Preparing for Additional Children

Megan writes in:

Congratulations on your third child! My husband and I are expecting our second child in February. I hope you’ll write an article about how to save money when another child comes along.

Your wish is my command, Megan. Here are some of the ways we’re preparing for our third child.

Strategies for Preparing for Another Child

Diapers

As I’ve mentioned before, we cloth diaper our children at home (we occasionally use disposables when traveling or when others are watching our children). Doing this drastically reduces the diapering cost for later children.

To reduce the startup cost, we bought many of our cloth diapers on eBay. Some people might be shocked at this, but the truth is that we’ve never had a bad experience buying them on eBay. Most of the diapers we receive are in really good shape – nearly unused. I think this might be because people tried partial cloth diapering (with just a few) and found that it didn’t work well for them. I’ll say that for us, cloth diapering becomes easier the more we do it. It’s actually easier to have our child wear nothing but cloth for a week than half cloth and half disposable – there’s less clutter, for one, and when you use nothing but cloth, the whole thing becomes utterly routine.

Anyway, after your initial outlay of money, cloth diapering is extremely inexpensive (and really environmentally friendly to boot). The first batch of cloth diapers we purchased are about to be used for the third time, meaning the cost per use of these diapers is already lower than disposables and is about to go substantially lower. We simply won’t have to buy many diapers for this baby.

If you plan on having more than one child, give cloth diapering a shot. It’s not really cost effective for just one, but the savings are huge with the second, third, etc. child.

Clothes

Unless you’re absolutely sure that you’re not having any additional children, don’t throw away, give away, or sell the clothes from your earlier children. Fold them up, put them in a storage tub, and put them somewhere out of the way. Later on, you might make a conscious medical choice to no longer have children, at which point you can sell off the clothes. Otherwise, a big tub or two of infant, toddler, and kid clothes is like a hidden treasure trove.

Again, we have a ton of these things packed away for the next child. Since many of the baby-sized clothes are only worn a few times per child, many of the items look practically new, yet they’ll be on their third use. All the way along, it’s worthwhile to save clothes that can still afford some wear, because many children’s clothes (like t-shirts, jeans, and so on) work well for both genders. (We tend to buy lots of greens and yellows.)

Beds

What about a bed? Our solution is simple – we’re just going to upgrade the bed of the oldest child by looking for youth beds at yard sales and the like. Then, his younger sister will move into his old bed and her younger sibling will take her crib.

Just like clothes, beds work well as “hand me down” type items. That doesn’t mean that the oldest child always gets the new items and the others get the used ones – quite often, his items are used as well.

Toys

We try to consistently buy our children small numbers of very open-ended toys for their birthdays and for Christmases – building blocks and the like. By buying small numbers of items, we don’t clutter up our home (well… not too much). By buying sturdy items, they can take a beating and can easily be passed down. By buying open-ended items – like building blocks and art supplies – we have items that all of the children can use, often together. Our two children now have big art days where we cover the kitchen table or the living room table with paper and allow them to draw to their heart’s content, for example, and it will be easy for the next child to join in.

When Joe draws elaborate landscapes and Katie draws pictures of cars and houses, the youngest child can scribble. When Joe builds castles out of blocks and Katie builds towers, the youngest child can stack them. These are the kinds of toys they can all enjoy – and, to be honest, I quite often enjoy them, too.

Here’s the real key of all of this: if you’re thinking of having future children, keep the stuff you actually used. Put it in some storage boxes and stick it somewhere out of sight, clearly labeled. Similarly, focus your child-related purchases on sturdy things that will last through multiple children – plastic toys that easily break aren’t a good buy, but sturdy blocks are. Doing this alone will save you a lot of cash on future children without reducing their quality of life one bit.

If you enjoyed reading this, sign up for free updates!

Loading Disqus Comments ...
Loading Facebook Comments ...
  1. Molly says:

    And you can request that friends/family give books for presents – all the children will enjoy them.

  2. marie says:

    I don’t have any suggestions as I haven’t had kids of my own yet; however, I just want to say kudos for you supporting cloth diapers.

    I want to use them when I have my own kids, and everybody who hears that thinks I’m crazy (other than my mom because she used them when I was a baby myself).

  3. Johanna says:

    I never understood the point of child-size beds. It seems to me that it’s just one more thing that will be outgrown and will need to be replaced. Eventually you are going to need regular-size beds for all your children, so why not get them now (except for the one(s) for whom a crib is still necessary) and save yourself the extra hassle and expense?

  4. Anne KD says:

    Once a week I go to help one of my sils with her 8 (yes, eight) kids. The youngest are 1 yr old twins, then a 3 yr old, etc. My sil Heather keeps all of the unused kids’ clothes in bins, labeled for size and gender, in their basement. When the kids move into a bigger size, they have everything there, with occasional supplements (there’s only so many times a torn pair of jeans can be patched, for instance). Toddler toys are also stored in a bin or two.

    Something my own sister and some friends do is to swap kids’ clothes, including jackets, once outgrown. Other things like various gadgets (doorway baby swings, for instance) get handed around from person to person- it saves money and builds relationships. It works out great for all involved.

  5. Angie says:

    For me, the cost of daipers, toys, books, etc., are manageable, especially if one goes to the library. It’s really the exorbitant cost of quality child care in my area that hurts the finances the most.

  6. Joanna says:

    Question: Do day care facilities allow kids to use cloth diapers? Trent, I think your kids still attend day care, right? I’m wanting to do this, but at least the first child will likely be in day care.

    Also, how can one save $$ on day care? Angie is right. One of my friends is about to pay $800 a MONTH for PART-TIME day care. To be fair, full time was *only* $900 a month, but that’s craziness. It seems to me that we can probably afford one kiddo in day care, but with multiple, the decision of work v. stay at home is going to be a reality.

  7. J says:

    @Johanna — a toddler bed is typically low to the floor and re-uses the crib mattress. This is important because when the kids climb out of it (or roll out of it) in the dark, they don’t have that far to fall. Also it removes a “jumping off point” for them to climb into and jump off of and hurt themselves, too. Also the crib mattresses are pretty much impervious to getting soaked with bodily fluids. You can buy a mattress cover for a regular mattress, but they don’t always work and with a young child there’s always a risk you could ruin a pricey adult mattress.

    You can, of course, buy bedrail(s) for a full-size bed, but if you have an adventurous kid who is literally climbing out of the crib and you don’t want to deal with lots of crying and broken children from falling out of an adult bed, the kid bed is a nice compromise.

    Once good bed habits have been established (usually by 3-4 years old), the toddler bed isn’t useful anymore. Plus, often you have the second kid coming and you need that crib mattress back!

    Toddler beds are fairly easy to pick up cheap used, as well. We got ours from a friend for $10. It’s not fancy or anything, but it gets the job done. We didn’t see the point in getting one of those fancy ones for so short a period of time.

  8. Joanna says:

    Sorry for all the caps, guys. I don’t have kids, so I just about choked when she told me the price for day care.

  9. Shevy says:

    You’ve covered most of the big ways to save money on babies, but I have a couple more suggestions. Nurse your child exclusively for the first 6 months, then slowly begin to add small quantities of real food, mashed smooth (i.e. don’t buy jars of baby food, bottles or formula). You might buy one package of baby rice or oatmeal cereal (I’ve never gone through a full package before the child was able to move on to real oatmeal or cream of wheat) because you can do tiny amounts at a time with it, but the jars are just really expensive. Also, buy small terrycloth cloths to be used with water for wet baby changes at least. Save disposable wipes for when you’re out or for really gross stuff.

  10. J says:

    @Joanna — we used a childcare FSA account to apply pre-tax money to childcare. Getting the money taken out pre-tax was a significant savings.

  11. J says:

    Also, FWIW, infant care in our area was $1700/month for center care. Home-based was a little less, but not much. Part time cost nearly as much as full time. It does drop off as they get older, but yes, the cost of daycare can make staying at home with the kids a reality. From our analysis, paying for a nanny/au pair would be cheaper when you had three kids rather than paying to send them to a day care center. Two kids was nearly a wash.

    But everything changes when the kids come along and you have to find a way to make it work. You certainly aren’t going out as much as you once were ….

  12. Shevy says:

    Further to the crib, toddler bed, full-size bed issue, I’ve gotten more use out of toddler beds than cribs.

    Worldwide and throughout history parents have usually slept with their babies. Everybody gets more sleep and it’s way easier to nurse in the middle of the night. A little common sense keeps it safe and you’re closer and better able to monitor your child.

    A toddler bed or an adult mattress placed on the floor is safer than a toddler alone in an adult bed with a frame that lifts it off the ground from the standpoint of falling out and most guardrails that attach to an adult bed present at least some risk of trapping the child.

    Where space is tight and 2 children share a room it’s better to use 2 toddler beds until the oldest can safely go in the top half of a bunk bed (usually suggested for age 6 and up).

  13. Carrie says:

    Cloth diapering can be cost effective even if you only have one in cloth. You don’t have to get the most expensive diapers out there, and I found in my original analysis that we pretty much broke even at the end of year one, and definitely saved money at the end of year 2. Our fancy pocket diapers were at the end of their life after 2 years, so we went ahead and bought more. With 2 in diapers it’s definitely worth it!

    Regarding clothes, if you have a circle of family and friends with similarly aged children, you could put you collection of clothes out to share. Then clothes aren’t just sitting in storage for 10 years. What if your first is a girl and you save her clothes, only to have 3 boys after that? Could have let someone else use the clothes while they were still in style.

    I found that by being generous, people keep me in mind when they have clothes to share, and I have plenty of clothing or my kids.

  14. J says:

    “Everybody gets more sleep”

    This is simply not true. It’s a decision that is different for every family. For instance, I simply cannot sleep with an infant in the room, much less in the same bed. And when they get to be toddlers, they are *horrible* bedmates. They kick you, punch you and basically try to take over the whole bed. On the very few occasions when one of our children has come into our bed, sleep for me was pretty much impossible and I relocated to the couch, post-haste. We even kick the cat out of the bedroom because I’m a light sleeper and he was waking me up at night. Grouchy dad performs poorly at work, poorly at home and isn’t a lot of fun to be around. Grouchy mom is much the same.

    I am not trying to start an argument about co-sleeping or anything like that, but I highly suggest that both spouses be absolutely on-board with the sleeping arrangements that are going to happen when children come along — and do what works for them. There are plenty of people who start out with the greatest intentions, but then find out something isn’t working at all — but they are terrified their kids are going to come out malformed if they have to sleep in their own beds.

    There is no “right” answer, and sleep is absolutely key to be a fully functioning parent. You get it how you can, and “experts” and the rest of the world be damned. If you want kids in your bedroom, by all means, do so. If not, put ‘em in a crib in another room and don’t feel one whit of guilt! Concentrate on being a good parent while you are awake!

  15. amy says:

    One other thing about baby clothes. We decided not to find out the gender of our first child before she was born and therefore was gifted a lot of neutral clothes. I am so grateful because when we had a boy I didn’t have to re-acquire baby clothes to prevent dressing him in pink. For the most part, infant clothes don’t get worn long enough to wear them out anyway. It is nice to get a few new items for a new baby but not a whole new wardrobe.

  16. Catherine says:

    I come from a large family and I had 14 cousins growing up. We saw each other frequently, and were pretty nicely spaced out, so our parents would expand the hand-me-downs to our cousins instead of just our siblings. It is fun to look through family photos from different years and see the same Christmas dress on all the girls! We all have shared fond memories of clothing and also durable toys. It was pretty much understood that things would be passed along when possible, but that it might not happen if it was damaged, etc. so we didn’t pass along EVERYTHING. I can’t even imagine how much money we all saved doing this! Some things recently got passed from the youngest cousin to the oldest cousin’s KIDS! Ahh, the circle of life.

  17. It’s good to get as much second hand things as possible, because it’s only for a short time anyway. And it’s free often, or at a lower price.

    John DeFlumeri Jr

  18. Debbie says:

    @J – I’m with you. I do NOT like sleeping with babies in my bed. Of course, my babies like to practice “attachment parenting” staying attached to their mama all night long. I do occasionally let them do it out of self preservation, but in general, I like my babies in their own beds! BTW for little little ones, this can even be a stroller that you keep in your room. You don’t have to invest in a fancy bassinet for a newborn.

  19. Shevy says:

    @J
    Okay, in *our* family everybody gets more sleep that way. Aside from the fact that I’ve never had a child who would sleep in a crib either day or night for more than maybe 20 minutes (although at least a couple were happy in an old-fashioned pram for daytime naps while they were small enough) I would have gone insane from acute sleep deprivation if I’d had to get up and go to another room to tend to a baby several times a night and get him back to sleep there before I could go back to bed myself. Not that I’d have gotten back to sleep easily at that point anyway. As for *my* hubby, he sleeps through his alarm blaring beside his head for the first few minutes, through phones ringing, the TV, etc. Oh, and he has restless leg syndrome if you thought toddlers were restless sleepers!

    Yes, Your Mileage May Vary, but it’s generally worth a try *before* you blow several hundred dollars on a crib, mattress and bedding. If it doesn’t work for your family you can always buy a crib later. Our crib got the most use as a safe spot for naked babies to hang out just after the bath and for storing clean baby laundry waiting to be folded.

    I can’t count how many mothers I know who set up the room, bought all the furniture and found it wasn’t used for the first couple of years. Of course, you often have to know someone pretty well before she’ll admit the room is just for show and that Junior has been sleeping with them (or with Mum in the spare room or whatever) all along.

    My only question for you is, don’t you wake up when the baby is screaming his head off from down the hall 2 or 3 times a night?

  20. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    The reason for smaller beds for toddlers and young children is to reduce the distance to the floor due to falling. Both my two year old and my four year old roll all over the place in bed and sometimes fall right out of bed, even with a guard in place. I wouldn’t want them to be much higher off the ground than they are.

  21. Kelly says:

    We found out #2 was on the way three weeks ago. This after my husband sold our crib, car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, bouncy seat and numerous clothes from child #1 who is now 5. He gave away most of the baby clothes from #1. So we are going to have to start all over again. In my family, you get one shower for your first child and that’s all no matter how far apart the kids are. For baby #1, we barely had to buy anything but diapers and then formula when he weaned.

    Alas I had a miscarriage a few weeks ago.

    The crib we had for our son converted into a toddler bed. He outgrew it last year and we bought him a nice twin bed. Husband does not like clutter and so he got rid of all the baby stuff..thinking we would NEVER need it. After the miscarriage, he’s changed his mind about another baby. We’ll be trying again soon! And go to Once Upon a Child to look for replacement baby stuff!

  22. Courtney says:

    It creeps me out when parents complain about the cost of daycare. $900 a month for full-time daycare means you are only paying your daycare provider around $5/hour. Taking care of a child is hard work (at least if you’re doing it properly). Are you really comfortable leaving your child with someone who is willing to do the job for only $5/hour, or whose work is only worth $5/hour? That’s disturbing.

  23. chacha1 says:

    Re: daycare cost: this should be the first thing working people think of when they start discussing when or whether to have kids.

    As to the commenter who remarked that historically/worldwide parents and children have shared a bed, I’d like to point out that historically/worldwide, there has only been one bed – if any – in the house! There are still an awful lot of families living in one-room houses … don’t project affluent America onto the rest of the planet.

  24. Elizabeth says:

    I have three kids (4, 2 and almost 1), and building a community around you of other families is another great way to reduce costs. I’m a member of MOMS Club (a national organization) and beyond making wonderful friends for myself and the kids (and even my husband), it’s a great network for sharing kid stuff. When #3, my first boy, came along, I was offered countless items from friends with older boys. Get out there and network, especially if you’re a stay-at-home parent!

  25. Sharon says:

    @Kelly- I’m so sad for your loss. :-(

    @Johanna- I believe most (all?) child care centers will not use cloth diapers, but nannies may be willing to.

    Re the toddler bed: If you’re worried about your toddler falling out of bed, why not just get a twin mattress and place it on the floor with no frame or boxspring? That’s worked for us. Presumably you’ll need the mattress later anyway when your child gets bigger.

    Re saving money on formula: Breastfeeding was not an option for me. I ended up buying a lot of formula on e-bay at a great savings. (A highlight occurred when staff of the Post Office knocked on my door informing me that I had received package that was leaking white powder… clearly it hadn’t tested as dangerous, though!)

    Re saving money on food: Making your own baby food is easy. Store bought baby food is a scam! Just cook veggies (or other foods), use a blender (an immersion blender works well for small quantities) and freeze in ice-cube trays. Babies who can eat finger foods also like things such as cooked dried beans, tofu, avocado, and eggs. Check out the book _Super Baby Food_ by Ruth Yaron for detailed instructions. I even made my own rice cereal. However, if you are not breastfeeding, and you make your own baby cereal, you may need to give your baby an iron supplement such as polyvisol.

  26. Jane says:

    @Courtney
    I see your point, but you have to realize for many families in this country, $900 a month is a lot of money and really can be devastating for their finances. I don’t think parents are necessarily implying that their children aren’t worth that much or that people should have to work for $5 an hour – they’re just being honest that they are having trouble affording the cost. And with day care centers, you have to consider that there is usually a ratio of either 3 to 1 or 4 to 1. So that means that the caregiver is making considerably more than $5 an hr. Caring for children all day is really hard work (I’m a SAHM, so I know all too well), and I do think workers should be compensated fairly. But the reality is that for the lower and middle classes in this country, paying for child care is a huge financial strain.

    @Sharon
    Homemade baby food might be cheaper, but store bought food certainly isn’t a scam. With a baby who barely slept at night for the first year of his life, something had to give in order for us to maintain our sanity. I was more than happy to pay the 30 or so cents a jar (after coupons) for baby food. It was one less thing I had to prepare or think about.

  27. Kate says:

    I personally didn’t store all my baby gear and clothes between child 1 and child 2. I kept the best/favourite stuff and gave the rest away. When the time came, other people lent or gave me their hand me downs. That way I had plenty of baby clothes and toys and avoided the need to store them.

  28. kristine says:

    As far as a low to the ground bed goes- you can always use a twin air mattress. The fall is virtually nill! And i is low enough for the child to learn how to tidy the blankets.

  29. As for childcare, I live near Chicago and daycare runs about $350 a week here. Home daycare is about $7/hr, or $280/week for 40 hours. Babysitters are $12-16/hr.

    We were using home daycare, but the lady seemed a little burnt out. We let her go and set about searching for someone to come to our house. I put an ad on Craigslist stating my terms, describing my location, etc. and received about 20 responses.

    I teach private school, and after costs, I earn less than my babysitter. Keep that in mind before judging what I spend.

    We pay $50 a day, for 7:30-2, four days a week. Our sitter brings her baby with her and is free to read for 2-3 hours a day while both of them are napping at the same time. We have offered use of our computers and washing machine, but she rarely does so. She earns about $6.66/hr, including her commute time. However, if she needed to leave her child at daycare to work, she would spend about $7-$8/hr at best. So, not only does she get to be with her daughter all day, but it is the equivalent of having a part time job that pays $14-15/hr after taxes.

    This could be a good option for someone who is welcome to having their sitter bring a child with them.

    I like to think of it as creating a win-win. Lower cost for me, not having to pack Wolfie up every day, and she gets to still be a SAHM, and earn more than she could if she left her daughter with a sitter.

    Also, side note: for people dealing with babies who aren’t good sleepers, Babywise worked wonders ffor us. Wolfie slept through the night around 4 months, and needs no mollycoddling before going to sleep. We read books for fun, but he can go to bed with virtually no lead time (when he’s tired).

  30. Courtney says:

    @Jane
    I do realize that $900 is a lot of money for many families. I just don’t buy into the argument that daycare is a necessity. With a bit of planning, most families could arrange their lives so daycare is not needed. There are plenty of people out there who have downsized their lives, gotten rid of hefty mortgages and second cars and even moved to a cheaper area of the country so one parent can be home with the kids.

    Yes, most daycare workers do care for multiple kids but the vast majority of them make minimum wage or just slightly higher with no benefits. They’re worse off than the Walmart employees that so many are concerned about. Funny how there are plenty of parents who gripe about Walmart and refuse to shop there but at the same time have a poorly paid daycare employee raising their kids for them.

  31. karyn says:

    It’s not the initial cost of additional children I worry about. We still have all of our “equipment” from the first three for the baby we’re expecting in March. And I’m already a stay at home mom, so childcare isn’t an issue. It’s when I think about activities when they’re older (one takes piano lessons but four???) and college….

  32. J says:

    “My only question for you is, don’t you wake up when the baby is screaming his head off from down the hall 2 or 3 times a night?”

    Absolutely not. Both of my children sleep through the night without issue most of the time. We do have very occasional wakings, but they are really infrequent, and are generally a sign of illness and/or discomfort — for example, teething or a fever. But again, these occasions are rare. Our oldest has definitely had her “moments”, like waking up at 3AM and wanting her fan turned on — but we have made it clear to her now that these types of disturbances are unacceptable and will have consequences (since she can read a clock now)

    Daughter 1 stayed in a bassinet in our bedroom for a few weeks, moved off to her own room later (I slept in the guest room). At 12 weeks she started sleeping through the night. She’s now four, sleeps in her own bed, interruptions are few. She definitely had some issues going to bed, but we picked a routine and stuck with it. We didn’t use Ferber or anything like that, but we made it clear that bedtime was bedtime.

    Daughter 2 did the same bassinet thing for a few weeks. She slept through the night at 9 or 10 weeks. She’s at 19 months. Her bedtime routine is to read her a story and then put her to bed at 8 PM. That’s quite literally it. She then sleeps till about 7 AM.

    References we used were “The Happiest Baby on the Block” when they were really young, and then “The No Cry Sleep Solution”. I also think a lot of the sleeping has to do with their two distinct and unique personalities. #1 is more high strung and anxious, #2 is considerably more laid back.

  33. momof4 says:

    I’ve found that the best way to provide for multiple children is to develop a community of like minded parent friends and keep the goods moving from home to home. I have 4 children, and my good friend has 5. We pass the co sleeper, boucy seat, etc back and forth as needed, as well as clothes. We find that when we keep things moving, they always comes back to us when we need it. My friend always says ” be a river, not a reservoir”, when it comes to sharing what we have. I repeat this to myself as I continually evaluate what to keep and what to move on.

  34. Jen says:

    I’m with J and Debbie. There is no way I could sleep with an infant in my bedroom, let alone in my bed. Not only that, I watched several family members go through the most ridiculous efforts to get their kids sleeping in their own beds when the time came. No thanks!

    When our son was born, he slept in his crib (hand me down) from day one. Every time he fell asleep, we put him in his crib. This means that for the first few months, he was only up for about 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours to eat. When he started to fall asleep, we put him back in his crib.

    Yes, we heard him when he cried in the night to eat, and we got up to feed him (duh!). Then we all went back to our own beds. By 4 months he was sleeping through the night, and is now the easiest almost 2 year old to get to bed. He associates being in his crib with sleep time.

    My family is always amazed at how easily he goes down for a nap, and to bed at night when we visit. Especially my sister, whose 3 and 5 year old children are wandering around like zombies at 11pm or later, because they won’t go to bed until she goes to bed. Of course the next day they’re grouchy, tired and unpleasant. She tells me how lucky I am because her kids never took naps. Of course they didn’t, because she never put them in bed. We got that hand me down crib from her, and she had never used it.

    Sleep is CRITICAL for infants and children, so if you’re not going to go to bed at 8pm when your kids need to, then don’t start the habit of sleeping with them! Or else end the habit while they’re still young enough to adapt.

  35. Erm, when I was buying diapers for my daughter before she was born. :>) The diapers were not actually for me . . .

  36. Steffie says:

    on the hand me down/used items like cribs etc, just make sure there have been no safety recalls on the items

  37. Kevin says:

    I don’t understand what the big deal is with disposable diapers. They’re so much more convenient and less “icky.”

    “OMG but think of the environment, we can’t just keep burying these things, they never biodegrade!”

    Uh, last time I checked, it’s a BIG country. We’re no in any danger of running out of places to bury stuff any time soon. And also, just because you bury garbage somewhere doesn’t render the land unusable. In my hometown, once the landfill was “full”, they covered it all in topsoil and made it into a park. And finally, saying they “never” biodegrade is false. Plastics DO degrade, they just take a very long time to do it. And newer disposable diapers use materials that degrade much, much faster than the disposable diapers our parents used.

    I guess I just dislike all the irrational “environment”-mania when it’s applied to landfills. If you think about it logically, it’s not a big deal at all.

  38. Ben says:

    And these hand me downs can occur on a larger scale. My cousin and sister recently had children. The first thing I did was congratulate them. The second was to ask them to save everything that my future kids might be able to use. Same goes for other parents that you meet that might have, for example, boys clothes they can’t hand down to his younger sister etc.

  39. Jane says:

    @Courtney
    I pretty much agree with you IF you are talking about solidly middle class families with resources. But for lower class families, it probably isn’t an option for someone to stay home. Their wages just aren’t high enough for someone to opt out of the job market. And if they do opt out, they are probably on some sort of public assistance like WIC or food stamps.

    But, yes, you are certainly right that there is somewhat of a double standard regarding wages and what we are willing to tolerate our Walmart workers making vs. nannies.

    My husband and I certainly make sacrifices by having me stay home. We drive clunkers. We bought a small home. Private school will not be an option (no problem, since we are both big fans of public schools and live in a decent school district). But I also recognize that my husband earns much more than a lot of people.

  40. Stephanie says:

    Breastfeeding is another way to cut costs. Formula is sooo expensive.

    Also, I see a lot of families moving to bigger houses in order to accomodate growing families. We resisted that urge and made due with our little home. The cost savings of doing that are huge! Does every kid really need his own bedroom? Do you really need a playroom AND a family room?

    I agree that daycare costs are a huge burden for many working families. We decided I would work only part time for now and that my husband would use flex hours to be home when I was working. This might be a possibility for some and worth asking employers about. If your employer is open to flex time, then it can cut down on how many hours of daycare you need to buy. We’ve also started a babysitting co-op with some friends so that my husband and I can get out together once in a while. I was shocked at the hourly cost of a babysitter.

  41. Mark says:

    What’s the big deal with cloth diapers? Bigger sized disposables run $.25/each or more. 10/day * 365 days = $912.50/year!!! We’ve bought about $350 dollars worth of cloth diapers! If you think they’re yucky you’re not doing it right! Also, many daycares will use cloth diapers. You bring the day’s supply with you in the morning and a wet bag for the provider to put them in and then take it all home to wash.

  42. Joanna says:

    @ Courtney:

    Don’t rush to judgement & lump me in w/ all the Walmart haters. The only thing I hate about Walmart is the experience of going there. ;-)

  43. DivaJean says:

    Adding my input on the toddler bed discussion.

    We never used toddler beds. The bottom bunk of most bunk beds are usually significantly lower to the floor than standard twin sized beds. One side of the bed goes against a wall, the other gets a bed rail. Safe and snug- and no need for a toddler bed.

    That being said- if a toddler bed could be obtained for free from a friend or relative (which seems pretty likely for most people skulking here), it doesn’t really make a difference either way.

  44. Margaret says:

    My brother and sister in law got their baby stroller/car seat combo from a friend who had used it for one child. When that friend was expecting a second, they offered it back, but she didn’t want it, because she didn’t think it would be fair to the second child not to have everything new!!!

    I sleep with my kids, and I LOVE it. I would much rather sleep with my kids and deal with a little rolling around than sleep with my husband who bounces and rolls worse than the kids and snores like a jackhammer.

    I am a SAHM, but my cousin just started having kids and she works. Right now, her child is in an excellent daycare, but she thinks that when they have another, they will probably switch to a nanny, probably live in, because that will be less expensive. If they have twins, then a nanny definitely ends up the more affordable choice.

  45. Dan says:

    On the topic of toddler beds…

    We had a queen sized bed as a guest bed prior to our first born. It only made sense to use it as a kid bed after the crib because; we already had it, and because the “guest” room was going to be his room anyhow. To combat the “height” issue, we just put down a rug and laid the mattresses directly on the floor. We also found a rail that slips under the matress for $1.50 at a garage sale. We covered the matress with a vinyl sheet. We are also saving because all the old queen sized sheets still fit and can be used.

    On daipers,

    We’ve been able to find deals just about everywhere. I think we average about $.15 per diaper…I’m not sure the cost of cloth, but considering the initial investment, time to clean, smell, and chances of leaks…I’m sure $.15 might start to sound like a deal…no?

    On breastfeeding:

    YES YES YES….and guys, make sure you take a lactation class with your wives prior to the first born, be there to support them with ALL your wife’s needs. Afterall, that’s a TON of money to be saved!

    On hand-me-downs:

    I’m 100% for that….my wife and I differ on this occasionally, but I always say, “what does a 3yr old need to know about style?”

  46. Courtney says:

    @Jane
    It doesn’t make sense for both parents in a low-income family to work and put their kids in daycare. When you add up daycare and other work-associated costs, it most likely exceeds one of their salaries so they are actually losing money by having both parents work.

    If they both absolutely need to earn money, they would be better off working different shifts so one parent is always home, or figuring out a way for the stay-at-home spouse to earn income from home.

    Having said that, I know plenty of low-income families who are able to get by on one income with no government assistance. It can be done.

    @Joanna
    I wasn’t aiming the Walmart comment at you – just speaking generally :)

  47. Mighty@LettersTo.Us says:

    @Ben (37): I like to do things that are good for the environment, because it is always better to do good than not good. Putting putrid trash that does not biodegrade in a landfill is not good. Things biodegrade when they are exposed to sun, wind, water, etc. Things in a landfill don’t. They can scoop down into a landfill, and tell how old a section is by reading the newspapers.

    I agree that it is a big country, and that we don’t have to worry about space now, or for a long time. However, it is better to not fell trees, transport diapers in plastic (oil-based) packaging when we can make a one-time purchase of cloth diapers and wash them in water that gets cleaned by the city’s water plant.

    @ Dan, #45: In my experience, using a combination of BumGenius 3.0’s, prefolds (old-fashioned) and fitted’s with covers (old-fashioned, cut like undies with snaps), we have had maybe 10 leaks in 16 months. We also do not have to shop around for good prices on diapers, which saves time. Finally, because we store our diapers in two bins: 1. for pee-pee diapers, in Wolfie’s room and 2. for rinsed off poop diapers, in a bucket, in a cabinet, under the sink, we don’t really have a diaper stink problem. My sister used dispoables for both kids, and still for the younger one at night, and even with just a few diapers a week in the pail, the kids room smells like diapers. I think cloth doesn’t have this problem as much because you wash cloth diapers every 2-3 days with a 24-36 diaper supply, and they don’t have time to fester. Disposables are stinkier because they can gather for a week, and because most people don’t actually shake the poops into the toilet before disposing (the way you are legally obliged to–it’s generally illegal to put fecal matter into the garbage because it seeps into the ground water). Another reason why landfills are not the answer.

  48. Tammy says:

    I tried sleeping with the baby in the room for about 2 days. Doesn’t work for me! Every little noise she made woke me up…and now that she’s a preschooler she is a roller and a kicker. I think everybody sleeps better in their own beds. Plus, she loves her big girl bed!

    We save money on day care by having a very kind and generous Grandma who watches our 3 year old while my husband and I work. If we were paying day care costs, we’d be in a world of hurt. MiMi gets plenty of grandma time and I know I am leaving my daughter in a safe and loving place. I also know not everybody has this option available…I’m very lucky.

    Also lucky…we nursed until I had to go back to work, but then had to transition to formula. My mom worked for the company that makes Similac, so we went to the company store and bought about 5 cases at less than half price.

    If you don’t have friends that share the baby clothes, hit the garage sales hard! I got a $100 changing table for $20 (it just needed a new coat of paint) and tons of name brand clothes for a quarter or less.

  49. Telephus says:

    I agree with the poster who mentioned a mattress on the floor instead of a toddler bed. We were given a full size bedroom set (minus the bed – but including the mattress) when we bought our house, and our son was outgrowing his crib. We put the mattress on the floor, bought a couple of covers, and it’s great. He hasn’t fallen off, but I don’t have to worry about it. This year for Christmas we’re buying him a bedframe.

  50. Vanessa says:

    Many thoughts here:

    On co-sleeping-I did both, sort of. At bedtime, I would put my baby down in the bassinet (really a pram that has been handed around my family since 1977-my kids used it in 1997 and 2003) that stayed in my room. Then when she woke in the middle of the night I would bring her into bed with me for breastfeeding, etc. If I woke up and she was sleeping, I’d put her back int he bassinet, if not she’d stay in the bed with me. This way, she got used to sleeping on her own (always put the baby down drowsy but awake) but my sleep disturbance would be minimal. Once sleeping through the night, she was moved to the crib in her room. Both my kids slept through the night at 6weeks, with occasional exceptions when sick. They also have always been good about going to bed with minimal routine. Maybe one book, but sometimes just bedtime-hug and kiss-and off they go to bed all on there own since toddlerhood.

    Daycare-I have also done both. When I first married (already had first kid-very young) we were definitely low income. We couldn’t afford daycare with me working or for me not to work. So we did the opposite shift thing. It SUCKS!!!! I did that for four years and again for the last three. It is especially bad when the oldest is in school because the night shifter almost never gets to see that one. And never gets to see the spouse. I tried staying home, but couldn’t afford that either. Yes after daycare my income was much much less, but I had health insurance for the kids and grocery money, which is important. And we live very frugally.

    Daycare cost-yes if you figure $900 per month that is not much pay, but as someone pointed out, that is $900 per month for three children per worker. And as the child gets older the cost drops somewhat but the child :teacher ratio rises dramatically. $750 per month for a preschooler with a 9:1 ratio. That works out to about $40 per hour.

  51. Michele says:

    Just a couple of comments: I used cloth diapers for both sons and breast-fed both sons. I hated breast feeding, but the babies enjoyed it. I suffered through pumping and freezing breast milk so I could work midnight shift as a Deputy Sheriff and my husband (who worked day shift as a Deputy Sheriff) could feed them nutritious breast milk while I was working. I think it made a healthier child, even though I didn’t like it very much. We also put them in a regular lower bunk bed (free as a hand me down) as soon as they were climbing out of a crib- 18 months or so. My husband bought an extra ‘rail’ at a garage sale and we put the beds up against the wall. The older son was 5 when the younger went to the lower bunk, so it worked well for us. About the diapers-we used a diaper service. It was AWESOME and back then, cheaper than paper throw away diapers…this was in 1983 and 1987. Oh, and we potty trained them at age 1. That did help with diaper duty. Also, since we worked opposite shifts, we didn’t have to worry about daycare. We think it paid off with great sons. We did pay for Catholic elementary and high school and we are paying for college, but that was a known expense and planned. Sometimes my Mom or MIL or sister watched the kids when we had a date night when they boys were little, but usually we just did everything with them. Of course, they started snow skiing at age 3 and learned how to drive a waverunner at 7 by themsleves, but I digress. It can be done if you are motivated!! You have to want to do what needs to be done.

  52. sarah says:

    To a previous commenter: I never saw the point of child-sized beds either, until we lived in a two bedroom house w/ our three kids. Our children’s bedroom is very small (11×11) so we have 2 toddler beds and 1 crib in there right now, along w/ a shelf for toys and a dresser for clothing. Anything else would not fit.
    Also, regarding clothing: I buy my oldest child (a girl) pants and jackets from the boy department. I buy plain jeans and khakis, and put them w/ girl sweaters, shoes, hair ribbons, etc. People never know the difference. My kids also all wear red or gray hooded sweatshirt jackets. We have one in every size from 6 months to Youth Small, and they just get passed on down the line. Our girls do not look like they are wearing boy jackets.

  53. carmen says:

    @ Sarah – presumably you have a boy that explains your clothing purchasing strategy?:)

    Maybe it’s time to visit family planning too; 4 kids in one 11×11 room would be very cramped (& expensive)? ;)

  54. TJ says:

    After having a HUGE surprise, we had twins 2 years after my tubal ligation, I can add something. I had given away or sold nearly everything, because we were done, we spent a large amount of money to make sure we were done. So when we learned we were having twins, I immediately let people know we’d need prayers and to pray for our finances. Then I let everyone know I was open to all used baby items I had room for.

    I took almost everything people offered, with the exception of highchairs and full size swings, as we have no room for them. I had not sold the crib or changing table, as the people on craigslist kept offering far too little. We’ve also been gifted with boxes upon boxes of diapers from church family. I do have some cloth, but at this time, I have not attempted to keep up with both of them in cloth. As they get older and more predictable, then I’ll likely use cloth on the weekends.

    So while our home is now very cramped, we are a happy family of 6. We have one tiny portable swing handed down, the boys shared the cradle in the beginning and now share a crib. 85% of their clothes are hand-me-downs, 14.9% are new gifts, and I spent $7 buying pants that would fit them as they were born premature. I can’t imagine life not having turned out this way, and am thankful we made this work financially.

  55. busymom says:

    @TJ — Wow! I can’t believe you had twins after a tubal ligation. I was just thinking of looking into that procedure, but your experience does give me pause.

    We blew a lot of money when our first daughter was born — my husband was completely against our baby potentially sharing our bed, so we bought an expensive crib (I also sewed all the bedding for it); alas, our child never spent a night in it but it was great for holding laundry that we washed and did not have time to fold. Our babies slept in our bed and that worked for us, but if you are not sure what you might do, I recommend find the crib you like before the baby is born, but waiting to buy it because a little baby will probably sleep with you or be in a bassinet near you. You can always get it later if that is what works for you.

    Also, if at all possible, breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed; you save money on formula, bottles, etc. But also you will save money on doctor’s bills because breastfeed babies are much healthier while there are nursing and the health benefits of breastfeeding continue throughout life. Breastfeeding also protects and benefits the mother, too.

    I really feel strongly about a parent or family member staying home with the children; it saves money in many ways, one way being that children in daycare are more likely to get ill as they are exposed to a lot more illnesses. Two books that I found helpful are “Miserly Moms” by Jonni McCoy and “Stay Home Instead” (sorry, don’t have the author to that one).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>