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Mr. Pennies and I have two little kids. They are the motivation behind all we do but we refuse to let them be expensive. Children have very basics need when you look at it. They need food, drink, clothes, a wash occasionally and cuddles. Therefore we choose cheap parenting.
When we found out that we were going to have a new member of our family we did what most new parents do and bought all the stuff. We had entered a completely new world and we were vulnerable to the marketing and advertising. Over the first few weeks of her life we realised that nearly all of what we had bought was pointless. With a few simple (yet possibly controversial) parenting choices we were able to save ourselves hundreds if not thousands.
This is what we did:
Our kids sleep in our bed. Technically my husband sleeps in my eldest’s bed but when she was little she slept in our bed with us. We bought cots and cribs and decorated a lovely nursery for her sleep in but she barely touched them. She didn’t sleep in the nursery once. Yes you might worry about the safety of this but there are ways to reduce the risk, see here.
Now you can either just chuck your kids in your own bed or you can buy a crib that attaches to the side of your bed. We used the Chicco Next2me cosleeper and found it great. It folds up nice and small so we can take it on trips away. It straps easily to the side of the bed. And it keeps baby nice and safe on their own sleeping surface. It is definitely a solid purchase. You can even pick them up secondhand for a good price. Or if you are not happy with that you can sell it when you are done and make some of your money back.
(There are guidelines for safely cosleeping with your baby. You can find them here.)
Ok! These can get expensive but only if you are addicted to the patterns. (That’s kind of a confession there!) However there are some significant savings to be made. A set of 30 cloth nappies could cost you around £200-250. Cloth wipes another £25. And then a little bit to wash them every couple of days.
But that’s it for you nappy expenditure. I bought a set of cloth nappies when pregnant with number 1 child. I am still using most of those nappies now for my youngest. This means that I have had two children using the same 30 or so nappies. And it has saved loads. AND they are great for the environment.
We feed our daughters scraps from our plate. Well not the eldest one any more. And not technically scraps. Baby led weaning means giving your children proper food as soon as they are old enough to have food (6 months ish). We have never bought purees, child specific food or any of the associated paraphernalia. They have a plate and a cup and they eat exactly what we eat.
Yes! Quite a lot of food ends up on the floor. And yes it does break my heart to see this. If you’ve got a dog then you get to feed the dog as well as your kids. Yay! If the food is retrievable it will go back on their plates. That bit of floor gets cleaned as often and as thoroughly as the table so I don’t worry too much. But aside from the mess, it is easy and cheap.
Now I get that some people can’t breastfeed or don’t want to breastfeed. That is not a discussion for this post or this blog but it is definitely worth considering from a financial perspective.
Breastfeeding is free. It requires no additional equipment and is available on tap. When that is compared to formula where the costs will build up, then there are some savings to be had by whipping out a boob.
And I am aware that I am making the choice to breastfeed seem like choosing between Coke Zero or Diet Coke. For many people it can be hard work and you might need to buy extra equipment like nipple shields or breast pumps. You might even decide to pay out for a lactation consultant to help you get everything started. My own journey was hard initially but now it is so easy AND free.
Don’t buy a pram! We bought a pram and it was a lovely pram, but I just don’t like prams. When you go shopping you have walk out of your way just to get to the lift. They take up so much space in car, in your house, in cafes, in shops. Yeah you can put all your bags and whatever on them but they restrict you. I dislike that.
Wear your children instead. Now I have a sizeable collection of different wraps, slings and carriers. That’s a personal choice (not the best one financially!). You need one, maybe two carriers and that is it.
You can get good wraps that will last you through until your child is pre-school age for less than £50. Compare that to the price of that fancy pram you’ve been looking at and it speaks for itself. A good place to start would be with a
stretchy wrap. They have a great resale value too.
Not only do you save by not buying a pram, you also don’t need to buy to buy all the pram related stuff. We didn’t need pram suits, those cosy toes things or even blankets really. We would just put them in a normal amount of layers for the weather and then they’d snuggle in to us. When it rained I’d just zip my raincoat over the top of them or they’d be nice and dry under my umbrella. No tiny raincoats needed.
This one I’m not very good at. I have a weakness for beautiful wooden toys but there is money to be saved here. There is now a good amount of research that says children benefit from having fewer toys. And I believe it.
Children need to be bored to be creative. Fewer toys means that children have to use the toys they do have in different ways. Too many are overwhelming and they don’t learn how to play with them properly. Therefore I recommend buying a few, well-chosen toys that can be used in a variety of ways and keep the rest of your money for other things.
Some of these things may not be right for you. Research them. Find out what you can and make an informed decision. An excellent place to start would be: The Attachment Parenting Book. We have made these choices because we felt they were right for our family and the money that we saved was a bonus.
I’m taking part in the Mummy Monday linky with Becca from Becca Blogs It Out
Disclaimer: Remember the information you read here does not represent financial advice. Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you. Read the full disclaimer here.
Looking After Your Pennies is an eco-friendly personal finance blog written and managed by Charlotte Jessop.
I write on a variety of topics including frugal lifestyle, eco-friendly living, money making ideas and generally how to make your money go further.