The minimalist baby shower list:
Green is yes
Red is No
Blue is Maybe
Before Hazel was born I put together what I thought was a very minimalist baby shower list of items I would need. Now that shes here and she’s nearly two months old I wanted to revisit this list because I have found it to be excessive.
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, even if true. 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, 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.
Firstly, when Hazel was about 3 months old I bought a 17 dollar umbrella stroller. I don’t NEED this item but I have a 140# dog who is still training, I like to go on walks with both my ‘kids’. I don’t want to risk being pulled over while carrying Hazel. The only time I use the stroller is when we go on our walks alone so that when I need to correct Denver I can leave Hazel be, correct the behavior and move on, it also folds up nice and small to tuck away in my house. It is much more my preference to hold her and baby-wear her in my DIY ring sling, it disperses the weight better and she (and I) is much happier overall (the stroller is a little too low and hurts my back to use).
I do have a pack-n-play also for when I am outside working (it can also set up inside so I can shower with no fear of Denver stepping on Hazel). I got one that folds up small and tucks in the corner of my house. It’s easy to put up and take down so that it does actually get put up and taken down. Still no changing table/high chair/crib etc. I haven’t missed any of these at all! The co-sleeper I made is great, it’s very convenient, I wake up about once a night to feed her. The co-sleeper allows me to do this and be able to get some rest still, I don’t have to walk to another room, I just feed her then plop her back in her bed. Super great. She is getting mobile enough that when I wake up she is generally staring at my face… she’s more of a morning person than her mom… She doesn’t have a swing or anything, when she wants to be rocked I just rock her, she loves it. It’s more hands on than some people may have time for but to me this time is pretty critical and I’m so lucky to be able to make it a priority. After having her for nearly six months this would be my updated ‘needs’ list:
NEED 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.
NEED 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. I think blankies are one of those things that it’s a good idea to have some extra of. And she loves her tummy time.
NEED 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. Really, what has been important is that it’s safe. I don’t carry it around much at all, even a lightweight car seat with a kid in it is pretty heavy. we go from car to carry and back again.
NOT 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.
I’ve used this twice so far, it’s very loud which is ok, she likes the noise but once she’s asleep I want to shut it off and it wakes her up, there is no smooth transition to off… most of the time I can just hold her until she crashes out and set her down. I also generally leave her car seat in the car (packing that thing around hurts my back!)
MAYBE NEED 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.
Its nice to have these, this far in and the only bottle she gets is when we go to baby and me class because I am too shy to nurse in public… generally I can just plan around feeding times. I have been extremely lucky to have no issues while breastfeeding, if you were on formula this would be a different story.
NOT NEEDED 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.
But they make good ice trays too, which is becoming more important every day, we are up in the 100s
NOT NEEDED 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.
Didn’t even get, haven’t missed, she has outgrown the sink, I have a rubbermaid tupperware that she bathes in.
MAYBE NEEDED 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!
She has taken no interest in pacifiers but will occasionally suck on one of these (yeah!) They are great for cleaning up at the very least!
NEED 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…
We were given so many packs of diapers that I don’t want to waste, so we didn’t even get to use cloth until 2 months… then I do cloth in the day time and a disposable at night, it is much better on my sleeping schedule and we save considerable amounts of diaper use.
NEED 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.
Some are good to have on hand for traveling,and nights.
NEED 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.
I make these using cut up wash cloths, it has been great, they seem to be good on her skin with none of the nasty toxins in the store bought kinds, no diaper rash issues or anything yet.
MAYBE NEEDED 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 :).
She was too little to use one of these right away but occasionally I use the one I made, her dad has an ergo type carrier that he likes but sometimes it scratches up her legs if she’s in it too long or weird… It does make it nice if you need an extra hand but it isn’t a right away need for sure.
KINDA NICE 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.
Her night light seems to comfort her and it’s nice to be able to see her if she makes a weird noise
NOT NEEDED 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
NEED 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.
In this area we are really really dry, I actually thought twice about even including this though because tiny houses are known for having moisture issues to the point of needing to be dried out. I think my composting toilet always pulling air from the inside out helps keep my house ‘normal’ as far as moisture is concerned, normal here is too dry, Mini wakes up every morning with the worst congestion, I have one of these currently on order to hopefully help that!
16) Some NEED 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?
I just use normal towels, shes got a few sets of sheets that I swap between (two would be fine), I use the baby body wash for everything including making her wipes, the diaper bag I actually just use one of those 99 cent reusable bags you can get at most retail stores, the blender I am certain I will use once she gets to real food and the swaddles are nice, big tip is to get the softest fuzzy one you can find, it is magic to getting her to calm down!
17) NEED – But not as much as you think 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!
She is going through clothes before she can even wear them all. Suggestion would me maybe ten or so onsies in the various sizes, she is almost two months old but already in the 6 month old clothes, I think they are way off on sizes…
18) Your Call 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.
After all of my research I decided to go this way with her savings education.
Its a long version but hopefully somewhat helpful to those looking for this sort of info. I did recently add a johnny jumper which she LOVES, what things kids need is a lot different that what parents want to give them to watch them smile! For a beginner I would say the green things above are some of the must haves right away, everything else can be picked up a needed/if wanted later.