4 Things I Never Thought I’d Need Before I Had My First Baby

When you have your first child, everything changes.

But before your little one is born, you’re out there, frantically stocking up on cute little clothes, buying decorations for the baby’s nursery, and building your baby registry.

It’s kind of fun.

As you go through it all though, you never really know what you’re going to need.  There’s SO much marketing out there for literally hundreds of thousands of different baby products.  And it’s all appealing.

But are you buying what you will actually need?  Probably.

The reality is, with whatever you have, you make it work.  Beyond clothes, diapers, and food, everything else is a luxury.

As true as that may be, looking back on everything, there are a few things we either purchased or received as gifts that I don’t think we could have done without.  And they’re all things I never thought we’d need before our first child was born.

Let’s get into it.

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5 Ugly Facts About Potty Training (and How They Can Help You)

Potty training is often more frustrating for the parent than it is for the child.

For your child, it’s like learning to drive when they’ve never been in the driver’s seat before. Actually, it’s more like learning to drive when you’ve never even been in a car before.

It’s difficult. And often times, disgusting. (Okay, that last part doesn’t really fit the car analogy.)

This is one of the areas where parents express the greatest amount of impatience…which makes sense, because changing diapers is awful.

Patience is important, however.

To help you along, here are 5 ugly (yet important and helpful) facts that you should understand when attempting to potty train your child.

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12 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Make with Cauliflower

I’ll admit, I’m a little late to the game when it comes to cauliflower.

When we were growing up, cauliflower was basically like broccoli’s white cousin.  You either boiled it, steamed it, or baked it…maybe added a little seasoning…and that was it.

Today, it seems like every other recipe includes some new and innovative way to use cauliflower.  It’s a great low carb substitute for rice and bread when prepared the right way.

So, now I’m on a mission to figure out all the different things you can do with cauliflower, and I’ve compiled the recipes in this post.

Enjoy…

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Best Baby Movement Monitor 2017 (Literally a Lifesaver for Your Baby)

Before you ever have kids, there are a lot of products you never knew existed.  For me, one of those was a baby movement monitor.

You mean like a baby monitor where you watch your child when he or she is sleeping? 

No, this is completely unrelated to that.

Can’t I just see when my baby is moving? Why do I need a special monitor for that?

This was basically my inner-monologue before I had any clue what a baby movement monitor was.  As it turns out, a baby movement monitor is not only a useful little gadget, but it can actually save your baby’s life and drastically reduce the risk of SIDS.

A baby movement monitor is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a little electronic device that clips to your baby’s diaper and senses movement.  If your baby were to stop breathing for any reason, the monitor would stop detecting movement and alarm would sound after a set period of time (usually 15-20 seconds).

Okay, we’re all caught up now.  Let’s take a look at what I found to be the best baby movement monitor.

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8 Healthy Meals Kids Will Love (that you can make in 30 minutes or LESS!)

As a parent, and especially as a working parent, it can be pretty tough to find the time to not only cook a healthy meal, but one that your kids enjoy.

There are plenty of easy meals (think mac & cheese, grilled cheese, etc.) but they often aren’t healthy.  I love a good grilled cheese and tomato soup as much as the next person (mmm, dipping the grilled cheese into the soup, soo good…) but we all know it’s not good for you.

So, I set out to track down some recipes that met the following criteria:

  • Quick and easy to make
  • Relatively healthy
  • Most kids will actually like them

And I didn’t want these to be your typical “kids meals.” I’m a big fan of exposing kids to new flavors at a young age, and doing it in a way that gives them a positive experience in the process.

Not exactly an easy quest, but I’ll share with you what I found.

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From $0 to $100K: The Working Parent Side Hustle Challenge

We’re both working parents.  And while I feel like money isn’t too much of an issue (i.e. we can afford what we need), we still live on a budget.

Before having our daughter, life was pretty easy from a financial standpoint.  Without any real obligations (aside from a mortgage and student loans), we were free to spend as we needed, within reason.

We would have enough left over to build our retirement nest egg, as well as set some money aside for our child’s future education.  We never had to resort to credit card debt.

And while we’ve never been extravagant spenders, we would do things like eat out whenever we wanted instead of saving money by cooking.

Life’s a bit different now, with a child in the picture.  We haven’t had to change our standard of living, but there are lots of additional costs – the big one being daycare (approx. $1,500/month for part-time daycare).  We can afford it, but as a result, there’s less money going toward savings.

I’ve always been a bit entrepreneurial-minded – finding ways to make extra money on the side. “Side hustles“, as they’re sometimes called.

Today, I’d like to kick off a challenge for myself (and anyone who wants to join me), in the quest to earn $100K per year from side hustles.

While the initial goal would just be to make some extra money on the side to fund our expenses and build savings at a faster rate, the ultimate goal will be for one of us to quit our day jobs.

I don’t know how long it will take, but I do know it’s very possible.  Here’s how I’m going to do it – feel free to follow along. 🙂

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What It Takes to Be a Good Parent: 11 Traits (#6 May Surprise You)

A lot of parents have anxiety over figuring out what it takes to be a good parent.  Especially new parents.

It’s a tricky subject, because you don’t get a report card that tells you whether or not you’ve been a good parent.  There’s no master guidebook on how to be a good parent.

The challenging part of it all is that it continues to change throughout your child’s life – what it takes to be a good parent when they’re a month old may be completely different than what it takes when they’re 15.

I do, however, believe there are traits that good parents have in common, that apply no matter what age you’re child is. And that’s what I want to write about today.

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Best Baby Food Brands in 2017

By the time your baby reaches 5-6 months of age, you’ve probably considered giving them a taste of real (baby) food.  At least, that’s how it went with us.

Our daughter was still on breast milk, and our pediatrician told us that we could continue that way until about a year before real food became more of a necessity.  However, if we wanted to start introducing baby food, we should do it with the understanding that it’s more “for fun”.

It helps get your child acquainted to new tastes and textures, even if it’s not their main source of nutrition (while still on breast milk or formula).

As we do with everything else, because we live and die by our computers, we started researching to see what the best baby food brands were.

Here’s what we found.

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29 Parents Reveal the Secret to Improving Your Baby’s Sleeping Habits

Image credit: http://www.babysleepsite.com

Before you become a parent, you take sleep for granted.  After all, you can completely control how much sleep you get simply by adjusting your bedtime or wake-up time.
After having a baby, however, sleep becomes this unknown variable in your life; it becomes this elusive concept that changes from night to night.  As a parent of an infant, you often find yourself thinking…

CAN I JUST GET SOME F@#%!#& SLEEP PLEASE?!

Somewhere in the back of your mind, you know it’s temporary.  But when you’re going on your 10th straight night of only sleeping in 1-2 hour blocks, you start to lose that part of your brain that thinks logically.

After experiencing something like this, we knew there had to be a way to make it better.

But because every baby is different, there isn’t any ONE thing that will work for every baby.  So, we set out to compile the wisdom of many parents who have been through this and have found a strategy that works for improving their baby’s sleep habits.

And just as important, improving their own sleeping habits.

We tracked down 29 parents and asked them this question:

What’s the #1 thing that worked for you when it came to improving your son or daughter’s sleep habits as an infant?

 

Keep reading, and we’ll reveal what everyone told us (and even share what’s currently working for us).  

(Warning: This post contains a ton of content – you may want to bookmark / pin it so you can refer back to it later. 🙂 )

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Pros and Cons of Cloth Diapers (As Gross as it Sounds?)

Several years ago, long before I ever thought about becoming a parent, I heard about a family member who had begun using cloth diapers for her baby.  And to be honest, my initial gut reaction was: that’s disgusting.

It’s true that today’s society is often criticized for embracing a “throw away” culture, and I agree it’s a valid complaint.  We’re far more wasteful now than we’ve ever been, in a lot of ways.

But let’s be honest here – when it comes to poopy diapers…

Doesn’t it make sense to throw them away?  

Before coming to some grand conclusion, I want to take a deep dive into cloth diapers (not literally, of course – eww) and examine how they stack up against disposable diapers.

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Best Rock ‘n Play Sleeper Review 2017 (at least, we think it’s amazing)

Best Rock 'N Play SleeperBefore our daughter was born, I’ll admit, we were pretty clueless about most baby products.

Like most people, we set up a baby registry and put a bunch of stuff on there.  Some of it was pretty straightforward – clothes, blankets, etc.  But there were definitely other products where we had no idea if we’d ever actually use them.

One of these mysterious products was a rock ‘n play sleeper.

Between the pack ‘n play, the crib, the bouncer, the bassinet, and everything else you could put a baby into, were we really going to use a rock ‘n play?

Yeah, sure, add it to the list.

Little did we know it would become not only our favorite purchase, but we would go on to buy a second one. A different one. It would end up being the very reason that we were finally able to get some sleep in our little girl’s first few months of life.

So which ones did we buy? And what we do we think is the best rock ‘n play sleeper? Allow me to explain…

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62+ Smart Ways for Parents to Save Money Online

If you’re anything like us, you probably make some attempts to be mindful of your expenses, but always feel like you could (and should) be saving more money.

Kids are expensive – especially when you consider things like paying for their college tuition one day.

For us, saving money is challenging because we’re fortunate enough to be in a position where we can get by without squeezing every penny.  In some ways, the people who absolutely need to save money have an easier time doing it – because they’re doing it out of necessity.

So whether you need save as much as possible or simply want to get better at it, I think we can all agree that saving money allows us enjoy other areas of life (hobbies, vacations, etc.) and meet our financial obligations.

There’s one word I don’t really like, and this isn’t going to be popular with many personal finance bloggers.

You know, the “F” word.

Frugal.

To me, the concept of “being frugal” always seemed to have this connotation that you’re somehow sacrificing quality (or lots of time) in order to save money.  Whether it’s spending hours on end hovering over a newspaper, clipping coupons, or it’s buying a vastly inferior off-brand TV to save a few bucks, I think frugality has lost some of its luster.

Frugal used to be cool, but now it feels like a fancy word for “cheap.”

There needs to be a better word for smart spending where you aren’t sacrificing a lot of time or quality.  I’ll let you know if I come up with it, but for now we’ll just stick with smart spending.

With all of that in mind, let’s get to the point here.

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Ultimate Guide to The Best Childcare Options for Infants

Best Childcare Options for ParentsOne thing my wife and I have discussed and debated with regards to our baby girl is how we want to handle childcare, considering we both work full time jobs.  And I’m guessing we’re not alone in trying to figure out the best childcare options (for infants especially).

Our general debate was “daycare or in-home nanny” because those were really the only viable options to us, especially at an age when our daughter isn’t yet going to school.

However, there are obviously a lot of other options available that we first considered before narrowing it down to the two options that seemed most realistic to us.  So before I get into my specific analysis of the best childcare options, let’s go through the different types of childcare available, and the pros and cons of each.

I promise, this isn’t as difficult as it seems.

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How to Pick a Baby Name in 2017 (And Not Screw It Up)

how-to-pick-a-baby-name-smallFiguring out how to pick a baby name is highly subjective process.  You might like one name…that your spouse absolutely hates.

In fact, it’s very likely that this is the case.

You go through the baby name lists online, each of you striking names from the list that you don’t like.

Your wife loves “Emma,” but Emma was the name of your 5th grade teacher who you despised.

You like “Carrie,” but your wife fears the name will inspire a telekinetic power used for evil massacres (+1 if you get the movie reference).

So how do you actually pick a baby name that you both can agree on?

Or what if you find yourself at the point where you can’t seem to agree on any name?

Let’s figure this one out…

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Should I Start a 529 (College Savings) Plan for My Child?

As a parent, one of the hot topics in personal finance that you’ll often see discussed is saving for your child’s college education.

While some parents prefer to save their child’s college fund in a glass jar or underneath their mattress, there are certainly a lot of better options out there: one of which is a 529 Plan.

(Whether or not you think saving for your child’s college tuition is a good idea is a separate discussion – I discuss that here.)

The 529 plan sounds a lot more confusing and intimidating than it is, and I think that’s why some people ignore it.  And you don’t need to hire a CPA or a financial adviser to set one up – it’s actually quite easy to do yourself.

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62+ Smart Ways for Parents to Save Money Online (free digital guide)

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