Our Western culture really makes it big about stuff to have when you have a baby. And when it’s your first born, it’s easy to get stuck in the materialist trap. Not good for the earth… or our budget.
Since I got “Mommy Brain” this late in pregnancy, not feeling up to philosophical posts, and I’m in the midst of making sure we have what we need for baby girl, I think it’s a good idea to share what we frugally, really really need for a newborn.
Surprise, not much.
In fact, most of the inhabitants of our earth go with what, a piece of clothing? And we are “sold” to go with much, much more, it’s saddening…
So if you’re in between total minimalism and eco-consumerism, here is what from my experience we need, or not. We can ask around if someone has it for us, or make it ourselves.
1. What you probably need
I take into consideration that breastfeeding, baby-in-hands at least for the first 6 to 8 months, and cosleeping are proven to be best (I recommend to read books in the Resources section below before attempting cosleeping to do it safely). So you can put your bed on the floor, away from furnitures, and it’s a great start. What you could need too:
- A few change of clothes. People like to give newborn gifts, so you may not stress about it much. And here we have usually 3 of each items, washing every day or two. When not on the go barefoot is best, following our natural evolution.
Cloth diapers, a bag when on the go, and cloth wipes. Best for the environment, and we get used to it. We’ll use them here in pair with Natural Hygiene, being on the watch when the baby needs to go and put her over the toilet.
Cloth nursing and hygienic pads. For the first postpartum weeks.
Nose pump. The hospital or midwife can give the one they use to clear up your baby’s nose. Breastfeeding is not great with a full nose.
2. What you may need
- Ebook The Continuum Concept. The only parenting book you could really need. It explains what the baby needs to thrive and be happy, such as why carrying them full-time. John Holt, a leader on the wellbeing of children, said this book could change the world. If you need a book, I recommend this one first and foremost.
Nursing bras and tops. Not mandatory, since if you want to breastfeed with intimacy in public you can put two pieces of clothing and lift the outer layer to cover-up. But it facilitates breastfeeding, and if like me you’re due for new clothes anyway and want to breastfeed for years, it’s a good choice. You can easily make some yourself too.
Baby blankets. Light adult blankets could do, or making him wear appropriate clothing instead.
Baby thermometer, nail clipper, hairbrush, and the like. Adult ones that you already have would work just fine. But you might want another thermometer because they’re usually not used in the same end.
A crib with mattress, a side mattress, or bed rail for your bed. If you have a small bed or you’re not exclusively breastfeeding for example, you might need a crib. For the small bed problem, some put another mattress next to it, but make sure that it’s secured and the baby can’t become entrapped. There are good second hand ones. I use a bed rail because it’s reassuring for me; having rainbow babies makes you extra careful I believe. If you really want to invest, use your money for a king size mattress.
- A sling or wrap. It can help with your mobility and the baby’s confort. I like the Mei Tai model, comfortable, easy to make, and we can pratice skin-to-skin at home with it.
Baby seat. When ready to eat, though other arrangements can be made like eating sitting on your laps.
Car seat. If you have a car… Make sure for a second hand one that it hasn’t expired (usual legal life of 10 years in Canada) or hasn’t been in an accident.
Sealed container for soiled diapers. If you don’t wash them right away or throw them in the washing machine, a container with a bit of water facilitates washing and keeps odors away.
3. What you probably don’t need
- Pacifiers and the like. Wear and breastfeed on cue, that’s usually the secret for calm, happy babies.
Bought change stations. A blanket can do just fine to change diapers.
Baby bathtub and accessories. A thorough washed kitchen sink does great. Also, taking a bath with your baby or a bit of water in the regular bathtub, in a warm bathroom. Regular towel and washcloths can be used as well as household items for toys. Adjust right temperature with the soft skin of your inner arm.
- Strollers. Usually a waste of money, earth, and bonding time when you can use a baby wrap or sling.
Nursing pillow. We can use regular pillows.
All the stuff to make baby food. All cultures supplement breastfeeding. When the baby is ready though, I find that puree just makes more work and doesn’t prepare to enjoy the texture of food, leading to food problems later on, probably. We’ll go with the Baby-Led Weaning technique this time, using appropriate bits of food for the baby’s age, eating mostly like we do. A cup could be useful, but then again this time we plan for her to drink preferably from non-toxic-plastic adult cups we have.
Baby monitor, play pen. Make him sleep with you, in arms, during the day. Extra conditioning for you, and people will wonder at how calm and rested he is.
Daycare ou nanny. If it was initially thought of, see if you can scale down even more. If you can, plan before the first baby to live on one income or work from home. A baby does best with breastfeeding the first years and his primary caretaker.
Scheduling vaccines. I worked as a vaccine inspector and researching a lot about it I completely changed my perspective. I kind of always have to make sure people know what’s with vaccines, so they can make a true choice. Most sickness were already on decline when vaccines were introduced, probably due to better living conditions and hygiene. Vaccines contain harmful chemicals, like aluminium or mercury, shot through multiple doses directly in the blood where they have access to major organs. Not mentioning human error, mold, fetal human and animal cells, or other contamination that can occur, the best is to focus on a lifestyle of health through sport and organic food.
Tons of toys and baby DVDs. We are our babies’s toys. They love to learn and watch us do stuff, over other stimulations, studies show. So if our baby seems bored, we are better to be more active. I kept the toys we had with my twins, but we can go without. Except maybe hilarious short episodes of Baby Jumper, my luxury. The house or apartment, and its items and normal activities, as well as the outdoors are amazing toys.
More, or less?
I hope these thoughts can help you make a great choice for your family and the earth, because, as I discovered, a family life with less is definitely possible.
Is there something else you use, or don’t use? Thanks for sharing around!
Resources, recommended books
The Continuum Concept: In search of happiness lost
Our Babies, Ourselves
How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor
Sleeping with Your Baby