Monday, May 26th, 2008...8:42 pm

Frugal Baby Part II: Feeding Baby

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Baby Foods

Creative Commons License photo figure credit: twelve paws

Obviously with another mouth to feed it might stand to reason that the grocery bill will increase. Fortunately, we have managed to keep the grocery bill in check with a few frugal baby solutions. Some of these items may not work for everyone, but these are the things that worked well for us when feeding a baby on a budget.

Breastfeeding: This one is a no brainer when it comes to saving money, but I understand that it doesn’t work for everyone. I was determined to make breastfeeding work for us and made sure I had a lot of resources ready in case I got in trouble. It doesn’t necessarily come naturally for either mom or baby. As MITBeta and I found out, it is also a multi-person sport in the beginning, so don’t worry about leaving those Dads out! We realized early on that in order to get the baby positioned correctly and to keep her awake we needed about 4 hands. Also remember in the early days that it is important to watch your baby for clues and not the clock. Breastfeeding works on a system of supply and demand, so in the early days you really want to feed the baby whenever she seems hungry. This will help build a good supply of milk. Visit KellyMom for some great tips on all aspects of breastfeeding. This website is invaluable. The first fews weeks are long and I spent a lot of time on the couch or in a chair, but just made sure the MITBeta had a little table supplied for me with snacks and a drink and I soon became a natural. In the coming months I forgot all about the hard first month as it gradually got easier and easier.

A friend gave me some great tips when I was pregnant and they all helped make the process go smoothly after our daughter was born. Make sure you get all the support you can/want/need in the hospital. Ask all the nurses to check to make sure the baby is latched on correctly. They typically have lactation consultants on staff that can make sure you are doing it correctly as well, so you can avoid problems that can quickly derail your breastfeeding experience (latch-on, supply, and pain are some common ones). Make sure you buy some lansinoh (this product is very important in the early days). We also had a nurse make a home visit (this was covered by insurance because we were in the hospital less than 48 hrs after baby was born) and that was a great opportunity to ask questions and correct any potential problems. We also had a birth doula who came to see us for a post-partum visit as well.

I also found it advantageous to have a pump on hand (you can rent hospital grade pumps, buy cheap manual pumps or invest in a pump that would be good for daily pumping sessions if you plan to pump and work). I have an Ameda pump. My milk came in a few days after we got home from the hospital and even though my little one is took to breastfeeding like a champ, she sometimes just couldn’t handle that kind of volume! Plus I was back at home and now had no one around to help me out. I found it very useful to have my pump all set to go, just to relieve some of that early discomfort and make it easier for the baby to latch on. Now even if you decide you don’t want to breastfeed, having some type of cheap pump may be helpful, since your body will think you want to make milk no matter what, at least in the beginning. Having the number of someone you can call if you run into troubles is a good idea. This could be a lactation consultant, doula or LLL leader (see below).

Your local La Leche League is also a great source of support and encouragement. They typically have meetings once a month. I have been going to the LLL group meetings in my area since our daughter was born and I find a lot of great support there for a lot of parenting issues, not just breastfeeding. It’s always good to run things by other mothers who have been in a similar situation so you can make sure that everything is normal.

If you have tried breastfeeding and have decided that formula is the way to go for your family, you should check out this post about taking advantage of the great deals at CVS. By playing the “CVS” game you can save a lot of money on formula.

Homemade Baby Food: This sounds like a lot of work, but is surprisingly simple. The nice thing is that you really only have to do it for about 4 to 6 months. I started introducing new foods around 6 mos. I tried one new food every few days. I would make a batch of one type and freeze it in small portions (ice cube trays work great for this, see photo above). After a few weeks I had built up a little stash of different items. Some examples that we typically had on hand were sweet potatoes, squash, apples, pears etc. Most things can be cooked until soft and mashed up in a blender or food processor or even just with a fork. Things like mashed potatoes, avocado and bananas are super easy. No special tools needed.

By around 10mos your baby will probably be trying to eat what is on your plate, so you can usually find something on your own plate that you can mash up and give her. Our daughter was grabbing for what we were eating by around 10 mos and by 12 mos I was not pureeing anything anymore. So it was a short amount of time and definitely a money saver. This is a great website: Wholesome Baby Food that has a lot of information on introducing new foods and recipes and tips for pureeing foods. It also gives you tips on when you should introduce different types of foods.

We took a road trip to Washington DC when our daughter was around 8 months old. I brought a lot of frozen food cubes in freezer baggies, along with yogurt and string cheese. We had access to a freezer where we were staying so it was easy to continue feeding her on the road. I was also breastfeeding so that made things easy while we were out and about sightseeing. I fed her in all kinds of places, including the Air and Space Museum and the top and bottom of the Washington Monument!

Hopefully these tips will get you off to a good start, and if you’ve got any more, let’s hear them in the comments!