Save a Bundle on Your Little Bundle!

How can something so tiny cost so much? New parents have been known to spend $4,500 and upward, for just the basics– a crib, mattress, and baby furniture, clothes, wipes, diapers, formula (if not nursing) and other miscellaneous items.

If you are looking for some ways to save– not skimp– on your baby, here are some tips to try!

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1. Breastfeeding: It’s free, and it will save you $1,200 in formula costs! That’s big, but even more important is the fact that by breastfeeding you will pass along important immunities to fight diseases, as well as DHA/AA, two critically important fatty-acids that aid in mental and heart development. See www.LaLecheLeague.org for more information.

Total annual savings: $1,200

2. Formula: If you must bottle-feed, then by all means use store brand infant formulas – these milk and soy-based formulas made by Wyeth Nutritionals are sold by most major retailers under the store’s own proprietary name.  The FDA tightly regulates all infant formulas, and so all of the standard first year formulas are nutritionally equivalent. The only difference is the price! Store brand formulas sell for up to 40% less than the national brands. See Storebrandformulas.com for more information.

Total annual savings: $500

3. Clothes: Many parents spend $500 or more on their baby’s clothes. But if you wear your baby in a sling, no one will even know what he’s wearing!  Babies don’t care what designer label is in their clothes, but they do care to be worn close to their mother. Dr. Sears encourages all of his patients to wear their babies in specially design slings, which creates a special bond of trust between parent and child that actually enhances the mental development of a child. See www.attachmentparenting.com for more information!

Total annual savings: $250

4. Diapers and Wipes: Diapers and wipes can cost over $1,000 during the first year. Once again, you can save up to 30% by using store brand wipes and diapers.

Total annual savings: $300

5. Baby furniture: Stay out of high-end specialty baby shops that sell the latest crib, mattress set, and changing tables, where you will end up with a big bill and several weeks of waiting for your furniture. The best place to buy baby gear is at mass retailers where they sell a high volume of quality baby furniture that they stock at every store. As such, their margins are lower, saving parents a bundle.

Total potential savings: $500

5. Know what you DON’T need: Liz Pulliam Weston at MSN Money points out that many things that people buy for their baby are simply unnecessary. A second-hand, waist-high dresser works great in baby’s room, and can double as a changing table if you put a changing pad on top!  A simple willow basket inside the cabinet replaces a diaper stacker. One car seat and a base for each car is great instead of one car seat for each car. And those coordinated crib sets are cute but mostly useless- bumpers, pillows, and fluffy blankets are not recommended for infants!

6. Go with hand-me-downs! Family and friends may be a great source of baby clothes and other gear that’s free and still in near-perfect condition. You can also find clothes, name-brand strollers, toys and other baby gear for a fraction of the new price by shopping at consignment shops, thrift stores, and garage sales. Don’t worry about germs, just about anything can be thrown in the wash or sprayed with disinfecting cleaners.

7. Free entertainment: Parents.com points out that your local library can be a great source of free mommy-and-baby activity.  Some offer mom-and-baby yoga classes and weekly story time for pre-walkers, wooden puzzles and other toys, and, of course, lots of great books.


7 Tips to Beautify Baby’s Room

It doesn’t take a fat wallet or a team or interior designers to create a lovely baby nursery! Dive into your creative side head first– now is your chance to do something different and have fun! Here are some tips to help achieve big style for your little one, on any budget.

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1. Start with the Walls

Paint or wallpaper is a great way to set an ambiance.  There’s no need to follow the pink-or-blue trend; try something unique. If you stick to gender-neutral, timeless colors and prints, it will last you way past the baby years. (This is also handy when you don’t know the baby’s gender!) You can also use stencils or decals to create designs on the walls. White walls are  sweet too, you have plenty of other areas for adding color and contrast.

2. Keep it simple

“Less is more” is a good rule of thumb when decorating children’s rooms. We think a baby’s room can be fun, colorful, and interesting, but should maintain a peaceful and serene vibe. You only need one or two focal pieces, so conserve your money to splurge on something that you really love, like an antique mirror or beautiful bedding.

3. Search for Treasures

It’s nice if your children’s room contains a few objects that didn’t come straight from the store. Antique finds at the second hand shop, old family photographs, dolls from when you were a child… many things can be incorporated that you might not have thought about at first. Look for heirlooms in your parent’s attic or local thrift shop. You’ll be sweetly surprised at how much meaning these type of decorative elements give your nursery.

4. Keep Crib Bedding to a Minimum

This is more for safety than style. An overabundance of stuffed pillows, fluffy blankets, and crib bumpers can pose suffocation hazards for small babies. The crib is NOT a good place to focus your creative juices; wait til your child is older to make up a dream bed full of throw pillows and flouncy covers.

5. Fancy Floors

Because your little one will spend lots of time on the floor, it’s a great place to focus attention. Bright colors, stripes, and patterned rugs are great if you have wood or tiled flooring. Soft wall-to-wall carpets are a nice touch and keep little explorers comfy. Look for materials that are easily cleaned!

6. A Corner for You

We know you’ll be spending a considerable amount of time with your baby. Even if baby sleeps with you at night, the nursery may be the place you go to change diapers, snuggle, and play during the day. Stick in a comfy arm chair or rocker, an end table to hold some books and a glass of water while you’re feeding.

7. Fill it with Love

Even if you don’t have the means to go all-out decorating, the physical trappings of your baby’s room are not what’s most important. I like the way it’s said here: “While decorating your baby’s room is personal and fun, remember that the heart of your child’s room is not what is physically held within the four walls. Rather it is the relationship of the parents and child. So if your baby is born into a room of stark white walls, with boxes crammed in a corner, so be it. It won’t change how you love him or her, nor will they grow up decoratively challenged.”

Transforming Baby’s Nursery: Focus on Walls

An easy and fun way to decorate your nursery is to focus on the walls. You don’t need a large budget to transform your baby’s room in any style you fancy, whether you want a fun, vibrant playroom, or an elegant, peaceful oasis, or anything in between! Here are some ideas to get your imagination revved up!

Giraffe decal from Wall Nutz

Stickers

Add instant fun with wall stickers, like these Flocked Butterflies ($19.99 from WallNutz).

Flocked Butterfly Wall Stickers

Decals

Decals are one step up from the sticker idea– they’re not only fun and pretty, but they’re re-stickable, too! They’ll dress up your nursery in a flash and you can play around with the placement without worrying about ruining the walls. When your little one is older, she can have fun making her own designs! Here are some pretty “Scroll Tree” decals from Wall Nutz (80 decals for $39.99)

Scroll Tree MegaPack Wall Sticker Mural

Wallpaper

Old-fashioned fine wallpapers are making a comeback, says iVillage, and they’re not as pricey as you might think. Check out The Land of Nod designs which come in a variety of designs such as damask designs ($60 per roll) and classic plaids ($75 per roll). For something really fun (and to protect mom’s sanity) you can purchase paintable wallpaper– like the Frames pattern ($40 per roll)– in a variety of designs, which actually encourages your kids to draw, color and paint on the wall!

If you don’t want to paper the whole room, try doing just one wall or even lining the inside of a bookcase. It’s less expensive and a great way to add instant décor.

Murals

You could buy a pre-cut or paint-by-number wall mural, but why not try your hand at painting your own? It can be as simple or intricate as you like. If you’re artistic, you can draw and paint it freehand. If all you know how to draw are stick figures, don’t despair!  All you need is an overhead projector, along with the pattern or picture transposed onto a transparency. Beam it onto the wall, trace, and paint!  This one is called “A Bug’s Life” by Bi0star (via Flickr)

Baby's Room Bug's Mural by Bi0star.

And I love this “white on white” nursery design from A List Baby!

Stripes

You can get this look with wallpaper, or the cheaper alternative which would be to paint it yourself! Just  measure and mark off your stripes, and use some painters tape to keep the edges crisp while painting.  Instantly elegant, as seen below in this Peter Rabbit themed nursery!

Setting up an Eco-Friendly Nursery

There are lots of great ways you can create a safe, healthy and non-toxic haven for your precious little baby. Most baby products are completely safe, but it’s worth being aware that some choices of furniture, carpeting and even bedding could expose their child to a variety of chemicals that they’re better off without!

Paint: Paint the nursery walls with environmentally friendly paint that doesn’t release poisonous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Ingredients such as turpentine, formaldehyde, any animal products should also be avoided. Look for VOC-free paint made from all-natural ingredients such as mineral pigments, beeswax, plant oils, crushed limestone, soy resins and buttermilk.

Also, paint the nursery in far in advance and keep windows open to air out the fumes!

Flooring: Carpeting can trap mold, dust mites, and other allergens. Instead, choose wood flooring made from wood from sustainably managed forests such as bamboo or lyptus. Finish them with a nontoxic or natural sealant.

Linoleum, made of all-natural materials (sawdust, linseed oils, pigments and a jute backing) is soft underfoot, and easy to clean. Consider cork, too. It’s a natural insulator of both heat and sound, and soft enough to cushion those inevitable tumbles.

Rugs: To cozy up the room, select nontoxic carpets and area rugs made from natural, untreated fibers such as wool, organic cotton, hemp and jute. Synthetic carpeting can harbor over 100 toxic and carcinogenic chemicals.

Tranquil Nursery Collection by CoCaLo via Babble

Furnishing: Look for furnishing with a water-based aluminum oxide with no volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions. Avoid furniture made with plywood, particle board, and medium-density fiberboard (MDF) because they often contain formaldehyde in their glues. Used furniture that’s already a few years old is also a good choice, as it is likely to have released all the harmful chemical fumes by now. (Recycling furniture is also a more affordable options compared with buying new, solid wood furniture!)

Mattress: Pick a baby mattress made with wool casings or organic cotton filling. Regular mattresses that are treated with fire retardants, stain- and moisture-resistant formulas contain harmful and potentially cancer-causing chemicals. You can also find pillows stuffed with natural stuffing such as kapok, buckwheat hulls, untreated wool, organic cotton or synthetic-free latex.

If you do purchase a regular mattress, air it out for a couple of moths before use. you can also cover it with an organic mattress pad protector.

Bedding: Look for organic all-cotton bedding for the crib. Conventional cotton is one of the most heavily pesticide-sprayed crops, and the chemicals could irritate your baby’s sensitive skin. Permanent-press sheets are treated with formaldehyde, a known carcinogenic.

Window Treatments: Organic cotton curtains are a safe and pretty option. Mini blinds, made of PVC, have been shown to give off gas when heated by the sun.

Toys: Safe toys are especially important because most of your baby’s playthings will end up in her mouth! Choose toys made with wood or natural fibers, and decorated with nontoxic paints.  Steer clear of plastic toys made with PVC (polyvinyl chloride).  This material releases toxins into the environment throughout its lifecycle.

Cloth Diapers: Although they require more of a time investment than disposable diapers, cloth diapers pollute less. Because they are chemical-free they may also be less irritating on your baby’s skin.

Fresh Air: You may decide to invest in an air purifier to clear the room of chemicals, gases, and household allergens.  Open the windows daily to bring in fresh air and circulate out stale air.

Recycle: Ask friends and relatives for their old baby gear, shop at secondhand stores, and check out recycling/sharing websites (such as Zwaggle, where you can find used stuff and give away your own used gear — no money required!)

For more info, visit:

BabyZone: Eco Friendly Nursery Basics

eHow: How to Create an Eco-Friendly Baby Nursery

TheBump: Creating an Eco-Friendly Nursery

TheCradle: The Eco Friendly Nursery

Tips for Organizing Baby’s Room

The goal of being organized is having a place where everything belongs, so it’s important to create adequate storage place. Babies may be small, but they need a lot of stuff! If you’re baby’s room is poorly organized, you will soon find yourself with lots of clutter and no idea where that tube of diaper cream disappeared to! Take some time to look around baby’s room and assess the space you have to work with.

Closet: Since baby clothes are much smaller than adult clothes, you can lower the closet rod to be just a few feet from the floor, says Rebecca Johnson, owner of Decorating Your Baby Nursery. This will give you more space above the closet rod to install shelving for other items. Or, you can leave the closet rod where it is and install shelves or drawers beneath the rod. A good closet organizer is also worth looking into if you want to make use of every square inch.  Another handy organizer is a shoe rack that hangs inside the closet. You can use it for shoes, but also to easily organize things like socks, hats, bibs, mittens, hairbrushes, barrettes, and headbands. (Image from closet-organization-systems.com)

Changing table: Use the space below it to store items such as diapers, wipes, creams, and changing pads. There might be enough drawer space for baby clothes as well. You can also put some shelves above the changing table to display books, toys, framed pictures, and pretty boxes where you can store additional odds and ends.

Dresser: If you have enough space, a dresser is excellent for storing clothes, sheets, towels, and blankets. If your room is small, find a dresser that doubles as a changing table.  Dressers with removable changing tables on top are like two pieces of furniture in one: you can continue using it even after baby has outgrown the need for a changing table. You can also consider dressers with a hutch on top, which provides additional space to display knick-knacks or other items. A hutch also works instead of buying a separate bookcase.

Crib: This is a great place to pick up some additional storage space. Use wicker baskets, boxes, or plastic storage containers to store items such as crib sheets, blankets, and clothes that baby has yet to grow into. Some cribs come with pull-out drawers underneath.  (Crib pictured from ATD American.com)

Wall shelves and bookcases: These are great for bringing additional storage space to the room, and to display baby’s books, toys, and stuffed animals. One tall bookcase works great if you have limited space in your baby nursery. If you have more area to play with, a couple shorter bookcases are nice, because they make it easier for your baby to reach their things when he gets bigger.

Toy box: You’ll be surprised at how quickly your baby’s toy collection will grow. To avoid clutter, a toy box gives you one place to keep all the toys and their various parts. A toy bench is a nice way to go, which gives your baby a place to sit when he gets older, and the toys go inside. (Toy box pictured availble from clutterfreekids.com)

More helpful hints:

-If you have baskets or boxes for storage, make sure you keep them labled.

-Furniture such as bookshelves and dressers should be anchored to the wall. This prevents a potential hazard when the baby starts crawling and climbing (or if you live in earthquake-prone areas).

A glider or rocking chair is wonderful if space allows. Having a place to sit in your baby’s room gives you a place to sit while you feed or bond with your baby. (Glider pictured availible at Amazon.com)

– A clothes hamper is helpful if you want to avoid numerous trips to the laundry room everyday. Babies dirty numerous outfits a day!

-A diaper disposal is also handy, although not necessary. Place it near the changing table for easy access.

A lamp may be a good thing to have, especially if you want some dim lighting for pre-bedtime activities. Never use a floor lamp , which your baby can easily pull over. You should place the lamp high up on a dresser or bookcase, out of baby’s reach. As an added precaution, fluorescent light bulbs stay much cooler to the touch than regular bulbs.

-Put stuffed animals in a hammock and hang it in a corner (maybe over the baby’s crib or bed) so they’re out of the way but within reach. You could also get a big basket to keep dolls and stuffed toys in. (Image from About.com)

-A row of hooks on the wall or door is useful for hanging coats, sweaters, and diaper bags.

-For the super organizer, consider buying or creating hanging dividers for the closet, and drawer organizers for the dresser drawers.

-If you’re on a budget, check out garage sales and thrift shops (like Goodwill) for used furniture. You will pay a fraction of what you would spend by buying new furniture. You can paint or refinish furniture to match the rest of the bedroom.

Inspiration from Real-Life Nurseries

White Picket Fences

What’s more charming for your outdoor or garden-themed nursery than a white picket fence? Liz decorated her daughter Schuyler’s nursery with fluffy clouds, butterflies, ladybug rugs, and a colorful hot air balloon. She used pieces of vertical blinds to create the illusion of a picket fence.  She drew the design on each slat and cut them out with regular scissors. Then, she nailed the horizontal pieces to the wall in just a couple of places and used double-stick cushion tape to fasten the pickets to the horizontal rails.

Over the Top Murals

The nursery is the only room in your house that you can get away with going overboard, says Carson’s mom, Kerry.  A friend painted the spectacular three-wall mural, complete with rolling green plains, cowboys on horseback, and wild stallions. “It envelops you as you walk in the room.”  Make sure to map out exactly where all the furniture goes before you begin painting. You don’t want to accidentally cover up any of the gorgeous images!

Vintage Romance

Who said a baby’s room can’t be elegant? Amelia’s room is painted neutral tan with a soft pink ceiling. Her mom, Jennifer, accessorized with her favorite finds from antique stores, and grandma sewed the toile curtains that surround the white balloon shades.  It’s perfectly pulled together with a pink-and-white polka-dot organza dust ruffle for the crib and a matching chain sleeve for the chandelier.

Timeless Stripes

Julia wanted a nursery that her son could grow into and wouldn’t appear too babyish when he got older. Her desire for timeless decor prompted her to paint Harrison’s nursery in pale blue and cream stripes, with contrasting dark brown furniture. In order to get those stripes just perfect, Julia says you need to plan it all out in advance. First, they measured from the floor to the section of the wall where we wanted to put the chair rail and drew a line in pencil. They painted below the line brown and above the line cream. Then they measured 10 inches apart and drew the lines in pencil using a vertical laser level. After taping up each section with paint tape, they painted every other stripe light blue. She suggests removed the tape before the paint dries too much, to prevent the paint from peeling. She would also carry around a paint swatch, so she could match other items, like bedding, while out shopping.

Reuse and Recycle

Kim and her husband wanted to stray away from the traditional, feminine room, and keep it feeling up-to-date.  They created an elegant, modern nursery for baby Maya, with the chandelier wall decal as the focal point.  The best part of all is that it doesn’t have to be expensive to be beautiful, Kim says. Many of the items in the room are made up of repurposed furniture or home-made items. An old Philadelphia library desk now hold Maya’s stuffed animals, an old TV stand became the changing table, and they put to use a second-hand bookcase that came from Dad’s family.

Silhouettes and Painted Designs

Lori and family live in a log house, and she wanted to keep the rustic feeling. Her favorite element in Noah’s room is the tree, which she painted freehand, adding little birds on the branches to give it that extra touch.  You don’t have to be artistic to do it too! If the thought of painting freehand intimidates you, find an image from a book or magazine and project it onto the wall.  Sketch a design, or trace an image you find on to a piece of paper, and get a transparency made at a copy shop. Use an overhead projector to display it on the wall you wish to paint, moving it farther or closer to get it the right size. Trace your design using a pencil, then paint inside the lines. You can do this by renting a projector that hooks up to your laptop.

All of the photos and decorating tips in this article are from Parents.com. Click here to see even more Real-Life Nurseries at Parents.com!

The Ultimate New Baby Shopping List

I’m sure the new grandparents, aunts, and godmothers are already hitting the stores in sweet anticipation, and that your closets are starting to fill up with pretty little outfits, soft baby blankents, and sweet little knitted things. But with all the excitement and planning (not to mention the fatigue brought by the third trimester) it’s easy to forget some little things that might prove important when baby comes. You can always send Dad on midnight trips to Walgreen’s… or you can use this list from TheBump to make sure you’re prepared for Baby’s arrival!

The one thing you’ll need to know when planning baby’s wardrobe is that babies poop often and generously! Since baby poo is runny, it tends to get on EVERYTHING! You may find yourself changing baby’s outfit a few times a day… (and doing lots of poopy laundry, oh joy!)

Layette

10-15 bodysuits or onesies (wide head openings, snaps at bottom)

4-6 one-piece pajamas

2 blanket sleepers (for winter baby)

2-3 sweaters or jackets (for winter baby)

4-6 rompers or other outfits (preferrably with feet, as socks tend to get lost!)

4-7 socks or booties (shoes are cute but unnecessary until baby walks)

1-3 hats (broad-brimmed for summer baby, soft cap that covers ears for winter baby)

No-scratch mittens

Bunting bag or fleece suit (for winter baby)

Swimsuit for (summer baby)

Nursery

Crib, cradle or bassinet
• Slats no more than 2 3/8 inches apart
• Corner posts no more than 1/16 of an inch above frame
• Top rails at least 26 inches above mattress

Firm, flat mattress fit snugly in crib (less than two fingers should fit between mattress and crib)

2-3 washable crib mattress pads

Bumper pads covering inside perimeter (secured by at least six ties or snaps, with all extra length removed)

2-4 fitted crib sheets

4-6 soft, light receiving blankets

1-2 heavier blankets (for colder climates)

Rocking or arm chair

Music box, sound machine or CD player

Crib mobile with black and white images (remove when baby can support self on hands and knees)

Baby monitor

Nightlight (good for night-time feedings and diaper changes)

Dresser

Toy basket

Swing or bouncy chair

Changing

Changing table or cushioned changing pad for low dresser or bureau, with safety strap or railing

Changing table pad

4-6 washable changing table pad covers

Diaper pail & liners

Diaper cream

Unscented baby wipes (although for Baby’s sensitive skin, rinsing over the sink works best!)

Soft washcloths

2-3 boxes disposable newborn-size diapers {or}

6-10 dozen cloth diapers and 6-8 diaper covers

Bath

Baby bathtub

Baby soap/shampoo

2-4 soft towels or hooded baby towels

Baby hairbrush

Soft washcloths (use a different color or pattern than your diaper washcloths!)

Feeding

For nursing moms:

2-3 nursing bras (Breasts swell following birth, so start with one size larger than your maternity bra. Wait until size settles down — about two weeks after birth — to purchase additional bras.)

Nursing pads

Nipple cream (lanolin)

Nursing pillow

Pump (even if you plan only to nurse, a pump will allow you to leave milk for baby if you want or need to separate)

Milk storage bags

Breast milk is the healthiest as well as most convenient food for new babies: no bottles, nipples, warmers, or formula needed! However if you will be unable to nurse, here’s what you’ll need:

10-16 bottles and nipples, both four and eight ounce (if fed strictly by the bottle, baby will go through about ten in the four ounce size per day)

Liners, for disposable bottles

Formula

Bottle warmer (cuts down on nighttime trips to and from the kitchen)

Bottle sterilizer (if your dishwasher doesn’t have one)

Bottle brush

Dishwasher basket for small items

4-8 bibs

Burp cloths (or cloth diapers)

High chair

2-4 pacifiers

Medicine Cabinet

Baby nail clippers

Cotton balls (don’t use swabs to clean baby’s nose or ears)

Baby thermometer

Bulb syringe/nasal aspirator

Medicine dropper or spoon with measurements

Infant acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Antibiotic cream

Saline nasal drops

Baby gas drops

Travel

Infant or convertible car seat

Stroller (reclining to almost flat for infants)

Diaper bag

Changing pad

Baby carrier/sling

For Mom

Ice packs (in case of tearing during birth or swelling after)

2-3 week supply of ultra absorbent sanitary pads

Panty liners

Tickled Pink: Decorating a nursery for your little princess!

One of the most fun things about preparing for baby is, of course, decorating the nursery… Especially if you know that a little girl is on the way! Although your first thoughts might be quilted in various shades of pink, with plenty of bows and lace, there are actually lots of creative options when it comes to choosing colors and themes for your little princess’s room!

From Hawaiian beaches to garden tea parties, from dragons and unicorns to cowgirls and circuses, your choices are practically unlimited!  Unique Baby Gear has lots of creative ideas under “Girl Room Themes,” like this darling Beatrix Potter decor:

I also like this carousel horse theme:

For a modern, sophisticated look that is still pretty, you can decorate your nursery in pink and brown. Here are a few examples of how it can be done:

While themes like those above are colorful and exciting, some new parents want to keep the nursery decor simple. “For a baby and for new parents, serenity is key,” says designer David Netto on HGTV.com. See his 11 Ways to Create a Modern Nursery for tips on creating a peaceful sanctuary for your little one.  He suggests using subdued colors for the walls, floor and major furniture pieces, and adding bright accents with bedding, wall art, rugs, window coverings and accessories. He also advocates gender-neutral design and adaptable furniture (cribs that turn into toddler beds, basinettes that transform into toy baskets), streamlined peices with built-in storage and double-duty items (like a dresser wtih a chanaging table on top). He also advises keeping your child in mind: “Most of the furniture in the nursery should be scaled down for your child and low to the floor,” David Netto adds. “And hang pictures at her eye level–not yours.

ButterflyCraze.com has some pretty accents that will add interest to your nursery.  Hanging angels, giant daisies, and fluttering butterflies will turn her room into a fairy-tale land.

Browsing wall art for your new arrival is also fun! DistinctiveNurseries.com has lots of posters, prints, and wall hangings in every style and color. The cool thing about them is, if the price tag is too hefty you can get handy and re-create the same look yourself! Here are some that I like:

Well, this post could go on and on, but I’ll leave the rest of the Googling to you! Window dressings, cribs and bassinets, murals, rockers… Let the decorating begin!

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