Becoming minimalist and raising a daughter (our first, only just a few months old) is a tricky combination. Babies seem to come packaged with a truck-load of extra goodies that soon consume every room of your house. Don’t get me wrong, I smile every time I look at her brightly-colored jungle gym that has taken over our living room floor. It reminds me of her, and the joy she experiences when bouncing in it. But still, I remember shopping for baby items when I was pregnant, cramming every last inch of our generously sized SUV with some item those baby books and sales people INSISTED we needed, or our child would probably die or become an emotionally stunted adult – you know… the bear that sings soothing songs and shines an array of dancing lights on the ceiling that can put your baby to sleep better than you can? Or that adorable looking zoo animal that, without it, you will not be able to soothe your babies aching gums and they will have been forever excluded from the baby “in” group. We are all suckers to it as parents. If you can invent a baby item that parent’s think they can’t live without, you can charge anything for it and make yourself an almost instant millionaire (I am not excluded from this, I bought the bear AND that other zoo animal).
However, getting back to basics…. People have raised these little humans for a VERY long time. Only within the last fifty years or so have we began to really pile on those must have baby items that are mostly more of a luxury than a need. The following list is our own personal experience of what we ended up absolutely needing, and what we could have gone without.
The must haves:
1. A crib. Maybe a little obvious, but there it is.
2. A swing – HOWEVER, swings vary greatly in price ($40-$400). Don’t spend $400. It is a life saver when you need to put your 5 week old down so you can pee, but they will not enjoy the more expensive one over the cheap one. Also, my daughter LOVED her swing… for about a month and then screamed like hell ever time we tried to put her in it. My advise: buy a cheap one or rent one from a local used baby store (some do this!).
3. Enough sleepers and receiving blankets to get through a few days without doing laundry. And by a few days I mean about a dozen changes (account for poopy explosions and spit up on a very regular basis). Believe me, when you are tired and trying to recover from childbirth while tending to a newborn, the last thing you will want to do is laundry.
4. Baby toiletries/diapers/wipes. Again, obvious maybe but I wanted to be thorough 🙂 Only get a small pack of newborn diapers though, some babies go through this size very quickly!
5. A bassinet of some kind (we got a woven basket style). I know some minimalists say you don’t REALLY need this, you can use a clothes hamper and some blankets, but my girl moved and grooved in her sleep and probably could have knocked over a flimsy hamper even at a few weeks old.
6. A baby carrier. I found one used at a kids swap meet for a third of the price of buying new. Poke around the community, these are generally pretty expensive to buy new but again you don’t use it very long and most are in great condition. These are great for when you need to get a few things done around the house or just want to go out to the market without hauling a stroller through crowds.
7. A bag to carry baby essentials. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a diaper bag specifically, and there are lot’s of tutorials online to make one yourself.
Things you can substitute:
– I didn’t buy a diaper genie. I have a garbage can with a baking soda disc at the bottom. We might make a few extra trips to the outside garbage but it has worked just fine and no one has ever complained about a smell.
– I used the plastic bath tub for only a few weeks before my daughter had already outgrown it. The sink and a $7 bath net work fine until you transition to the tub.
– I have the bottle warmer and sanitizer and yes, both are SUPER convenient. However, from a “less buying, more doing” perspective, both of these are expensive and boiling water can substitute both of these things. If you have the money or are so inclined, great, but if not, DON’T STRESS.
– We have a change table, and admittedly we will use it until the diapers are over, but if you are looking to go super-strict minimalist or can’t afford this (these are darn expensive new!), again don’t stress. Babies don’t care where they are changed as long as it is safe! Again, try and find used at a local swap.
See, short list right? In the end, remember that what is most important to that beautiful newborn baby is meeting their basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and LOVE. In my experience, there is no singing stuffed animal that can help a child to sleep better than your arms can. They don’t smile first at a toy, but at YOU. You are what matters to them…. Maybe we can learn a thing or two from these beautiful little creatures about what is TRULY important in this life.
What do you think? Anything you’d add or take away! Love to hear some feedback.
Until next time friends,