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How we overspent on our babies

Here are 4 ways that we splurged on the little guys when we didn't have to -- and lessons you can learn from this.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 13, 2011 12:20PM

This guest post comes from Lindy at Minting Nickels.


Though we did a pretty good job saving money on our wedding, by the time our first bundle of baby flesh came around, we'd lost our savings mojo. It didn't help that baby boy came at a time when we were the least prepared, and therefore felt the need to solve our problems by buying things. He also came when we were going through our spendy phase.


But live and learn, as they say, only this timeyou'll be learning from our mistakes. Free of charge, as always.


So I'll just dive right in with the juiciest one.


We didn't breastfeed. Though we tried (OK, I tried, husband A-Rob's hands were a little tied on this one).


Our baby boy EeBee was a crankster. The first few weeks he was an angel -- quiet, calm, slept well, breastfed well. At my two-week follow-up visit with the pediatrician they proclaimed he had taken to breastfeeding like a "duck to water."


Then he woke up from his newborn sleepiness. It was literally a few hours after my parents left to fly far away home when EeBee started crying.


And crying.


And crying.


Nothing was consoling him. We were't being overdramatic new parents, even though the nurses all thought we were. The crying was all. the. time. If he wasn't sleeping or eating, he was crying. All day, all night.


And then a few days after the nonstop cryfest began, he stopped sleeping. The only way he would sleep was bent up into a frog pose on our shoulders. We'd take shifts in the night sleeping with him on the recliner.


The lactation consultant surmised that he had a milk protein allergy. That meant any milk or dairy I consumed was getting to him through the breast milk and upsetting his wee tummy. She informed me that babies with this condition would often react to trace amounts of milk proteins, and that it would take several days for them to get out of my system.


Since I was already a vegetarian, that meant I had to transition to full-on vegan. It also meant I had to become a label reader, since dairy is used in a lot of products and hidden under names like whey, casein, delactosed, and lactalbumin. Taking the time to read labels while my baby with the aching belly cried in the grocery aisle was no easy task.


And no more restaurants for me since I had no idea what was in anything they prepared.

The only things I could figure to eat in a pinch were Clif Bars and vegetarian sushi rolls.


Bottom line, radically changing my diet with a newborn was not going so well. And to top it off, I was brimming with hormones. Mamma needed her cheese in a bad way. Post continues after video.

Then, while I was trying to figure out the diet thing, baby boy stopped breastfeeding too. He'd root and root and root and cry and root some more, until we'd both be crying after 45 minutes of this 3 a.m. dance (looking back, I'm pretty sure I had what they call forceful let-down, though I didn't know at the time).


I agonized over the thought of quitting breastfeeding. I cried every day about it. I spent every spare moment researching online, I talked to nurses, I talked to friends, I talked to lactation consultants. I tried different holds. I tried different techniques, but nothing was helping. Baby boy kept crying.


I'm not sure how things are now, but at the time, the breastfeeding propaganda was heavy-handed and woven into everything. It kind of had the effect of making one feel like an evil devil mother if she had to formula feed.


After six weeks of carrying on like this, I'd had enough. I bought a can of Similac, called the doctor to get instructions (feeling I was being sent death rays through the phone for being an evil formula mother, though there was a chance that was all in my postpartum head), and filled up baby boy with 4 ounces of soy formula.


The next day, he was a completely different baby. He had actual moments of being awake and not crying. He slept. He was happy.


We never looked back.


We also were on the hook for $200 a month in formula expenses at a time when we could least afford it. Since I'd started him on the Similac liquid concentrate, and since it had cured him, I was too scared to experiment with the less expensive brands. I also had no clue about coupons or deals, so I just bought it full price from the CVS around the corner.


Lesson to be learned: You are NOT evil if breastfeeding doesn't work out. And if you use formula, you don't have to buy Similac just because it's the name brand that everyone recognizes. And if you do buy a name brand, there are several options for getting it for less, like Amazon Mom or or CVS rewards.


And if you do have a cranky baby, or any baby at all, really, then read "The Happiest Baby on the Block." It was a life changer with my second little guy.


We bought the Cadillac of breast pumps. Yeeeaah. I was nervous about going back to work and breastfeeding (this was back when EeBee was still in his angelic newborn phase and things were peachy). My parents were kind enough to spring for the $400 Medela breast pump to ease my fears.


Needless to say, it became a very expensive weaning machine. Luckily we were able to sell it on Craigslist for $100 to a couple who badly needed it.


Lesson to be learned: If you're a new mom, rent a breast pump from the hospital for the first few months. If breastfeeding doesn't work, then there's nothing lost. If it does work, you'll have a better idea of the kind of pump you'll need as time progresses.


We insisted on brand names. We used Pampers diapers and wipes, we bought Gerber baby food, we bought all the baby gear with the best brand recognition.


It wasn't until my second baby was 6 months old and I was standing in the grocery aisle choosing Gerber baby food that I realized the generic brand was half the cost and was the exact same thing. Pureed carrots are pureed carrots whether they have a fancy label or not. It was an epiphany moment for me. I switched to Target brand diapers and saved $20 a month. I bought whatever baby food was on sale.


Lesson to be learned: You are not an evil devil mother if you use generic baby products.


We picked the most expensive day care. Well, maybe I don't feel so badly about this one. Paying extra for the peace of mind that our little guy was being well taken care of in the only bright and happy facility we felt good about was worth the extra expense, even though we were paying as much in day care as we were in rent. Ouch.


Lesson to be learned: Just go with your gut on this one.


Do you have any baby stories to share? Have you been able to save with your little ones -- or are you like us, spending whatever it takes to make it work?


More on Minting Nickels and MSN Money:

Sep 14, 2011 12:54AM

Wow you should posted this six months ago when I was going through the same thing with breastfeeding. I thought I was the most evil mother starting at the hospital when little one couldn't feed because of tongue tie. It got worse weeks later when once we had it down I had forceful letdown and she had milk allergies, we think anyway. I was at the point where I was ridding the house of dairy when she absolutely refused to breastfeed and would only take a bottle. We were already supplementing from the time we left the hospital because of the tongue tie so it wasn't that bad of a transition for her but I felt like a monster. Stupid hormones!

I also did brand name formula and diapers until she was about three months old then I had a Target epiphany. $20 for a jumbo can of formula that lasts a week compared to a tiny Enfamil that lasts three days and has the same ingredients. My sister in laws made me feel better about that too, one swore by Target generic and her husband used to be a pharmacist for them. The other swore by Walmart brand for all three of her kids. For diapers, my sister clued me into Luvs and I haven't looked back. Her theory is once they hits 2's it's time for Luvs because they just don't leak, unlike the fancy Huggies that did, all over my bed during a play session. And you can't beat the Target buy two cases on sale and get a $10 gift card. Get a Target debit or credit card and you get 5% off your purchases too. Sorry to sound like a Target commercial but on formula alone I save $30 a week.

Sep 14, 2011 12:29AM

My child never took to breast feeding. I'd put the nipple in his mouth and he'd clamp down shut and glare at me like I was trying to kill him, Or traumatize him.  Either way, he was not having any of this "boob in my mouth" thing. We tried 3 separate lactation consultants and hours of trying and manipulating and he just wasn't having ANY of it. On top of that, no amount of fiddling would cause me to produce a drop. Not a single drop to entice him with. It was formula or starve. Yes, there's still a LOT of "you're evil if you don't breast feed". as a matter of fact, there's some people who seem to think you don't even LOVE your child if you don't. Me, I told them to shove up their keisters and leave me alone. I made the effort, it was all I had.


My child is horribly milk allergic, he gets open sore diaper rashes if even the slightest milk contamination occurs. So much food has been cut out of his diet it's just sad. I too am using similac, but we took the time to try the off brands, and my poor child gets sick on them. Constipation is the major factor in off-brand formulas, and my child will poop white rocks if I try to give him off brand. That is... if he even drinks it.   We're feeding him Silk Very Vanilla Milk spiked with Similac Soy Toddler to get him healthy, if we try water, he won't drink it, if we don't spike with formula, he loses weight.  It's all so stressful dealing with a milk allergic kid and fighting the "pre-processed" crap we love to eat so much.  Currently, Kashi Bars and Poptarts  are among the Dairy-free things we can feed him, and we don't leave home for a restaurant without downloading their entire menu and ingredient list.


We also stuck with the pampers ultra-special pee indicator diapers for awhile, but we finally went for the Costco mega pack of Huggies. I have found the cheap diapers are awful and don't work as well, and never ever buy thin cheap wipes. Just don't.


Our mega expense?   we bought Dr. Brown's  special bottles. Now we're in Advent's extra special tippy cups. We pay a small fortune in these things, even if the cheaper ones would be sufficient, we're just afraid if we switch to cheaper tippy cups he might reject them.


Ohhh to deal with a child you're having problems keeping healthy. You do weird expensive things to keep them happy and healthy. I just wish foods would stop cutting calories. My child is so under weight we're having to find a nutritionist. What fun and expense is that gonna be?

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