Monthly Archives: March 2011

What a Baby Costs, and How You Can Save

Baby. Photo from BabyandMeBoutique.comRecently, U.S. New & World Report ran an article about the practical side of parenting: financial planning when you expect to have a baby. They claim that a baby is typically $12,000 for the first year for middle-income families. Who knew such a small and defenseless being could cost as much as one year’s worth of a state college education?

All aspects of having a child need to be put into your budget, and the U.S. News article advises you not to go overboard before you have your baby. For a brief summary, the article makes the following points:

• Minimize purchases before you have the baby.
• Stay with the basic items (diapers, clothing, a blanket, and car seat)
• Only use one sleep area.
• Used products end up costing you more in the long term.
• Convertible baby furniture lasts more than a year.
• Certain baby products, such as changing tables, large strollers, and convenience items, are not always necessary.
• Look for substitute products around your home.
• Accept baby gifts.
• Babies only need a week’s worth of clothing.
• Find places to trade lightly-worn baby furniture with other mothers.
• Babies are different shapes and sizes, and any furniture or products (swings, bottles) need to fit them.

We have discussed ways to save with a baby on multiple occasions, and the U.S. News article reiterates many of these points: Look for secondhand items and convertible furniture. Even though the economy has strained or significantly changed a couple’s finances, budgeting even with a new baby is still important. Realizing that children will grow quickly and always thinking about and planning the basics are necessary for staying financially afloat.

The key, as we have mentioned, is thinking ahead: How long will my baby need this? How long is this furniture designed to last? Is this practical or a novelty item? As with all purchases, stop and think before you buy.

Children Recommended to Use Car Seats Until Age 2

Car Seat. Image from Stroller.comAssociated Press ran a story recently about changing recommendations for car seats. According to separate data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, children are the safest inside a vehicle when in a rear-facing car seat. Additionally, children who have outgrown car seats should stay in booster seats with seatbelts until they are 4’ 9”.

You might say to yourself, “Isn’t a 2-year-old too big for a car seat?” Not necessarily. As the AP story explains, manufacturers of car seats now make them in sizes up to 35 pounds, a large size for a 2-year old. If your child grows quicker, he or she needs to be placed in a larger car seat.

Both studies analyzed crashes over the past 15 years to see which methods work and which do not. According to their studies, a child who is in a rear-facing car seat is five times less likely to be injured in a crash. But this statistic is not random. Rear-facing car seats offer better spine, neck, and head support in an accident, as the force of the collision is distributed evenly over a child’s body.

Additional standards have been added for car safety. Aside from booster seats, children under 13 years of age should not ride in the front of a car.

If you are a parent, what should you look for in a car seat? For babies, a car seat should support a 22 to 35-pound child and needs a five-point harness with strap slots below or at the shoulders and a front adjuster. Car seats for infants and newborns need to incline 45 degrees and should have an indicator of incline.

Parents, as you can see from The Star Press article, are not completely sold on these new recommendations. Some prefer to see their child in the back and have their baby see the outdoors, while others think their children not yet 2-year-olds are already too large for car seats.

Celebrity Diaper Bags: What the Stars are Carrying

Angelina Jolie diaper bagCelebrity babies and “bump watches” have grown into their own sub-section of pop culture. Diaper bags are one such aspect. In addition to what the stars’ children are carrying, the tabloids (and those who read them) want to know what the same celebrities use to haul around an extra pair of diapers, bottles, and other odds and ends.

Recently, Angelina Jolie was spotted carrying a StorkSak Gigi Chocolate Diaper Bag. With a tote bag style (but just slightly larger), the StorkSak Gigi is made out of nylon and leather and has a thermo-insulated bottle holder, changing mat, and various pockets. Unlike a traditional handbag, however, this StorkSak is slightly below $200.

Jolie isn’t the only celebrity sporting StorkSak. The other half of Bradgelina, Brad Pitt, also carries the brand, as does Pete Wentz and actress Gretchen Moll.

If you’re curious about what other brands the stars use, check here to see what certain celebrity parents use.

As you might have noticed from the list of stars above, not all celebs go with a diaper bag brand. In fact, Jessica Alba has turned a large Fendi purse into a diaper bag(!), and Gwen Stefani, promoting her fashion lines just a bit more, has been seen with a Harajuku Lovers bag.

With the exception of turning a Fendi purse into a diaper bag, most carried by celebrities are somewhat affordable. For a look similar to Angelina Jolie’s, JP Lizzy diaper bags primarily have a tote bag design. You can find certain styles in chocolate brown or in another shade.

But a tote bag style isn’t the only look out there. Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bags, for example, often have an ornate and bright appearance. With a satchel style and nylon or faux leather body, Timi and Leslie diaper bags, on the other hand, look more like traditional handbags.

Diaper Bag Clutches: For Quick Trips or Just Not Enough Space?

Petunia Pickle Bottom Diaper ClutchWhile no one wants to carry around a bulky and pastel-colored diaper bag, are diaper clutches a better solution? Handbag-style diaper bags have been around for several years, coming in designs that mirror popular designer purses. With a stylish exterior, these diaper bags by Petunia Pickle Bottom and other brands have all the space and compartments you need inside. Handbag-style diaper bags, additionally, are smaller than their standard counterparts, but the design, as of recent, seems to have gotten even smaller with diaper clutches.

StyleBistro.com recently reviewed the Petunia Pickle Bottom Glazed Diaper Clutch, a coin purse-shaped bag with a red, black, and white floral print exterior. Although larger than an actual clutch, which is used for a cell phone, keys, money, and a few pieces of makeup, a diaper clutch is smaller than a standard diaper bag, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

The Glazed Diaper Clutch comes with the basics a parent needs when taking a baby out for a few hours: interior pockets for a cell phone and diapers, a wipes case, a strap option, and a magnetic closure. If you plan to take your baby out for a few hours and simply only need the basics, consider the Glazed Diaper Clutch a compact and stylish alternative.

Coming in tote, strap, and messenger styles, handbag-style diaper bags have these basic features and a bit more. The Oi Oi Black Check Carry All also adds exterior pockets and a bottle holder, and the Pyknyk Paris Nightlife bag, made out of leather, has four large pockets for diapers, wipes, and lotions; two pockets for bottles; external pockets for personal items, such as a cell phone or MP3 player; and a pacifier ring. If you plan to take your child away from home for more than a few hours or even for a few days of vacation, a larger diaper bag, such as one of these, will hold most, if not all, of the baby products you will need.

Even Without Drop Sides, Cribs Still Cause Injuries

Baby in CribSince 2007, 11 million cribs have been recalled, with a significant amount from 2009 and ’10. As the CPSC currently examines or recalls other sleep-related baby products, such as bassinets, corded monitors, sleep positioners, and crib bumpers, products that don’t end up on recall lists can still cause injuries. Although the ban on drop side cribs, enforced from the start of 2011, will likely eliminate a large portion of crib injuries, are there any measures to protect your child?

According to an article in Reuters, approximately 26 babies are injured by a sleeping place – a crib, bassinet, or playpen – per day. This amounts to 9,500 fatal and non-fatal injuries resulting from such baby furniture per year. As the Reuters piece explains, many of the injuries are not related directly to the furniture: A child stands up, leans against the side of the crib, and falls out.

Other injuries often result from faulty hardware, which is often the cause of many recalls. Just last week, 500,000 bassinets by Burlington Bassinet Co. were recalled because of rails that did not fully lock in place. Nearly all drop side crib injuries resulted from poorly-constructed hardware, such as a plastic lock that could break and loosen the movable side.

If you have a baby and are concerned about his or her safety in a crib or bassinet, what are your options? First, always make sure the hardware of the furniture is assembled properly and check it regularly. Second, make sure all baby furniture you own has not been recalled; as we explained last week, this is as simple as finding the product’s model number and running it through the CPSC website. Third, be cautious with crib bumpers, sleep positioners, monitors, and any other baby products put inside or near your child’s crib or bassinet.