There are loads of baby products out there: some are adorable, others seem like they’ll solve whatever baby-related issue you may have, some are just plain clever or fun. But, what do you really truly NEED for your newborn? Here’s my list for baby gear minimalists.
For a newborn, you need:
1. Safe place for baby to sleep — (your bed if you know the rules for safe bedsharing or sidecar, crib, bassinet, etc.) and appropriate bedding for that place (2 sets, so you can use one while the other is in the wash)
2.Way to feed your baby — If nursing, the number to your local Le Leche League chapter is helpful. I highly recommend attending at least one meeting before baby is born. If bottle-feeding, you’ll need several bottles, nipples, breast pump and/or formula. A bottle-brush is hugely helpful, too.
3. Blankets — for floor play, swaddling, spit up, nursing cover (if desired), etc. I love Aden & Anais Muslin swaddle blankets in addition to loads of whatever-brand flannel ones.
4. Ergonomic baby carrier — Your arms are nature’s bouncy seat, rocker, swing, baby monitor, etc. but sometimes a parent needs hands free to eat some lunch or change a load of laundry. Enter the baby carrier! By ergonomic, I mean a soft carrier that will hold baby high and tight and holds baby’s knees higher than her bum creating an M-shape (this happens by having fabric that spans the whole distance between baby’s knees). The best way to pick a carrier is to come to a Babywearing International or other babywearing meeting and see what style and brand most appeals to you. Personally, we use woven wraps for newborns in our family. I stick with woven wraps no matter the child’s age, but my husband likes a mei tai for older babies.
5. Carseat — if your baby will travel by car. Infant or convertible is fine as long as your baby meets the minimum size specifications. Some people fret about not being able to remove a sleeping baby undisturbed from the car with a convertible, but I’ve gone through seasons where even lifting out the infant seat woke my child and I’ve been through seasons when I could take baby out of a convertible seat, carry him inside, take off his shoes and coat, then lay him down, and he’d still be passed out. Kids adapt–if we give them the chance.
6. Diapering Supplies
- cloth or disposable diapers (Some online cloth diaper retailers even offer free shipping and a registry feature.)
- cloth or disposable baby wipes (Cloth ones can be rags, washcloths, old holey T’s, etc. They need to be clean and absorbent, preferably natural fiber and you’ll just toss them in the wash with your cloth diapers)
- place for dirty diapers (a wetbag if you use cloth, lidded trashcan or diaper pail if using disposables)
- AND/OR a potty bowl if you plan to do Elimination Communication (EC). Here is my favorite book on EC.
7. Clothes for baby — Plan for 2-3 changes per day and multiply by how often you’ll do laundry. Having some clothes that are one size up can save the day if baby is larger than expected or grows overnight.
8. A bag — to contain diaper change items, extra clothes, on the go. This can be a diaper bag or duffle, large purse, backpack, etc. Include a pad or blanket to lay baby on.
9. Gentle detergent — for washing clothes and linens. A homemade one is a great choice.
10. You! — Your proximity regulates baby’s temperature and breathing. You are your child’s emotional regulator. No gadget in the world is as comforting. You can’t “spoil” a baby, so snuggle close and enjoy. Also, take good care of yourself to better parent your baby. Prioritize time to communicate your physical and emotional needs to others around you, and make a plan to fulfill those things (even when that means that baby needs to be in the arms of another loving caregiver so you can shower in peace or go for a walk).
I’m not saying that there aren’t other needs that will crop up or other helpful things that you’ll want (like nipple cream, a bouncy seat, or swaddling blanket), but in terms of the basics–these ten are where it’s at. I find it encouraging to remember that most of the world, and for most of history, people have lived simply with their babies. Stuff can be wonderful and helpful, but it also can overwhelm us in terms of cost, space, comparison, and even worry. If you are stressed out because your baby is due and don’t know if you have all the right stuff, or money is tight, just stick with the basics! You’ll have a lifetime to add the other things that crop up.
Elements of this article were originally published at More Green For Less Green.