The Benefits of Raising Baby on the Cheap

A few weeks ago, I celebrated my fortieth birthday. As I savored the moment, I contemplated the prediction from Amy Dacyczyn, author of The Tightwad Gazette, that a life of thrift will start to pay off at about age forty. And after four decades of tightwaddery, I have to say that she’s right.

This year we have suddenly found ourselves with disposable income, but we can’t seem to bring ourselves to dispose of it! It’s finally feasible to go out to eat a bit more often (and order beverages other than water). We could even start buying clothes and household items brand new instead of always hitting the thrift store first. And luxuries like cable television, cell phone plans with texting, and fancy coffees are no longer out of reach.
(more…)

The Eco-nomical Baby Guide Turns Two!

After two years of research, editing, and writing (with spit-up on our shoulders and cloth diapers in the dryer) The Eco-nomical Baby Guide hit bookstore shelves in the spring of 2010. We packed the book with practical tips to help families save thousands of dollars by going green. The insider secrets we’d learned in the trenches of early motherhood and from hundreds of Green Baby Guide readers were finally organized into the book that we wished we’d had as new parents.

Since then thousands of copies of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide have ended up at baby showers and green boutiques across the nation––and even the world! In December my cousin wrote me from Seoul where he and his wife are on a temporary teaching contract. Their South Korean birth coach had a copy of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide prominently displayed on her shelf. I have no idea how it made it that far, but it’s a thrill to know that our down-to-earth message is resonating with readers.
(more…)

How Minimalist Did You Make Your Baby’s Nursery?

Did your baby sleep in a drawer or a cardboard crib? (The latter item really does exist and is pictured below.) Did you even have a nursery or did you simply pull baby into bed with you? Did you manage to outfit your baby’s nursery entirely with hand-me-downs or gear from Freecycle?

Of course having a minimalist nursery (or none at all) isn’t the only way to go green, but there’s so much pressure to gear up that it’s nice to know how people manage to creatively raise their babies without all the newest gadgetry. In our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, we try to share a variety of money-saving options for going green with baby, but our favorite is to buy less and buy used.
(more…)

Furnishing Baby’s Nursery with Garage Sale Finds

I often fantasize about Rebecca and me flying to New York as featured guests of a daytime talk show. We’d be given a $300 budget to outfit a baby’s nursery with secondhand goods. With Rebecca’s sense of style and my garage sale savvy, we’d do an incredible job!

Just the other day I went to a school garage sale where I saw the following items:

An oak changing table: $25
A beautiful maple rocking chair: $25
A sturdy wooden high chair: $15
Baby clothes: A giant paper bag’s worth for just $5

It’s just mind-boggling what you can find for a new baby at a fraction of the price of retail.  (Which is why we wrote The Eco-nomical Baby Guide.  It’s such a thrill to reduce, reuse and recycle–while saving thousands and ending up with beautiful stuff!)  While you’re pocketing all that saved money, you’re saving the environmental load of manufacturing, packaging, and shipping new products. And your baby will be just as content in her secondhand nursery. Attention daytime T.V.producers, we’re standing by for your phone call!

What Were Your Favorite Baby Guide Books?

During all nine months of my first pregnancy, our home was littered with books instructing me on how to gracefully cruise into motherhood.  Many of them simply freaked me out while others seemed utterly unrealistic.

None urged me to trust myself, buy less stuff, use cloth diapers and opt for used gear–all of which we emphasize in our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide.  In fact, back in 2006 I could not find a single book on green pregnancy or parenting!  That was part of the reason Rebecca and I were so inspired to write The Eco-nomical Baby Guide.  During the months that we wrote and re-wrote the text, green baby books started to pop onto the market, but none of them had the frugal emphasis that was essential to our eco-friendly message.  We were also surprised to see that none of the green baby guides had an in-depth section about cloth diaper usage and we were careful to dedicate two detailed chapters to cloth diapering, although we could have filled an entire book with our cloth diaper wisdom.  (If you don’t already know, we are rather ardent cloth diaper fans who strike up conversations with total strangers about Fuzzibunz and flushable diaper liners.)
(more…)

The Frog Shop Supports Community While Going Green

If you live in Merced, California, you can wander on down to The Frog Shop any old day and buy adorable children’s garments at cut rate prices.  And as you stride out the door, you can know that the green glow wasn’t just about the wall color, but about the fact that you just recycled while having a lovely shopping experience.

This is the second half of our interview with The Frog Shop’s owners, Corinne and Heidi Britt.   Check out the previous part of the interview in last week’s post.

What are some of your customers’ favorite products?

Our customer favorites are as varied as the parents who buy and sell in the store. One thing parents comment on is our “mompreneur” hand-made section. We sell hand-made hairbows, hats, blankets, bow-holders, booties, diaper bags, seat covers and jewelry. We love being a place where crafty stay-at-home moms can sell their wares. And our families love shopping the unique items we carry. They can’t find these items anywhere else. I think we all feel good knowing the money is going to a stay-at-home-mom to help her stay home, as well.
(more…)

Embracing the Challenges of Green Parenting

What are the green parenting obstacles for your family?  Is it the time to launder and use cloth diapers?  Is it the support of other like-minded families?  Is it trying to breastfeed while working full time?

For us, it’s a limited budget.  There are so many areas where going green saves us heaps of cash, as we point out in The Eco-nomical  Baby Guide.  I revel in the fact that shopping at thrift stores, riding our bikes, and using public transport have economic, environmental, and health benefits.  But it’s tricky for me to expand our grocery budget (which is already our highest monthly bill) on organic food. We eat less meat, less packaged foods, and more bulk foods, but it would be lovely to dine on fully organic foods at all times.
(more…)

The Eco-nomical Baby Guide is Available on Indiebound!

What is Indiebound, you ask?  It’s a great way to support local bookshops without having to haul yourself away from your keyboard.  Simply search for any book through Indiebound, and it will be shipped to you directly from your closest independent bookstore.

What is The Eco-nomical Baby Guide?  It’s our entertaining and educational treatise on eco-friendly, budget friendly living with a baby in tow.  In fact, our frugal, green lifestyles helped each of us save over five thousand dollars on each of our babies’ first year, while staying true to our environmental ideals.  There’s hilarious humor, there are tips from the cloth diapering trenches, and there are hundreds of ways to keep the waves of plastic blinky toys at bay.  In fact, it’s pure, practical genius!  (Of course, we may be biased…)
(more…)

Nighttime Cloth Diapering Problem Solving–Using Cloth Diaper History!

If you read last week’s post on A Short History of Diapering in America, you know that I’m both a history nerd and a cloth diapering geek–which make me wonder about obscure subjects.  Like diaper rash in colonial times, Native American treatments for mastitis, and midwives in the wild west.  I’m pretty sure no one else does that!

I’ve struggled with cloth diapering at night with my children, but then wondered how all those moms dealt with it when there weren’t any other options.  My son had a massive bladder that couldn’t be stopped by even the thickest diaper.  Both he and my daughter both had recurrent yeast infections or night wakings that I attributed to cloth.  Sure enough, when we switched to disposables, the problems cleared up.  Still, I hate buying disposables and feel so sad tossing them into the trash.
(more…)

Green Baby Guide’s Best Budget Posts

After the holidays, we’re generally stocked on fulfilling memories and stale sugar cookies–but not so much on cash. If you’re looking to slim down your January budget, we have several vintage posts with earth friendly, budget friendly tips.

You have to eat, right? If you’d love to spend just $175 per month on your groceries, while buying mostly organic food, you have to check out Rebecca’s post on Saving Money on Organic Groceries.

If your baby is on solids, you can save hundreds of dollars with DIY organic baby purees–and you won’t need fancy equipment or loads of extra time.

Laundry is another unavoidable budget item, but we do have a recommendation for the least expensive green laundry detergent.  (It happens to be quite effective too!)
(more…)