Archives for February 2013

How to Budget for Having Your First Baby

There’s an old adage that says if you wait to have children until you can afford them, you’ll never have them. While it’s true that raising kids in today’s world costs a pretty penny, it’s also true that making some budget cuts and reallocating funds can make it possible to survive without breaking the bank. If you’re thinking about making your first addition to the family or have recently learned about a surprise bundle of joy, here are a few tips that can help you save money on the earliest baby expenses.

Take Your Income Changes into Consideration

Before you can make a budget for your household that includes room for a new addition, you’ll have to figure out exactly what you’re working with as far as money goes. If one parent will be staying home after the birth of a child, Mom will be losing a bit of her earning power during maternity leave or someone will be taking on a second job, you’ll need to factor those things into your new budget. The first step to making your new budget baby-friendly is to determine where you stand and how the changes that a baby will bring to your lifestyle will affect your income after she’s born.

Consider the Basics

You can’t leave the hospital with your new baby unless you have a suitable car seat installed, and you can’t keep her warm if you don’t have clothes. You may be surprised to realize just how many of the other “must-have” baby items can wait for a while, or even be skipped altogether. When every penny counts, you may find that it’s more cost-effective and convenient to keep Baby in her own bassinet in the master bedroom for a few months before springing for an expensive, full-sized crib. Opting for cloth diapers over those of the disposable variety may also save you a bit of money in the long run, especially if you wash them yourself rather than sending them out to a diaper service. Formula can be expensive, but breastfeeding is essentially free. Look at all of the “essential” basics with a critical eye, determining what can be safely purchased more frugally.

Work Out a Childcare Plan

In some cases, forgoing daycare in favor of having one parent stay home with a new baby can be less damaging to the family budget than having two working parents. Other times, a private nanny is more cost-effective than center-based care. In order to determine what the best course of action is for your family so that you can budget accordingly, you’ll need to take a critical look at your finances and the costs of each option.

Explore Your Health Insurance Options

According to CostHelper.com, a birth in a hospital setting can cost the average uninsured family between $5,000 and $20,000. One of the most important steps that a couple considering the addition of their first baby to the family can take is the acquisition of quality healthcare coverage. If you’re still in the family planning stages, it’s wise to start shopping for the best coverage now.

Remember the Unseen Expenses

You know that you’ll need diapers, clothes and plenty of gear to navigate modern parenthood, but you may not be taking the less obvious expenses into consideration. Obtaining or increasing the pay-out levels of parental life insurance policies and the legal expenses associated with estate planning and will creation can be expenses that add up quickly, too.

Eliminate Non-Essential Spending

Cash-strapped young couples that are starting their family may be surprised by how much money they can save by cutting out the non-essential spending on small items each day. Try dropping an expensive coffee habit, packing a lunch instead of buying it and dropping some little luxury items from the monthly budget. Those “little things” can add up in a big way over time and can help you save up more money for the expansion of your family.

Over-Budget

It’s better to plan on spending far more each month than it is to under-budget and find yourself in a mess at the end of the month. Round everything up and allocate more money than you think is necessary so that you’re never unpleasantly surprised when the time comes to pay bills. If you’re particularly disciplined, you can stretch your budget even farther by putting the surplus from your monthly budget into a savings account. When you’re saving money that you already planned to spend, you can start building a nest-egg without spreading yourself too thin.

10 Baby Products that Can Cause Injuries Because of Misuse

Almost anything can turn unsafe when used incorrectly, but some items marketed directly towards babies and their new parents can just be downright dangerous. These are ten of the objects you’re likely to find in any nursery, but might want to use with caution.

  1. Crib – Don’t let this one scare you off, but your crib can be dangerous for your child, especially if it has a now recalled drop side. One thing to be aware of is that your baby’s fingers can end up getting caught in the movable parts. If that happens, it can be anything from a painful pinch to a more traumatic injury. To ease your mind, consider a crib that has four sturdy sides and remember to keep bumpers, loose blankets and pillows out of the crib to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  2. Shampoo – Some shampoos can be a bit dangerous, but that does not mean you should avoid using shampoo or having bath time altogether. On the contrary, bath time is very important, but so is how you use the shampoo. When the shampoo is not in use, be sure the lid is tightly closed and away from the curious hands of your baby. Also, when using the shampoo, make sure baby is not ingesting it. If baby accidentally swallows shampoo, it can be poisonous and you should contact poison control immediately.
  3. Highchair – The highchair can be a very dangerous place for a baby if it is used improperly. Remember that the straps are there for a reason, so use them! If you do not strap your baby into her highchair, there are a variety of ways she could end up causing herself injury. Also, when you are securing the serving plate, be sure baby’s fingers are out of the way so they do not get pinched.
  4. Car Seat – Make sure you get your car seat inspected for safety before you take your baby anywhere in it. Or, if you are unsure of how to install your car seat, seek a professional to do it for you. Visit www.safekids.org to find a certified passenger safety technician in your area.
  5. Headbands – While headbands look cute in her hair, your baby can end up strangled by them if they slip from her head. So, if you have her wearing a headband, be sure to take it off before she goes to sleep or when she’s not going to be in your sight.
  6. Changing Table – Obviously, whether you have your baby strapped into his changing table or not, you do not want to walk away from it. Even though you will constantly be by his side at the changing table, you still want to be sure to strap him in every time you change his diaper. Turning your back for a split second is enough time for him to roll off and hurt himself.
  7. Bathers – Baths are a tricky thing no matter what. You want to make sure the water is the right temperature and that your baby is in something safe and comfortable. The baby bather is a good idea for keeping baby safe and comfortable, as long as it’s a sturdy one that will not turn over if you have an enthusiastic bather.
  8. Small Toys – Make sure the toys you have are age-appropriate, with no small parts that baby can choke on. Baby toys are very well labeled, so it’s easy to buy the correct ones for your child. If you have older children with smaller toys, make sure they play with them in an area where the baby will not pick them up and put them in her mouth.
  9. Sling Carriers – Sling carriers are becoming more popular because of their ease of use and fashion worthiness, but they can be used incorrectly, resulting in an injured or suffocated baby. When the sling is on, be aware of your surroundings so you do not bump baby’s head on anything, such as counters or door entryways. Also, make sure she is not getting caught up in the fabric and suffocating.
  10. Walkers – Walkers are great for teaching your baby how to walk and getting them to move around, but be sure you put them in a safe part of your house. Walkers should only be used under your supervision and away from any stairs that your baby can fall down or cords that your baby can get wrapped up in.

Most of these popular products can be used without any incidents at all, provided that your child is well-supervised while they’re in use. Keep your eyes peeled to ensure your little one avoids any unnecessary injuries or accidents that stem from improper use of his belongings.

20 Blogs with Ideas for Celebrating Baby’s First Easter

When it comes to celebrating firsts, there’s something special about celebrating that first Easter together.  While your baby is a bit too small to help you with a lot of things, she’ll enjoy watching you decorate the house, color Easter eggs and prepare yummy foods. During your celebration don’t forget to take lots of photos. You’ll want to be sure to include them with her other “firsts” in her scrapbook.

Coloring eggs

This time honored tradition of coloring Easter eggs started because eggs are a symbol of rebirth.  More than 500 years ago the first book was written mentioning Easter eggs.  Some Christians would not eat meat during Lent and so Easter was the first time they could eat eggs and meat again.  One common game that was played was an egg rolling contest which symbolized the rolling away of the stone on Christ’s tomb.  Your baby will love the look of colored eggs.  Beware, though. It may be a good idea to wait until your child is older to let her eat them.  If you’re looking for egg-coloring inspiration, check out these five blogs.

Egg Hunt

Many churches and cities hold large Easter egg hunts every year.  The nice thing about these places is that they let the groups go according to age.  You and your little one can run out looking for eggs.  Many times the eggs are just lying on the grass and easy to find.  Invite some other kids over and throw your own Easter egg hunt.  Of the many kinds of events you can host this is probably one of the easiest ones you can do.  If money is tight you can always ask each guest to bring a dozen filled eggs with them so that you don’t have to provide all of the filled eggs and the food for the event.  Have a good time and take a look at these five blog entries to get some tips on egg hunts.

Desserts

Everyone needs a dessert for Easter dinner.  For baby’s first Easter he may or may not be eating a lot of solid foods, but these desserts are kid-friendly desserts that are perfect for the whole family.  Traditional Easter desserts might be carrot cake or pineapple cake.  Bakers have branched out over the years to include all sorts of edible delights for Easter dinner.  These five blog posts will show traditional, light and decadent Easter desserts.

Easter Baskets

Typically the Easter bunny leaves a basket for little boys and girls.  You can buy a pre-made Easter basket at the discount store if you are pressed for time, but why would you when it’s so simple to put one together yourself.  There are different levels of Easter baskets, from simple to over-the-top.  These basket ideas have so many cute things that no one will even miss the candy.  So no matter what kind of basket you want to give your little one on her first Easter you should be able to find some ideas within these five blog posts.

Lose Baby Weight Fast With These 10 iPhone Apps

Having a baby is one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences that you’ll ever have. Unfortunately, the joys of motherhood are often accompanied by stubborn baby weight gained during pregnancy. Using the powerful and popular iPhone device in your pocket, you can actually manage your weight-loss efforts in a rational, reasonable way that adheres to your hectic schedule. Post-delivery weight loss is never easy, but it can be greatly simplified by the efforts of the developers of these 10 powerful and useful apps.

  1. Post Pregnancy Weight Loss – Unlike general weight-loss and fitness apps, this $4.99 app is designed specifically with the needs of post-delivery new moms in mind. Based upon the concept of hypnotherapy for weight loss, this app from i-mobilize, incorporated may help you reach your post-baby weight loss goals.
  2. Lose It! – Very highly rated by App Store users, this free app has been featured by such prominent media outlets as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and Forbes. With an extensive database of foods and exercises, you can keep up with your diet and manage your weight loss goals reasonably.
  3. Weightbot – Tracking your weight with this $1.99 app is fun and easy, thanks to the clever interface and powerful functionality. Weightbot tracks your BMI and progress towards a set goal, showing real results for post-partum mommies in need of reassurance.
  4. Prêt-à-Yoga – Juggling a new baby is difficult enough. Managing to fit in time to go to a yoga class is another story entirely. Bring yoga class to the comfort of your own home with this $0.99 app, which will allow you to get in some relaxing exercise while your new bundle of joy slumbers away.
  5. Nike Training Club – Designed to be an all-inclusive fitness app, the free Nike Fitness Club is like carrying a personal trainer around in your pocket. In fact, you can even unlock exclusive workouts from celebrity trainer Ary Nuñez and from famous athletes. You can also work out to music in your own library while audio guidance provides you with the motivation you need to get your pre-baby body back.
  6. 40•30•30 – Part of losing your baby weight is managing your diet properly. With this free app, you can maintain a 40%-30%-30% ratio of carbs, protein and fat. Balancing macronutrients is a snap with this app, which eliminates the need for complex equations while you’re caring for a new baby.
  7. CrunchFu – With this $0.99 app, you can be sure that you’re doing crunches right without coaching from a personal trainer. Hold your iPhone to your chest, and CrunchFu will track your motion and provide relevant feedback. Before starting a workout regimen that includes crunches, however, you should consult with your obstetrician to be sure that you’re fully recovered and ready for abdominal exercise.
  8. Digifit iCardio – With the capability to integrate with some of the most popular fitness apps available, the free Digifit iCardio app is a must-have tool for new moms who are ready to take back their pre-pregnancy body. Map runs and bike rides and record your time, distance and speed to get an accurate picture of how much you’re actually accomplishing when you work out.
  9. Fast Food Calorie Counter – Parenthood is hectic, and doesn’t always leave time for a perfectly balanced meal. With the $0.99 Fast Food Calorie Counter, you can make sure that your drive-through options are the healthiest possible choices and keep up with the impact that a fast-food meal has on your diet. Count your calories, carbs and fat easily so that you can adjust your intake accordingly throughout the rest of the day.
  10. Meal Snap – Calorie Counting Magic – When you’re navigating the unfamiliar territory of new parenthood, you’re not likely to have time for entering complex food items into a more complex nutrition app. With this $2.99 offering from DailyBurn, all you have to do is take a picture of your food and let Meal Snap do all the work. You’ll instantly receive the nutritional breakdown of what you’re about to eat. Meal Snap even helps you log your meals, so that you can keep track of your dietary habits over time.

Losing baby weight can seem like one of the most pressing issues in your life, but it shouldn’t take the place of your safety. Using any one of these 10 apps while you’re driving is not only dangerous, but may also be illegal in some areas. With a new baby depending upon you for her most basic care, it’s imperative that you make every effort to safeguard both yourself and your baby. Leaving your phone safely tucked away while you’re driving is one way to make sure that you do just that.

15 Tips for Creating a Calm and Soothing Nursery for Your Newborn

When you learn of a brand new bundle of joy’s impending arrival, one of your first thoughts may be of the nursery you’d like to create for him. After you’ve adjusted to the idea of bringing a new life into the family, you’ll be faced with a staggering array of decisions that make life in the months before your baby’s arrival quite hectic. Creating a calm, soothing oasis from the frenetic pace of the world can help you and your baby find some serenity. These tips can help you create the peaceful space you’ve envisioned and to perfect it before your baby arrives.

  1. Color is Everything – The color of the walls and accents in any room set the mood. If you’re shooting for a more tranquil, serene space, it’s best to choose colors that promote those feelings. Bold and energetic colors like bright orange or red may not be conducive to rest, while pale blues and greens can have the desired calming effect.
  2. Skip the Frilly Bedding – A crib that looks like a magazine layout may create a sense of pride for you, but it can be dangerous for your baby. Making sure that he gets a good night’s sleep without increasing SIDS risks is a parent’s job, so make sure your nursery planning takes American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines into consideration.
  3. Don’t Forget the Window Treatments – Blackout shades can help you keep the sun out of Baby’s eyes while he naps during the day, creating a soothing space. You will want to make sure that you choose window treatments that don’t pose a strangulation risk, as babies can become entangled with cords that are within their reach.
  4. Include a Comfy, Adult-Sized Chair – The nursery may be your baby’s room, but you’ll be spending many sleepless nights there as well. A comfortable chair that accommodates a sleepy adult will be a blessing for you, boosting the overall feeling of calm in the room.
  5. Make the Most of Nursery Closet Space – Clutter doesn’t promote calmness, so devote some energy to effective closet use. Babies may be tiny people, but their stuff can take up an astounding amount of space!
  6. Keep Storage Solutions Simple – The cute tub you’ve found for storing diaper wipes may be a thematic match with the room, but you won’t be soothed for long when you realize it’s too complex to open while holding down a dirty, squirming baby.
  7. Choose Functional, Multi-Purpose Furniture – Rather than buying a changing table that serves no other purpose, consider a nice dresser with a safety rail installed and a soft changing mat placed over the top. When your child is out of diapers, it’ll still be a functional piece of furniture.
  8. Be Budget-Conscious – The most beautiful, perfectly designed nursery will create nothing but stress if you dramatically exceed your budget in terms of planning. To make sure that Baby’s space isn’t a source of grief for you, keep an eye on your spending.
  9. Look Up! – A newborn may not notice, but an older baby spends a significant amount of time on his back, looking at the ceiling. When you paint and decorate the nursery, keep in mind that a stained ceiling in need of painting can cheapen the rest of the room.
  10. Choose Safe Paints – Finding the perfect shade of paint is a key aspect of creating a soothing and tranquil nursery, but it’s important to make sure that your wall colors are of the low-VOC variety. Volatile organic compounds can cause respiratory irritation and other health problems, which isn’t an environment you’ll want to bring a baby into.
  11. Incorporate Heirloom Pieces – The crib you used as a baby, a rocking chair that came from your partner’s nursery or other heirloom pieces can be perfect ways of adding personal, comforting touches to a nursery. Just be sure that they meet current safety guidelines.
  12. Think Outside the Big Box Retailer – There’s nothing wrong with opting for mass-produced accessories, but artsy parents may find that they’re more satisfied with the efforts of independent artists and creators.
  13. Look for Pieces That Grow With Your Child – Having a few pieces of furniture that your child can use as he ages will create a sense of routine and comfort for your child, along with a feeling of consistency.
  14. Consider Tradition Over Trends – What’s trendy today may be old news tomorrow. Furthermore, fad decorating is known more for being cutting-edge than aesthetically pleasing. A traditional, comforting nursery may be more soothing than a haute baby space.
  15. Integrate a White Noise Device – Infants fall into a deep sleep when they hear the sound of the washing machine or the gentle lull of the road beneath the tires for a reason. Replicating these sounds with a white noise device can help your child feel more comfortable and calm in his nursery.

40 Blogs You Must Read to Avoid Making a Baby Naming Mistake

Once you find out you’re pregnant, the fun begins! Dreaming about what you should name your precious child becomes a favorite pastime for expecting parents, and everyone has names that remind them of someone that they loved and others that they hated.  Finding a name that pleases both mother and father is tricky enough, but if you add in the meaning of the name it gets even tougher.  So take your time and read through these 40 blog entries to try to find the perfect name for your bundle of joy.

Boy Names

You’ve just found out that you’re having a boy – now you can concentrate your baby name efforts on only boys’ names.  Make sure to put the first, middle and last name all together to see how they flow.  Check out these five blogs and see what you find.

Girl Names

Visions of pink and lace dance in your head as you hear that you are having a baby girl.  What are you going to name this beautiful creature who will soon capture your heart?  The options are almost endless and the decision will be a tough one, but here are five blog posts that might be able to help with your search.

Meanings

Before you settle on a name, you might want to check to see what the name means.  You would hate to name your child a name that means ‘death’ or some other dismal meaning.  Here are five blog entries that will help you find the meaning of a name.

Unique Names

It’s not uncommon to want a name that is different than all the others for your child.  Few want their child to be one of several kids with the same name at school.  Where is the line between unique and just plain weird?  Check out these five blog articles on unique names.

After Cities

Many couples like naming their kids after the place where they were conceived.  This may not work well for some people, but it does for others.  Think about where you were or consider your favorite city and see if that name would work for your baby.

Biblical

Those parents with a deep faith may lean towards a biblical name.  There are many kids out there with names like Jacob, Elijah, and Luke whose names come from the Bible.  There are dozens of names, both male and female, that you could choose from.  Check out these five blogs to help you choose.

Historical Figures

Some parents choose to pull a name from a history book.  Naming your child after a great leader or a historical figure you really admire is a creative way to choose a name and the process has a story behind it.  Take a look at these names from historical figures.

Unisex Names

Many names work well for both girls and boys.  While names like James have traditionally been reserved for males, they are now being used for girls as well.  Only time will tell which names become unisex in the future.  These five blog posts will list some unisex names that you may like or you may want to steer clear of, depending upon how you feel about unisex names.