10 Practical Baby Shower Gifts Every Mom Will Love

Ah, the baby shower.  The time to give all that’s cute for the new life about to enter the world.  While many gifts will draw ooh’s and ahh’s during the shower, there are some that will bring those later.  These are practical baby shower gifts that every parent will appreciate when it matters most.

Diapers (Size 1 and 2)

Diapers are a fairly common gift.  But, here’s the thing, most diapers for yet-to-be born babies are Newborn size.  This is great except that many babies are out of this size in a flash.  While you can usually exchange unopened diapers for a bigger size, make it easy on the mom to be.  Give them the next size or two up.  When that Newborn size diaper just won’t fit, your gift will be at the ready.

Baby Wipes

Babies get changed pretty regularly.  Sometimes it seems like a changing happens every hour!  Baby wipes are always a great gift, and they’re guaranteed to be used.  It’s not something that any parent wants to run out of.  Trust me, they will appreciate some baby wipes.

Portable Changing Pad

Babies get changed everywhere.  Most registries include a changing pad, which is great for the house.  But when baby needs to be changed on-the-go, a portable changing pad is just the thing.  They’re pretty handy nowadays as they have spots for just about everything. Well, maybe not the dirty diaper, but that’s just as well!

Burp Cloths / Bibs

If it’s not coming out one end, it’s coming out the other.  Don’t ever think that babies can have too many bibs or burp cloths.  They can’t.  My advice: Go for quantity.  Many people will buy fancy bibs or burp cloths, which is fine.  But, if you get a larger pack of the no-frills variety, it means mom will have more.  They’ll definitely get put to use!

Onesies

As many clothes as baby will get, the onesie is always in style.  Parents can never have too many of them.  Grab a pack or two of plain white onesies and I guarantee you’ll save the day at least once.  Don’t forget to get a couple in bigger sizes too!

Lightweight Blankets

Many people will get really special blankets.  Some will have monograms or really fancy designs.  These will definitely appreciated, but so will some lightweight blankets.  These are great for on-the-go.  They even work in the summer when baby needs to be kept warm from air conditioning.

Fingernail Kits

Start off good grooming habits at a  young age with a nice fingernail kit.  For bonus tips, make sure that mom uses it before the baby goes to see the doctor.  The doctor will be very impressed with a well clipped baby!

Bouncy Seat

A great gift is a bouncy seat.  These can be picked up and moved anywhere, giving baby a safe, comfortable spot.  Plus, you can soothe baby with the bouncing motion.

Clothing For The Next Season

If baby is due in the summer, guess what they’re going to get?  A whole closet of cute summer things.  This is great until cooler weather arrives.  You can save the day by getting clothes in a larger size for upcoming seasons.  Make sure to provide a gift receipt because sizing can be a little tricky.

Book

We actually requested this at our shower.  We asked for people to bring a small book and to sign it.  These will forever make great keepsakes.

Those were some practical baby shower gifts that I know moms will love.  Will the items above steal the show during the shower?  Maybe not, but these will definitely make life easier for parents when it matters most.  That right there is a great gift that will be long remembered.

Readers, what baby shower ideas do you love that are practical and thoughtful?  Share in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

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Stop Letting Hot Cars And Pit Bulls Kill Our Kids

I’ve been finding myself taking mini-breaks from personal finance related posts lately, but being that it’s summer, we’re all entitled to breaks in some sort.

Even so, the topic of today’s post isn’t money related, but it’s not lighthearted, and I’m sure some will agree with me while I would expect that others may not.  Whatever side of the fence you fall in, we’re all entitled to our opinion.  Since this is my blog, here’s mine in plain and simple terms:

I’m sick of reading stories about hot cars and pit bulls killing children.  It needs to stop.  Right now.

HOT CARS

As it’s around the hottest time of the year here in the good old Midwest USA, it’s unfortunately also peak time where I read stories about kids getting left in cars, only to be found dead by their parent or someone.

I’m a parent to two young children, and I can imagine that the grief of losing a child must be incredible, something which I could never imagine.  When I hear of a parent losing their child, I have a tremendous amount of sympathy, empathy, and sadness.  But, I’m not going to lie.  When I read that their child died because they were left in a car, I also add anger to that list.

Most times, you hear about some disruption in routine happening that precedes the child getting left in the car.  Mom couldn’t take the kid to day care, so she asked Dad to drop him off at day care.  Dad agreed, but once in the car, normal routine took over, and Dad drives right to work. Something like that happens more often than not.  Whatever the case is, it still makes me mad.

I’ll be honest.  I’m not a perfect parent by any stretch of the imagination.  Whether it’s snapping at one of my kids for doing something wrong, or not reading enough to them, or missing out on an opportunity for some playtime, there’s moments in every day that I wish, as a parent, I could do over.  I know I could do better than that.  But, never once in my five years of being a parent have I once forgotten that I have a child in the backseat of my car!

I don’t care what the excuse is, there isn’t one.  Not when it comes to forgetting that your kid is in the car.  No parent would ever stick their kid in an oven, so don’t leave them in one.

PIT BULLS

mb-2014-06pitbullMaybe I’ll catch some flak for this one, but in all honesty, I don’t care.  I’m sick of reading stories about kids getting killed or maimed because of a pit bull, the family pet, that turns on the kid.  It happens far too often and it needs to stop.

Look, I like dogs.  I don’t have one, but I like dogs a lot.  But, when there’s a pattern that stands out of one particular breed being more aggressive and more likely to snap, I just don’t see how that mixes.

People will make arguments about why my stand is wrong.

People will argue that it’s the way the owners raise the dogs that makes them aggressive.  People will argue that other breeds of dogs sometimes attack as well.  People will argue that their dog isn’t like that.  People will argue all sorts of things, and to every one of them I’ll say: It doesn’t matter to me.

Pit bulls are the most likely of dog breeds to attack.  Even if they’ve never attacked before, why would you want to subject your young, often defenseless children, to those odds? I mean, let’s be honest, if pit bulls weren’t the most violent and aggressive by nature, would the people who train dogs to fight pick a different breed? They don’t.  They pick pit bulls. Without question, they pick pit bulls.

Doesn’t that tell you something?

Other dog breeds may have instances of attack.  I’m not saying that we need to get rid of all dogs.  That’s crazy.  But, when pit bulls attack more often and their attacks are more vicious, I just don’t get why some parents effectively choose to play Russian Roulette with their kids lives.

People who want to talk themselves into believing otherwise are more than welcome to do so, but let’s be clear, we don’t and won’t ever have a pit bull in our house.  Especially around young kids.  And, honestly, if a situation arose where my children wanted to play at a friend’s house where a pit bull lived, I would likely say no.  We’re not restrictive parents like that.  We let our kids have play dates.  We take them to parks, we let them play around the subdivision.  But on certain things, I’ll draw the line.

Pit bulls, they’re definitely past the lines.

In both cases, with hot cars and pit bulls, I think the horror stories that come out again and again can be avoided.  And they should be.

What do you think, readers?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

When You Don’t Get The Answer You Were Looking For

My wife asked me a question the other day that I really didn’t even have to think about before answering.  She asked if I’ve noticed a measurable decrease in our spending each month as a result of our daughter no longer being on baby formula.

Our daughter is eighteen months old, so she’s been off of formula for quite a while.  She now eats ‘people food’ and drinks milk.  She was on a more expensive formula than the standard formula, though not the ultra-expensive stuff.  Luckily for us, the type that she required did have a version available in Target’s Up & Up brand.

But, the answer to my wife’s question was a very quick “No”.

Mrs. Beagle became a little annoyed and even asked again, probably thinking that maybe I had misunderstood the question.  I hadn’t.  The answer was still no.

She didn’t understand and you could tell that it bothered her as she had obviously expected the answer to be no.

The conversation led me to think about how we often make assumptions and how assumptions which prove to be incorrect can be problematic.  So, why do we make incorrect assumptions.

Well, I think in may cases, we don’t take into account all the facts.  When my wife asked about the formula, she took into consideration only one aspect, which was the cost of the formula.  She assumed that since we were no longer buying formula, those costs were gone.  Which, in and of itself, is true.

However, there are other costs that factor in.  Our daughter replaced formula with milk.  While milk is vastly less expensive than formula, there is still a cost there.  Our daughter also eats regular food, which means we have to buy slightly more of that, meaning an overall increase in our grocery bills.  As she (and Little Boy Beagle) continue to grow, they will consume more food which will cost money.

Finally, there’s the indirect costs.  Think about how the cost of food rises, which eats away some of those savings.  Just from the food perspective, you can see how while formula costs might go down, other related costs to meet their nutritional needs will go up, offsetting all or part of the ‘savings’ from the elimination of formula.  They need bigger clothes which can cost more money.

One of the basic facts of being a parent is I’m learning that costs do not really seem to decrease in any fashion whatsoever.  I guess after they move out and start earning their own keep the costs will go down, but until then, as they get bigger, so will the cost of raising them.

Here are a few tips on how to handle things when the answer you get doesn’t match the assumption you had made when you asked the question:

  • Understand the butterfly effect – Looking at something from a cost perspective will often not tell you the complete picture, as my wife learned with her question about baby formula.  Changing one thing, the purchase of formula, also created changes in other areas which all had a ripple effect on how and where we spend money.  Bottom line, too look at just the formula costs was overly simplistic.
  • Don’t spend what you don’t have – It occurred to me that this could have led to dangerous outcomes had the assumptions not been about something so simple as baby formula and had it not been by someone as financially responsible as my wife.  I’m sure others out there have made assumptions on much costlier items, and made follow-up actions that proved dramatically incorrect.  Think about those people a few years ago who assumed that they could afford the monthly mortgage payment that their lenders told them they could afford.  By simply trusting the assumption, many people found themselves in dire straits and ended up losing their home, their credit, and probably a good deal of money along the way.
  • Make it a learning opportunity – I think my wife was disappointed that we weren’t spending less as a result of not buying baby formula, but I know that once we talked about it, she thought about things differently.  If you find that an assumption you’re making isn’t correct, take it as an opportunity to understand what went wrong into the assumption you had, and how to best apply it moving forward.  I’m pretty sure now Mrs. Beagle will be thinking more broadly about things like offsetting costs that, through not fault of her own, she hadn’t thought of in the first place.

Readers, when have you recently made an assumption that turned out to be incorrect?  How did it affect you and more importantly, what did you take away that will lead you to making more accurate assumptions in the future?

 

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

How Our Second Car Seat Will Pay For Itself

A few weeks ago, Target had their ‘Baby Sale’ where baby related items were on sale.  We had been looking into a second car seat and found one that we really liked and had pretty good ratings.

Our primary car seat is in my wife’s car along with a base for the baby carrier.  The car seat holds our 2-year old son, and the baby goes in the carrier.

Until recently, there wasn’t really a need for a car seat in my car, as my wife took the kids places most of the time and the kids were together.  On top of that, most places we went involved a stroller.  The single stroller we have barely fits in my car, and the double stroller does not fit at all.

Lately, though, we’re finding that our behaviors are a bit different.  We’re splitting up the kids more often, or we’re going places where we can get by without a stroller.  In this case, we figured that more trips in my car would be achievable.  My wife drives a Buick SUV and I drive a Pontiac sedan, so the big difference here:

Better mileage in the Pontiac.

My car averages around 25 MPG and my wife’s car averages around 16 MPG.

If gas averages $3.50, this means that the cost per mile in gas is as follows:

Pontiac: $0.14
Buick: $0.21875

This means that on a 50 mile round trip, we’re saving $3.9375 in gas.  That’s a pretty huge difference.

The all-in price of the car seat was $105.72.

This means that it would take 1,342 miles switched to my car before the car seat completely pays for itself.

With our driving habits, this is certainly something I think we’ll cross without much effort.  Trips to my in-laws are around 45 miles round trip and since we see them once or twice a month, that will add up pretty quickly.  We recently had a couple of birthday parties, each around 50 miles round trip.  Neither of these required a stroller, so it was off in my car.  Even trips to my parents house, who live much closer (about 15 miles around trip) still save a small amount, and will add up.

Eventually we’ll have to get a second seat for my wife’s car when the baby can no longer fit into the carrier.  At that point we would have to decide whether to look into a second seat for my car as well (we certainly could move seats back and forth but this isn’t practical).  We’ll probably see how our habits play out and whether it makes sense.

You always hear about things that pay for themselves.  In the case of this car seat, I believe it will completely pay for itself before it’s all said and done.

Have you ever had an item that has proven to pay for itself over time?

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