Don’t be lured by the newest baby-smartening thing on the market. Chances are it won’t work anyway and you’ll be out another $29.99. For centuries babies have grown and even survived sans the electronic Touch and Learn Puppy and Baby Einstein videos. The following baby items can easily be reproduced at home with little cost to you.
1. Buckle teddy bear
I love the learning opportunities of the Gund Teach me Teddy Bear. Your toddler can practice tying shoes, buttoning sleeves, zipping zippers and more with this loveable teddy. But with some thread and old buckles, you can outfit a loved animal with the same bells and whistles. Cut up old purse buckles, belt buckles, plastic buckles, spare buttons, and gift-wrap string to sow to your bear. Make sure you have firmly secured each addition to the teddy to avoid choking hazards.
2. Soft baby wipes
Creating your own wipes at home assures you won’t be using harsh, over-drying chemicals on your baby’s soft skin — plus it saves you a lot of money each month. Cut a roll of paper towels in half (my favorite is the plush Bounty or Viva) and toss the cardboard insert. Mix together, but don’t shake, 2 cups of water, 2 tbsp baby oil, and 2 tbsp baby wash in an airtight container or gallon Ziplock bag. Pour the mixture over the half roll of paper towels and let sit for an hour so the liquid absorbs. Each full roll will last between 2-3 weeks as opposed to one week with a regular package.
3. Pack ‘n Play sheets
My mom, being the true engineer that she is, had a great idea for making sheets for our well-used Pack ‘n Play after seeing a poorly made version for $9.99 at the store. She took an old, torn sheet and made two giant pillowcases that slip over the mat. Not only was it a perfect use of recycling but the new sheet was super soft from being washed so many times and can be rotated around the mat to save constant washing.
4. Bubble bath
Always err on the safe side when making something that will coat baby’s skin. That being said, it’s incredibly easy to make an organic, chemical-free wash for your baby bath. Combine 1 cup milk, ¼ cup cornstarch, ¼ cup ground oats (processed), and 2-3 drops scented oil into a bottle. Sprinkle a bit into the bath, and maybe even hop in yourself, for a refreshing and natural cleanse.
5. Personalized burp cloths
Find your favorite color ribbons on sale at Joann’s or Michael’s and attach them with a quick stitch at the bottom of your burp cloth for a personalized flair. Choose the super thick cloths to use. One of the cutest shower gifts I’ve seen is a basket filled with ribboned burp cloths that matched the nursery decor.
6. Organic baby food
Ignore the Kidco 3-Step program for making your own food — use a food processor and make your own baby grub from frozen or fresh organic fruits and veggies. Freeze in covered ice cube trays and store in a freezer safe bag. Blend your own meats and carbohydrates from your leftover family meals. They taste much better and cost less than the canned organic stuff.
7. Finger puppets
Have you noticed that your child’s favorite toys are measuring cups, boxes, and wooden spoons? Despite our desperate attempts to keep Junior occupied with “smart” toys, they always prefer the simple pleasures. Help stimulate your child’s creativity with these homemade finger puppets; easy to make and free (if you have a shirt or cloth you planned on sending to Goodwill), these toys are just plain fun.
8. Crib mobile
A store mobile will cost at least $39.99 for the matchy-matchy kind that coordinate with your bedding. Most cost more and often times don’t fit on your crib. Plainly put, most of them are mind-numbingly boring for children over 2 months old. Craft your own that you can customize as baby grows and develops specific preferences.
With a little ingenuity and moxy, creating your own baby gadgets is often better for baby and saves you from buyer’s remorse. Don’t let the Mega Babystore prices prohibit you from having children, but rather enjoy simplicity and frugal living with your little ones.
For more savings tips, check out FreeShippping.org’s “Go Frugal” blog at http://www.freeshipping.org/blog/
—By Ashley Grimaldo, http://www.freeshipping.org/blog/