Sunday, December 8, 2013

What you really need for a baby

I am generally a "you do it your way, I'll do it mine" type, so I have not had a very thorough blog for the reason that I do not usually share my advice unsolicited with people. I do not presume to be an expert in many things. 

That said I see a lot of my friends these days pinning, what you absolutely must register for lists, by those claiming to be minimalists, and yet containing a large number of things which I do not consider to be even remotely necessary. So in the interest of minimalism, not for it's own sake, but for the sake of a Christian ethic that rejects consumerism for it's misuse of both personal and global resources, I have decided it is time for me to throw in my own two cents.  

So this comes with a disclaimer that I am not going to judge you as a bad Christian if you buy more than this for your baby, or even if you tell your friends I'm a total moron. But I hope that this will be helpful, and put your mind at ease that babies do not in fact require very many belongings. 

For a long time I have yearned for minimalism. Clutter actually drives me crazy. I cannot stand the feeling that I always need something else, and I often have the feeling that if God suddenly called us to a new place I need to be able to go very quickly. And yet with registering, both for my marriage, and for my first child, the lists put on me this great pressure to get everything. This list reflects what we find we actually use, after four pregnancies worth of research and three babies worth of actual experience. 

1. Somewhere for baby to sleep. This will look different for each family. You may want your baby in his/her own room in a crib that will change into a toddler bed and then into a twin, or your baby may simply sleep in your own bed for the first year or two. We actually have a few different options. I love my cosleeper (made by my mom and RJ) because I can nurse baby in bed, laying down, and simply roll over and lay them in their own bed when they are finished and I need more space. The down side to this is that baby outgrows it around 6 months, so we need something bigger. We also have a pretty wooden crib, actually a port-a-crib size, since it was cheaper, and takes up less space than a full crib, but still fits up to a two year old. The down side to this is that it take up more space, and that I have to get up to get baby and then put them back after a feeding. The third piece is a pack'n'play, and if you are really on a budget this is all you really need. It is short enough to use beside the bed for a cosleeper, yet large enough for up to a two year old, and it can travel with you for holidays and vacations. Also in this category, by default, is blankets, although they will use them for a lot more than sleeping. We like to have 4-6 swaddle blankets. I make new ones for each baby's design scheme (since they don't have a nursery to decorate) out of 1 1/4 yds flannel. They are big enough (45x45") and stick well for swaddling. If you are careful to cut with the grain they will stay square! We also have one bamboo velour cuddle blanket and one floor quilt for each baby. If you have carpet a floor quilt is optional, especially since the the window between when baby is old enough to play on the floor, and when he/she will just crawl right off it isn't very long.

2. Travel Gear. The most absolutely necessary is a car seat (assuming you have a car). Since it is required by law, and for even the most basic level of child safety. They are however quite heavy to carry about, and studies are now showing the negative effects on babies whose parents leave them in these carriers the majority of the day, rather than holding or carrying them. For this reason, almost any time we are not in the car we use a wrap carrier. I have a sleepy wrap, which I love, but it's a bit of a commitment (complicated to put on) for a quick walk to the mail box, or to see if it will calm baby while I wash dishes. So I would like to try a sling as well. Also in this category is a diaper bag, although I prefer to just use a larger purse/book bag for myself, and throw in a Thirty-One zipper pouch with baby's things. If you are anything like me, you probably have a few options already in your closet, but a new baby is a great excuse for a new bag.

3. Diapers. I have a lot of other information on here about this topic, but for now I will say this. Cloth is so simple. I have heard so many friends say that they don't even think of it as any more work than disposables any more, and others say that although it takes more time it is always a good time for their family. Cloth is not only a better use of personal and global resources, but it demonstrates the love you have for doing beautiful things for your baby like paper diapers never can. I recommend 8 covers and 24 inserts each in a two size system, for the most budget efficient. If you are having more than 2 kids I think it is also worth getting 12-18 newborn all in ones and 12-18 newborn fitteds along with a stash of medium and extra large covers, for a better fit through every stage. You will definitely get your money's worth out of them. You will also need a diaper pail liner, two travel wet bags and 3 or 4 dozen wipes. If you have a little room to splurge get a diaper sprayer, it makes clean up soooo easy. This is the longest section on here, because honestly well over half of what we own for our children is diapers. They just don't need much stuff. Aside from a cosleeper or crib, the only other furnishings you might need for baby is to make sure you have baskets or shelves for clothes and diapers. Again, you probably already have some things like this around the house and will just need to do some rearranging.

4. Clothing. This is simple. You need 8-10 outfits per size, but people will likely buy you more than that for shower gifts, whether you register for it or not, so buying clothes is really dependent on how picky you are about what your baby wears. Also, most will advise getting clothes in a variety of sizes, but be careful, because you never know how fast they will grow. They will end up in a larger or smaller size than you bought for this season, and sometimes skip over a size all together. The bottom line: you may end up with more clothes than anything else, but that does not mean that this category should be anything you worry about. grab what you need as you go and be grateful for gifts at showers, birthdays, and christmas. People will love buying your baby clothes.

5. Feeding. Ultimately you need nothing for this category for 6+ months besides your own boobs. There are a few things that may be helpful though. I love my Boppy pillow. It helps so much to prevent an aching back and shoulders, especially when baby is very small. We have two covers, so we can change it when it get's spit up on. Aside from blankets our favorite baby accessory is burp rags. Now you could just use blankets, but we would go through too many. I have six that are hand dyed newborn prefolds. Whatever you do don't get the ones with regular quilting cotton prints sewn down the middle, because that stuff is not absorbant at all, and it will drive you nuts (if you are as picky as me). I also make a few flannel ones to match baby's blankets, and have finally found my favorite pattern. Maybe I will share it on here sometime. The other feeding thing that we have loved is my Milkies milk catcher. You just put it on the side you aren't nursing from and it catches the drips. I am terrible at pumping, so this has been a real help for having bottles for babysitters. We have two glass evenflo bottles, and that is all we have needed. If you do have to pump, get a really good one, like a hygeia, or you will go nuts. 

After six months all you need is smaller spoons and unbreakable plates. I'm serious. We did baby led weaning with Julian and will with Oscar and all future babies. There is really no need to buy bottles of food or even to puree and freeze your own. just give baby bits of what you are having and as long as they are still nursing on demand, don't sweat it if nothing actually makes it into their mouths.

6. Medicine, Baths and Toiletries. This is the list that can get so long sometimes, but we use hardly any of the things we got for Efrim. For the first 6 months to a year all you need is gripe water or gas drops, and an amber necklace plus maybe some teething tablets if that is not enough. After that we give the boys bioplasma, echinacea, saline nose spray, and emergen-C if they are having cold symptoms, along with peppermint, lavender, or eucalyptus in the essential oil diffuser, and vix if it get's really bad. We use Ibuprofen if their fevers get really bad, but put off treating a fever as long as we can. For upset stomach we try to get as much pedialyte down them as possible. None of these are things you need on hand before you bring baby home, and none of them need to be registered for.

We bath babies in the sink until they are old enough to sit up reliably on their own. We have a simple fast drying foam mat. We don't always even use soap. When we do I use Honest Co. Shampoo and Body Wash, because I trust them more than any other to be pure and safe. The kids do not have special baby towels or wash rags, we use our towels and the same wash cloths we use for cloth wipes. I also love this sponge brush that comes with our home-birth kit. Afterward we rub them in my Curel, Honest Healing Balm (which could be listed above for any type of abrasions or cuts, we use it for everything), or Coconut oil.

As far as special toiletries I swear the only one we use is the smaller fingernail clippers. Nose suckers never work, even Nosefrida. Medicine usually comes with it's own droppers. I feel like this list went on forever when I was registering, but I honestly can't even think of anything else, because we just don't use them.

To summarize, and show you just exactly how short the list is, this is a baby registry/shopping checklist:

1. Crib, cosleeper, and/or pack'n'play
2. 4-6 swaddle blankets
3. Cuddle Blanket
4. Floor quilt (optional)
5. Car Seat
6. Wrap carrier and/or sling
7. Diaper Bag or clutch (optional)
8. Diaper Stash
    8 small, 8 large covers
    24 small, 24 large easy folds or flats
    12-18 nb all in ones, 12-18 nb fitteds (optional)
    8 medium, 4 x-large covers (optional)
9. Wet bags and cloth wipes - diaper sprayer (optional)
10. Clothes
11.  Boppy and covers
12. 6-12 Burp rags

13. Milk-Catcher and/or pump
14. Bottles
15. Gripe Water
16. Amber Necklace
17. Foam bath mat
18. Baby Wash
19. Scrub Brush
20. Fingernail clippers

Now that looks manageable doesn't it!


Amanda Coers said...

Love it! With baby number seven we've definitely taken the minimalist approach. There's no room for extra stuff! I'm pinning this. :)

Tent Revival said...

Thank you Amanda!