Monday, October 22, 2012

Living with Less - Babies

One of the ways we can live the way we do is by not buying very much (which means not spending very much) - at least in the way of stuff or things.

I am going to start with how little we bought for our newest little one.  The hospital we birthed her, gives every new baby a new car seat - every one - there is no income checking - just every baby gets one.   I then used the previous carriers from our other babies, even our lovingly used Ergo.
This is the first baby that we have a wooden high chair - a $5.00 find at an antique shop that was going out of business.  We found a sweet wooden table and chair set for $3.00 at a yard sale this past summer.   If we can't find something within our budget, we just do without.

We have been blessed by sweet friends with some hand-me-downs and cloth diapers.  I have only purchased two diaper covers from a small home business.  They dry very quickly, have kept her clothes dry and right now we only have two.  We could use another two, but we have been making do by washing the used one out under water and hanging it to dry.

We put the prefolds right in the cover.  Some of them are close to being retired to the rag pile.  I was  blessed to find 12 in nearly new prefolds at a thrift shop a few weeks ago for only $3.00 for all 12.

I can get very distracted and yearn for new things for Emmy when I look through some beautiful toy catalogs like Nova Natural or see some beautiful handmade toys in Etsy shops, for example.  But unless it is really, really necessary, or super special, or something that can become an heirloom, we don't buy new for the littlest in our home.  We have a wooden play kitchen that we purchased 10 years ago and it has been used for each child since.  Otherwise, toys consist of the ones we make, or find at yard sales and thrift shops.   She is very happy with a child size broom in one hand a paintbrush in the other.  

We use costume jewelry for distraction during church.  She enjoys running her fingers over the beads and putting them on her wrists.  (Of course, please be careful if there is any chance the beads could become loose and your child puts things in her mouth.)

I do have a weakness for books and do purchase new on occasion but find most our books used.
I do buy yarn to knit special pieces, of course.  But then again, I do try to stay on the affordable side and have been gifted yarn as well as bartered for yarn.

As far as feeding, I have exclusively breast fed and am blessed to not have had to use a bottle at all.  We don't buy baby food and instead mash up our food and then offer finger food as more and more teeth come in.  We also don't buy sippy cups and instead teach little ones to use regular glass cups (usually the small canning ones that don't break easily).  Emmy also uses a regular teaspoon or a wooden one our neighbor made for Abraham when he was born.  But she uses a regular bowl and has not broken it yet:)

I think what helps the most in not spending on new things is to avoid browsing too much online or in all the catalogs that have started coming in the mail.   We generally don't go to "big box" stores, plazas or malls to shop.  I don't remember the last time I entered a Walmart or Home Depot, for example.  I think it is so easy to buy things in those stores that you didn't intend to buy because "it is such a good deal" or "wouldn't it be nice to have one of these".  

 It is also helpful to practice contentment and when a new "want" creeps in, to really evaluate how it would or wouldn't change things, the cost of the item, if I can wait and look for it second hand, and finally, if purchasing that item would support another family or small business while respecting the environment.


  1. I think this is the first time i have commented on your blog but this really touched me. This is such a great way of thinking, to quit buying all those plastic items for your children and going back to old fashioned ways. Most children will prefer a broom and paint brush over a toy anyway! Your little Emmy reminds me of my son when he was that age, never cared much for all those fancy toys just give him some little bowl or something. I wish I could say I don't remember the last time I was in a Walmart though. I really love these posts about frugality, and the way you live a simple life PLEASE keep them coming!

  2. what a lovely phrase..."practice contentment". Thank you for today's post.

    Carrie in St Thomas

  3. I love hearing all of this and have been blessed, like you, with many hand-me-downs, the blessing of breastfeeding, good homegrown food for them, and more. (But I have splurged on diapers!) ;)

    Vermont is great in that there are very few places to shop, even if you wanted to...I love that! :)

    Very lovely post!

    1. You are right - it is easier living where you have to travel to get to stores - but it does amaze me that so many people do make weekly trips to the mega stores. - I agree, it is wonderful to live where we do!

  4. What a great post! I love your simple, frugal life style. We also try to be very frugal in our purchases. Like you, books seem to be my one purchasing weakness (as well as most of the clutter in my home). Most of us can do with a lot less than we have. I love that you buy used...we also love thrift stores and yard sales. Thanks for the great reminder and encouragement (through your example) to make do with less! Enjoy your week!

  5. Love this post. I would like to know how you deal with people who think that your children "need" all this junk. My sister has made me feel terrible that my children do not have anything that begins with "i". She has said to me that they won't be able to get a job cuz they aren't up to date on technology. It's not that we can't afford it but we ask them if they want an i pod and they always prefer something else. We try to lead a simple life, yes our children are in several activities but my sister thinks that it is terrible that we stay home and just enjoy family life. I try to explain this all to her but they just don't get why we live like we do, she jokes that we're from another century and selfish with our money. But the fact is that we are trying to save like crazy so we can buy a lot of land because we want to have more animals and continue on our road to self-sufficiency. We actually find it hard to find and keep friends or even acquintances that have our same value system. My husband and I just feel that our family is fine because we do not want to expose our children even to certain family members that swear and live a lifestyle that we do not agree with. Sorry to ramble but I value your opinion, I think you are on the right track. God Bless You and your family!

  6. My children are also much more content when they don't go into malls (not that there are any nearby) and especially when they don't see mail order catalogs. I am carefully recycling the mail order catalogs as they arrive right now. It lessons the "wants" at Christmas and the "wants" are then more often actual needs.

  7. My teens are much more content when we stay away from malls (not that there are any within an hour's drive) and when they don't see mail order catalogs. We have a lot of catalogs arriving in the mail right now and I am carefully recycling them before they can be seen. This makes the shallow, materialistic wants of Christmas turn to deeper wants that actually meet their passions and needs.

  8. I really needed to hear this this morning. With Christmas coming up it is such a great reminder.

  9. I loved this post, Tonya. We live much the same as you. Amy, who is one and a half now, never had a sippy cup or a special bowl of her own - she drinks from a mason jar like the rest of us and uses the same dishes the rest of us do. I have bought her a few clothing items at the thrift store but mostly she wears a few things we saved from her older sister. And clothes are like the diaper covers - really, you don't need as many as you might think. A baby doesn't care if she wears the same few outfits over and over. I do the same thing myself, in fact. :)

    My parents bought her a new high chair, but other than that, she hasn't had any brand new items that I can think of. She plays with the doll my grandmother made me when I was little, and her big brothers' trucks. And she's happy with that! When it comes to toys, babies are happy with the simplest of things.

    In our society, there is such pressure to buy so many things for our children, and probably most of it just isn't necessary.

  10. I enjoyed reading all your tips. We do the same here. I already make a conscious effort to practice contentment but I get kicked off the wagon every now and then. Like you, books is my weakness.

    She is adorable by the way!

  11. What a lovely post and a lovely way to live. I do think that going to the stores and seeing stuff is really what makes us "need" it, right? You are setting a great example for your children on how we should live and treat our earth!!

  12. I always try and shop second hand still to this day,and raised all my children in much the same way as you now grown children will declare that they didn't feel cheated in the least bit :) Blessings

  13. That Golden Phrase of yours 'Practice contentment' (a valuable attitude) is telling everything about what's really important in life and living. I doesn't cost a penny or a €cent; is not even for sale anywhere.
    I have always tried to practice contentment, too, and was considereded a threatened and dying species by outsiders, but I see how much health and happiness it brings into a child's and adult's life!
    I'll keep practicing and enjoying contentment till the end of my days :>)
    Thanks for sharing!

  14. oh yes, the catalogs have started coming in! we have no budget for Christmas this year so unless I make it, or my dh gets some overtime, Christmas gifts will not be bought at stores or online. I do like to shop etsy when I can and support small business. I throw the catalogs away as when the children sit down to browse they get a case of the "wants" :-)

  15. I really enjoyed this post. It's encouraging to see young mothers living simply. I raised my 7 on cloth diapers, the breast, and the same baby bed for all 7, which I still have and have offered it to my children who have had children of their own! I have the same bassinet too which my oldest daughter used for her two.
    We had very little store bought toys, kitchen stuff did fine, and my weakness was books, but we did use the library alot. My oldest daughter recently told me not to get rid of my books because she wanted them to homeschool her children. So, they were a good investment.:-) It amazes me that lots of young mothers have to have a new bed for each child and a new stroller and car seat and diaper bag. I carried two different diaper bags for 16 years - the first one wore out, so I had to get a new one. The "old ways" if that's what people want to call it, worked quite well, were a lot less expensive, better on the environment, and better for the baby ~ and family. We got rid of the TV when our 4th child was just born and have been without one ever since. It can be a real temptation as far as what children think they need. :-) It was the best thing we ever did as a family. Malls are not my thing either, and the closest one is 1 1/2 hours away.
    I like supporting home businesses and deal with locals in the nearby towns. Unfortunately, WM has caused lot of small businesses to close in our area, but I avoid it at all costs. :-)
    Thanks for sharing,
    God bless,

  16. Love this post!!! It is a perfect example of using what we have and if we don't have it and need it, searching out the best possible way to achieve it without spending a fortune...which we can't afford to do either. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Hi first time I have commented I think, but I wanted to let you know that this post spoke to me and gave me encouragement! It can be difficult sometimes living with what you need and look after while all the time the world is spinning up a chaotic tornado of stuff all around you.
    Thanks for the fresh air

    Many Blessings
    MIchelle in Australia

  18. Amen Tonya :) I smiled a lot reading your post, so much was the same when we were blessed with our last little one. The needs of a child are so simple, we do try to overcomplicate, and can so easily lose what's important in the process. Thank you for sharing your experiences With blessings, Carly xx

  19. Amen! It's always so refreshing to read about another family who isn't obsessed with having as many new things as possible - thanks for the reminder we're not alone! Like you, I try not to buy much at all, and what I do purchase, I almost always buy used. My two children were born in opposite seasons, so a lot of my daughter's hand me downs are the wrong sizes for the season, but we've been given lots of great hand me downs, and a trip to the used children's store this week found a barely used down winter snow suit for baby - hooray! I'm always amazed at the handknit wool sweaters and down jackets I can find at the thrift stores. Love and blessings to you and yours -