"Deals" via Budget in Google Reader

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Feeding Baby - Formula

Good Start Gentle Plus Formula, Powder, 25.7-Ounce Cans (Pack of 6)

Of everything that was hard for us, my son did well on formula. Some babies have a tough time on certain formulas, forcing moms to need to purchase the most expensive formula. (This is one reason that, IF YOU ARE ABLE, giving breastfeeding a try could help you in the long run). Our son had no problems with the cheapest formulas and going between brands. Because of this, we used up a ton of samples that we got and that friends gave us. 

Getting Free or Cheap formula
  • Try the generic brands. They are in some cases more than half as much and nourish just as well. If you plan to formula feed from the start, you may want to bring your own to the hospital so you do not need to mess with transitioning to it. We paid about $11 per week for Meijer brand.
  • Sign up with the formula companies. I heard that moms that say they plan to breastfeed get more free samples than those that say they plan to formula feed.
  • Coupon! TheThriftyCouple (search formula) just started a weekly post on the best formula deals. Start stocking up while you are pregnant.
  • Find some breastfeeding friends. They will probably have a ton of formula samples that they will not use and be glad to give to you. You might even want to try and contact your local breastfeeding groups to see if they would be ok if you stopped by their meetings and pick-up samples. Just be prepared for the possibility for some well-meaning questions as to your reasons for not breastfeeding.
  • Freecycle
  • Watch the budget4baby RSS feed at the top of the page for deals!
Other things you may need (please excuse the cut and paste from last week):
Bottles -
    • We kept a bottle by my bed at night so it was ready to be mixed when he woke up.
    • We kept a bottle with water in the diaper bag for easy use.
    • He had 4 at daycare at a time. 
    • Add a night or two where we were just too tired to do dishes.
We started off with two medela gifting sets that we we registered for. I also picked up some bottles at in free bins at mom to mom sales and boiled them, and the breastfeeding center would let you take bottles home as well. When we need more nipples or bottles, we went with the gerber three pack bottles (they are cheaper at meijer than amazon has them listed). They were actually cheaper than buying just nipples and the medela caps and nipples worked on the bottles just as well.

Steamer bags - We have hard water, so we would hand wash all of our bottles and nipples. They are a really good deal because you can use each bag about 20 times and they even have a place to check off every time you use it so you know how many uses you have left!

Formula dispenser
Munchkin Powdered Formula Dispenser Combo Pack,Colors Vary
I loved these so much I felt they needed a picture. At one point, I would have been glad to have 5. Places I used mine:
  • The diaper bag for formula
  • The diaper bag for cereal
  • For babysitters (pre-scooped, so they couldn't mess it up)
  • Next to my bed (only had to refill every 3 nights) for late night feedings.
Bottle Brush - Formula gets gross if not rinsed out right away. Sometimes a bottle will get thrown behind the crib or the bed and is just NASTY a few weeks later when it is found. Get a bottle brush that has a nipple cleaner at the end to get any crustys out.

Are you willing to share why you choose/had to formula feed (disrespectful comments will be removed)? Are there any gadgets that you used to make your life easier? 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lorex Baby Monitor

Lorex LW2003 LIVE snap Video Baby Monitor (White)
On Monday I added a post from My City Mommy for the Lorex LW2003 LIVE snap Video Baby Monitor (White). I have had my eye on this monitor since we moved my son downstairs. Once he is old enough to be in a big boy bed, I want to be able to know what he is up to.

I ordered it and it arrived on monday with free two day shipping from Amazon mom. So far I LOVE it!

Why I love this monitor
  • Both the camera and the monitor have the ability to run on batterys
  • It has a button that allows you to talk back to baby (this will be great when he is older)
  • It allows you to take pictures and saves them on an SD card (not great quality, but I could see where this might come in handy when he is in a cute sleeping position).
  • You can mount the camera on the wall
  • You can add up to 4 cameras and view them on the same montior
Of course it is still new, so I will keep you updated on anything I don't like or if it breaks.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Babies R Us trade in event!

Graco Alano Travel System, Greer 
I just got a flier in the mail from Babies R us announcing that their trade in event starting January 28th and going until February 21st, 2011.

This is a great chance to get a rare discount on Car Seats, Strollers, Travel Systems, High Chairs, Play Yards, Bassinets, Cribs or toddler beds. All you need to do is bring in any one of the above items to buy any items above.

As an example, you could trade in the car seat that your Aunt Sally was saving to hand down to you after her kids outgrew it in 1985 and get 25% off of a new crib!

If you don't have any used items to trade in, ask around on freecycle or keep your eye open this summer at garage sales and take advantage of this deal next time it is offered. I have seen car seats for as low as $1. 

In the fine print, it also says "one coupon per trade in". For all of you couponers out there, does this mean you could use the 20% one baby item on top of everything else?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Feeding Baby - Breastfeeding

Udder Covers Nursing Covers - Maria
Even though I had so much trouble breastfeeding. When things were going well, I really enjoyed it! I think it is pretty cool that most woman can nourish their babies for the first year of their lives with only their own bodies!

Things I loved about breastfeeding:
  • Soothing my crying baby and watching his expression turn from panic to relaxed joy.
    • This was great when he got immunizations because he would cry, I would offer him food and all was right with the world again.
  • Night time feedings. I loved pulling my little guy in bed with me laying him on his side and me on my side and then going back to sleep while he nursed.  In a few hours if he woke up I would put him on my other side (with a bed rail) and let him nurse again and go back to sleep.
    • Of course this does not work for everyone and many experts strongly advise against it, but it worked for us and I attribute it to helping us nurse as long as we did.
  • Any feedings... It was warm, pre-mixed and didn't require any bottle washings afterward!
  • It's free!
Stuff you need:

If you never need or want to leave your baby for more than a couple of hours at a time, you can skip the bottles and the pump and save a lot of money!

A pump
For the rest of us, you many need to lay out a nice chunk of change. If you are working or need to spend a significant amount of time pumping, I would HIGHLY recommend a double pump. I couldn't imagine trying to use a single manual pump.. The double pumps are quite pricey, but I and many other moms I know were able to get their insurance to pay for most or all of the cost of a pump. I think I paid about $21 for mine. It was however quite hard to find. My insurance gave me a list of approved stores to buy one from and not one of those stores carried the approved pump. I ended up asking a co-worker where she got hers, called the insurance company back to make sure I could indeed purchase it there and finally got the pump. You will need a prescription for it however. You many also want to get extra cones if you are pumping a lot.

Bottles - I never had more than 4 or so "extra" bottles saved up, but we still needed a ton of bottles.
    • I had to take 4 to work for pumping
    • He had 4 at daycare 
    • Add a night or two where we were just too tired to do dishes
    • That is about 30 bottles right there.
We started off with two medela gifting sets that we we registered for. I also picked up some bottles at in free bins at mom to mom sales and boiled them, and the breastfeeding center would let you take bottles home as well. When we need more nipples or bottles, we went with the gerber three pack bottles (they are cheaper at meijer than amazon has them listed). They were actually cheaper than buying just nipples and the medela caps and nipples worked on the bottles just as well.

Milk storage bags - I never had enough to use them. Anyone have anything they want to share?

Steamer bags - We have hard water, so we would hand wash all of our bottles and nipples. Occasionally and when he had thrush, we would use steam bags. They also worked great for sanitizing the pump cones and tubes when we first got it. They are a really good deal because you can use each bag about 20 times and they even have a place to check off every time you use it so you know how many uses you have left!

Udder Cover - If you want/are willing to nurse in public you may want to get an uddercover or something similar. I tried to use a blanket and he would just pull it off and give everyone a free show.

Nursing Bra/Shirts -  I got a great deal on nursing bras at walmart when I was pregnant. Meijer also had some clearance nursing tanks that I got, but they were all too short, especially right after birth, which made me feel like this.  There are a ton of nursing tops out there, but I would just lift up my shirt while wearing a tank.

Nursing Pillow - Boppy pillows can be great for many things and are super easy to find cheap used. I was not however crazy about it for nursing. A normal bed pillow worked better for me. I also like the my breast friend nursing pillow when I used it at the breastfeeding center, but it was not something so awesome that I was willing to pay for or find a place to store.

Pumping Bra - Some women do not need these, but other do need something to hold the pump on while they do other work. There are a bunch of different hands free bras out there.

Lanolin -The first few weeks of breastfeeding can be painful until you are used to all the extra attention.  Lanolin is great to help irritation. Hydro gel pads are also great, but expensive, so make sure you ask for them at the hospital because you might get a stash for free.

Our childbirth educator also suggested these books: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding. Most areas have a La Leche League meetings that can be visited before and after giving birth. Some woman I have talked to have found their local group to be over the top, however, many have been been greatly helped by their advice and support. I had both experiences. Some groups were super helpful and others, even after listing everything I had done, made me feel like I had not tried hard enough.

If you breastfed, why did you choose to do so? How long did you/do you plan to breastfeed? Did you find it easy or hard? What did you love about breastfeeding? Do you have any advice for moms trying to decide if they should breastfeed or not?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Feeding Baby - Breast Vs. Bottle

Is Breast Best?

Warning: This is a tough topic for me, as I will explain later, so I may be a bit jaded on this one.

Most people I have met are quite passionate about their choice to use the breast or the bottle. Others didn't have a choice. Since the general consensus is that "breast is best". I am going to focus on the cases when that may not be true for everyone.

My Story
When I found out I was pregnant, I was very set on breastfeeding. I posted all of my formula samples on freecycle and gave them away since I would not be feeding my baby any of that. I felt that those who formula fed must be either selfish or lazy. Why wouldn't you breastfeed?

At my sons two week appointment, he had not yet reached his birth weight and the pediatrician referred us to the breastfeeding clinic for advice. After he still was not gaining weight, we started adding some formula to his diet (which caused its own problem in that he was full when I should have been feeding him (stimulating more supply)). We also had a fun case of thrush when I was taking anti-biotics to treat the infection I had after giving birth. Over the next 9 months we fought a hard battle with the breast and tried pretty much everything to build my supply:
  • Pumping -  For awhile I was getting up at 2am to pump to make sure I was constantly trying to build supply.
  • Using a lactation aid (our breastfeeding center made me one for free from a syringe and feeding tube) so that I would get stimulation and he would get nutrition at the same time.
  • Using reglan (prescribed by the breastfeeding center) for off label use to increase milk supply
  • Using the herbs turmeric, blessed thistle and fenugreek.
From about 3-6 months old I was (barely) able to keep him off formula. However, the rest of the time we breastfed, he was getting formula as well.  At 9 months, after I was pumping for 3 hours a day and was only getting 4oz. Many times I would have to throw the milk away because I bleed in it, he was biting me and not interested, so we decided it was time to call it quits.

I still don't know why I couldn't fully breastfeed, but theories that were presented to me was what my pituitary gland was damaged after childbirth because I left the hospital with a hemoglobin of 6. However, I have not had any other symptoms of this. Some say that woman with C-sections or other "traumatic" births have more trouble breastfeeding. I also wonder if was a combination of the blood loss and then the infection I fought for a month after his birth....

I can say that I found http://www.noteveryonecanbreastfeed.com/ to be a great resource as well as the yahoo group http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/mobi/.

Reasons why people don't breastfeed:
As I had many friends who were having babies just before me and then after my own experiences, I learned many reasons WHY you would not breast feed.
  • Adoption - This is an obvious reason why a mom would not breastfeed. There are still however critics that feel that an adoptive mother should induce lactation. If this is something that you are passionate about, I say go for it! However, I do not think that a mother should be judged for choosing not to do this! I had to do many of the things that woman do to induce lactation to build my supply and it is hard work even if there were not a newborn to care for!
  • They can't - Rarely, woman won't even produce a drop of milk after they have a baby. Others, like me can't produce enough and going back and forth between the bottle and the breast is hard work! I think formula is a much better option than starvation.
  • They think its gross - I read a blog of someone who I know is a great mom, but she tried to breastfeed and hated it. Making milk grossed her out. I think that a baby would benefit much more by spending time with a happy mom feeding him/her a bottle than a mom that was uncomfortable for 10 feedings a day.
  • They need to work can can't pump - I work for a super supportive group and it was awkward for me, a pretty open and semi-outspoken person, to inform my boss of my intentions to pump and a need for a place to do it. I think it could be hard for many women to negotiate for pumping space and time, even though it is the law.
  • They are busy or "need a life" -  However, there are others out there that are quite the opposite. You hear all the time on commercials that "breast is best", babies who are held more are smarter, babies need nurturing. However, I think babies mostly need you to be YOU (as long as you have you babies best interests in mind). I think some woman would be miserable at home all day and need to work to be good parents when they are home. I think a baby sees right through it if you are pretending to be affectionate when you are not an affectionate person. As, stated in my disclaimer, I am not a child psychologist, but I think being "fake" would cause a whole new set of problems. Now, I am not suggesting that if you child comes running to you for a hug that you turn them away because you don't like hugs. In the same spirit, you shouldn't work all day because that's "who you are". After all you did bring a child into the world and you need to make adjustments for that, but life needs balance. If breastfeeding is the one thing keeping you from being a good parent, I think formula would be good option.
  • They are not educated about the benefits of breastfeeding - There are some cultures and families where breastfeeding just isn't done. Grandma didn't do it, mom didn't do it, my friends don't do it. Why should I? I think part of the reason I choose to breastfeed was because my mom did. I also relied on the breastfeeding clinic and friends a lot for advice and to ask "is this normal"?
  • They are lazy or selfish - Of course some Moms out there do fall into the category, but far fewer than I originally thought.
Other people that are annoying:
One weird thing about feeding choices was that people (even in their 80's) seemed to have a strong opinion on what was best for my baby and my family.  When I was fighting hard to keep breastfeeding, I offended people that quit breastfeeding before I did or didn't try. When I was considering quitting breastfeeding people would suggest I try harder (yes, even after I told them everything I just told you). It's a touchy subject!

Did you choose breast or bottle? Why? Did you intend to do one thing while you were pregnant and change your mind (or were forced) to choose the other option?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Series Intro - Feeding Baby

Next up is our "What to feed baby" series.

What to feed baby can be a VERY touchy subject for some (maybe even most) people. I know because I have been on both extremes (more details later). I hope to provide factual information for all feeding options so that individual Moms can make informed decisions about what is best for their families.

Here are the following topics to be covered:
  1. Breast Vs. Bottle
    1. Breastfeeding
    2. Formula Feeding
  2. Solids Store Bought vs. Homemade
    1.  Featured Recipe Week

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Homemade Toddler paint

Happy New Year!!! I know I have not been posting like I used to. I do plan to get some more regular posts out there, but I am really enjoying my Christmas break with my little boy and husband, so they will have to wait until I am forced back into the "real world".

On to today's post............
So, I found this recipe on parentsconnect.com to make homemade washable, edible paint for your child and was super excited to try it out and share it with you. I thought it was perfect for this website because it is for kids and Do It Youself, so it must be cheap too!

The recipe called for equal parts Dry Milk and water and then some food coloring.
First problem: The generic brand dry milk was almost $5!!
 Organic Valley Organic Nonfat Dry Milk Powder, 12-Ounce Bags (Pack of 4) 

Second problem: I was expecting finger paint and this was like, well... Milk....

First Solution Attempt: Add more milk powder.
Result: It just got lumpy

I have a very unhappy teething toddler on my hands, so failure is not an option.
Second Solution Attempt: Scrap they dry milk all together, make some vanilla pudding and add food coloring.
Jell-O Instant Pudding & Pie Filling, Vanilla, 3.4-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 24) 

That is not as big of a mess as I expect from my little boy.... he must need more:

He took his bib off before I could stop him. 
Does anyone with older kids want to try the milk paint and see how older kids do with it? 
Does anyone want to try pudding paint and share pictures on our facebook page?