30 May 2012

Babies and books

I need your help. A lovely couple I know, good friends of mine who live in Melbourne, are about to have their first baby. They wholeheartedly share our values and are preparing for the baby's arrival and life thereafter with a frugal and eco mindset. Can you help us with the following questions?
  1. Where are the best places in Melbourne for new parents to shop for environmentally-friendly baby needs that suit a low budget?
  2. What are the best online eco-friendly baby shops for things like cot sheets, towels and washers? They would love organic but price is a factor.
  3. And these two from Jo herself: There’s so much people say you ‘must have’ for your baby, it’s overwhelming how much stuff I’ve already acquired (almost all of it second hand, thankfully). Surely it’s not all completely necessary? So I guess I’d like to know what people were told they needed but found they didn’t actually need.
  4.  I’d also like advice on the best nappies, slings, and any other hot tips that your readers want to share.
Thank you for taking the time to help. 
My DIL Sarndra has been making the most wonderful and unique baby clothes. She started off making these clothes for Alex and it's lead to her setting up a little business sewing for other babies as well.  You can see what she's doing on her Facebook page - Bluebell Alexander. If you like what Sarndra is doing, please "like" her page. And yes, that is my beautiful grandson Alex below modelling the outfit described under the photos.

I'll let Sarndra explain: This is my little set that will be in an auction held by Hraani Handmade to raise money for the Starlight foundation, from June 10th. I hope someone out there loves this set as much as I do and raises some money for a great cause!! 

Vintage cotton vest lined, with gorgeous cotton crochet back; and matching fine cord flares with flat front and elasticised back, size 0 - 1 (my bub is 11 months and fits him with room to grow). Flares have generous hem that can be let down when the little legs grow longer at around 1 yr old. Soft and slightly stretchy cord, which is easy to crawl in. This was made to be a girls set but I quite like it on my Alex too! (The long sleeve onesie is not included.)

If you don't have time to make clothes for a baby you love, do the next best thing and buy from someone who runs an at home business and who cares about the quality of their products.  

I was very pleased to be told a couple of days ago that I'm on this bestsellers' list. It's quite a surprise but I suppose all the good work put into publicity by Dianne at Penguin is paying off, and there also seems to be a strong element of 'word of mouth' advertising happening.

Can I ask a favour of you if you have the time for it. If you've read my book, could you go online and do an honest review? The link to do that is here or here, or wherever you bought it online  Thank you. :- )



  1. I mean this to be helpful advice - as a grandmother, I see so many gadgety baby things out there that could easily be done without. I know they're not necessary because I raised two children just fine without them. Kudos to anyone who is wanting eco-friendly things. Along those lines - borrow whatever you can - such as playpen, swing, big equipment like that. Baby things can take up so much room, and babies outgrow things very fast !

    And, congratulations to you, Rhonda, for your bestseller. I know how much I'm enjoying your book and I guess there are many others who feel the same way.

  2. I recently had a baby, and prior to the birth had decided not to set up a nursery. Instead we planned to have our baby co sleep with us in our bed, and to use a change mat wherever we happened to be when changing nappies, instead of using a change table. Friends and family told us that these ideas wouldn't work in practice, but so far, they are working and we're really pleased we didn't spend money on a nursery and all the furniture to fill it!

    Our favourite baby item so far has been our organic baby sling carrier - the Caboo Baby Carrier by Close Parent. Our baby loves it and it has saved us from buying a pram.

    I have purchased organic sheets from a company called Blessed Earth that are based at the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. The quality is fantastic and the are often having sales, making their items really affordable for organic items. They do cot sheets too and in fact are having a sale now. www.blessedearth.com.au.

    I also found you don't need anywhere near the amount of baby clothes that people say you do, you end up washing quite a bit so can easily get by with only a few outfits.

    Best of luck to your friends, it is such an amazing experience being a new parent!

  3. Thanks Pammie.

    Marisa, I know Blessed Earth well, it is a local store for me.

  4. Congrats on the book making top 10!

    I'm expecting baby no.2 in three weeks - as such I just wrote a series of posts on how we saved money on baby. Second hand stuff is pretty eco - it's already been made so no extra resources need be consumed producing 'eco' stuff - and it's cheaper. The Baby Markets are good (I think they are Australia wide??? - they publish their dates via their facebook page), although being a city, Melbourne will have plenty of there own baby markets. Second hand stores/op shops, local clasifieds etc are also good to check out (I wrote about checking for current safety standards and there's a good tip in the comments about checking with the ACCC). Cot sheets can be made from old sheets, towels can be just old towels (nice and soft when they're warn).
    As far as the gadgets go, you don't need any, but there's going to be one or two you just swear by depending on your circumstances and baby. Borrow if you can to try them out. Anything that makes life easier is a good thing, especially during this period. :-)

  5. Hands down the very best purchase I bought and used daily...still sometimes use it with my 18 month old, would have to be the ergo baby carrier. Love it! Buy everything when it is on sale if you can. Buy 1/2 the amount of clothes you think you will need. My other very favourite item would be modern cloth nappies. So many to choose from but my favourites that have lasted the test of time are the baby beehinds brand. Expensive outlay so again try and look out for sales. Goodluck and have fun!!!!

  6. I agree with Pammie. I have an 8yr old and when I was pregnant I read about all the 'must haves'. I found that most of them were totally unnecessary and all I really needed were the basics. There is far too much consumerism surrounding babies.
    Particularly I would say you don't need fancy clothes for babies. When they are really young sleepsuits are enough for most days with a couple of little outfits for going out.
    I breast fed so that did away with sterilising equipment and we co-sleep so that removed the need for nursery furniture.
    Borrowing bug things like play pens is also a good idea because each developmental stage is so much quicker than you imagine it will be and before you know it the baby has outgrown the need for the items. Good luck to the new parents. Lily. xxx

  7. My best and favourite item I discovered for my fifth child (kicking myself I didn't sooner!!) was a baby sling made with just a length of fabric. 5m I think. Look at YouTube and there are great videos on how to wrap your baby to your body. With this type you can wear bub on the front, back, side facing front or back. It really is very comfortable and comforting!

    1. Yes! Agree agree agree! We we gifted a 'hug-a-bub' branded one that is just that. It is so wonderful for a newborn and keeps them feeling close to mum and secure - which results in a more settled, peaceful baby who doesn't often cry. And then, after a while, the ERGO is a great next step as bub is bigger. Worth the investment for sure (avoid fake ones on ebay etc as the stitching and hence safety is not guaranteed. We bought from babes in Arms online.). All the best!

  8. There is a fantastic book by a NZ woman called Wendyl Nissen "Mothers Little Helper" which is all about bring up children in a chemical-free, frugal, eco-sensitive way, by making lots of things yourself. Her website "wendylsgreengoddess.co.nz" has lots of tips and hints and recipes for making cleaners, cosmetics and baby things yourself.


  9. I've had four children and my youngest is four months. I wish I had simpler values when my oldest was born. This is what i'd tell my younger self.

    You don't need a pram before the baby is born. Wait and use a sling for the first few months. It keeps them close and comforted and no one breathes winter germs on them. A Hugabub sling has been the best for me. I've used it for the last two bubs. As they are really just one long piece of material, you can make them yourself.

    Don't buy newborn-sized clothes. You get enough as presents and you don't really need anything but all-in-ones and singlets. Save your money for the bigger sizes. They grow so quick.

    Put a mat on top of a chest of drawers if you need the height for a changeable. Otherwise just use a mat on the floor.

    Don't buy a specialised baby bag - they are expensive and if you spend that much on a bag you want to be able to keep it longer...and baby bags look like baby bags. Get a simple back pack.

    Baby Beehinds nappies (and others) are just as easy as disposables - not matter what your mother says! However, if you can't get around to the washing, forgive yourself and use disposables for a day to catch up.

    More than anything, babies need cuddles and love.

    These are all from my experience, but every one's experience is different.

    Best of wishes and love,


  10. Hi Rhonda,

    I will head over and write some reviews for you. Thanks for asking, I sing the praises of your book to my friends, but never even thought of doing an online review. Silly me! Happy to help. :)

    With my two girls, I started out with a baby bjorn carrier then switched to a Baba Sling when they outgrew it. I like the Baba because it is super easy to take on and off, and has padded edges so it doesn't cut into little legs or backs. Once the girls turn about one I move them into a Phil&Teds backpack carrier. I carry my kids until they can walk, so I didn't really use a pram at all.

    The best way to save money and the environment with babies is get second hand and hand me downs. (Except car seats!) Try gumtree, freecycle, and friends...

  11. Finally something I know something about. I am from Melbourne, had my babies there. I shopped at Kids Warehouse.com.au and also used freecycle Casey and Frankston. I found that I didn't need a lot of things. My mum, who raised the six of us said many parents in her day didn't set up a nursery, until after the baby was born. I still have many friends in Melbourne raising babies in a more sustainable, low impact sort of way, if she wanted I could put her in touch. I don't and didn't have money to buy every new trendy mass produced and designed parenting aid. I like to think if it was around or something akin to it when my grandmothers raised my parents and is still used today then it must be what is good. Also the trash n treasure markets, like the Berwick Market and the other markets had some bargains... but these days join friend groups on facebook and share items. my two bobs worth! Kas

  12. Hi Rhonda.

    There are plenty of local markets which sell second hand baby clothes - so eco friendly in the terms that you are reusing rather than buying brand new - google baby markets in melbourne and it will tell you where the next ones are - My children have all grown up in hand me downs (any new clothese are xmas or birthday presents)

    As for toys - join a toy library they are the most cost effective way of having toys that you dont have to buy and your child never gets bored as you have new things every two-four weeks that are not just sitting there... She can contact her local neighbourhood centre they usually run them (mine is $20 for 12 months and free to exhange toys every 2 weeks !! )

    Best of luck to them

  13. In response to the third question - I used the "Choice Guide to Baby Products" to help select the big ticket items - just to check safety and quality.

    But I pretty much got EVERYTHING for my newborn from Freecycle - including over 60 cloth nappies, some never used.

    It was very liberating to be able to just Freecycle back the cot, bath, monitors etc when we were done with these items, not having any financial or emotional investment in the objects. So much of this stuff is used for a really short time.

    I never bought a pram, but after careful research bought a quality stroller that could be reclined for a newborn. I never missed a pram and found the weight and size of the stroller much more convenient than all the other mothers I knew. I was able to use it from birth through to 2.5 years.

    We never got a freestanding highchair either. Again, I researched and chose a good quality space saver highchair which we just strapped to one of our dining chairs. We took it with us out to dinner, camping, travelling etc. One of the best investments ever!

    Never got a portacot. Instead, we bought a Kinderkot, a very light tent. We could take it with us and set it up anywhere. Now my son his 3, it makes a great play tent.

    I think the industry creates a sense that you have to have EVERYTHING ready before you bring baby home. That's rubbish. There is absolutely no reason why you (or anyone) can't go out to get what you need as you figure it out.

    Advice from friends and family who've been there, done that, is much more valuable!

  14. Hi Rhonda, three babies later, I can say that a 'proper' bought change table is not necessary if you cant afford one...we used a table with a foam mat that had no roll off sides...you can do without an expensive hard to clean high chair...we had a beautiful pram that had a bassinet to go on it first which did away with needing a cot straight away.....up until about 6 months when they start to roll...and clothes...clothes are the main money waster...if you can get hand knitted jumpers and cardies then accept them, as they are snuggly warm...I found that so much money was spent on clothes with the first baby....that just werent needed....Suzanne

  15. There is a huge second hand shop called Hand Me Downs in Forest Rd, The Basin. Stocks baby furniture, clothes, toys, you name it. Also stocks for children up to teen years. Well worth a visit. Their stock is consignment based, but very cheap. Everything from Kmart to designer brands.

  16. Congratulations Rhonda on the Top 10 List. Thank you for sharing my little business page too.
    We have used everything we aquired for Alex, but I do recommend trying to get as much as possible second hand. Either from sites such as Gumtree or borrow from friends who've had kids. (If you dont want to ask, maybe let them know you are wanting to get second things and they might offer or at least know someone else wanting to sell their things). I'd be more than happy to lend out things to a friend who's pregnant or has a newborn. We might get them back later on if we have another baby but in the meantimes I'd be glad to get them out of our cupboards and I'm sure alot of other people would be too.
    With slings, I really REALLY recommend the Ergo Baby. Again, you can often find these second hand on ebay or gumtree. It is by far the most comfortable and supportive sling and Alex happily slept in it as a young baby when I walked with him. The weight is ditributed across your sholders and hips, so you barely notice the weight at all. I stil use it now easily with Alex being 10 kg. I have also used it on my hip as a side sling, and it can be used when he is a bit older as a backpack (with help from Shane to put it on my back), we'll be doing that when he's older when we go bush walking.
    The other sling I use every single day is my "Bubba Moe" or basically any of the peanut shaped over one shoulder slings, are SO useful for a quick put on to carry bub to and from the car, in for a quick shop, its so easy to throw on and the weight is taken off your arm and onto your shoulder and hip. The best.
    But please make sure you learn how to use any sling correctly as if they arent used correctly it can be very extremely dangerous or even fatal. But this shouldnt scare anyone off using slings- just as a car not being used correctly can be fatal. SLings are wonderful and it is so natural for a baby to be carried close to its parents, they feel safe and secure. I feel so sad especially for newborns left crying in the their pram when all they are asking for is to be held and feel warm and secure nxt to mum or dad.
    Xx Sarndra

  17. Hi Rhonda.. I'm from Melbourne and my second bub is due in 6 weeks.
    I'd definitely second the advice to try Freecycle. OzRecycle is another similar free goods site. Also try Ebay if you can't find what you're looking for for free- there are so many baby items out there, you can usually get a pretty good deal, particularly if you go for pick up only items)
    I used cloth prefolds with covers and they worked really well for us. Much cheaper than some of the other modern cloth options. I also made my own baby wipes by simply cutting and hemming flannel squares. If you have any skill on a sewing machine (and mine are pretty basic) you can do this easily. (Just soak in water or cool chamomile tea to use) Same with face washers-cut and hem some old towels. You could also try making your own cloth nappies - Nappies Covered is a good online source of material and bits and pieces to make your own nappies.
    I've also found good eco friendly baby items from Nature's Child (online) -they have very good customer service as well. You can also get some organic clothing items from Target- good price, but a very limited range.
    If you have any friends with older babies or toddlers, (or a hoarder regardless of child-status!!!!) sound them out to see if they'll lend you items-chances are, they're desperate for some extra room and would love to lend things out!
    There really isn't much in the way of essentials- as long as bub has somewhere to sleep, some nourishment, a clean bottom and something to wear- oh, and lots of love- they'll be ok!
    Good luck!

  18. I have a 3yo and an 8mo. Secondhand is the most Eco and budget friendly option IMO. I belong to a Facebook group for my local area for buying and selling secondhand baby stuff so it might be worth asking around other mums for one local to melbourne. We bought a secondhand cot from a workmate and an old chest of drawers that we repainted and they look as good as new :-). We put a change mat on top of the drawers and it is still going strong after a million nappy changes! The biggest waste of money for us was a nappy disposal bin (really stinky!!) and a baby bjorn (hurt my back and the baby outgrew it very quickly). The best purchase was an ergo baby carrier and mountain buggy pram ... And second hand baby capsule for $100 which my 8mo is still in :-)

  19. Ps. I have moved to cloth nappies with my second child and found that the old fashioned terry squares have worked really well. I bought 4 modern pilchers and made some boosters. Much cheaper than the MCNs!

  20. I'm expecting my 2nd in September and live in Melbourne.

    As others have said the baby markets are great especially in the first year.

    I use flannel nappies on my newborns and terry when they got older. you can cut up an old sheet for nappies. Just hem with a sewing machine and can use old towels. There are usually plenty at the op- shops. I bought mother-ease covers as they fit generously over the nappy and are made of breathable pul. The beauty of flats over mcn (modern cloth nappies) is that they dry so fast over winter so you don't need many. They can also be boosted with extra layers easily. Mcn's can also be very expensive which I could never justify.

    Just start with the basics - a place for bub to sleep (we got a cot 2nd hand), a place to change bubs bottom and store their clothes (my hubby made a cheap change table that sits on top of a tallboy for me), singlets, coveralls and wraps and blankets. Baby markets are great for these things as they usually look brand new having hardly been used. For wraps though, again flannel sheets cut up to approx 1m x 1m and hemmed are great and save a packet.


  21. Hi Rhonda

    I can't recommend Robin Barker's book BabyLove highly enough - in it she has a chapter on preparing for baby and, like all her advice, it is super sensible. I also relied heavily on the Choice Baby Products book - again, very sensible advice from things like what brands of cots are safe (horrifyingly, many fail Choice's safety tests) through to how many singlets you'll need.

    I'm in Sydney so can't help with the Melbourne shops, but, what I did with my first, was work out what I needed using the above two books, and then went to my nearest baby warehouse with a list. I did not want advice from the salespeople who I figured would want to sell me the latest and greatest. As with grocery shopping, if you stick to your list you will save money!

    All the best
    Anne x

  22. I was given a Bebe au Lait nursing cover for baby number five - it's not a necessity, but it makes nursing in public oh so much easier because of the loop that goes around your neck. It's makes it easier to be discreet and to keep baby snuggled and focused. It drives me nuts when they pop off the breast to look at things, lol!

    My stronger suggestion - freeze as many meals as you possibly can in preparation for baby's arrival - quick breads, chili, soup, whatever. People will probably bring you meals, but after those are done, it's wonderful to have a freezer full of food ready to go. This also allows hubby and grandparents to help you and baby rather than spending time cooking.

    Many blessings on your birth!

  23. My girls are now 15 and 12 and i was able to buy everything I NEEDED on a low budget. My mum and I made our own cradle and cot sheets for a fraction of store bought. I used facewashers instead of baby wipes. Baby monitors are not necessary unless you live in a mansion. I used no name vasaline on their botoms to prevent nappy rash, no name breast pad, no name nappy liners, no name cotton balls etc etc. I didn't buy a change table. Instead I bought the padded foam change mat. It's great because you can move it from room to room or hide it under a bed.
    I bought a cheap high chair. So much easier to use than the fancy ones that have 100 heights and sitting positions and take up too much room. Same with the stroller. I bought one for $30 and it lasted two children. It was quick and easy to set up and was light too saving back strain.
    i live in SE suburbs of Melbourne and the City of Casey has workshops / info on cloth nappies.

  24. Hi Rhonda.
    Congratulations on the top 10- you deserve it!
    I agree with most others on this post. Just a couple of things.
    For both my babies, had emergency caesar, and with no family around to help, was blessed to receive a nappy service for 6 months as a gift. It just meant I could use the nappies then pop them in a bucket to be picked up. This not a cheap option (but not as expensive as you think), but was an amazing and considerate gift as it reduced my workload in those first few precious months, esp given I had the c sections.
    I also made some reuseable breast pads. They were invaluable for those first months when breastfeeding. They are very easy to make-trust me I am no great sewer,cheap and much more comfortable than those from the store.
    I also used my husbands shirts for the first couple for months for breastfeeding. Easy access and forgiving around the mid section. Not fashionable (like you care about that post baby), but very comfortable.

    Both my boys wear 90% hand me down clothes from friends and family. Other than that I use Savers (an op shop chain with a huge range in every size) baby markets, freecycle and if there is something I need, use the cheap stores like Kmart or Big W.
    I also sewed some clothes out of bamboo terry fleece (designed for nappies) which was very cheap as i got the off cuts, and make beautiful warm soft jumpers and pants.
    I use MCN, mostly which I received second hand, or as gifts or from recycled nappy websites.
    I received second hand pram, and cot.
    I also swear by the Ergo Carrier-we got one from gift vouchers, and it is fantastic as it can be worn from newborn until the child is about 20kg (as a back carrier).

  25. I did a series of blog posts on books for babies and raising readers. Your friends might be interested in them. Here are the links. Sorry to copy and paste links in your comments! I only do it because I think the information is really useful. I promise I'm not a spammer. :)



  26. I left a review for you. I really am thankful for your book. I am really wishing you would put your recipes into a cookbook form for young married women like myself. Thank you for blogging!

  27. I preferred the terry squares with a Baby Beehinds PUL cover. MCN look nice but for me they were expensive and didn't work that great.

    You don't need many clothes. I found I washed daily anyway and was always using the same singlets, wondersuits, wraps etc (saved on folding!). Babies grow so quickly that you just don't get much wear out of the clothes. If you find that you are always running low on something then you can go out and buy a few extras.

  28. Hi Rhonda-Jean,
    It's been so long since I posted a comment - been busy moving and new schools, town etc. Congratulations on your best seller status! Awesome!
    I've had four babies, and here are some of my practical tips:
    * Buying a change table isn't absolutely necessary. I used it exclusively for my first baby, and for the next three it sat in the corner gathering dust.
    * A playpen is an essential! I started putting my babies into it with some toys and things to look at for about 5 minutes once a day when they are three months old. Start extending the time as they grow older. By the time they're 8-10 months old and crawling everywhere they won't mind being popped in the playpen for a playtime for 10-15 minutes while you rush around doing all your housework/cooking or other dangerous things. :o)
    * Invest in a really good quality carseat. We bought the top of the range when our first baby was born, and it has lasted right through.
    * A baby bath with a plug in the bottom for easy lugging around and minimal water use.
    * We bought a pram, but found we didn't use it.
    * Be sure to buy a brand new mattress for the basinette/cot.
    * This might sound like an obvious suggestion, but a floor quilt or rug especially for the baby, so they can have sun/lay/kick their legs time during the day. Two are best so you can wash one - as they tend to get peed/spewed on alot!
    * Another thing we found great was a Jolly Jumper. From about 6 months onwards - earlier too, I think, the baby loves being able to jump and play in this. We used to hook it to a lovely big crabapple tree we had in our garden and I'd sit out there knitting or whatever while our babies had a grand time out in the fresh air. It's great for back and leg strengthening.

    That's all I can think of for now.
    Good luck to the young couple. Such an exciting time for them.

  29. Hi,

    I have a book called 'What They Never Tell You' by Kay Stammers. It's about 'how to survive the first six months of motherhood' and dhas lots of advice about what you do and don't need etc. It's an old book so a bit of information might be out of date but there are some some things that don't change. Here is a link to a sit listing where you can get the book cheapest online (because it's an old book it doesn't cost much, but of course you could also check libraries):


    Also, as an Early Childhood Educator/Childcare Worker I would say that the best childcare centres buy a surprisingly small amount of their toys etc new. We tend to avoid plastic toys because children are such sensory beings and enjoy different textures of things like tin tea sets and using old wine bottle corks and seed pods for pretend food.As your children grow older you'll be given so many toys! The best thing to do to combat boredom is to rotate them. Have a storage area that your child doesn't know about. A lot of things that they have will be 'out of sight out of mind' so go through your child's toys when they're not around and put most of them away. When they haven't seen items for a few weeks the children will feel like they have new toys when you bring them out again.

    Always check op shops for the toys that you are going to buy too. Make tea sets from those little silver tea pots that motels use and stainless steel espresso cups. They'll last a lot longer than a plastic tea set and your children will have much more depth to their play with them because they feel different- on a hot day they might be warm but on a cold day they might be freezing. They also make a lovely sound when they clink together etc. Children notice all these things so think about they.

    Stay away from closed ended toys where your child pushes a button and something pops up or plays music and the experience is over. Look for open ended materials, particularly those which create varied sensory experiences. Look for metal and wooden items. Also look for varied fabrics- hand knitted dolls etc. This is what we look for when setting up a room in a child care centre or kindergarten. Take what works for you and use it.

  30. I have to agree that you don't need half the stuff you 'have' to have for a baby. We borrowed a cot from a friend with the our first but she never slept in it (she slept much better in bed next to me and Mummy didn't have to get of bed to feed!) so we gave the cot back and didn't get one for the second.

    A ring sling is cheap, easy to make and carries them from birth to large toddler. We also love our ergo - the nearly 5 year old was in last week because we had a really long walk. Using the sling/carrier meant we didn't get a stroller until our first was 2.

    Our Baby Beehinds nappies were an expensive upfront purchase but we have often marvelled at the fact that we would have spent so much more on disposable. All up we have spent around $1,000 on MCN nappies for two children, many of the original ones we bought are just being retired after 4-5 years of use. One luxury we buy for these is the flushable liners as they make cleaning nappies so much easier.

    Breastfeeding has been another big time and money saver for us. It can be tricky though so education and support are crucial to success. The Australian Breastfeeding Association has Breastfeeding Education Classes that both parents attend, a 24/7 Helpline and local groups for meeting other Mum's.

    In most cases we have waited to see if we REALLY needed something and ended up not buying it as the stage passed so quickly.

  31. My sisters in law and friends don't buy much as they share clothes and reusable nappies etc - passing them on when the kids have outgrown them. For baby wipes they cut kitchen towel rolls in half and put them in a plastic container with a lid - adding water and a small amount of baby shampoo/oil and taking out the centre roll.

  32. There are so many baby lotions and potions on the market. When I had my babies, I found that I only really needed two things: A good all round yet inexpensive unscented moisturizer and a nappy rash cream that could double up as a nipple cream.

    The moisturizer was even used on soft toilet paper for cleaning dirty bottoms, At bath time, I rubbed it over their little body before the bath and then rinsed it off in the bath. A little of the same cream on an earbud or piece of cotton wool was great fr\or cleaning folds behind the neck and ears. I even washed hair with it to prevent cradle cap.

  33. Haha those questions will make your comment box explode, Rhonda! Everyone likes to talk about babies:
    Baby clothes: beg, borrow, ask around, and dont stress if you dont have "everything" when baby is due. I had the bare minimum with my second bub and it was very liberating!

    Check out if your area has a baby thing for sale facebook page, try gumtree etc. for your bigger items like pram, car seat and cot.

    Breastpump: I have one but I learned to hand express and it actually quicker, learn those skills now by checking them out online.

    Check out EC or infant potty training to reduce your use of nappies - for modern cloth I love Itti bittis

    I think if you have a place to sleep for bub and car seat to take them home in you are prepared! And once bub is there you have something cute to look at anyway you dont get tempted

  34. Hi Rhonda,Congrat's on the best-seller list.I happily went and left a review on fishpond and it woulndn't accept it.
    Advice for your friend:For the older baby or pram blankets-a couple of granny square blankets out of machine/washable 8ply wool, or 8ply cotton with a small edge.They aren't heavy and the large granny holes mean a baby has less chance of suffocating. The blankets can be made from left overs and the more colourful the better. Jude Sunflowers and Tulips

  35. Rhonda, congratulations on your best seller list - yep I've been over to Fishpond and left a deserved great review. You wont believe this but when I called my BFF that I've been preaching to about the content of your blog, to gloat (because I am proud of your achievement), her first response was to chuckle and say - She wont need to be so frugal now will she. I was gobsmacked. I guess she hasnt really taken the time to read your blog as she would have a different mindset and know that it has nothing to do with how much money you have in the bank - its a lifestyle choice. My defence was (why did I feel I needed to) was to say that I was sure that any additional funds would be used wisely.

  36. Anon, I hear the same thing. Some people don't seem to realise that this is a conscious choice. We have money in the bank, we choose not to spend it. Anyhow, thank you for defending me. Hugs xxx

  37. Hi Rhonda, I really enjoy your blog & have been using lots of your tips around our home. I am a Mum of two & my best tips are to use pure cornflour instead of baby powder. It is cheaper, easier & much better than baby powder, especially for nappy rash. Also when the time comes, making your own baby food is much cheaper & easier. I use to make up big batches & freeze them into portions. Best of luck to Jo for the new arrival & congrats on your book.

  38. Hello,

    I've been thinking about this all day. My first was a wonderful surprise so we had no money in the budget for my time off or fancy baby things. We made do with a lot of things which has already been said above.

    What I will add, though, is some thoughts around what Rhonda talks about - namely making sure you organise your home for the way you will "work". This wasn't an issue with my first, but now we have a two storey house and a two month old baby, I have noticed that I need to organise things differently. Ie. I don't have a change table, but I want to make sure that all the things I will need are close at hand (to each other and to where I am changing). You certainly don't want to have to wander off to find the wipes if you need them.

    I would also say that although a change table isn't a necessity, it is important to have a changing facility that won't hurt your back. For the first few weeks with my two month old, I changed him on his play mat but my back was killing. I have since moved back to using the top of the chest of drawers. (I read somewhere that if motherhood was listed as an occupation correctly, it would have the highest incidence of workplace incidents.)

    You will also need, what I call a "baby break out area" with a rug or playmat or whatever.

    All the best!

  39. Oh yeah and a place to put the toys at the end of the day or at times throughout the day so you don't trip over them!

  40. I have two children and what one used the other did not. I believe that what you consider essential will ultimately depend on the needs and ultimately personality/likes of your baby. My first child had very bad colic so bouncers and chairs that sat my baby up were invaluable. Likewise these were a total waste for my second child. This is why borrowing items (even to just try them out) are totally the best option.
    I also wish that I had found out about the carriers/slings (mentioned in other comments) earlier. The babies I have seen in these looked so comfortable and supported and this was just using a piece stretch fabric. I could have saved myself hundreds. Wish I found these values earlier.

  41. I'd say skip the changing table/mat altogether! They need cleaning and somewhere to be put and they are never in the right place when the baby needs changing and you have dinner on the stove or your favourite programme is on the television! Just use a bath towel on the floor (nowhere to roll and fall!), folded double in case they widdle when their nappy is off! We kept one in a basket with a clean baby-gro, nappies, vaseline, cotton wool and baby lotion - which is all we ever used on the babies' bottoms. It works wonders keeping away the nappy rash even when they are teething and the poo goes nuclear! We kept a 'changing basket' in the bedroom and one the living room. And the same ingredients went into the baby-bag (an old washable rucksack) which lived by the front door so I could always grab and run! I was lucky enough to have lots of family and friends having babies around the same time so we kept a group layette going which was presented to the expectant mother and passed on when grown out of. Then we had a 1-2 years old set, 3 -4 and so on. By the time I'd had my third baby some of those outfits and equipment were really good old friends!

  42. Hi,

    Our little one arrived early and we had very little organized. We brought sensibly and had an organic bassinet which was much larger than the average bassinet and he was in that for about 9 months and then hopped into my bed.
    We brought a Mountain buggy as well. It has been very well used and has plently of mileage left. We did not have a car for a long period and the pram went everywhere. I have an ergo as well and would also recommend.
    We use Baby Beehinds Multifits and found they work quite well overnight until about 20 months. I use chux with Wendyl Nissen baby spray instead of wipes and the chux last for ages.
    The best thing I have found for any skin complaint and especially nappy regions is putting some oats and chamomile flowers in some muslin and soaking and squeezing into the bath as it been filling up. It's a bit murky but works a treat all the time.

  43. Hi Rhonda, this post is one you can imagine I can put a lot of input into! I won't warble on as what I would suggest has already been mentioned here.

    In summary I would say steer clear of 'gadgets', make what you can, buy handmade and second hand, use cloth disposables, reduce use of anything disposable, share your values with friends and family and when you buy new make sure it is good quality. Jo has a great amount of feedback to sift through.

    I have also just written a post up for tomorrow on the Simple, Frugal, Green Co-op blog. My post is based on weighing up the options and expense when it comes to choosing organic products for your child and this covers some of the questions asked here.

    Congrats on your achievement with your book...I see it everywhere and I am so proud!

  44. The warm fireplaceMay 31, 2012 6:54 am

    It has been 20 years since my last baby was born ,i am not up to date with the modern way of things, for a tiny baby i had nappies best you can buy to last, i brought a pram that was large enough to have a baby lie down in and top came away from the bottom to put beside your bed for night time feeds, i did have a bath and top and tail bowl, a box that could store bits in for changes, bath etc.Clothes they grow so fast, bodysuits, home made cardis/jumpers, hat and mittens,depending on the weather coat, very little is needed and you can add as they grow.
    Congrats on coming in the top ten just hoping they will sell it in the uk.

  45. My children are 6 and 4. There is 22 months between them but my goodness what exact opposites they were as babies. The main item we invested in was a decent pram. Worked to our advantage as my daughter loved being in the pram and I love walking so off we went. We were able to get a toddler seat for this pram when my son was born. I had many friends who had to buy a second pram once the next baby came along. We saved heaps by being able to get the toddler seat. My hubby is quite handy so he built our cot. Perfectly safe and saved us a fortune. We have kept it. I did not have a change table, I am quite tall and found the change tables too short for me. For me I found a padded mat did the job. We had a bath seat for the bath: just put it in the bath and baby is supported. Also good for when they are able to sit up, just a bit more support. My grandmother crocheted lots of cardigans. I only had a couple of good outfits then some suits. My mum made some blankets for both of them which they still use. The only gadget we really invested in was a baby monitor. We found that really handy. I had a sling for my daughter so I could carry her around but she really didn't like it but my son loved it. It came in handy with him and I could get so much done. That's just my two cents worth, every one is different, every one parents differently and what works for one child may not work for the other. You just have to go with the flow and see what works for you as parents and as a family.

  46. A baby bath is the item I regret. They aren't all that costly, but we just never used it. We showered with our babies or they laid in a shallow bath on a face washer.
    I also purchased enough clothes to complete a general baby bag packing list from the hospital -the rest was gifted to us.
    For all other items, I waited to see what my child needed:
    Bouncer to keep the colic at bay etc.
    Babies defiantly don't need much, it's us as parents trying to make life easier. So you just priorities what you can or can't put up with any longer :)

  47. I can totally relate to the pressure put on first time mummies in regards to buying things. When I was pregnant with my first baby everyone had something to say about the things we just "HAD" to have. I decided to get a few basics like bassinet and so on, but then we just waited until we actually had the baby and could get a sense of what would be useful and what was completely unnecessary (eg. most things that were suggested!!!) It's easy to think you need everything, but I found it much easier to get my head around things once I had that little bub in my arms. In saying that, I'm so glad that for my second baby coming up we already have a hug-a-bub sling, as I took a few months with the little one doing my research last time and this would have been the perfect sling for the early days. We've also got an ergo but I've found that that is really suitable for 6 months + rather than the early days, even though I bought a newborn insert, I didn't find it comfortable. There are lots of eco-baby stores in Melbourne to choose from, but I usually shop online at places like Amanda's little-eco or I think another one I have bought some things from is called shop naturally households or something along those lines, comes up in google. It seems so many people have put in a lot of advice, so hopefully this isn't all too overwhelming! Best of luck to your friend, and my advice is to take all the advice with a smile and a 'thanks' and then just follow your heart. Lucy xx

  48. I found Baby bathes are a waste of time and space.
    We showed together or laid them in a shallow bath on a towel.
    I purchased very few clothes and things worked out fine.
    Our daughter is 20mths now, and developed fast (crawled at 4 mths, walked at 10) so I just purchased items at times where I needed assistance with entertainment.
    Babies need very little, the rest is about us and convenience. ;)

  49. Rhonda, three years ago when my husbands brother committed suicide, we were rocked to our very core. That moment, started us talking about living a more simple life. My husband grew up on a family property in Tasmania where his Mum lived very similarly to you. She is very used to making do with what you have, making meals out of practically nothing and always reusing and recycling - things she was taught to do growing up.

    With the busyness of life, we have lost that simpleness and have felt we had no way to get to it either. Losing a brother in the way we did, brought home to us that life is not meant to be so full of stress and pressure and that somehow we had to change our life.

    That, dear Rhonda, is where you come in. I stumbled across your blog around Christmas last year and oh my gosh....you were just what we needed. I have now bought your book and between your book and your blog, we are slowly making our way to a more simple life. Rhonda, I can't thank you enough. You may never meet me (although I live in Woombye so one day hope to run across you somewhere), but I just want to say a Huge thank you. Thank you for allowing us each day to have a glimpse into your world and to be inspired and encouraged. For me, you are a blessing from God and I am just so thankful to be able to learn from your wisdom.

  50. Gaye, I'm sorry to read about the loss of your BIL. I send my best to your family and hope things are improving now. I hope we run into each other. If you see me, please introduce yourself. I'm usually in Maleny on Mondays and Tuesdays so if you're there come to the neighbourhood centre and have a cuppa.

  51. Hi Rhonda and everyone,
    I know of a great little shop in Melbourne. Tracey sells quality second hand baby and childrens things.
    Handmedowns.com.au is the website....She says "we are REALLY cheap, and great quality!"
    Hope this helps

  52. This has come at a great time for me. I'm 5 months pregnant with my first & it's quite overwhelming trying to prepare with everyone telling you how expensive having a baby is & all the "stuff" you "have" to have.
    I have so far bought from ebay a cot for $35, a bassinet for $40 & a changetable for $10. I have also got just about all the clothes we'll need for the first few months from op-shops, lots of bonds wondersuits for $2 each.Fortunately within my close group of girlfriends we seem to have managed to time our babies about a year apart for each so there is plenty of baby equipment that is being passed around like a baby bath, bumbo seat, high chair, bouncers & sterilisers so that's alot of money saved!

  53. My best three tips for down to earth baby raisimg are to breastfeed for as long as you can (if you can of course) eg two years, use plain old terry toweling nappies with snappies and make your baby's food from scratch. The benefits of breastfeeding are developing a loving bond with baby and better health for baby. These are all well explained on the ABA website. But you will also save lots of money by not buying formula and bottle paraphanalia as well as avoiding medical and pharmacy costs. Plain terry nappies are cheap, can be folded to fit any size, comfy, hygienic (I think more so than tailored nappies which I have also used but found less comfortable for baby and harder to launder) and easy to wash and quick to dry. When baby gets on to solids find a nice, friendly small saucepan and cook up seasonal fruits and then vegies, meat, fish, pasta or rice can be simmered into tasty stews, soups and rissotos. Take a portion of your dinner and blitz it with a stick blender and voila... baby will dine in style already learning to love your family favourites. Pop some spares in baby portions in the fridge or freezer for when you are short on time. Finally sing to and dance with baby and take her everywhere you go (well within reason). A baby carrier will let you keep baby close and also let you do a few things around the house- my babies loved their carrier and preferred it to the pram in the first few months. Hope this helps.

  54. So many good comments.

    We were told to make a nursery and so we did up a room. It was a waste of time and money. She slept in our room and played at my feet. There was no need.

    Aim to have two different baby carriers. One for quick use when shopping. Easy to put on/off in a carpark (we love a ring sling or a baby hawk). One that is supportive for the baby to sleep on around the house (we love the Maya Tie or the Ergo).

    We bought our first pram when our daughter was 6months old. I used to push her to the shops, put her in the carrier and then fill the pram with shopping. A good pram is worthwhile, but not nessecary for quite a while. Shopping with a pram is very impractical.

    We love our little newborn sleeper. It cost about $50 at Target. We use it so our newborn can sleep near us during the day.

    We used our change table for the first few months of both children but after that we used the floor.

    We use the Antilop high chair (ikea) when they can sit up so she can be near us.

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  57. I made an entire stash of pocket nappies for $43 using new materials. Had I gone to the op shop it would've been even cheaper. I have never bought baby clothes new as I had many many given to me and so with each stage I stored them and brought them out again when my second son was born.
    All nursery furniture was also given to me and thus cost nothing.

    If you can BREASTFEED as long as possible, not only is it natural and your baby's normal food. If you can't Breastfeed check out Human Milk for Human babies on Face Book as donor Breast milk is FREE minus the cost to get it to you vs $20-$25 per can X2 cans per week for the next 2 years.

    Also check out Elimination Communication. Did it with both sons and had them out of nappies in less than a year vs the next 2.5-3 years.

    congratulations and good Luck


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