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Mrs. Money Mustache: What do newborn babies really need?

Eliminating Lady Temptations: Avoid the Urge to Buy for Baby
by Mrs. Money Mustache

Congratulations!  You’re having a baby!

Ah, babies… so small, so cute, so sweet, so…. expensive? Why is there a common misconception that having a baby costs a ton?  How much does it really cost? Answer: not much.

Yet, us ladies just love to shop for babies.  We must prepare.  We are nesting.  We’re not ready for the baby to come yet!  The room decals we ordered have not arrived, the special nursing glider is not assembled, the room hasn’t been painted with fancy pink stripes… what will the baby think? Why do we spend more time thinking about buying and decorating (supposedly for the baby) rather than the actual task at hand: preparing for labor?

For you second, third, or fourth+ time moms, stop reading right now.  You don’t need anything.  No arguments — nothing.

If this is your first baby, you’re mostly going to have to get mentally prepared.  That is the hard part. The actual objects you need for said baby are pretty minimal.

So, what did we do?  I am the type of person that researches everything, so naturally, I researched the matter.  What I found is that the Internet, my friends, and those scary things known as baby shower lists, grossly exaggerated what was needed.  First of all, it’s quite possible that you might have friends who have young children themselves. They might already have enough hand-me-downs to take you through the whole first year.  I’m sure it’s easy to spend $0 on your baby.  Perhaps it’s even possible to spend negative dollars!

Challenge Idea: if you do need to make a few purchases for an upcoming baby, try getting it from friends and from various used sources. And then sell some extra stuff you have lying around your house for the same amount of money.  Voila!  Zero dollar baby.

Here’s what your newborn baby needs:

1. Diapers

Sadly, babies are not born knowing how to use the toilet. So we choose between cloth or disposable diapers.  (Side Note: Look up Elimination Communication or check out http://www.diaperfreebaby.org/ if you’re really advanced).  For us, using cloth was a no-brainer.  I spent hours researching cloth diapers and it seemed confusing at first, but it is actually extremely easy.  People complain that it is complicated, that they have to wash them, that they leak, that it’s gross… get over it!  You’re going to get shit on your hands either way.  Once you find the right kind of diapers, it’s easy …

The Mrs. Recommends: Get a variety of cloth diapers for age 0-6 months. This helps you figure out what kind you like. Don’t get sucked up in the cuteness of cloth!  You can spend a ton. Keep it simple, be successful. I purchased: 10 prefold diapers, 6 “Kissaluvs” contour diapers, about 4 covers for all these, 1 “Fuzzi Bunz” pocket diaper, 1 all in one diaper, and a couple of others. TIP: Prefolds work great as burp cloths too.

When your baby hits 6 months, sell the newborn diapers and buy the kind you like for the next stage.  The MMM family used 14 Medium Sized Fuzzi Bunz diapers from 5 months until our son was potty trained at just over the age of 2. For overnight accident protection, we used cloth until nighttime toilet training was reached… no pull-ups required!

At that point, we sold the 14 Fuzzi Bunz for half their original price.  It was a great investment overall, saving over a thousand dollars in disposables! Look for used cloth diapers, if possible, and re-sell once you’re done with them.

2. A Place to Sleep

When I was born, I slept in a little pink bathtub. Cozy and just the right size. When our son was born, he slept in a fancy co-sleeper attached to our bed. Your baby can also sleep in your bed, as ours ended up doing on most nights. The key, in my opinion, is that the baby is close to you to make nighttime feedings easier and to allow you to get as much sleep as possible. Your newborn baby does not need their own room or a crib, since they are so small. Your baby does not need fancy bedding.

The Mrs. Recommends: If I had to do it over again, I would have skipped the co-sleeper and had the baby sleep in bed with us.  But, if that’s not an option for you, I would suggest using a Pack ‘N Play with Bassinet instead of the co-sleeper. After a quick search, the Graco Pack ‘N Play Playard and Bassinet seems to fit the bill. The secret here is that the “Playard” is not for playing — it’s a place for your toddler to sleep on the go, probably up to about age 2. Handy dandy. It’s simple and takes care of your baby’s sleeping needs for quite a long time. You easily can bring it to people’s houses and on trips. Plus, you can probably find one used.

3.  Clothing

There is absolutely NO need to buy new clothing for your baby. In all likelihood, you will get tons for free from friends that have already had babies. In our case, we literally received a Subaru Wagonful of clothing for ages 0-6 months. The parents were all too happy to get rid of it. It has since made the rounds to at least 10 other kids. If, for some reason, you don’t receive any free clothing, ask for it. If that doesn’t work, get some used from a consignment shop or buy bagfuls from craigslist. The point is, it is VERY easy to get used baby items. Our baby lived in footed PJs (he was born in January). I frankly saw no need for any other type of clothing, other than warmer stuff to throw on when we went outside. I’m not talking about a fancy baby winter coat here… I’m talking about blankets and body warmth. Your baby can fit inside your coat and would prefer to be there instead of in a stroller anyway.

The Mrs. Recommends: get all clothing used or from friends. There is no reason to buy a single stitch of new clothing for your baby.

4. A Carseat

If you drive, then it is required that you have a carseat. Most hospitals will check to make sure you have one before they discharge you. Many people will tell you that you need to get a new carseat, and I will not dispute this, as I understand their reasoning. However, we got a free carseat from a reliable  friend who told us it had never been in an accident. We used it sparingly for one year and passed it on to another friend. If you’re lucky enough to have your baby at home, or you can walk home from the hospital, you probably won’t need a carseat at all. We planned to walk home from the hospital, but an unplanned c-section foiled these glorious plans. Have I mentioned that I hate hospitals?

The Mrs. Recommends: get a reliable used carseat from a friend or if you can’t find one, buy a basic newborn carseat. Try not to drive around with your baby in the car very much. That’s the safest thing you can do for your baby.

5. Breastmilk or Formula

Breastmilk is free – hooray!! If things had turned out like I wanted, I would have breastfed my baby for 2 years. But, alas, due to our circumstances, we had to supplement with formula, so we bought formula and bottles. But, we only bought these things after our baby was born, as we originally didn’t expect to need them.

The Mrs. Recommends: Breastfeed your child, but be prepared for some potential struggles. Have resources set up BEFORE you have your baby. A reliable and friendly lactation consultant or contact information for La Leche is a great idea. If there are any problems early on, get help right away.

6. YOU!

Your baby needs you more than anything. If you can swing having at least 1 parent stay at home during the first 6 months of your child’s life (preferably longer), you not only save on daycare costs, but you give your child the greatest gift of all.

The Mrs. Recommends: have one (or both!) parents stay at home and save money on all the childcare expenses. Your baby gets YOU and you save money!  Win-win.

As a final summary, here’s what the MMM family used for our little one from 0-6 months.

  • mini co-sleeper (bought new) — this later made the rounds to 10+ kids — baby spent a lot of time in bed with us, so this was not really needed.
    • Cost: $130
  • little baby clothes, socks, blankets, assorted small toys (received free second hand from awesome friends) — these also made the rounds — again, we received a lot of clothing and only used a very small amount.
    • Cost: FREE
  • car seat (received free from friend) — given to a friend — we did drive occasionally, so this was needed.
    • Cost: FREE
  • maya wrap for carrying little one (bought used on craigslist) — sold on craigslist for $30 — we used this until our son was about 2 for walks, hikes, and around the house.
    • Cost: $40, Sold for $30, Net Cost: $10
  • about 20 cloth diapers, mostly new — sold for almost same price purchased.
    • Cost: $150, Sold for $150, Net Cost: $0
  • boppy pillow (received as gift) — re-gifted — we used this for breastfeeding as well as for lying down and sitting up
    • Cost: GIFT
  • bouncy chair (received free from friend) — given to a friend — our baby liked it a lot
    • Cost: FREE
  • baby bathtub (received as gift), although you use a small sink or simply bathe with your baby instead
    • Cost: GIFT

Total Cost: $320 – $180 sold = $140.

To be fair, we did end up renting a pump from the hospital and buying formula and a few bottles, but as I mentioned earlier, these were unexpected costs. We also had to pay for the actual birth of the baby, as insurance did not cover all costs. However, since we all have a unique situation and I’m hopeful that your birth and breastfeeding experience is better than mine, it is easier not to factor all of this in. In total, the cost was still minimal compared to what the average family spends. Anything else can be purchased (preferably used) on an as needed basis.

Bonus Challenge: Try and use less than we did.  It should be pretty easy.

Next time, we’ll chat about what babies don’t need. Months from now (as my articles are currently fairly sporadic), we might cover cloth diapers in more detail, the ridiculous tradition known as a “baby shower”, as well as what the 6 mo to 1 year old crew needs (again, not much).

Happy baby-making!

  • Mr. Frugal Toque September 9, 2011, 7:23 am

    I was never particularly comfortable with either wedding or baby showers. Among certain family members of the previous generation, it’s kind of expected that a certain amount of largesse flow downwards. We basically all do it for the younger generation when they get married or have kids, so it’s a continuous payback sort of thing.
    Doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with asking people to consume on my behalf, though.
    As for the baby, I quite agree. There’s more than enough free stuff out there from other Osh Kosh B’gosh and Baby Gap purchasers. Our biggest expense is car seats, because the car seat lobby in Canada is pretty thorough about implementing laws criminalizing the use of car seats made more than five years ago.
    But what about toys? What kind of parent are you if you don’t have a giant pile of metal and plastic in at least three rooms of your house? Bad parent! Bad parent!

    Reply
    • MMM September 9, 2011, 9:29 am

      Yeah, that incredible Car Seat strictness in Canada brings out the libertarian side in me. I would find it annoying that you can’t even sell a used car, to a childless person, without paying a certified installer to weld/bolt LATCH-system compatible clips into the frame to bring it up to new-car standards first.

      I still enjoy the idea of a carefree and slightly riskier life, where a family of four breezes along on a moped in the public square on a warm summer night. Sure, we will die a bit more, statistically, but at least we will have more fun. Society has bigger problems than a shortage of people :-)

      But I admit I am being irrational and getting off-topic.

      Reply
      • Lilacorchid July 18, 2012, 7:29 pm

        It’s my understanding the plastic can degrade after 5 or 7 years of 80 degree C temperature swings. And I sold my latchless car no problem. Perhaps it’s a provincial thing?

        I hear you on the baby shower thing. I didn’t have one and I didn’t want one. Small house, no storage and how much can a newborn really play with???

        Reply
      • Oh Yonghao May 10, 2014, 11:38 pm

        You joke, but I saw quite often the family of four or five on the scooter in Taiwan! I even saw someone moving a queen size mattress on a scooter.

        Reply
  • Kevin M September 9, 2011, 7:32 am

    Great post – exposing the myths that children costs hundreds of thousands to raise! Rock on Mrs. MMM!

    Reply
    • Mrs. Money Mustache September 9, 2011, 12:18 pm

      Thanks Kevin! I’m much more shy about writing than MMM, so this means a lot. :)

      Reply
      • Jaclyn September 27, 2011, 4:28 pm

        Keep ‘em coming Mrs. MM! My husband and I are waiting to have kids till we are more financially stable, but it is nice to know that baby’s do not need to cost an arm and a leg. This was a great post and I cannot wait to read more from you in the future!

        Reply
  • Heather September 9, 2011, 7:43 am

    One thing I discovered we didn’t need when we had our baby was a big new house. We were quite worried that suddenly we would require a lot more space. Surprise: A baby is quite small, and spends most of his time in your arms. We did need space for a dresser for his clothes, a place for his bed (beside our bed), and some space in a cupboard (mostly to store clothes and toys people gave us, but he was either not ready for yet, or had grown out of).
    Until your child is bigger, you will want him within earshot (if not eyesight) at all times, so all that extra space will just have to be gated off anyhow.

    Now our son is three, and we are still planning that new house, but I will miss being able to hear everything from the kitchen. Mother’s ears are finely tuned to the sound of a little boy trying to lift a watermelon out of the fridge, or ripping every sheet of toilet paper off the roll to make snow in the bathroom.

    One thing I’d do differently: We used a borrowed co-sleeper, strapped to our bed, until it was time to switch to the Ikea kids bed I picked up from kijiji. I could have gone straight to the Ikea bed. Wedged between our bed and the wall, it makes a nice secure space, and it is big enough that Mom or Dad can crawl in to comfort a little guy (then sneak out when he is asleep).

    Reply
    • Mrs. Money Mustache September 9, 2011, 11:32 am

      Hi Heather,

      Good point about the big new house! I agree that it’s not necessary, but many parents feel they need to upgrade their current house to meet the needs of a new little baby. But, in fact, they are little, and even in our house, our kid pretty much wants to be near us. We actually have a playroom, but it hardly gets used because the kitchen and living room are where mom and dad hang out. :)

      Reply
      • Nurse Frugal October 10, 2012, 3:34 pm

        Wow…..what a great article. I’m nowhere near being ready for Junior Frugal, but when the time comes I feel like I don’t need to stress out! I love #6, the most important thing the baby needs is a parent to take care of them at all times, I’m hoping to drop down to 2 days a week when that day comes. Also, since we are at the beach all the time, we plan on buying a used little baby tent off of craigslist so the baby can just hang out with us! I need to show this article to some of my friends, they might have a heart attack after they read about how they don’t need so much stuff ;) Good Job Mrs. MMM.

        Reply
  • Ginger September 9, 2011, 8:17 am

    I am not ok with getting a used car seat. A car seat is meant to protect your baby and cannot if it has been in an accident.
    Also, a pack n’ play is $75, the cheapest I have seen used is $40-$50. It would be better to buy new and with a sale, then resale it when done.
    You also assume people have friends willing to give away stuff, my husband and I will be the first in our group of friends to have kids, so that won’t happen for us.

    Reply
    • MMM September 9, 2011, 8:31 am

      Note that Mrs. M is not suggesting you use carseats that have been in car accidents. She is saying that we, personally, have no problem with USED ones. Car crashes are much rarer than carseats. The chance of a person, even a complete stranger, lying about a car accident just so they can get you to take their used car seat is so low that I would laugh at the risk.

      As for being the first in the group of friends to have kids – good point – we were in the same situation, but we branched out into the extended friends-of-friends network to find the first load ‘o’ clothes. Even if you don’t know anyone at all in the extended circle, there is still Craigslist.

      The real message in that part of the post is, DON’T YOU DARE BUY A BUNCH OF NEW CLOTHES FOR YOUR NEWBORN BABY OR YOU WILL INCUR THE WRATH OF MRS. MONEY MUSTACHE HERSELF!!!

      ;-)

      Reply
      • Liz August 13, 2012, 1:48 pm

        You must check the expiration date. They are only meant to be used for a certain period of time before they wear out.

        Reply
    • Mrs. Money Mustache September 9, 2011, 11:41 am

      Hi Ginger,

      As MMM said, I never recommended a used car seat and I did in fact say: “Many people will tell you that you need to get a new carseat, and I will not dispute this, as I understand their reasoning.” I totally get it. For every single parent, a child’s safety is the number one priority. For us, we try to drive as little as possible, as that is where many children get injured — in the car. It’s very important to have a safe carseat. In our case, we had a friend who was done with her carseat and had bought it just 12 months earlier and it hadn’t been in an accident and it met all current safety requirements. So, I used it without being worried at all. However, if you don’t have this luxury, then buying new is the next best thing of course.

      As for knowing people… we were the first of our group of friends to have a child as well, but people come out of the woodwork. I had a friend at work who had a child and she had 2 friends who were done having kids and they happily gave me all their stuff without even knowing me. As soon as you’re pregnant and showing, people might offer you their stuff. And, if you they don’t, there are a whole network of moms of craigslist with stuff and there are consignment shops everywhere. For the things I needed that weren’t available via friends, I visited consignment stores.

      The pack ‘n play I saw on Amazon was $69. There are usually tons of used ones available, but if you feel comfortable buying new and reselling, then great. The point of the article is that babies are NOT expensive. Parents make decisions to buy kids stuff and those decisions are expensive.

      Reply
    • RoseRed November 24, 2011, 9:08 am

      Even if you don’t know people with kids, ask around. I’m a very recent convert to moustachian ways, and up until last week I would have wept with gratitude if soimeone had com,e up to me and asked if they could have some of the baby stuff that has been taking up room in our house but that my sleepless nights have been preventing me from having the energy to sell. Some of it has been lent to friends, but the stuff just keeps on coming back like a boomerang! Honestly – ask co-workers, and ask your friends to ask their friends. Parents of older children who live in small houses or apartments without a lot of stprage space love nothing more than expectent parents who are excited to be passed on heir old baby stuff.

      Reply
    • Lilacorchid July 18, 2012, 7:32 pm

      I bought a floor model for $50. It can be done if you are lucky!

      Reply
  • Des September 9, 2011, 10:00 am

    I totally agree that babies need their parent(s) more than anything, but it is misleading and incorrect to say that staying home with baby will SAVE money – it will COST a ton (likely much more than daycare). You give up potential income to stay home. The question is ‘is it worth it’, and the answer is almost always ‘yes’, but that shouldn’t be conflated with staying home as a cost saving measure.

    That’s the biggest expense people miss when they say that babies don’t have to cost a ton. Yes, they do cost an arm and a leg because they need to be watched 24/7 by someone – you’ll either pay daycare or pay in lost income. That all the single-purpose plastic space wasting baby junk is unneeded goes without saying, IMHO.

    Reply
    • MMM September 9, 2011, 10:52 am

      Your logic is definitely followed by many, especially here in the US where we have some of the stingiest maternity/paternity leaves in the rich world.

      It is true that most people can earn more at a job than it costs them to send a baby to daycare. If your overall goal is maximum net income at all costs, the choice is easy.

      On the other hand, once you subtract daycare, commuting and wardrobe costs, and other work-related expenses from the after-tax portion of a second income, many parents are giving up the chance to be home with their baby for a shockingly small number of dollars per hour. I’ve even analyzed some cases where the pay was negative, and the parents just didn’t realize it because they hadn’t done the math!

      Reply
    • Mrs. Money Mustache September 9, 2011, 11:44 am

      I agree with MMM here. I saved tons of money after leaving my job, even though I biked to work 3 times a week and was already pretty frugal. And, we’re talking about potentially taking 6 months to a year leave here. In most countries, it is a given that a parent will stay home with their child during this time. I’m a shocked that Americans think it’s okay to put a 6-week old in daycare. It’s crazy!

      Reply
      • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple September 9, 2011, 1:25 pm

        This is where my friends in Europe (Denmark) are much more civilized with their leave. You take too much leave in the US, and good luck getting your job back.

        at least it’s better now than it used to be. I have a good friend who is my mom’s age (67). When she had her son, she had him on Friday and was back at work on Monday. She needed the job, and if she had tried to take time off, she would have been fired.

        Reply
      • Laura October 11, 2011, 10:44 am

        I realize this is an older post, but I was re-reading as the hubs and I are preparing for our first baby. This comment got me thinking because we are about to make a big move to a new city where I already have a job lined up, but my husband doesn’t yet. MMM – What would be the right points to analyze whether or not it’s worth it for him to work or stay home with the baby?

        Reply
  • Val September 9, 2011, 10:04 am

    Another interesting post!
    I would also add health care (dr visits, vaccinations, health insurance) to the list. Also, some people need some sort of stroller. Even if you use the maya wrap or another baby carrier (I used the Baby K’taan and I loved it), a stroller is better for long walks.
    About baby showers, I also think they are unnecesary. But what do you do when you are invited to one? So many of my friends are having babies that I’ve almost considered adding a “baby shower” expense to my budget. How much do you think it is OK to give in a baby shower? How about a gift for a toddler’s birthday party?

    Reply
    • Mrs. Money Mustache September 9, 2011, 11:49 am

      Hi Val! Yeah, there are definitely health care costs, but they are different for everyone, so I didn’t include them. When MMM was working at his software job, we would have paid $10 to have a baby. As it turns out, it was closer to $4,000 for us. We took this into account when he quit, as we knew we were giving up stellar health insurance.

      For the stroller, we started using it more around 6 months, which is why there’s a 6 mo+ list coming up one of these days. Until then, I preferred to carry my baby, especially if you’re going into houses or places with steps and whatnot. A stroller is not as convenient. But, I agree, a stroller is great for walks.

      For baby showers, we purposely saved some of our baby stuff for these occasions. I have yet to buy a new item for a baby shower. My son and I hunt around the house for something to give and then he usually makes a card. The last baby shower I went to, my son put together a box of all his more babyish stuff and the woman having the baby thought it was the sweetest thing. There were board books and other things in there and she loved it. It de-clutters our house and teaches our child the importance of giving to others.

      Reply
      • Diedra B September 17, 2011, 5:56 am

        hurray for the six month list. I was about to ask you to please keep talking about inexpensive child bearing/rearing. There aren’t any babies in my home and I’m petrified of not being financially prepared for one! It’s a huge responsibility to take on without preparation. So I’m glad you took some of the teeth out of it in your post. Please send more!

        Reply
  • Frugal Vegan Mom September 9, 2011, 10:22 am

    As a first time mom of a 6 mo. old, I completely agree. We got so much free stuff from people I can’t even keep up with giving it away again.

    That said, I’m sort of in the middle on the “kids are expensive” argument. I don’t think they have to be SO expensive, but as they get older, it will definitely cost to feed & clothe another person. And there’s not really a way around additional monthly health insurance, which can be a LOT.

    But of course, if you want a family it’s worth it.

    And a final piece of advice to anyone ever planning to have kids – PLAN so mom is able to stay at home past standard U.S. maternity leave. 3 months is way too little to leave them in daycare!!

    Reply
    • Mrs. Money Mustache September 9, 2011, 12:17 pm

      You may be right there. There are definitely expenses to having a child, which may grow as they get older, but so far, at almost the age of 6, I find it to be pretty affordable. Our child’s food needs are pretty small. Clothing costs are pretty minimal. Even new clothes are pretty cheap for our child. He only has what he needs and sometimes gets clothing as gifts. He actually has WAY too much stuff, despite us not really buying him much of anything.

      I think it would be very easy for anyone to cut back on something they are already buying to make room for the new little person in the family.

      However, the additional monthly health insurance is certainly a big hit. Usually the hit is with the first child and any additional children are included in family plans.

      Of course, Canadians (and others) don’t have to deal with that. They get the health insurance and the maternity/paternity leave included!

      Reply
  • Katie September 9, 2011, 10:24 am

    The greatest gift my husband and I will give our children someday is to have happy, healthy, loving, well-adjusted parents. That will require both of us to go back to work within a month or two following the birth. Honestly, I find the insinuation that a parent staying home with a baby is the best option for the child a little insulting, and it’s just plain wrong, as many studies have shown. I’m glad it worked for the MMM’s, but be careful to realize that your choices are not the best for everyone.

    I would never, ever utilize used safety equipment for anything, let alone my newborn. Even if you bought a new car seat and didn’t use it once, and it just sat in your garage unused for several years, doesn’t mean it’s still safe. There’s a reason things like running shoes and bike helmets need to be replaced not just based on impact/wear and tear, but also based on time since manufacture. The materials eventually wear out. The actual lifetime is hard to determine, and can vary between units. In my opinion, health and safety are never worth skimping on – I will be buying a new car seat.

    Reply
    • MMM September 9, 2011, 11:02 am

      Really? I’d be quite interested in reading a study or two that does show that babies who are immediately outsourced to daycare do just as well as babies that are raised by one or both parents.

      I’d imagine that a close family member like a grandparent would be an improvement over daycare, but so far I admit I haven’t looked into the scientific aspect of this at all yet – I’m just going on gut instinct as I write this.

      It’s nice that as citizens in this rich country we do have the option of not quitting our jobs in order to be parents. But I will admit that our own family is strongly against the idea of people thinking they have to keep two full-time careers to have a baby. The idea of people handing over their newborn babies and going back to work, just because they can’t be bothered to reduce their own expenses or save up enough money in advance, seems very shortsighted to me. It’s one of the founding ideas that caused this blog to come into existence in the first place.

      Why have a baby if you don’t have the time or interest in raising it? And, yes, I do define “Raising” a young child as spending most of your waking hours with him or her.

      Reply
      • Katie September 9, 2011, 12:03 pm

        “But I will admit that our own family is strongly against the idea of people thinking they have to keep two full-time careers to have a baby.”

        We don’t think we *have* to. We *want* to. We both are spending 8+ years post college to train for careers that we love. We want to continue our careers. Not because we “can’t be bothered to save up enough money in advance,” but because we love our careers, too, and know we don’t have to give them up when choosing to procreate. And taking 6 months off from our careers would mean that we wouldn’t have careers to go back to. All the money in the world couldn’t make me do that.

        I’m pretty sure a quick Google search could easily reveal the magnitude of research that has been done on the topic of stay at home vs working parents and how it doesn’t make the children any worse off. As a female chemist, I have seen quite a lot of it. But let’s go back to your assumption that raising a child means being with that child for most of your waking hours. Do you plan to never allow them out on play dates? Do you plan to homeschool? My guess is no. So, at some level, you do recognize the importance of your child having experiences outside of what you yourself can offer them. We just differ slightly on the amount of such experiences.

        I totally respect what you’ve done with your life. You’ve managed to live frugally enough to retire at a young age. And that is one way of living a happy life, and it has worked for you. More power to you. My husband and I have have taken another route of living happily – finding careers we love and are passionate about. Retiring early from these careers would not make us more happy. Less so, more likely. It’s another solution to the problem of how to avoid being a slave to work in order to support your spending habits. And it’s working for us.

        Reply
        • JJ September 9, 2011, 11:43 pm

          Katie,

          I’ve facinated by your comment! I’m getting married in November and thinking about starting a family, but it really frightens me that I would have to give up my career to do so. I definitly want the best for my potential kids, but do I really have to give up working? I mean, I love it! I love getting up and going to work everyday, talking to like-minded people, and learning new technology in the field (I work in tech and in the 5 years of doing this and I’ve already had to re-develop 3 different ways of doing things due to developments in the field) It’s fast-paced and intense, and I love it. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love my kids to death and want the best for them, but it seems like, as a woman, if I don’t give up everything I’ve worked for my whole adult life, all the skills I’ve developed to be the best in what I do, I will be chastised by the likes of “Chris” below, on how I am making poor decision and how I am doing harm on my baby; what a horrible mother and disgusting person I must be!

          And I don’t even have kids yet! Yet every time I read blogs about women who want a career and kids it brings up this kind of sentiment. I used to think this way and when I was a teen decided that I would never have children since the choice seems to be either doing something interesting (something technology related) or taking care of children (truly awful, in my teen-mind). But now that I’m in my late twenties, yeah – I want it all. I want my career, and I want children. In fact, I expect my husband to make the same kind of career sacrifices as I do.
          But while I’m expecting variations of Chris all around to tell me how awful a mother I am for wanting to work and “depriving” my child of “it’s parents” (read: mother). I don’t expect my husband to receive the same kind of animosity towards the fulfillment he gets from being successful at work.

          Anyway, If I had a baby and it was a girl, besides not buying her unnecessary things and having her sleep in a cheap playpen, I’d teach her that the world will make cruel judgements against her if she decides not to make children her life’s priority. I’d teach her how to take all the insensitive comments towards her with grace. Plus I’d teach her how to cook, how to put on make-up, how to code, and how to change a tire.

          So I say, bring it on, Chris! You find it sad that a woman (who happens to be mother) to be looking for scientific research to support your dubious assertions? Well, I feel sad for your kids who think “CNN” and “Livestrong” (what is that, even?) is considered “science” in your household.

          Reply
          • Katie September 11, 2011, 12:32 pm

            Thanks for your comments, they made me smile :)
            I have to hope that, as more women make the choice to have both, it will force the system to change. So hang in there and stick to your guns, and good for you!

            Reply
            • OWHL July 17, 2012, 12:19 pm

              Nothing has progressed any further from your argument of “Just google and you will see.” The burden of proof is yours to provide specific evidence to back your claim of “working and daycare is equivalent or better than staying at home with a child.” And such inquiry busters as “to each their own” is completely illogical. There cannot be two right opinions that contradict each other.

              Reply
              • Katie July 17, 2012, 1:52 pm

                Actually, I know the research exists. The burden of proof is on you to provide any evidence that working and daycare is not equivalent or better than staying home with a child. Though, since that evidence doesn’t exist, I doubt we’ll hear from you again.

                I think your confusion stems from your misunderstanding of my assertions. The two opinions do not actually contradict one another – Since they are both equally good options for a child, to each his/her own is a completely valid idea.

          • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple September 12, 2011, 12:23 pm

            It only gets worse when you have a baby. We had working mothers and stay at home mothers in my mom’s group. To a couple of the very militant SAHMs, I’m “that working mother”. Even though within about a year to 18 months, 70% of the moms were back at work, because I went back at 3 months, I’m “that woman”.

            Our kids are in kindergarten, and it still persists, even though a couple of the militant SAHMs are back working part time.

            OTOH, there are plenty of moms out there – working and SAH, who say “to each their own” – and really mean it. We’ve all got our kids in common!

            Reply
    • Chris September 9, 2011, 11:47 am

      The only reason you find his statements insulting is because they shine light on the poor decisions you are making. Unless you absolutely cannot survive without that second income, you are doing more harm than good to your baby by depriving it of it’s parents.

      Reply
      • Katie September 9, 2011, 12:12 pm

        Please, Chris, share with me the scientific studies that prove this.

        Reply
        • Chris September 9, 2011, 12:47 pm

          It makes me so sad that a mother would require scientific evidence in order to believe that spending time with her baby during its most important development years should be a priority. But if that’s what it takes, here are a few resources to get you started. A simple google search will provide you with plenty more.

          http://www.cnn.com/US/9911/08/daycare.dilemma/

          http://www.livestrong.com/article/96488-effects-child-care-infants/

          You’re doing harm to your baby, Katie. Why would you even bother having one if you weren’t going to raise it?

          Reply
          • Katie September 9, 2011, 1:10 pm

            Chris – Ignoring the fact that I requested *scientific* data (those were not), did you read the articles you linked to? Small if non-existent differences were found, and with many more years of solid data showing that children with stay at home parents fair no better, I am quite sure that I will not be harming my future children. I can not say the same for the harm that a closed, biased, unscientific mind could do to a child, however.

            Reply
            • OWHL July 17, 2012, 12:23 pm

              You fail to realize how flawed science really is. Perhaps you should pick up a few books on the Philosophy of Science or On Physics and Philosophy. May alter your “closed mindedness.”

              Reply
              • Katie July 17, 2012, 1:57 pm

                If science is so flawed, I assume you avoid becoming a hypocrite by eschewing all that science has taught us? No technology, modern medicine, the theory of gravity…? Don’t people who try to use the “science is flawed” argument to defend themselves against scientific evidence that goes against what they believe in realize how ridiculous they sound?

            • OWHL July 18, 2012, 8:30 am

              Reply
          • Hilary October 22, 2011, 7:31 pm

            Lots of us have babies because of failed contraception and lots of us have babies before we didn’t realise we didn’t like being at home with them. As a SAHM in the 1970s it was almost obligatory for me to be at home. I hated it though I loved my children dearly. I was bored out of my brain and loved it when they were older and I could go back to university and then work. Back then we didn’t have the internet and letters that took a week to get to us were the only outside contact we had. Being sleep deprived, socially deprived and no conversation barring screaming babies and quarrelling children in a small house insufficiently heated in a hostile social environment (an army camp) was not good for me. I became one of the 80% of mothers in that place who were doped up on valium to keep them quiet and well behaved for the army so our husbands could be sent away. It does nothing for the care of babies if the mother is stoned on medical drugs. It was incredibly hard work and I finally gave my husband an ultimatum – I had to leave that place and he could come too or stay in that job.

            Now if I had been in a supportive social environment where I could also get a bit of intellectual stimulation and ideas it might have been more manageable and enjoyable.

            Though despite all this my three children turned into good functioning adults and my 5 grandchildren are wonderful too.

            So don’t judge a mother who chooses to work – it might be much better all round for her to do so. Mind you the physical demands of caring for children makes part time work much easier to cope with all that has to be done.

            And the impact on a woman’s career has to be considered. My oldest daughter had to give up her career as part time work wasn’t possible. After 6 years out of the workforce she is now $30,000 per year less well off than her sister who is 3 years younger and in a similar field. After three years of working to get back into the field again she has finally got a satisfying position, but that was 9 years behind her male equivalents and $60,000 less per year than they are getting.

            So motherhood comes at a high financial cost, and that cost is even more if the mother doesn’t enjoy much of her time at home.

            Reply
          • Mrs. Money Mustache October 22, 2011, 7:42 pm

            Hi Hilary,

            It’s unfortunate this post got so off topic, as it wasn’t mean to be a stay at home mom vs. working mom post!

            The only thing I mention in this post is that it would be nice for a parent (man, woman, or both! – by the way, I know many stay at home dads) to be able to stay home with their child for at least 6 months. I know this isn’t always possible, but given proper maternity/paternity leave in this country, it would be (like in Canada).

            There are many days I would have rather have gone to a nice easy job than to stay at home. It’s a choice I made and many days were a struggle, but for me, it was one that was worthwhile. Everyone is different.

            Please working moms – do not take offense! I am still shocked that my words were twisted to mean something that I didn’t at all intend. Let’s get back on topic… babies really don’t need very much. :)

            Reply
    • Mrs. Money Mustache September 9, 2011, 12:02 pm

      As I mentioned above (and in the article), I’m not suggesting buying a used carseat. We found one that met our needs and was safe and we used it. End of story. Obviously the safety of our child is our number one concern.

      I will argue that a car seat (and possibly a mattress?) is the ONLY new things you need for a baby. I was actually much happier buying a used mattress as new mattresses may have issue with off-gasing of chemicals. With a used mattress, I knew it had been venting for some time and the mattress cover resolved my issues with it being a used item. Many new baby products probably have this issue. I actually prefer used items in almost all cases because of this.

      As for your other sentiment… having well adjusted parents. I agree with your first sentence. Happy healthy parents make for a happy child. But, you will never ever convince me that a child under the age of 6 months is better off in daycare. Never. That is why most countries have maternity and paternity leave. The US system is absolutely insane and needs to be changed. Not to mention, babies in daycare have a much higher chance of getting sick early in life, sometimes with a serious illness. Babies need their parents, or at least one of them. It’s a very small sacrifice to give your child 6 months of YOU. Then, you can go on with your life and be a well adjusted adult. Most parents, when they have children, come to this conclusion within a few weeks of being a parent. It’s very hard to leave your child at one month of age and completely unnatural.

      Reply
      • Katie September 9, 2011, 12:10 pm

        “But, you will never ever convince me that a child under the age of 6 months is better off in daycare. Never.”

        What an extremely unscientific point of view.

        “Not to mention, babies in daycare have a much higher chance of getting sick early in life, sometimes with a serious illness.”

        They also develop stronger immune systems.

        “It’s a very small sacrifice to give your child 6 months of YOU.”

        Actually, it would be a huge sacrifice. Please see my comment above.

        “It’s very hard to leave your child at one month of age and completely unnatural.”

        Unnatural? So is living in a constructed house, driving a car, eating processed foods.

        Can’t you see how judgmental you are being? Think outside the box. There is more than one possible answer here. Just because it worked for you doesn’t mean it the only answer. Or the best, most natural, or whatever answer. It just means it worked for you. The height of conceit is to assume your way is the best way with no evidence (other than your own, anecdotal experiences) to back up your claims.

        Reply
        • Mrs. Money Mustache September 9, 2011, 12:28 pm

          Hi Katie. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. If you can find me a scientific study that says kids are better off without parents in the first 6 months of life, please send it to me. I would find it very interesting.

          I’m sorry you found my article offensive, but it is my opinion. Every family is different and every parent is different and I respect that — truly, I do. But, babies are so small and so precious and they need us. I don’t think anyone can argue that. They need a loving person to take care of them. If you can find a person that can take care of your child in the same way you could, then great. Hopefully that person will be in your child’s life forever as they will form a very close bond.

          I totally agree that living in a constructed house, driving a car, eating processed foods is unnatural. Something we agree on! Hooray!

          This blog talks about the path we chose. It talks about retiring from your job early, primarily to be there for your kids, but also to pursue other things and to enhance your life in a way that may be different from the rest of society. It may be a bit old school and about going back to your roots. It’s about bonding with people and with your community. I understand that not everyone wants to do this, but then maybe this blog is not the right blog for you. There are many parents that are very focused on their careers and are happy and successful. Good for them.

          I don’t think I’m being judgmental. I just think that children really deserve to have their parents around as much as they possibly can. I’m sure they will turn out all right even if they don’t, but I know that this time with my child is precious and I would regret not being around to see him grow up.

          Reply
          • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple September 9, 2011, 12:35 pm

            I’m not sure she actually said that her child would be “better off”, did she?

            “No worse off” maybe.

            Reply
          • Mrs. Money Mustache September 9, 2011, 12:45 pm

            Good point, Marcia. I’m sure it’s a difficult thing to study, as I doubt they could find any long term differences. The quality of care is probably a much bigger factor, whether it’s in the daycare or at home.

            I’ve never met a mom who didn’t wish she could stay home with her child for the first 3-6 months at least. Most parents that had to leave their child at 1-2 months found it very difficult.

            What I’m advocating is trying to stay at home with your child the first 6 months to a year, if possible. I chose to stay at home with my child until the age of 3, as that was important to me, but after the age of 1, I definitely needed more balance in my life and I figured out how to get it. I think given the choice (job security and continued pay) the majority of parents would choose to at least stay home with their child for 6 months. Am I wrong?

            Reply
          • Katie September 9, 2011, 1:50 pm

            Actually, several of your comments came off as quite judgmental, but I appreciate your sentiment. Marcia is quite right – I said my children will be no worse off for both parents working, not that they will be better off. I am not knocking your decision. I think it’s great it worked for you. It just wouldn’t work for me. And I am certain that my children will be better off with having a working mom, as being a full time stay at home mom would result in me becoming miserable and/or crazy!

            I do appreciate the point of this blog. While it does not agree with my life goals 100%, I have found some very useful things to take away and apply to my life. Doesn’t mean I’ll agree with everything that’s posted, and I’m ok with that. But, when it’s something I feel strongly about, I’ll probably add my two cents. A little discussion makes these types of blogs even more helpful, in my opinion, so I hope that is ok with you!

            Reply
          • Mrs. Money Mustache September 9, 2011, 1:56 pm

            Thanks for being so tough Katie! I’m glad you’re contributing and would love to hear more from you in the future. It keeps things interesting when we don’t all agree, although we should try and keep things civil, of course. :)

            We’re all judgmental, even when we try not to be. There are a few things I have strong opinions on, and I tried to keep them out of the article, but I guess I wasn’t that successful. I must admit that I was expecting some debate, but not like this!

            Reply
            • Clint April 10, 2012, 11:25 am

              Tough? After reading these back-and-forth comments. I would’ve gone with “thin-skinned.”

              Reply
    • Mrs. Money Mustache September 9, 2011, 12:07 pm

      By the way, I randomly found this page and found it to have a good summary of childcare needs based on the age of a child:

      http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetails.aspx?p=114&np=122&id=1509

      Note: Children over three years of age usually benefit from group experiences for part of some days, whether you are at work or not.

      This is what I’ve read in most places and this is why we decided to start preschool once a week for our child just before he turned 3. At 4, he went twice a week, and at 5 he went 3 times a week. The rest of the time, he was with his parents or with trusted friends and family.

      Reply
      • Ginger September 9, 2011, 7:39 pm

        Mrs. Money, the research into child psychology within the difference between children who went to daycare and those who had a stay at home parent in the long term is there no statistical difference.

        Reply
    • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple September 9, 2011, 12:33 pm

      Reply
      • Katie September 9, 2011, 1:09 pm

        Hi Marcia! Great articles! Thanks!

        Reply
        • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple September 9, 2011, 4:29 pm

          Ah, I see you are in academic science…probably the least “family friendly” arena for women to be in. Not exactly friendly to women in fact.

          There’s a reason why a very small percentage of women in that field are mothers. It’s probably partly that some don’t desire it. (I’ve got a few friends in that category). But it is also very much the environment.

          Reply
    • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple September 9, 2011, 1:29 pm

      I agree to happy, well-adjusted parents. But a month or two? Two…maybe, but one? You underestimate how tired you will be. I’m a type-A engineer, accustomed to juggling many things at once. For that first year? Uh, not so much.

      Reply
    • vicki from NZ August 27, 2014, 7:27 pm

      I went back to work as a professional when my first child was 4 months old and second time around when my daughter was 3 weeks old. I totally regret doing this, I literally sat at work feeling like my time with my babies had been robbed from me. I didn’t save any money, I just kept my client base going and missed out on heaps of awesome time with my babies. I have stayed at home with the 3rd and 4th children, giving up my professional career for a self sufficient life style. It is irresponsible to have children so that someone else ends up raising them, they are your children. My son was relentlessly bullied in daycare, and that was a good daycare, it is just a natural thing when they don’t have mum and dad around. I plan to return to work when my current newborn is 2 years old but hubby will be looking after him. If you can’t afford to do this perhaps you need to consider whether you are living beyond your needs.

      Reply
  • ncfarmchick September 9, 2011, 12:11 pm

    My husband and I are blessed to have a 6 week old little boy and we were adamant – no showers. We were uncomfortable with all the fuss made over us at wedding showers but were not brave enough to say no at that time. The funniest thing to me is that people actually get upset if you recognize their need to give you something but suggest practial items. At the insistance of some friends and family, I created a VERY brief baby registry which consisted primarily of diapers and formula with one outfit I thought would be nice for my son to wear for his baptism. I cannot tell you how many people told me, “I’m not getting you diapers. That is NOT a gift!” O…K….but giving us a bunch of crap we don’t need and will never use is? This is one of the reasons we rarely give gifts other than those which are consumable (homemade foods made from ingredients grown on our farm, etc.) I don’t want to give someone the “gift” of having to store unwanted stuff, figure out how to get rid of it, etc. That is a burden, not a gift, in my opinion. I have given in to one meet-the-baby event in a few weeks as long as the hostesses agreed to make it a no gifts event or a book party. I do believe that books are the one thing a child can have in abundance and they are easy to pass along when the time comes. Thanks for a great post!

    Reply
  • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple September 9, 2011, 12:46 pm

    Lots of good advice here. I had one good friend with a son 9 months older (but 2.5 years “bigger”) than mine, so I needed very little in the way of clothing. We got a used carseat for free from a friend (which we sold when we were done, and gave the money to them).

    We were not co-sleepers – I think that choice is one that is very personal, and I just could not see myself risking rolling over onto my child. I am such a light/bad sleeper as it is. We had him in a crib in our room for the first few months, and it was AMAZING how much better I started sleeping when we moved him to his own room, where I couldn’t hear every mew, grunt, and breath. YMMV. My spouse sleeps like the dead, so he didn’t care either way.

    I’m not going to argue about the working parent/stay at home parent thing (should you/shouldn’t you), suffice it to say that if you choose to work, there will be extra expenses. Quality childcare is expensive, particularly if you live nowhere near family (like us). We preferred a home childcare environment with a mother/daughter team and lots of homemade food and love about. We called the mom, who is now in her late 90’s, “the baby whisperer”.

    I would recommend a quality breast pump (but again, I borrowed my friend’s). It enabled me to nurse my son and provide breastmilk (no formula) for over a year.

    If I had to do it over again (we tried, but no luck for us), I would certainly not go back to work full time. I was ready to go back at 3+ months (which is when I did), but I went back full time. I underestimated how tired I was going to be, and my boss (boss#1) wasn’t very understanding about the whole part time idea. As soon as he quit, I got the new boss (boss#2) to agree to a part-time gig. I only left that job when I got new management (boss #3) who told me “no more part time” (ironically, I left to go work for boss #1, part time). You can be a great mom who works, but I found that it came at the cost of my own health when my son was young and I worked full time. From November to March (5 months) his first year, I was healthy only about 28 days. It was awful.

    Reply
    • Katy March 16, 2013, 12:01 am

      I know this is an old post, but for anyone else trolling through the archives, I just wanted to note that manual expression IS actual a viable alternative to having a pump! I know it sounds crazy, but I tried it due to finding the pump flanges on a borrowed pump quite uncomfortable. My doctor told me she raised four exclusively breast fed children while working full time with only manual expression. I work 30 hrs a week with a 7.5 month old and it’s working great so far. Takes about the same amount of time and is better at maintaining supply (actually I have to be careful not to Increase supply). Downside is that it’s definitely a two handed job. On the plus side it makes travel super easy!

      Reply
  • Katie September 9, 2011, 1:04 pm

    Ignoring the fact that I requested *scientific* data (those were not), did you read the articles you linked to? Small if non-existent differences were found, and with many more years of solid data showing that children with stay at home parents fair no better, I am quite sure that I will not be harming my future children. I can not say the same for the harm that a closed, biased, unscientific mind could do to a child, however.

    Reply
    • Leigh in CT September 9, 2011, 1:10 pm

      Really, REALLY, are we bringing the mommy-blog wars and hate here now, too? One family’s opinion and experience. Take it or leave it as you please.

      As a favorite mentor once said to me, “if you don’t want your toes stepped on so much, quit sticking them out to be stepped on.”

      Reply
    • Chris September 9, 2011, 1:35 pm

      My apologies. Your earlier reference to higher education made me assume I was speaking to someone with a reasonable amount of intelligence. I won’t make the mistake again.

      While I know the articles use some big words, if you read closely I’m sure you’ll be able to figure out the underlying message: abandoning your baby has a profound effect on its parental bonding abilities. To think this won’t have long term effects on its abilities to create and maintain interpersonal relationships would be nothing short of idiotic.

      The good news here though, is that you don’t have kids yet. Let’s do the world a favor and keep that going for as long as we can. Deal?

      Reply
      • Katie September 9, 2011, 1:44 pm

        Wow – insulting my intelligence and telling me never to have children? What a cute little troll you are!

        Reply
        • MMM September 9, 2011, 2:18 pm

          All right, all right kids! Holy Shit, Mr. Money Mustache goes out in the yard for a couple hours of gardening and house maintenance and look what he comes back to! This is the first time in the history of over 1,800 comments on this blog that things have gotten so rowdy. Let’s not waste any time on personal arguments.

          I apologize, Katie, for misreading your initial claims. You are choosing a different kid care path because you like your career, not because you feel kids are too expensive to raise on a single income. I’ve never heard anyone express a preference of career over newborn child care before, but hey, at least you’re doing it consciously.

          So I can’t argue with you on my main point.. and this is not primarily a parenting or childraising blog – I’m a self-proclaimed authority on early retirement, but not on what is best for children. And I do think that people with different opinions should always calm down and turn to science whenever possible as their best chance of finding common ground.

          As for careers, hopefully you can advance quickly in your own career and get some more power over your situation. Because a field that would throw you out after 6 months of absence sounds pretty oppressive to me. Most companies hire people based on their ability to solve problems and increase company profits. For example, even after six years of retirement, I could take up my old software engineering career within a month and at a higher salary than when I left. Part of having an enjoyable career is having confidence in your ability to get a new job at any time. Without this confidence, you feel trapped and end up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of being a company-dependent worker with no autonomy.

          Reply
          • Katie September 9, 2011, 2:30 pm

            Why, it’s the wonderful world of academic science! And, trust me, there are many women in it making the same decisions regarding childcare that I plan to. It’s not a question of not being allowed back, exactly – it’s more that ignoring a research group for six months would cause it to fall apart and fall behind and lose funding and just generally stop functioning. It’s the nature of the field, unfortunately. While there are still many un-family-friendly polices I hope to change from the inside, the general way that science is done is not one of them.
            And I must say, your stance on science makes me sure I’ll continue to follow your blog well into the future!

            Reply
          • JJ September 10, 2011, 12:36 am

            Really Mr. MM? You could go back to your old software dev job at a higher salary than when you left?

            I really think your’e awesome, Mr. MM, but being in the thick of software development I’m kinda doubting that claim…Perhaps it’s truly different at Cisco with their old-school communications and desktop applications, but from what I’ve seen in the web app world, things are really moving at a fast pace, especially with mobile starting to take over desktop, and it’s a continuous jog for me to keep up while being knee deep in it. I can’t imagine how behind I would be if I were are few years into “retirement”. Perhaps you’ve been keeping yourself up to date, or perhaps there’s really no developments in the niche that you’re in. But in the area of software dev that I’m in (A cross between software-as-a-service and e-commerce) 6 months of not keeping up with what’s going on means I don’t have enough insight on the current competitive landscape to solve problems or increase profits.

            Reply
            • MMM September 10, 2011, 7:30 am

              You’re right, of course. If I tried to jump right into your fancy job right now your coworkers would laugh at my beginner efforts and tell me they wanted JJ back. And I couldn’t get my old job back either, since it is actually completely gone as joked about in the Joy of Getting Laid off from your Job post. But jobs in software development are still plentiful, and I see job postings each week looking for software developers and other technology, applications engineering, and management positions that sound very interesting to me. The companies sound desperate and are having a hard time finding real tech people.

              Surely the other developers among us will agree that the actual mental process of good software development hasn’t changed much since before the Commodore 64. The technology and programming languages and products are of course drastically different. But it’s simple to learn a new programming language, the real thing is figuring out how to solve your piece of a giant puzzle in a simple and self-documenting way that works with everyone else’s parts … and more importantly helping those actual other people solve their problems and work together while continuing to make sure everyone enjoys their job each day. These big-company jobs really seem to depend on people skills over top of that base of technical expertise. And human nature evolves much more slowly than web technology!

              I think a good software developer (and people manager) is mostly a person with a certain type of mind.. with a small layer of icing on top that represents the particular skills and technologies they are versed in right now. You can spread on new icing, but I think real developers are born, not made.

              I’m not particularly awesome – just reasonably confident in my core usefulness as a person who can actually get things done in certain areas of interest . Someone asked me if I was interested in going back into a software job at a start-up company just yesterday while I was dropping my son off at at school (true story!). I was flattered, but at this stage I’m learning even more in the amazing world of Not Having a Job so alas I cannot accept the offer.

              And you know what? Even now, I find it takes most of my time just to be a good DAD, such that I would have to give up a huge part of my role in my son’s life in order to lock myself back into an office from 9-5 every weekday. With a 40-hour per week job, he would get much less of my time, and my job would still be unsatisifying becasuse when I work, I like to REALLY work – i.e., stay nights and weekends occasionally and spend more than 40 hours a week. If you pour yourself into it, kids are a full-time job.

              Which almost brings us back onto the topic of this post!

              Reply
          • JJ September 10, 2011, 1:28 am

            I left academia to go into software development, so I will defend Katie if no one else will. Academic science is hard. Both in terms of raw intellectual power and in terms of the personal life you’re willing to sacrifice. It’s a publish or perish world, and I admit I was not good enough for it. Experiments take a good while before you have enough data for statistical analysis, and when your experiment that took 6 months or more to complete results in a null result (i.e. one that does not support your hypotheis), well good luck trying to publish that.

            It takes years to establish yourself in a scientific community. It’s definitely not family friendly, especially if you’re thinking of staring a family in your early thirties. To me, it was too much work and a thankless job, and I think anyone who goes into academic science is truly noble in their persuit of advancing our understanding of the world. These people are sacrificing a lot of their personal lives that may very well result in foundational knowledge of, perhaps, the cure to cancer or whatever else that may manifest itself in the future. That a scientifically minded woman such as Katie is having children and continuing her research is a comforting world to raise my own children in. Her children will understand the scientific method and continue test and persuit deeper understanding of what we know. I’d rather have more mothers like her who may have to put her kids in daycare than more children of parents who think CNN is the height of scientific inquiry.

            Reply
            • dm8877 May 29, 2014, 1:43 pm

              Hear hear! And I’ll say too that I know certain children who would greatly benefit from a little time away from Mommy.

              Reply
  • Leigh in CT September 9, 2011, 1:07 pm

    As a mom of now 9 year-old twins I’ll let those parents of singletons in on a great money saver. Do an internet search on your local Moms of Multiples group. Most every chapter holds giant tag sales twice a year, once in spring and again in the fall. These tag sales help parents of multiples clear out everything their twins (triplets, quads, you get the idea….) have outgrown. The bonus is that everyone else can score gently used baby and child items for pennies on the dollar. You do not have to be a parent of multiples to shop at these tag sales, a common misconception. The best part is you will find heaps of clothes, toys, strollers, books, strollers, high chairs, etc. etc.

    If you are a parent or soon to be parent of multiples go find your local chapter and join pronto. You get lots of support and resources from other families. Plus you have access to these tag sales where you, too, can buy and then later SELL all your swag.

    P.S. Love, love, love this blog. Working on FI out here on the East Coast in the metro-NYC area. Your writing is clear, relatable and timely. Keep those posts coming!

    Reply
    • Stephanie September 21, 2011, 12:49 pm

      This is good to know! I will be needing a triple stroller soon (no multiples, but “Irish Triplets”) :) by next spring and I was freaking out a little at the cost of a triple stroller. A Moms of Multiples tag sale sounds like the kind of place one could get a less expensive one.

      Reply
  • jane September 9, 2011, 1:23 pm

    Hmmm. Since when is supposedly unbiased scientific data the answer to all human predicaments?
    First time comment here – might as well be time to say I think your blog is one of the best, certainly of the newer ones (though my all-time favorite is ERE – you are in stellar standing!)
    Please Mrs.MMM keep your posts coming. Best, Jane

    Reply
  • shanoboy September 9, 2011, 1:55 pm

    I’m a terrible person. I take all the hand me downs we get, and when people don’t want them back, I sell them and keep the cash.

    I try to borrow everything, and never buy anything new. You’ll find most people really want to get their old baby stuff out of their attic.

    Reply
  • Jenny September 9, 2011, 2:25 pm

    Couldn’t agree more – even when we added twins to our family after a singleton, we didn’t need that much more. And WHEN we add another, I doubt I’ll buy anything, even though I’ve sold everything from the other kids off. AND, my husband is taking a leave of absence next year, because we have at least one (maybe two) kids home, and they don’t require “typical” care. We’ve had a variety of stuff and childcare situations and it’s constantly evolving, but it’s worked for us so far, and when it doesn’t, we change it. Nothing is written in stone.

    Reply
  • jessica w. September 9, 2011, 8:52 pm

    http://www.storenvy.com/products/14536-keep-calm-and-grow-a-moustache-poster

    That is not a spam post, this would go well on your blog ;p

    BUT I loved your post. I grew up in a family with 7 other siblings, 4 adopted, 4 biological. I later found out that my dad had a HUGE Mustache and income,but we had no clue growing up. My parents raised us frugally and learned to figure things out like happiness can’t be bought, etc. We had a stay at home mom which was also an awesome addition to being raise. We all wore the same outfits we all wore the same rainbow rubber boots, etc. I loved my simple, happy childhood!
    My hubs and I are minimalistic, and I almost have a freak out when I see all of the junk that people get for their babies from showers. I laugh when I see the “gifts” that my nieces get when they want the wrapping paper more than the gift to play with. I am trying to convince my parents and family that once we have a kid, instead of gifts please give them money in an investment account so when they are ready for their lives away from us they have a nice chico stash to start with. Hopefully they will listen rather than by cluttery things even if it is well intentioned.

    This post had such a fresh view, I love the idea of not needing so many specialized things that only have one use. If you have ever seen the documentary “babies,” it is watching 4 different children and how they are treated from birth till 1 or 2. There is hardly any talking,but you can see that the children in Africa who only has sticks and dirt does just as well as the pampered Californian baby. I don’t think baby safeing a house is worth your money either. Obviously don’t have it horrible so your child can always get hurt,but they will learn that the tiled floor is hard really fast,etc.

    Thank you for such great articles on this blog, I am addicted.

    Reply
  • JJ September 10, 2011, 1:41 am

    Anyway, I want to thank Mrs. MM for this post. I’ve always wondered how much the “startup” cost of a kid would be, and how long we could actually stay in our one bedroom rental until it was all frowned upon.

    Reply
    • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple September 10, 2011, 9:14 am

      My MIL grew up in Denmark and lived in a 1BR apt with her parents and brother until her brother moved out. I know in the US it is “frowned upon”, but eh, who cares.

      Reply
  • zombot September 12, 2011, 4:40 pm

    wait a sec- you mean newborn babies don’t need lilliputian nikes or timberlands or accurately-made and similarly-priced name brand shoes?

    Reply
    • Uncephalized June 10, 2012, 12:48 pm

      Hell, babies don’t need shoes at all in many climates, and only part of they year for warmth in most of them.

      That human beings require shoes just to walk out of their house is one of the great cons of modern society.

      Reply
      • Becky O. August 3, 2013, 6:42 am

        Hear hear! I grew up in rural Arkansas where you can bet I rarely wore shoes even walking down a gravel road. Makes your feet tough & strong! ;)

        Now I still prefer to go barefoot whenever I can. Saves wear & tear on those prissy shoes.

        Reply
      • Emmers September 6, 2013, 4:31 pm

        I think this may be a regional thing – in a city (or anywhere with significant automobiles), you’ve got a large risk of broken glass on the sidewalk. You’d better believe I’m wearing shoes there! It’s different in the country, I think.

        Reply
  • Kathy Schrenk October 10, 2011, 11:35 pm

    So true! Unfortunately, I didn’t learn a lot of this until after I had my first. The mother’s club was great for getting inexpensive barely-used stuff!

    Reply
  • C W October 12, 2011, 4:55 pm

    The debate on how long to stay home… wouldn’t it be nice if moms aren’t forced back to work after 3 months just to keep her job? I know many-a-mother cried for weeks because they don’t want really to leave their babies with “strangers” for most of their waking hours to go back to work. On the other hand, I know moms who couldn’t wait to jump back into the career arena because spending 24/7 with little adult interaction drive them insane. I personally blame hormone for making me want to stay with my son forever until he finished college initially, but that urge has largely subsided. (He’s turning 3 next month.)

    On the cost of cloth diaper, you technically need to add the cost of washing to make the cost comparison “fair” for the disposable crowd. But even using the most fancypants cloth diaper detergent is cheaper than the cheapest disposable diapers. (And I’ll play nice and won’t bring environmental debate into that argument.) On the other hand, if you start with used cloth diapers and resell them after you’re done, the cost of cloth diapers are even more negligible, as they seem to retain a good value.

    For the even more frugal moms, you can make your own cloth diapers from old clothes. Anything that’s 100% cotton (like t-shirt or flannel) is good for absorbency, and anything that’s 100% wool is good for making covers. Google will yield tutorials on how to make them in different styles, even if you don’t sew.

    Co-sleeping needs to be practiced with caution–make sure you don’t use fluffy pillows and comforters, neither of you are drugged or drunk or overweight, and baby is protected from falling off the bed. But it’s definitely the cheaper option. You can even skip the playard on trips.

    Reply
    • Uncephalized June 10, 2012, 12:54 pm

      It would be nice if new parents weren’t forced to be alone with no one but their children for company, either. Traditional societies don’t leave a woman in her house alone to raise a baby–they share the responsibilities among many women of multiple generations, providing much-needed rest and companionship.

      Modern living and child-raising practices are almost invariably unfair to the children, parents, or both it seems.

      Reply
      • Emmers November 29, 2012, 1:45 pm

        Yes! Definitely both of these things are true. Feminist writers (at least the ones I read) talk a lot about the lack of a “third way” for parents, especially mothers, in regards to childcare. The only choices, for the majority of people, are “quit entirely and tank your career” or “go back to work full-time after 6-12 weeks.” I know for me, a third option of some kind (go back to work 75%?) would be best, but I don’t know if that’s going to be possible when Hypothetical Kids arrive.

        Reply
  • Hilary October 22, 2011, 7:37 pm

    Just a comment about the number of nappies. Back in the days when nappies were just squares of cloth to be folded into the appropriate shape for the gender and age of the baby we used to reckon on needing 3 dozen (36). From personal experience managing with 2 dozen was very difficult when coping with rain day after day and having to dry them over a wood stove when it was too wet to dry them outside. I guess most people have driers now but I didn’t when my babies were young – and still don’t. It is a slow day when one’s husband comes home and asks what has happened in your day and you proudly announce, “I got all the nappies dried today.”

    Reply
  • CG December 4, 2011, 1:13 pm

    Spot on! I was given so much with our first that our total out of pocket was less than $300 and most of that was for a used dresser, used cloth diapers(Motherease One-Size), prefolds, covers and a diaper can. Our second baby we went into the negative with cost because, even though we had a gender difference, I was able to reuse almost everything from our first and we were given a ton of hand-me-downs from a same-gendered cousin as well as another shower. My mom believes in throwing a shower for every big life event and our circle of acquaintances love showers. Our recent addition was the biggest negative. Apparently having a gap of 6 years between your kids makes people more generous because we got more for our last than we did for our first. I took loads of items we wouldn’t be able to use back to stores for credit. It was embarrassing doing that but I figured the gifters would rather I had something that I could use and not extra onesies, in reserve, still in the wrappers. I’m still trying to spend all the gift cards and store credits we were gifted and our baby is over 1 year old. All in all we have 3 kids and have had 5 baby showers. We are very blessed to have the family and friends that we do. My older kids are dressed in thrift, yard sale and hand-me-down clothes and shoes. I even make them things from time to time. Instead of buying diapers for my latest baby, I made them from cotton t-shirts for just $.50 each in materials.
    So much of frugality is in creativity. Learning to think differently and find unusual solutions can save you a lot of money.

    Reply
  • Peter January 11, 2012, 11:29 am

    Great ideas, Mrs. MM.

    And not to stir the pot, but in regard to some comments on this post… I hear a lot about having to “sacrifice” this or that for the child. As though it’s an inconvenience to bring new life into this world. If that is your mindset, and if the career is that important to you, perhaps now is not the time to be having a kid. Now I do not have kids yet (and don’t start with the, it will be different when you have them, talk) but when I do, you can bet the farm that I’d lay down my life for them. If financially able (and thanks in part to this blog, I will be sure I am), I will gladly leave my career behind to raise my kids. If my wife wants to, then she is more then free to as well. If we both can: GRAVY!

    What also gets me, is that for some reason, raising your children at home equates to them never leaving the house. Is there some rule that stay at home parents can’t let their children play with kids at the park? Have a play date? Bring their child to preschool 1 or 2 days a week?
    It just bugs me when someone thinks your child is deprived for not going to day care from month 2 on.

    If the career will stay priority #1 after the child is born, then don’t have one.

    Reply
  • JaneMD January 13, 2012, 11:27 am

    This was a very interesting discussion going on, but returning to the post itself – please do not have your child sleep in bed with you. Co-sleeping is associated with SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). We bought a 30 dollar bassinet at Walmart and kept it in our room. Also, you need to have stable laundry facilities to make the cloth diapers work – even if you use some of the other frugality methods for clothes drying listed on this blog.

    If you want to follow-up on the scientific data/discussion of various parenting issues and frugality, that is the focus of my new blog – written by a board certified pediatrician. I do read and base my comments on the American Academy of Pediatrics and multiple pediatric texts and studies.

    Reply
    • Uncephalized June 10, 2012, 12:56 pm

      The research I remember reading suggests cosleeping REDUCES the risk of SIDS and increases the sleep duration and quality for the parents because they don’t need to get up to feed or soothe the baby.

      Reply
      • JaneMD July 17, 2012, 2:25 pm

        While we do not know the true cause of SIDS (you can read much discussion in the wikipedia entry alone), the ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign, which recommended back to sleep and stopping co-sleeping has been our most effective SIDS prevention method yet. (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/ab/Back_to_sleep_plot.png)

        SIDS is still a relatively rare event and risk factors include smoking, males, low birth weight, African-American race, teenage motherhood, single parent, low socioeconomic factors, co sleeping, and sleeping on the stomach. (The list goes on much longer than I listed). The risk is particularly high for African American, even when factoring in income and education. I was personally amazed when I learned that President Obama’s children had a higher risk of SIDS than the childen of an umarried Caucasian teenage mother that didn’t finish high school – even if both groups of children sleep on their backs. (I attended a lecture from my State Health Department for that statistic.)

        While we wait for the discovery of the definitive cause of SIDS – genetic? biomolecular? infectious? – our greatest success in preventions has come from the low-tech solution of infants sleeping alone on their backs.

        Lots of the other attempts on solutions, like fans and pacifiers, are the scientific community throwing stuff out and hoping something sticks. The ongoing cosleeping research you are discussing, which I have read, is alot of self-report and generally targets the groups that are breastfeeding and thus at a lower risk of SIDS. (White, married, non-smoking, employeed)

        To make it more complicated, some of the breastfeeding community declares the back to sleep/no cosleeping campaign as anti-breastfeeding. Then someone in the back to sleep campaign declares them crazie anti-vaccine hippies and the discussion rages on . . .

        Reply
  • JD May 2, 2012, 10:02 pm

    We found very quickly that having a baby sleep in our room meant less sleep for us. We would react (or even just wake and worry) to the smallest noise and grumble. Moving them into a nearby room or even just the hall meant we slept a lot better as our two kids quickly adjusted and slept in longer and longer blocks.

    Also, since this is my first comment here, I thought I’d say hi! recent follower from Perth, Western Australia. I love the articles even though I have to de-america some of the tax, banking, insurance and investment information. Learning heaps and relating to a lot of the amazement at people’s non-mustachian inclination to take on consumer debt and to buy “stuff” they don’t need.

    Reply
  • Mojito Chica June 2, 2012, 8:23 pm

    How often did you have to wash with your initial cloth diaper setup?

    Reply
  • Alicia June 27, 2012, 1:11 pm

    TRUTH! I refuse to accept that a kid costs $12,000 a year. We’ve done nearly everything you’ve laid out here – my sister had my nephew 10 months before I did and I have a friend with two boys so we got clothes, car seats/strollers, a rocker and a play yard for nothing; we cloth diaper and use elimination communication (it’s AWESOME); he sleeps in the bed with us; dad takes care of him in the daytime, etc. We’ve only spent money on a mini crib, a pump for me (from craigslist) and changing table in his first year. The kid’s cost us roughly $500 sans hospital bill. To hell with $12,000!

    Reply
  • Qwerty October 24, 2012, 7:17 am

    I think that saying ‘just breastfeed, its free! And if you have trouble, call LLL” is way too much of an oversimplification. Yes, some women breastfeed, without many problems, or no problems at all. Others, however, have an extremely difficult time. They go through physical problems, a lot of emotional stress, and calling the LLL can often make it worse. There is already a lot of pressure out there to breastfeed, and many new moms who experience a lot of guilt for not being physically capable of doing so.

    I am actually surprised that I didn’t see a paragraph on, oh I dont know, imaking your own baby food. I can’t believe how much it costs for a jar of mashed bananas, its about the same, sometimes more, than a pound of bananas. There are also these cool things called baby TV dinners, which cost just over $2 for one meal. One toddler meal. What the hell?!

    Reply
    • Emmers September 6, 2013, 4:23 pm

      Truth.

      I suspect baby food wasn’t mentioned because this post is about newborns – but I’d love to see a follow-up about older babies!

      Reply
  • jessica w February 13, 2013, 5:47 pm

    I recently found a great review where they show that these Alva Baby diapers are almost identical to Bum Genius and work just as well, and they only cost $4.80 a pair! Anyway, the review can be found at the follow link. http://www.squawkfox.com/2012/07/25/cloth-diaper-stash2/ Also, those inexpensive diapers can be found at the following link, but they come from China so if you are against that then pay more… http://www.alvababy.com/

    Reply
  • Pat March 1, 2013, 5:04 pm

    One thing not on your list – a dimmer switch for the room where you change diapers. Our bathroom had a long counter, so I changed our daughter’s diaper there. When I changed her in the middle of the night the bright light would wake her all the way up and she would have trouble going back to sleep. Once we installed the dimmer and I could change her in very dim light, she was much calmer and went right back to sleep.

    Reply
  • Penelope March 12, 2013, 8:20 pm

    Organic cotton-covered, natural rubber crib mattress: $600

    Organic cotton bumper & crib sheet: $362

    Healthy baby (not doused in chemicals all night long +naps): PRICELESS

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache March 12, 2013, 8:39 pm

      Wow! Thanks for illustrating so vividly what happens when consumer marketing taps into our natural desire to protect our offspring: extreme and ridiculous spending!

      Rather than a generic fear of “chemicals”, people need to understand the actual science behind what is (and is not) bad for young humans at various concentrations.

      Cotton and other commercial fabrics: not dangerous at all
      Chemical Household cleaners: mildly irritating to more sensitive kids, cumulative exposure definitely to be avoided
      Glue and plastic offgassing in a new car: many times higher again, but still not dangerous to most
      High fructose corn syrup and white bread: much more damaging again if eaten every day, but still tolerable to most kids
      Driving anywhere in a car driven by parents: biggest cause of death for children over age 1.

      A fearful and irrational consumer as a parent: VERY dangerous, as these habits pass from one generation to the next, dooming people to depending on consumption as a way of chasing happiness and “safety”.

      A kid can sleep safely on the floor, in a cardboard box, on a bag of straw, or on a used crib mattress you picked up off of Craigslist just as mine did. Makes no difference to the statistics of their future wellbeing.. focus on other things instead.

      Reply
      • Penelope March 13, 2013, 4:13 pm

        You and I simply have radically different priorities and points of view and to suggest that having me as a parent is “VERY dangerous” is ludicrous and grossly arrogant. Having a parent who considers the multitudes of chemicals in any object potentially coming into close contact with oneself is excellent. The idea that it “makes no difference to the statistics of their future wellbeing” is full-blown ignorance – you CAN NOT know that with your background. I know that you were not a chemist before you retired. Nor did you work for the EPA or OSHA.

        Known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and reproductive toxins are fine for babies, eh? Flame retardants and boric acid are fine for babies? Really? Do your research.

        Some things in life are more important than retiring early. Having a parent who considers what conventional cotton-growing practices do to the environment and the workers in the field, for instance. Having a parent who is a 24/7 stay-at-home parent, nurses on demand, diapers with organic-cotton diapers, feeds 100% organic produce and 90% organic food, does not use a pacifier, carries instead of strollers, etc. All excellent things.

        I’m not a “fearful and irrational consumer,” and it’s incredibly condescending to suggest that I am. You know nothing about me, except a very brief comment that I made last night, yet you’re suggesting that consumer marketing has tapped into my my natural desire to protect my offspring. Upon what do you base that assumption? Really, please write back and let me know. I should just tell you up front that I haven’t owned a television in over 12 years (my oldest is 10) and, in 2002, when my first child was born, I had to go searching for the safer products that I was hoping to find, they weren’t marketed to me, so I don’t know what you’re talking about. Maybe you will explain.

        I’m actually a well-researched, extremely thoughtful parent who follows science. I don’t spend extremely or ridiculously. Yesterday, to my corporate job, I wore stretchy old pants with holes in the crotch. I drive a 2003 Toyota Corolla that just replaced my 2000 Subaru because my Subaru could no longer get an inspection sticker. My snow boots have holes in the heels. Etc. Etc. Etc.

        You really ought to ask questions before you make judgements that boarder on name-calling. It seems to me that having a reactionary parent is far more “dangerous” than having a parent who is concerned.

        Reply
        • Penelope March 13, 2013, 4:44 pm

          Here:

          http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-11-02/business/35282651_1_crib-mattresses-risky-chemicals-andy-igrejas

          Thought I’d help you out a little with your research. If you’d like me to continue, I’d be happy to. There is so much information out there, it’s DANGEROUS!

          Reply
        • Katie March 13, 2013, 4:55 pm

          I would caution you to be careful of what you say and how you say it when you get into this type of argument. While I agree with some of your comments, I would have to argue that, as someone who is a practicing chemist, I can guarantee that bringing your child into contact with absolutely no chemicals would be considerably more deadly than bring him or her into contact with some. No contact with chemicals means no contact with anything, ie a vacuum (like outer space), which would kill a person in under a minute. What you mean is dangerous chemicals, and not making that distinction will invite comments like MMM’s of you being ignorant or irrational.

          Reply
          • Penelope March 13, 2013, 5:22 pm

            Well, Katie, if anyone thinks that I’m talking about innocuous chemicals when I’m talking about the widely-known issue of potentially-hazardous chemicals in mattresses, then I’m fine with taking on their comments. I work at a multi-national company that has PhD chemists on staff, so I don’t feel worried that I may be perceived as ignorant or irrational in my concerns – we have lots of interesting conversations at lunchtime in which I’m able to participate and keep up – but thanks for the words of “caution.”

            Your suggestion that I be clearer is kind of like the argument I overheard once in reference to the semantics of the phrase “organic produce.” A chemist among us rather snidely stated, “Everything grown in dirt is grown organically.” (completely ignoring the obvious, which is that in our culture we say “organic produce” to mean produce grown in accordance with specific guidelines)

            In this case, I don’t see any point to such ridiculous comments. Was I talking about ALL chemicals? No, I was talking about hazardous chemicals in a couple of specific products: mattresses and conventionally grown cotton – and by the way, I forgot formaldehyde. We know what we’re talking about in context. Mr. Money Mustache just enjoys being derisive.

            Reply
            • Penelope March 13, 2013, 5:43 pm

              Hey, I forgot to tell MMM that when my children were done sleeping on their beautiful natural mattress, I bartered with a co-worker and got four new tires for my Subaru in exchange for it. I also forgot to say that the mattress and accoutrements were a gift from grandma, so I really got the mattress, bumpers, sheets, and tires FOR FREE.

              But darn, this illumination raises new questions! I mean, should I have given my mom the tires? She doesn’t have a Subaru, she has a Toyota. They wouldn’t have fit. Should I have given her the cash equivalent? I didn’t have that. Ohhh, man. Maybe Katie or MMM can tell me how to ethically proceed, while still keeping my eyes on the ER prize?

              Reply
        • Mrs. Money Mustache March 13, 2013, 8:09 pm

          Hi Penelope,

          I’m sorry this conversation went this way. Your original comment implied that spending a lot on your kids was PRICELESS, which is contrary to what my article was trying to point out. Then you didn’t include any other information, so there was no context to your comment. Of course, given everything else you have said now, your comment makes more sense.

          A very close member of our family is extremely sensitive to chemicals, so I very much understand where you’re coming from.

          I think what MMM is trying to say that there are other ways to address some of these concerns than buying very expensive products (which is what marketing folks will have you do, if they have their way). If everyone purchases items from a place a fear, then it can take the focus away from one thing and place it on another.

          One example of this that MMM mentioned is driving. One of the leading causes of death in children in the United States is motor vehicle accidents (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Causes_of_death_by_age_group_%28percent%29.png). People buy larger cars and fancier car seats, but why not focus on driving less (or even on making people more attentive drivers)?

          Another example is grocery shopping for organic food. Buying everything organic and from Whole Foods can cost up to $1000 per month, or perhaps even more. This might include purchasing things like organic chocolate bars or organic jam, etc… at some point you are being sucked in by marketing.

          Like you, we care about our child and about chemicals. One of the reasons we bought a used crib mattress was due to off-gassing, among others. That also played a role in why we used cloth diapers and made our own baby food. We also don’t use chemical cleaning products (our solution is just not to clean all that much – ha!). We didn’t paint the baby’s room either. But, where does it end? What about your couch? Does it contain chemicals? Does your child spend a lot of time there? Should that be replaced? Do you refrain from painting the baby’s room or do you buy special expensive paint? Do you tear out all the carpets and install cork flooring in your entire home? How far does the fear extend, even if it is a very legitimate fear? I don’t know the answer, but it’s something worth thinking about since many people cannot afford to do everything perfectly.

          Incidentally, I’ve seen many people purchase fancy chemical free cleaners, mattresses, what have you, but then proceed to use disposable diapers and buy a ton of plastic toys for their kids. Is this consistent behavior? Surely buying less stuff is a great step, as well as buying used. Less worries about off-gassing and better for the environment overall. Incidentally, also better for your wallet.

          Why not think differently instead and save some money in the process? This is a blog about saving money, after all, so that’s what we usually talk about here…

          Reply
          • Penelope March 13, 2013, 8:50 pm

            I’m glad that you chimed in Mrs. MM, since I think that your approach is more thoughtful than the Misters, in this case. I’ve been following this blog for over a year now, so I DO know what it’s all about (hey – this week I got my new Airvoice SIM card!!!), but discussing the larger picture enters into the conversation all the time too and I was talking about that.

            It’s funny, I think that I’m already very Mustachian. For example, you mention the couch conundrum – I don’t own a couch and it’s primarily because I don’t want one, if it can’t be organic/natural! I tried a used coach and it made me too allergic from mold, mildew and dust. We now use a single bed (one part of a bunk bed) covered in a canvas paint cloth as a couch-like object and it’s fine, in fact, it’s shabby chic.

            I’m simply one of those extreme examples of someone who only buys low or no-VOC paint, or goes without paint. By most American’s standards, I live in a hovel because I’m not willing to compromise very often when it comes to chemicals or the environment or worker’s conditions. So, we have to wait until we can afford to buy something like a natural wood treatment product or toxin-free plywood. It’s taking longer to update our house, but it’s just the way I roll and I’m willing to work more years at my job rather than compromise in those places. I work only part-time anyway, when my boys are with their dad, so when I’m home, I’m totally in mom-mode and that’s good for the boys.

            I’m doing what I feel works for me ethically – that’s really IT in a nutshell. For instance, I CAN save money on something like a cell phone, which I have to have because I travel for work and my ex-husband won’t let our boys FaceTime me for free when we’re apart (he and his new wife have a 100% media-free household for the children – it’s a Waldorf household). I just switched away from AT&T thanks to you and MMM, so this blog has helped me grapple with new things like that and I’m really grateful. In fact, your “lady temptations” posts are a couple of my favorites…

            Thanks for your perspective on this blog!

            Reply
  • Lubietopale April 26, 2013, 3:46 am

    Modern living and child-raising practices are almost invariably unfair to the children, parents, or both it seems.

    Reply
  • Angela Dang April 30, 2013, 11:56 am

    Your mention of a carseat reminds me of a “Freakonomics” chapter on how carseats don’t actually make that big of a difference and that companies that sell them are capitalizing on parents’ fears. Thoughts? Did you use a car seat when your son was older?

    Reply
  • Ian Turner November 15, 2013, 9:11 pm

    My, what a controversy-filled comments section! I guess people really feel strongly about their child-rearing.

    Question for the Mustaches: Any tips/thoughts/comments on traveling with infants by bicycle?

    Reply
  • Michelle November 17, 2013, 7:47 pm

    Great debate about working parents, I have 2 teenagers (14,16) and am striving to be home more and work less for these remaining turbulent years. Teens may need more of us than babies even!

    Reply
  • Laura December 10, 2013, 9:47 am

    I just read the heated debate above…wow people!

    My 3 siblings and I went to daycare right away while both my parents worked. I respect my mom for that. We are successful and well adjusted. Growing up and seeing my mom as a professional working woman deeply impacted me. I have balance in my life and a career where I am giving back to the workforce. I am more than a stay at home mom.

    Thank you mom for having a career and allowing us the great experience that daycare provided.

    Reply
  • Bunnykick2000 February 1, 2014, 1:01 am

    Holy Hole in a Donut Batman!! This comment section got my heart rate up.

    I actually have some helpful advice: In our city, the County Health Department has a program were you can take a short training session about how to properly install a car seat. After the class, they give you a new car seat for FREE.

    Diaper free is the way to go. We used cloth diapers on our first child. The second child was diaper free. It’s hard to explain how cool it is. You will have a little difficulty finding pants that fit because your kid is wearing underwear and the other 99% of kids are sitting in their own pooh. I suppose this is one way to become part of the 1%…

    Keep up the great blogging MMM & MMM.

    Reply
  • Kartanya March 26, 2014, 9:51 pm

    Hi,
    Here in Australia we have pretty strict car seat laws also, but the Red Cross hires out good quality baby carriers and will fit them for you too.

    Reply
  • GTArea May 22, 2014, 8:31 am

    Very cool. We were shamed when we had our first for being too frugal. She’s ten years old now. There were lots of handmedowns available. I didn’t see a need to buy new. We did cloth diapers, but I bought new because I’m not comfy with used cloth diapers. The stroller was a handmedown but the carriers were brand new. In general, having kids isn’t that expensive until they get to school. At least, that’s what I found.

    On the sahm/wohm discussion. We’re in Canada, so we used the 12 month maternity leave for all three kids. I did one year mat leave, went back to work for a year before having my second child. Took another year long mat leave. Went back to work for 1.5 years and went back on maternity leave for a year. Went back to work for a year. The last promotion proved too much. Aviation has a 24/7 clock and was very demanding. Constantly putting out fires at ridiculous hours. I cried uncle and quit. So inside 5.5 years, I sahm 3 years. Inside 6.5 years, I wohm 3 years. I’m having a hard time concluding which is better. Going back to work from staying at home was like getting out of jail time. I missed work and enjoyed my career. At the same time, I couldn’t look at my newborns and contemplate leaving them in daycare that little. I don’t think there is a right or wrong. If you’re truly miserable at home, you aren’t going to provide as good a care as a care provider who enjoys being with the child day. I like a mix of the two.

    Reply
  • Megan June 24, 2014, 1:41 pm

    I know this article is old, but since we just brought our own first baby home about three weeks ago, this has new relevancy to me. We also tried to minimize the amount of stuff we bought and have been largely successful. We also wanted to keep the amount of STUFF to a minimum as well, keeping with the “backpacking” philosophy of baby gear. On the spending money front, I think we have done pretty well, however due to the generosity if friends and family, we are swimming in stuff. The great thing about getting or borrowing everything from someone else though is that eventually you can give it all back!

    I think the advice in this article is generally spot-on. We love the Pack-n-play and it works perfectly next to our bed at night. No crib yet though some friends have offered to lend us theirs. A couple of observations I can add:

    1) We have spent $ on little “accessories” that seem to pop up all over: extra valves for the breast pump, breast milk freezer bags (we have a ton of extra milk), diaper rash cream, bottle brush, baby soap, nipple cream, pumping bra (worth its weight in gold to allow hands-free pumping).

    2) We got a lot of accessories from the hospital and NICU (preterm baby) such as the pump accessories, thermometer, syringe bulb, swaddle blankets.

    3) Totally agree on borrowing used baby clothes. Everything she has worn so far has been used and it makes zero difference that the outfit says “Daddy’s little boy” on my little girl because she will have outgrown it in another week!

    That is just what I have so far but I am only beginning this adventure.

    Reply
  • Taryl August 17, 2014, 3:52 am

    Lots of good observations in this article but a few issues. One thing people don’t consider with multiple children is things wearing out – I’m on baby #5 in seven years, and believe it or not I need more this time around than I have for the last three children, because we’re out of spare carseats (all being used), the cosleeper purchased for the first baby when they move out from in bed with us has worn out, and with bed wetters and kids still in diapers more covers need to be sewn and prefolds can indeed be washed to death.

    Just sayin.

    While I enjoy many things on this blog, I do find the perspective somewhat lacking relating to children. Things like cycling just aren’t doable when the oldest child is still having trouble controlling their bike and four more need carting. We are extremely frugal but a grocery budget can only be controlled so much with a single income, increased medical expenses with childbirth every year or two, and lots of mouths to feed. A mom like me who stays and home and homeschools saves immensely in some areas, but sees cost increases in others (like wear and tear on the home and schooling costs incurred by the family).

    Large families are a great exercise in frugality as a matter of necessity, but they do come with many challenges smaller families don’t face, and the degree is greatly magnified. I still think you and your husband have tons of excellent content in the blog, especially for those starting out or trying to increase their frugality and save more. But I fervently wish some additional content that could help already thrifty, larger families save more was available. Some advice just doesn’t scale well with more occupants, as this post demonstrated to me :)

    I appreciate your perspective, and still say it’s a blog worth forwarding to new parents. As for me, I’m still trying to budget in a new-to-us cosleeper and figure out how to pay for this birth since the ACA upped our medical costs $600 per month with higher deductibles in July. Boo! The major step right now has been doing another inventory of our outlaw and spending habits and tightening up any creep that has come in. Even the thriftiest mustachians can get lazy with the bottom line!

    Reply
    • k September 19, 2014, 3:06 pm

      I believe the reason they don’t have any advice for larger families is that they only have one child, and they believe in only paying for what you can afford (and even under that amount if possible). The fact that you are still having kids but having a hard time of it is not very “Mustachian” at all… neither is complaining. I’m not trying to be rude, and maybe it’s a religious thing (which I don’t understand, either), but is there a reason for having so many kids in the first place?

      I have no kids, just two dogs, and by Mustachian standards, I should not have either of them, because we are not financially independent. They are much much cheaper than children though, and they make my house feel complete, and I wouldn’t get rid of an animal especially since we are providing a great home for them.

      I read through your blog, you say you’ve been doing Atkins and low carb… have you looked into Paleo or Primal ( ala http://www.robbwolf.com OR http://www.marksdailyapple.com )???? The forums at Marks Daily Apple are a godsend for n=1 self experimentation results and anything you could ever think about asking in terms of diet or health or lifestyle or exercise. Eating whole, real foods and adding some carbs back might do great good for you, although you seem to have great self control for the most part. Women tend to not do too well with low carb (I count myself as one of them), it can lead to feelings of lethargy and depression. Or maybe a Whole30 would do you some good, it takes 30 days and retrains the way your brain thinks about food.

      Reply
      • vicki from NZ September 19, 2014, 3:42 pm

        having kids is what you make of it, mine “work” for me a lot helping and doing their share, I have 4 kids two older 10 and 9 plus a 20 month and a 2 month old. It really depends what you see as important in life, I consider having children the most important, very primal task (I do have a profession as well but I don’t consider that important) but then that must be balanced with sustaining life on this planet in a positive way. I am very self sufficient with rabbits, chooks and a large garden , greenhouses. The other thing is you learn to be very frugal, I sell all my second hand clothes on trademe and buy mostly second hand. I use libraries etc, plus I cook a huge pot of soup with bone broth in it most days so that kids have that for afternoon tea, which I find is a huge savings on snack food. I am gluten and dairy free as are all the kids so we have to shop wisely, often in bulk e.g. we buy raw honey straight from a guy with bees by the bucket load. I think kids are not a barrier to being mustachian, rather an incentive. Even if you are renting a house, there are many things you can do to be self sufficient.

        Reply
  • FrugalA August 19, 2014, 11:06 am

    Oh what a great article and debate! Love the ‘random’ button! Fairly new to the blog but not new to the idea of frugality. We are in the UK and I just wanted to join in the debate!

    When our first child was born, I was working as a pediatrician on a busy neo-natal unit. Funnily enough, our son was born at 31 weeks, and ended up being on the unit himself (hes now 12 and extremely well). I went back to work after about 6 months (UK maternity leave is now 1 year, but at the time was 6 months) and my husband looked after him fulltime. When he went back to work when said son was 15 mths old, we found a childminder (home based daycare) who was brilliant.

    Now 12 years on, both me and my husband are working as childminders together, working out of our own home (part of our retirement plan – being at home with our two boys, whilst earning money).

    I have done further studying in childcare, and there is lots of evidence that if children are in daycare, they ‘thrive’ when they can ‘attach’ to one specific adult, so if you are putting your child into daycare, make sure that they have a key worker system or something like that (obligatory for UK nurseries / childminders). In my mind childminders are the best childcare (haha I would say that!) for children under 3 years, as we develop a close relationship with the children and the parents. All the children in our care are happy, thriving and developing well, and I know this is a great comfort for their parents, who often feel very guilty at going out to work.

    Oh and we also agree that it doesn’t cost much to have a baby!

    Reply
  • vicki from NZ August 27, 2014, 3:00 am

    I have had all of my four children at home over the years, used a paddling pool (with inflatable sides) instead of expensive birthing pool, babies slept in a modified cardboard box in my bed where I could feed them as well (thanks to hubby for design), used all second hand clothing and hand me downs, cloth nappies and breast fed, with baby number four due to an increase in tax credits I am actually saving more money each week! But I do live self sufficiently with gardens etc. so that helps. Thanks for the article it was very interesting and well worth the read. Cheers Vicki

    Reply
  • patricia August 30, 2014, 5:53 am

    My child died of SIDS and suggesting to share a bed with a child is like encouraging people to let their child die. Please edit because I didn’t co sleep but few moms I have met have and they no longer have their kids because their lungs are more shallow than ours and they try to mimic our breathing patterns

    Reply
  • Elaine August 30, 2014, 6:59 pm

    This is a great post. The comments are emotionally intense because all of us take the issues very seriously, as if the future rests on how we handle the intersection of children/money/environment. And it does, right?

    Here is some well researched info on co-sleeping http://cosleeping.nd.edu

    In addition to “calm down and turn to science whenever possible” I’d suggest that science should skeptically test modern interventions against what is physiologically normal. It is normal for humans to sleep when it is dark outside, so the “burden of proof” that sleeping all day isn’t worse should be on those who suggest sleeping all day. It is normal for humans to eat whole foods by mouth, so if you want to sell me intravenous feeds of chemical nutrients, the evidence bar will be quite high. It is normal for humans to be physically active, to care for our own offspring, and to form cooperative communities with people who live close to us. I don’t want to experiment with alternatives to those things. But I’m not giving up modern air conditioning, so I’ll try not to judge the choices others make.

    Reply

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