older SLR model. These certainly would’ve worked moving forward, but I wanted high quality equipment to capture the memories that I hope will last forever.
- Accept the fact that your net worth may stay flat or even decline. Before my son was born my husband and I set aside the money we earned each year from raises and bonuses. Over the years our net worth steadily increased as we paid down our mortgages and saved in our 401(k)s. Shortly before my son was born I was laid off from my job and ultimately turned down a new offer in favor of becoming a stay-at-home mom. With that decision came the loss of a six figure salary and solid employee benefits. To be perfectly honest it still feels strange not to earn a paycheck, but I know in my heart that I want to spend this time with my son. Even if you don’t choose to stay home you may still find yourself missing more work then you expected. As a contractor my husband is only paid when he works. Despite that fact he is always willing to skip work in exchange for taking my son to his scheduled doctor’s appointments. He’s held my son for every series of shots and never thought twice about missing work for it. Remember that you have thirty years to earn more money, but only a short time to relish in your child’s infant and toddler stages.
Do you have any other key lessons to add to the list? If so, please leave a comment below.
I believe in Karma. I deeply believe that when we put good thoughts into the universe good energy will be returned to us. This doesn’t always mean that things will work out perfectly in life, but every time someone bestows a kind act on my behalf I do my best to pay it forward.
When I was pregnant with my son my husband’s aunt, (who lives a few states away), sent me a very large package. Inside was a plethora of gifts wrapped in polka dots and pastel colored paper.
The gift giver included a beautifully written note explaining the contents of this unexpected package. It seems she received a similar gift when she was pregnant with her first son over 40 years earlier. She told me she was passing on a family tradition and that the gifts inside were intended for our unborn child.
My husband’s aunt asked me to count the number of doctor’s visits that were remaining in my pregnancy. Days later another box landed on our doorstep. Inside were enough gifts to open after each and every doctor’s appointment.
Given my history of medical problems, (that resulted in blood clots, pulmonary embolisms and surgery), I am always nervous around men and women in white coats. Despite the fact that we were visiting doctors for such a happy occasion I still worried every time I walked into the office.
My insecurities and anxieties were further heightened when my obstetrician unexpectedly passed away. I went to the emergency room one morning with strange pains and was told he died hours earlier in the same hospital. At the time I was mid-way through my pregnancy.
My doctor was a gentle man who had been my gynecologist for over fifteen years. He was no ordinary doctor. He sent me a $100 check on the day I got married. He always took time to ask me about my husband and joked at my last appointment that he had been waiting for me to get pregnant for years and wouldn’t miss the birth of my son for anything in the world. I was saddened beyond belief by his passing and by the fact that an unknown doctor would deliver my child. The box of gifts arrived just in time to pick me up, just days after I learned of his passing.
These gifts meant more to me than the gift giver could ever know. I cried for two days straight after learning of my doctor’s death. He was not just a doctor to me. He was more like a friend. These gifts gave me something to look forward to after each appointment at the new doctor’s office. They eased my anxiety and somehow helped lessen my emotional pain.
I always knew I wanted to pay forward this act of kindness and last December I found the opportunity to do so.
When my husband’s friend told us his wife was expecting I began searching for baby gifts to pass on the tradition. I found adorable little outfits and sleepers along with practical items like diapers and changing pads. I wrapped them in tissue paper I received at my own baby shower, (I was told that’s good luck), and asked my husband to deliver them after my friend’s wife passed the 20 week mark of her pregnancy. (I was very superstitious about my own pregnancy and didn’t accept gifts until I reached the mid-way point. )
Two days ago we received news that our friend’s wife unexpectedly delivered a baby boy 14 weeks earlier than expected. At only 26 weeks gestation their child will most definitely endure an extended stay in the NICU.
The new mom was understandably distraught when she was released from the hospital without her infant son bundled in her arms. In an effort to cheer herself up she sat down and opened all of the gifts we provided. (We also gave her two bags of clothes my son had worn from birth through six months.) Her husband told us it felt like an impromptu baby shower and truly lifted her spirits.
I am so glad my husband and I decided to continue this tradition. It warmed my heart to know that our gifts provided a moment of joy during such a difficult time in their lives.
Sometimes in life we touch people in ways we never would have expected. Something magical happened when I opened that box of gifts from my husband’s aunt. I just knew I had to pay that feeling forward.
My mom and I had a lengthy discussion yesterday over childproofing. There are two schools of thought. First, move the items that might be in harms way. Second, leave the items exactly where you’ve always placed them and teach the child that he is not allowed to touch them.
I’ve noticed that while most parents childproof their own homes many grandparents choose not rearrange their belongings. If a glass ornament decorates a coffee table it will NOT be removed just because a child is coming over to play. If a set of antique candle holders line the fireplace they will not be moved to a new location just because little fingers might reach and break them.
My son learned to pull himself into a standing position and cruise at 7 months and being quite tall and very active it was easy for him to grab onto anything that was the height of a coffee table. For the longest time my mom displayed collectibles on an end table in her living room. Every time I brought my son over to play I feared he would grab one of these tiny objects and accidentally drop it onto the floor.
While I certainly discouraged my son from playing near the collectibles and encouraged him to play elsewhere in the room, I jumped up every time he walked over to that table. While this didn’t put a total damper on our visits it did make them more stressful.
Is it up to grandparents to childproof their homes on days when the baby comes over? I’m not one to keep a lot of knick-knacks and tchotchkes all over the house so for me the answer would be a resounding yes! While I am happy to teach my son his boundaries I want to enjoy the time with the people I love. I don’t want to spend that time worrying about tiny fingers grabbing onto breakable objects.
So I’m curious what are the rules in your house or the house of your children’s grandparents? Do they move things when your son or daughter comes over or are you expected to continually discipline your child until they learn to avoid areas that aren’t kid-friendly?
Want to save a few extra dollars on toys or baby related items? If so, hurry over to Groupon where you can buy a $20 voucher to Toys“R”Us, Babies“R”Us for only $10. Make sure to read the fine print but as far as I can tell this Groupon would also be valid on baby related items like diapers or baby food. I don’t see any exclusions stating otherwise.
This week I decided to take a stab at the plastic containers full of baby clothes and toys in my basement. My original intent was to donate most of my son’s stuff to a local charity. Although I’m pretty sure my husband and I will try for a second child it seemed kind of silly to hold on to everything. After all, we don’t know if the child will be the same gender or born at the same time of year.
So I started the great dig on Friday. Only moments into the first box I realized this was going to be a lot harder then I ever imagined. I started with my son’s earliest items, the clothes and blankets he wore during his very first days on this earth.
Of course, I wanted to keep the onesie and blanket we brought him home in. Then there was the little hat a friend knitted and the swaddle blanket we dressed him in on his first day. “Okay, okay,” I thought, “those were no brainers. Now let’s find some things to donate.” The problem is that every little outfit brought memories flooding back to me. Every little terry cloth sleeper, every blanket, every little onesie made me smile. I can’t believe how much my son has grown in a year and every time I pulled an item out of the box I stared in disbelief at how little he once was.
A friend of ours is expecting a baby in April. So I dug through the boxes and found a few sleepers and onesies that were super cute, but no where near favorites of mine. I found enough items to fill a large gift bag.
My husband’s cousin is visiting this week and their son is a few months younger then my son but much smaller in size. I bundled up a few items that might fit him. Again they are super cute, but not really favorites of mine. Some of them were actually hand-me-downs from a former coworker of mine and a bunch of the items were never worn by my son.
I didn’t get rid of nearly as much stuff as I expected. Despite the fact that I’ve taken thousands of photographs of my son in these clothes I couldn’t bear the thought of getting rid of them just yet. I’m not normally sentimental about stuff, but it was clear that this wasn’t going to be an easy process.
I did decide to donate a bunch of holiday related clothing. Friends and family provided us with lots of Thanksgiving and Christmas gear that is really too cute to sit inside a box waiting for our next child.
I also pulled out everything that I didn’t absolutely love. My son was given a lot of clothes from friends and family and then received a ton of hand-me-downs. If I felt a special affection for an item I kept it, if I didn’t think much about or thought it was cute, but not ridiculously adorable, then I donated it. All in all I ended up with three grocery bags full of baby clothes sized newborn to twelve months.
I managed to cram all of the remaining baby clothes into one large plastic container. I also kept a smaller container with sleep related items like baby blankets and sleep sacks. It still seems like quite a lot of stuff, but my heart isn’t ready to pass it on to another family just yet.
I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately by the sheer amount of stuff in our house. This always seems to happen to me this time of year. The weather is cold, we spend a lot more time indoors and I know that with the holiday season upon us the number of possessions in our home will soon increase dramatically.
I ventured into the haven for plastic containers, otherwise known as my basement, to dig through what he currently own and what we no longer need. Among the boxes I found clothes, equipment and toys that my son has outgrown as well as toys, clothes and equipment he hasn’t grown into yet. My brother provided us with box after box of toys that he might not use for the next two, three or even four years. I hate to get rid of these items, because I know my son will enjoy them one day, but for now they take up a tremendous amount of space in the basement.
I’m not sure what to do about all of this stuff. It seems silly to hold on to a bunch of baby clothes that our son has outgrown. If we do have another child we don’t know if it will be another boy and we don’t know if he or she will born at the same time of year or be the same size as our first. Our son wore a lot of warm weather items between 3 and 6 months. What if the next child needs short sleeved summer clothes during that same time frame?
Also, I’m not sure how many of the older toys I should hold onto either. Does it make sense to keep boxes of toys in our basement for three to four years while I wait for my son to grow into them?
I don’t want to waste the money and have to buy everything all over again but I also don’t want to keep moving boxes around and juggling containers of stuff we aren’t using on a regular basis. This is a particularly good time of year to donate items to children who may be in need. Why keep all of this stuff in boxes waiting for some day when another child could use them right away?
I’m sure there are a lot of parents out there who can weigh in on this topic. Did you keep a lot of your baby’s clothes, toys and equipment or did you decide to donate what you had on hand and buy new if and when the time came?
Our little guy is nearly 13 months old. At 9 months I was ready to start planning for a second child, but now that he’s a little over a year I’m more hesitant. Things have been really great for the past few months. Our son is sleeping through the night, eating everything in sight, walking (nearly running), babbling, turning pages, clapping, dancing and doing everything that a one year old should do. Things are so good in fact that I hate the idea of returning to a world of sleepless nights.
Part of me worries that a second child will take my attention away from my first. I worry that I won’t find enough time in my day to give my son all of the attention he deserves. I worry that a crying baby will sour his unbelievably sweet mood. I worry that he’ll hate having a sibling. I know quite a few children who dislike their little sisters. I’m also worried that the next child will be a holy terror, because other than sleepless nights our son has been an absolute breeze.
Since I’m 35 time is not exactly on my side. If I want to have another child I really need to start planning for it now. It took us about a year to conceive my son. The first six months we took a laid back approach. We didn’t plan, didn’t look at a calendar, didn’t worry about conceiving and didn’t think too much about it. The second six months I could think of nothing other than making a baby. I charted, took my temperature and followed every piece of advice that I could get my hands on. This time I hope to find a more relaxed middle ground!
This time around I know that my body is capable of conceiving. I had so many health issues in the past that I really thought my body was not good for much of anything. Since carrying my son and giving birth to him I have a whole new belief and faith in it.
So how do you know that you are ready for a second child? I have friends who space there children out evenly, (every two to three years), and others that simply don’t use birth control and let nature take its course. As for me, I’m just not sure. I think I might be ready to plan for another baby, but I also know things seem really great right now.
This week my husband and I will make our yearly visit to the beach. As a stay-at-home mom I spend 24 hours a day with my son. That includes time during the week and on the weekends. In fact, in his short life I think I’ve spent a total of 8 hours away from him. You read that correctly. A mere 8 hours over a 10 month span of time.
While a vacation from work means no time spent in the office and no alarm waking you for a work, a vacation with my son won’t be much of a change from our regular routine. I will still wake up sometime between 5:30 and 6:30 to feed him. I will still feed him most of his meals and spend most if not all of the day with him.
I am certainly not complaining about staying home with my son or vacationing with him. He is the light of my life and I absolutely love to be with him, but I do wish my husband would wake up to his morning cries or offer to take him for an afternoon walk for twenty or thirty minutes so I can relax by the pool without worrying about whether or not my son is hot or requires more sunscreen.
I’m sure there a lot of moms feel the same way I do on vacation. You crave a few minutes of quiet relaxation time and hope that your husband gets the hint about watching your little one for just a few minutes so you can wander down to the beach, sip your orange juice on the screened in porch or lay back in the hammock under a big tree with a cool breeze.
I’m sure the moms that read this blog will provide me with some advice. How do you feel about vacationing with your children and do you feel that it’s quite difficult for a mom of young children to feel like she’s on vacation?
I want to thank all of you who provided comments on my previous post about my son’s inability to sleep through the night. My husband and I decided that we were definitely responding to his whimpers a bit too quickly.
I still rock and nurse him to sleep, but I make sure he’s ever so slightly awake when I put him in his crib at night. The first night it took him less than 10 minutes to fall asleep. He moaned a bit but no tears were shed. I couldn’t believe he fell asleep so easily and I now think that trying to rub his back and ‘shh’ him to sleep were actually making it more difficult rather than easier for him.
We also changed our habits once he falls asleep. Rather than running up the steps at the very first sound he makes we let him move around and even moan if necessary.
As crazy as it now seems he never even cries. Instead he loudly whimpers, moves from side to side, flips from back to belly and back again, finds a comfy position and puts himself right back to sleep.
I don’t want to jinx myself, but now he’s falling asleep on his own and staying asleep for eight to nine hours a night. He still has a knack for waking at 5 o’clock in the morning, but he tends to breastfeed and then go right back to sleep. Then he’ll typically sleep for another two hours.
Thank you all for the advice! I think it’s so funny that I was afraid to let him ‘cry it out’ and he never even cried!