I have put together a fairly minimalist baby registry, I have put a lot of thought into what we need and also what we DON’T need but the fact is I have never done this before, if I am missing something critical please feel free to let me know.
First to talk about what I don’t need/want. I won’t be getting crib, a stroller, a playpen, a high chair or a changing table. I have actually heard a lot of criticism over this, or just the comment ‘she has no idea what it takes to be a parent’, which is amazing to me. Some people seem to think it is impossible to raise a child without these items, to them I say, how did we ever make it this far then!? Fact is these items take up a lot of space and are short lived and quickly outgrown (and as a LOT of parents have told me, they don’t even end up getting used!), there ARE others ways. I don’t think it will be difficult in the least without these items, sure they may be convenient at times but that small convenience is not worth the cost of the item, the space they take up or the embodied energy it takes to manufacture these items.
1) She needs a place to sleep: The first thing to figure out is where she is going to sleep. Rather than going with the crib route I opted for a co-sleeper. This decision came out of several conversations with other parents who either did the same or wished that they had since having the baby in a separate monitored crib contributes to poor sleep on both the baby and the mothers part, particularly early on while breastfeeding. Getting up to check on/feed the baby every couple hours is taxing compared with waking up and doing the same thing in place. Rather than buying a co-sleeper I opted to build one which is full crib-sized so it can grow with her as needed.
2) She needs some blankets: Family heirlooms aren’t a bad idea either. My mom is building this very custom jungle animal quilt. It also doubles as a play pad, all the ears and tails are tags so she can play with them and all the animals are done in different textures. It’s going to be pretty awesome :). My grandma is also making her a little rocking horse quilt. Not only that but my friend Greg gave us some really awesome hand crocheted blankies that his mother made for him, she did an AMAZING job on them and they are a great size! I think blankies are one of those things that it’s a good idea to have some extra of.
3) A Car Seat: I had no idea how much went into car seats, man! I was just thinking that I wanted one that didn’t look too ‘mom’, pretty impossible, right, I mean its a car seat… I didn’t want something pink and ‘princessy’. After looking around I see a bunch of other factors that play a hand. First of all, there is a huge difference in the weight both of the actual car seat and of how much it will carry. Most of the ones I looked at go up to about when the kid is 22 pounds. they can’t sit in the next size up car seat until they are 35 pounds so there would be this middle ground where I would have to buy another seat, it would be a while away but still, seemed like if I could do it in one shot it would be better. Second there are ones with handles ones without, ones that stay put and ones that are transportable. I am going to use the car seat as the indoor rocker as well so I wanted one that was removable and, with a recently broken back, fairly light weight without compromising safety. The one pictured above fit the bill on most/all categories, it goes up to 35 pounds, will look good in the back of my car (not too ‘mom’) and has better reviews than other based on the fabric used and baby comfort (many said it is softer than others and easier for the baby to get to sleep in), also, it’s only about 9 pounds plus the baby. We ordered this and an extra base so she can swap between James’s and my car as needed.
4) A Baby Rocker: These come in all sorts of varieties also, most separate units but I found this one that I like that uses the car seat. I have heard from EVERY parent I have asked that this is a NEED, not a want, if I ever want to just sit on my rear which I think will be a want :). This is handy because it is power or battery operated so I can take it places as needed. It is also pretty small so when she is not using it I can tuck it away. I like that it is low to the ground as well, falling or tipping is less of a concern. Seems to fit perfectly.
5) Glass Bottles: This is for sanity as well and so dad can have some bonding time with baby M also. I have issues with the fact it is kind of tough to find non-plastic bottles. The fact is that plastics are bad, especially when being re-warmed. Even if they say BPB free it makes me wonder what they used instead and how much longer until we find out that has bad side effects too? Glass has worked for years, glas doesn’t leach into foods. Sure it is breakable but if you can expect that you can anticipate that. It is critical to me that I use glass bottles over plastic ones.
6) Milk Trays: each cube works out to about serving size for a baby and is a convenient way to save milk, or so I hear. I would just use ice trays but I don’t have any :). These are nice because they come with a cover too so no debris will find their way in from other freezer stuff.
7) A Compact Baby Bath: This is handy to have I think so long as it doesn’t take up too much space, I think there are alternates to bathing so I wouldn’t put it in the ‘critical’ category but definitely nice. I like this because it folds down, I can hang it on a hook in my shower when not in use with no issues.
8) Wash Cloths: This one is semi obvious (for clean-up) but also takes the place of pacifiers, which I won’t be using. I was not raised with pacifiers and I have heard horror stories from other mothers who wish they had never used them. The biggest reason against them that resonated with me was creating a dependence on something that is not always going to be around. Say the pacifier drops on the floor and I don’t have a back-up, I now have a screaming baby with no way to comfort her unless I stick a dirty piece of plastic in her face. We grew up having washcloths to suck on/play with and they doubled for face wiping. I think it’s far more likely that I will have some washcloths or some substitute around if needed that is the route I’m taking, and they are washable and multifuncional. Win win!
9) Diapers! The poopy part! I will be using cloth diapers on MiniM, for environmental reasons but not ONLY that, they are cheaper! There are all sorts of wonderfully absorbent things (chemicals) in disposable diapers that make them last so much longer between changes (but those chemicals have big ramifications in landfills too). I really want to limit the amount of chemicals that I put next to MiniM at least while I can, when she is so little and still working on building her body. It may be a small inconvenience to have to change her slightly more and to wash diapers but I think it is more than worth it. Not to mention the cost savings. Babies tend to potty train faster with cloth diapers too, another perk :). Mom is actually making a bunch of diapers. The up-front cost is higher with cloth diapers but overall they are cheaper. I am going to look into how this works into my composting toilet too…
10) Disposable diapers: All that being said about diapers I have heard from a few people that those first couple weeks I am going to want to use some disposable diapers, there is some grossness that happens. Also for any traveling that we will be doing disposable are the way to go, with the trip to North Carolina shortly after she’s born there will be a little disposable action, I can still do the best I can to get more environmentally friendly versions.
11) Baby Wipes: This is another area that, when looking at the ingredients on store bought baby wipes I am shocked at just how many words I can’t pronounce. As a rule of thumb I try to avoid eating/using those things because if I can’t pronounce it I sure don’t know what it is. If I don’t know what it is I would also like to keep away from the skin to skin contact with such a small and developing person, I set out to find some alternative methods for baby wipes and there are a lot of options out there. The link above sends you to one of my favorites, I like the simplicity of the recipe. It looks super easy and seems that it can save money as well as chemicals! Another win win! Again, I may need to tweak this to work with my composting toilet.
12) A Baby Carrier: I can’t see coughing up the money they ask for these when it is some really simple fabric, there are several different versions of babies carriers and methods of baby wearing but the Maya wrap is what I hear works well for new borns so I am going to make my own version of that. I haven’t found a great tutorial yet but I bought the stuff, I may just wing it :). I think this seems a lot more convenient than a stroller, I watch people try to push those through a door and I feel bad. It’s probably much better for bonding with your baby too, this is one of my next projects :).
13) A Night Light: Another one I have heard, more for me to be able to check on the weird sounds in the middle of the night without flipping the light on. Another thought to consider in the tiny house is energy to use AND if it gets too hot to the touch.
14) A Bumbo Seat: This is in lieu of a high chair and has some other uses, it won’t get used right away but a good thing to have for a little down the line, I hear
15) A Humidifier: I think this will be important for my climate, I also am going to get some essential oils to use in there. Any suggested ‘flavors’ for me and a newborn are appreciated, I have never really dove into the whole essential oils thing but I have heard some really good things about using them.
16) Misc. Towels, Sheets, Baby Soaps, Diaper Bag, Food Blender, Swaddle Blankets: These are some miscellaneous things that I will need to pick up/make but with no particular urgency on specific ‘type’. Well other than the soaps, those will have to be natural and gentle, more as I find out more there. Does anyone have a great suggestion on baby soaps?
17) Clothes: Last but not least, clothing! I vow to never buy these new :). There are some great second hand clothes stores for babies around here and this is something that people seem to like buying but the kiddo will grow out of them SO fast! I am not even planning on buying any clothes until after she is here because I have a whole bunch already!
18) College Savings Contributions: The last thing I am trying to get together is a college savings account for anyone who wants to gift to Baby M but isn’t sure what exactly to get. I am looking at some plans such as the 529 plan here, www.idsaves.org but I have a little more research to do for that. I would be very curious to know what savings plans others have used for their kids? I may end up going with just a savings account which I can manage and invest in CDs/mutual funds for her until she is at that point in her life, I have been pretty successful at that and there are no termination fees or penalties based on whatever school she would choose. I like this because it can be a part of every birthday/Christmas as well. My parents had us all taught about saving when we were old enough to clean cupboards for our allowance. It came in REALLY handy when I went off to college, I want to make sure she has the same opportunities and responsibilities.