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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The New Parent's Guide to Practicality

I try to be helpful. As helpful as I can be with my limited experience in pretty much everything. You know the saying about the person that "knows a little bit about everything and a lot about nothing"? That's me. Being that I've been a mom for 5 months now and managed to keep my child alive for all this time (pretty damn good if you ask me), I've gotten the occasional question and been sought out for advice by friends and acquaintances. Yes...really. I'm more than happy to share my experience and what has worked for me in the off chance that it may actually work for someone else and then I get to be hero of the day. Perhaps I'll go down in the Motherhood Hall of Fame...but probably not. So here are a few practical things that I have learned along the way. These are the things that work for me, that are logical to me, that I think can work for others that think like me. Take it or leave it...just a crop-dusting (if you will) of information straight from the brain of Nessa.

  1. Generic is your friend. I'm a practical person and I still fell prey to the gimmicks of the big companies. "If you don't spend a shitload of money on Pampers/Huggies/Similac/Enfamil/etc., then you don't love your baby as much as other people do." Such crap. As with anything else...check the labels! Give them a try, if it doesn't work for you and your baby then try something else. That's one of the coolest parts about being a parent to me, finding out what works for your baby! A little cost comparison example, a large can of Similac costs approx. $25.00 give or take a few dollars, the same size can of Walmart's Parent's Choice Advantage (the same thing as Similac save for miniscule amount difference of two ingredients) costs $11.88. A 36 pack of Pampers newborn diapers costs $8.99 and 50 pack of Target's Up&Up newborn diapers costs $6.29. Hmmm...which do I buy? Sidenote: Now I will say that I have found that I prefer Pampers Sensitive wipes to any I splurge on those. See? I'm not completely anti-brand name! But I do have a solution for brand name lovers...see the item below.
  2. If you do buy brand name, see if that item is available on and if you can use Subscribe and Save for that item. It will save you an unbelievable amount of money! For example, I previously used Pampers Sensitive diapers before switching to Up&Up diapers for Jax. For a box of 180 diapers retail price was $41.99, with Amazon's Subscribe and Save the same box cost $28.00 (no tax, no shipping charges). Pretty darn good. You sign up with Amazon Mom and choose your items that have the subscribe and save option, then when you go to check out, you choose whether you'd like to get another package of the item (or however many packages you want) every month, 2 months, or 3 months (I think that's the increments...don't quote me). Then it automatically charges you and ships the item to you at each increment. You can cancel it at anytime, even after your first. So you buy size 1 diapers and the next month your little chunker is already ready for size 2's? Cancel that subscription and start a new one for size 2's. It's that easy. You can use this for diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, and even household items that you replace frequently like dog food, detergent, etc. Go explore.
  3. This next one is for the anxiety ridden mother like myself. I researched and read studies and thought and considered and reconsidered over lots of things. But the thing that scared me the most was that my child would fall prey to SIDS while I slept and there would be nothing that I could do for him. I had heard during my pregnancy about something called the Angelcare Movement Monitor. But I decided no, that I needed to be rational. That was overkill, I needed to just follow the advice given (like putting nothing in the crib but a fitted sheet over the mattress no blankets, having a fan running in the room where he slept, dressing him comfortably for the temperature in the room). Well a week after Jax was born, I was sleep deprived only getting about 4 hours a day broken up. The most I ever got at one time was 2 hours because I "HAD" to make sure he was breathing constantly. My OB scolded me at my follow-up appointment for not getting sleep and when I broke down and told her the reason, she told me to a) go home and go to sleep for at least 4 hours straight and b) get an Angelcare moniter. So I went home, Chris promised to watch Jax non stop and I got 5 glorious hours of sleep. Had another rough night of sleeping due to my need to get up and check on Jax. Then woke up and immediately went to Babies R Us and bought the Angelcare Deluxe Movement Monitor. I have slept wonderfully and worry free every night since, unless I had a fussy baby. It's a must have for worriers like myself. Oh and it also has a sound monitor and a room temperature monitor so it's completely practical. too!!
  4. Crib bedding sets are a stupid waste of money. "Why?!", you ask. "They're so cute!", you say! "Screw you, it's my money and I'll buy whatever I want!", you exclaim suddenly finding yourself offended. Once again remember this is my blog and therefore you're in my world and in my world crib sets are stupid. That's the rule. Because your baby is only supposed to sleep on a sheet...nothing else. No blankets, no cute cushy bumpers, no pillows, none of it! So tell me what is the point?! Oh look cute. Well call me crazy but I don't even make my own bed and I use pillows and blankets and all why would I spend time to make my kids bed up with crap he can't use?! I didn't spend a lot (a whopping $70) on my crib set but if I had to do it over again, I'd just buy sheets and a cute matching crib skirt for decoration. Spend that money to do up the room, a neat paint job with a mural or wall decals, pictures, knick knacks for shelves, whatever just not stuff for the crib!
  5. Don't clutter up the house with useless baby equipment. That pack n play I just had to have? Kid has yet to ever sleep in it, it's only been used for a changing table. And I should have known not to get it, because you can't use the monitor in it so of course I wouldn't want him to sleep in it. Where does he nap when downstairs? In the swing, wonderful piece of equipment! Some people have the opposite experience. You may have to do trial and error. Notice I didn't say what equipment not to buy because you really should try whatever you can and yes that can get expensive at first (see help for that below). But say this is your first child and he hates his swing, get it out of there, put it in the garage, but don't sell it. Now you have your next child and you see that swing, you pull it out of the garage, he loves it. Not a waste of money in my book. But if it's not working for now, put it away, don't leave it out to trip over in the off chance that maybe he'll learn to like it!
  6. Used baby equipment and's a personal choice. Some people aren't comfortable with it whether it's from a stranger or their own neat freak sister. That's fine stop here and move on. For those of us that say, "Hell yeah just give it a good washing!", read on. Craigslist, ebay, and Once Upon a Child (or some other baby and kids consignment store) will be your best friend. You get what you can from friends and family but let's be honest there are some things they don't have or there are some things of theirs that you just don't want. That swing that your Aunt Judy used with your cousin 15 years ago may be very clean and look brand new and work just fine but ewwwwwww it has a creepy clown face on it! Or maybe you just had something specific that you wanted, like that cute little lamb swing. Give the consignment store a try, no luck, search the specific item you want on craigslist, you may find one or more than one in your area. For example, my swing came from a lovely woman whose little boy HATED it, sat in it twice and screamed his head off. So I got my $150 swing for $80 because a baby's butt was in it 2 times...I can handle that. I've gotten lots of clothes in wonderful condition off of ebay, from Once Upon a Child, and from craigslist sales for a fraction of the original cost. No different than your best friend handing you a bag of clothes, you wash them first and then gladly parade your baby around in his "new" cute clothes! How much can you save...well I've found clothes that just came out that season at Once Upon a Child quite a few $8-$14 dollars for a Carter's sleeper (depending on sales) or $3 at OUaC?
  7. Bottles are the bane of your existence until you find "the right one" for your baby. I'm not saying that I have all the answers...but do yourself a favor and try cheap ones first and maybe just a bottle at a time until you find the right one. After 5 months of using all sorts of different bottles and nipples and countless dollars down the kid loves plain ass...plastic Gerber bottles. The kind that come in packs of 3 and cost about $2-$3 a pack. Yup...Gerber bottles...headdesk.
  8. There are some conveniences that may be worth the extra money to you. Want to do cloth diapering? More power to you...look into a diaper service and see if it would be worth it to you to let them launder for you! Honestly, I researched it because I was interested in cloth diapers (no one else was though, so there goes my once a year attempt at being green) and it wasn't much more expensive than buying disposable diapers and you don't have to wash them! For me that convenience is not having to make a bottle on the go. I buy a case of Similac ready to feed formula that come in 8 ounce bottles...the same thing they give you (if you choose to formula feed) when you leave the hospital in the 2 oz bottles. They don't have to be refridgerated and they don't go bad for quite some time. They go in his diaper bag and all I have to do when I'm out and about is unscrew the safety sealed cap and put a nipple on it and it's feeding time! No baby bottles to carry, no need for an extra bottle of water to have on hand, no need for those formula dispensers. That is a convenience well worth the cost and really worth it when I use all those coupons that Similac still sends me. I'm pretty sure Enfamil has a similar product.

I'm ending this post with a product rave...Infantino Vibrating Teether...yes I said vibrating. It comes in the shape of a bunch of grapes or a strawberry. Your cranky teething baby bites down on the soft exterior and it vibrates his poor sore little gums. Jax loves it, therefore I love it. Just like how I've learned to love Barefoot Contessa because Jax does...but I draw the line at Barney and Yo Gabba Gabba...not in my's not gonna happen.

That's all I've got for now. I'm sure I'll pop out some more pearls of wisdom but for now I'll go back to focusing on keeping my baby alive!

Love, warm fuzzies, hugs and police work,


Quote of the Blog: "My practicality consists in this, in the knowledge that if you beat your head against the wall, it is your head which breaks and not the wall...that is my strength, my only strength." -Antonio Gramsci

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