Sunday, December 31, 2006

Four Times When Convenience Wins

When my son was born, I thought that I would choose saving money over convenience on all of the major baby decisions I had coming my way. I had purchased cloth diapers, read up on making my own baby food, and determined to learn how to sew. I soon found, however, that it was not such an easy choice. Like many new parents, I was overwhelmed by what it meant to care for a new baby. Over time, I have learned that there are several areas where choosing convenience over the price is beneficial for most parents.

The number one item on my list is diapers. I know that many advocates of using cloth diapers talk about the benefit to the environment, the wallet, and the bonding process. While some of these claims certainly hold merit, others are not as legitimate as they claim. Laundering cloth diapers costs in both money and pollution, and they are much more of a hassle than disposable diapers. When I looked at the differences in the diapers, I realized that I did not want to wash diapers everyday. It did not work with my lifestyle, and I believe that is true for most parents.

A close second would be baby wipes. My mother-in-law made her own everything and was appalled that I would spend money on baby wipes. We found a great, unscented store brand that worked well for our son. They cost us $1 for 80 wipes, which lasts at least a week. I would be willing to give up anything else if needed for the $4 a month for store-bought wipes. The process of buying large rolls of paper towels, cutting them, and putting them in a bucket to soak with all of my own ingredients does not sound appealing. Honestly after reading how to make wipes, I am not certain that there is any cost benefit from doing so, and certainly for all but the least busy of parents, the time involved outweighs the pennies saved.

Next comes baby food. I really thought that I would make my own baby food and had I been more organized when my son was a wee little guy I would have. Instead I found that purchasing the Gerber version of baby food was far more convenient. This area is one in which the frugal parenting advocates have a point. Making baby food is a good deal cheaper than purchasing it at $.40 a jar. Babies will begin to go through only a jar or two a day but most of them have reached several jars a day by the time they are a year old.

One of the ways that new parents can take advantage of this convenience without complete overspending is to move the baby to table food before the first birthday. Though many pediatricians who go strictly by the book hate this approach, others are less worried. We listened to our pediatrician but in the end did what worked best for us. What worked was feeding our son a baby version of what we were eating. Babies can eat mashed potatoes, soups, and even soft breads in very small pieces early. With other foods, you can cut them really small or grind them to feed to baby. That way your baby is getting used to eating able food, which helps with his eating habits later on, and you are not spending as much on baby food. Plus feeding the little ones table food is even more convenient than buying baby food.

A diaper pail is another area where you can choose basic convenience for your baby. Diaper pails are a great idea. In the past, they were really just a way to have a trashcan in the nursery. Now, though, diaper pails have become super-duper sanitizing machines. Some of them have dispensers for sanitizers while others will wrap the dirty diapers for you. Almost all of them require some type of special bag that you have to purchase.

Getting a diaper pail is the opposite of doing everything the homemade way. This store-bought way actually is far more expensive and less convenient that just putting a small trashcan in the nursery and changing the bag everyday.

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