As I have friends who are now expecting I find myself sometimes giving unwanted advise. But here is some advise that I hope any new parent would appreciate receiving. I should be the poster child for "Learning the Hard Way", that said, most of this advise comes from my personal regrets. So without further ado...
10 Things New Parents Should NOT Cheap Out On...
1. Buy a good car seat! Do not accept a used or cheap car seat. It doesn't have to be the prettiest or the fanciest...just limit your high expectations to safety. As you are shopping constantly ask yourself, "Is this the safest seat I can buy?"
2. Invest in a great stroller! You will be using a stroller for at least 3-4 yrs per child, so spend the money and buy a stroller that has all the bells and whistles. You will want good storage space, easy to adjust seat belts, cup holders, even a tray for the little one, a canopy and seats that lay ALL the way back for nap time. Also, make sure it folds up easily and maneuvers easily...nothing worse than a stroller that is difficult to steer.
3. Get your kiddo good shoes. Their little feet are growing and forming and they are learning to control their awkward feet and legs, so buy comfy, light-weight shoes.
4. Buy the expensive camera. Not everyone has the money to have professional pictures made every 3 months, so invest in a great camera (and learn how to use it-take a class if you need to, somebody is always doing free photography classes!). Carry it with you everywhere! Buy the extended warranty because it will most likely take a beating if you are using it as often as you should, and get your camera serviced buy a professional if it breaks. I promise, you will value the uncensored snapshots far more than the professional pictures.
5. Buy books and lots of them! My mom still has books that my sisters and I read when we were little. Rather than buy a bunch of expensive toys, just go cheap on toys and buy the great books...they are so worth it! And on that note...
6. Rather than junk up your house with rooms full of toys...buy lots of art and craft supplies. I am not anti-toy, but from personal experience, my children...even my two year old...would rather open our craft cabinet and create something than to sit and play with a toy. Create a craft cabinet and fill it up...crafts are fairly inexpensive so you can buy one expensive toy or a cart full of craft supplies. We have a cabinet with 3 shelves, the first shelf is for anyone, anytime, and free to use without permission. On that shelf are crayons, coloring books, construction paper, and stickers. The only rules I have are all crafts have to stay at the table, clean up your mess when you're done, and only write on paper (that is mainly for Colton who would prefer to write on furniture or walls). The second shelf has glue, paint, glitter, markers, and scissors so they have to ask permission and use newspaper (and often an old t-shirt) when they use something on the second shelf...newspaper and old t-shirts are something to stock your cabinet with, by the way. On the third shelf is sewing needles, the hot-glue gun, super glue...things they have to use with my help. So at your kid's next birthday, ask guests to bring art supplies instead of toys for gifts.
7. Safety mechanisms...buy them all and buy the best. Latch everything-gates, doors, cabinets, drawers and anything else you can think of. Buy a monitor with multiple speakers...you will need it for years! If you, like me, have a child who gets up and wonders at night, you will use that monitor for several years. Put up gates, put extra locks on doors...take locks off of toddlers' bedroom doors (learned that the hard way!). Rather than buy outlet covers, just change the outlets to the new safety outlets. When your little infant starts crawling...that outlet cover will be the first thing they practice their new found "pincher grasp" on. Smoke detectors, carbon monoxide monitors, window locks, safety latch on your oven door...I could go on all day!
8. Outside activities and board games...I am a huge fan of things to do outside! Buy a swing set, basketball goal, soccer goal, baseball equipment, boxing gloves, hula-hoops, jacks, sidewalk chalk, bicycles, scooters, skateboards, and anything else that will get them outdoors! Wal-Mart has this great pre-packaged set of outdoor games that we keep in our vehicle. When Summer has soccer practice or JD is at baseball practice, we just pull out this handy little bag and find something to play...it's in the sporting goods section and every family should have one. Oh, and buy lots of board games. They most always involve another person, and it's a great way to teach siblings to play together and play fairly. And sometimes the entire family can play a board game together. I have to say the old games are my favorite..Checkers, Battleship, Candyland...they're classics and never go out of style. With great books, board games, outdoor activities, and crafts - who needs to junk up their house with a bunch of toys!
9. Diapers and wipes---this topic seems to throw new mommies for a loop, so here's the breakdown.
Huggies: great all-around diaper, the most expensive, also the most
absorbant, Huggies Supremes are the best.
Luvs: good diaper, the least expensive "name-brand" diaper, fairly
Pampers: Swaddlers are the best diapers for infants, I
highly recommend them! They are wonderfully soft, almost like
cloth. However, Swaddlers only go up to size 3, after that you have to
switch over to regular Pampers, and they really aren't any better than
Soooooo, use Swaddlers for as long as you can, then switch over to Luvs. But, (just so you know) I never liked the off-brands, they all seemed stiff and uncomfortable, they fall apart easily, and caused diaper rash on all of my children. Also, Pampers Sensitive Wipes are the best! The only comparison is Parent's Choice (Wal-Mart brand) Sensitive Wipes, but they don't package them in bulk. As much as you have to clean their little bottoms - use the good wipes and don't buy off-brand diapers!
10. Lastly, never-ever cheat yourself or your child out of time together. It is priceless yet it doesn't cost a dime! Conversation with your little ones, time spent laughing, cuddling, playing, and reading. Time spent praying and going to church together, even time spent in correcting and disciplining is well invested.